Energy Drinks: 3 Natural Alternatives November 16 2012
What would you say if I told you that your energy drink contained a half-cup of sugar, excessive levels of caffeine, unidentified stimulants, red food dye and taurine, among other health-harming ingredients? Many of the most popular energy drinks contain ingredients you wouldn’t put in your car – so why would you put it in your body?
Energy drinks are supposed to provide mental and physical stimulation for a set amount of time and are mainly used during periods of strenuous physical activity and to quench thirst. Unfortunately, energy drinks do not hydrate the body and can actually cause dehydration. Energy drinks can also cause serious health problems, such as increased blood pressure, stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, and cardiac arrhythmias. They can even cause tooth erosion.
One of the major concerns of consuming these energy drinks when you’re tired is that it masks the symptoms of fatigue. When we do this, we push our bodies past what they are capable of doing and place dangerous strain on the heart muscle. Even drinking too much coffee can place this strain on our bodies and our hearts. Masking fatigue by using stimulants like energy drinks or drinking strong coffee makes us feel worse in the long run. When we crash, we feel even more tired and weaken our immune system, as well as stressing our adrenal system. Headaches, nausea, as well as severe irritability are a few of the symptoms that can be felt when coming off these types of drinks. This is what makes them highly addictive – the only way to feel better is to drink another one or take more supplements.
So, what should we do when we are tired and not feeling good? We need to step back and assess why we are so tired in the first place. The solution is in the problem! Most people are tired and lack energy due to poor sleep and/or because they aren’t getting enough of the right nutrients that make us feel good and keep our energy levels balanced all day.
3 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Energy
1. Get enough protein. Sixty percent of women do not get enough protein in their diets and that is often the number-one reason for fatigue! Reaching your body’s protein requirements is not easy and it’s a lot of work. Most of us need to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. If you want to weigh 120 pounds, you need to consume 120 grams of protein per day from lean sources such as egg whites, fish, turkey and chicken breast, or non-fat cottage cheese. I suggest that all women drink a high-quality protein shake every day to satisfy their body’s nutrient requirements.
Protein shakes make your life easy. You don’t have to think, plan or cook – just drink and go! Be sure to look for a high-quality whey protein shake that is under 160 calories and has no fat, minimal carbs and under 5 grams of sugar. Make sure the whey protein you choose is geared for health and weight loss and NOT weight gain, so you can add it to oatmeal or make a delicious shake for breakfast.
I also recommend that the shake have at least 2000 mg of glutamine already added to it. Glutamine is an awesome brain booster that can help ease depression and keep you alert for hours without the crashes that come with energy drinks. I adore my chocolate whey drink every morning in a small cup with very little water; I eat it like fudge brownie batter – yet it’s virtually sugar-free, contains no fat, and is absolutely delicious! If I dont want it cold, I make it like “healthy hot chocolate” or add it to my oatmeal. I always struggle with meeting my protein requirements and having a whey protein shake makes reaching my daily numbers do-able because I can add it to my coffee or to baked goods, such as health muffins. Whey has also been known to decrease blood pressure and increase energy, strength, and also ease depression.
2. Sleep more. Plan your life around your sleep schedule to get as much sleep as possible. It’s as simple as planning your activities so that you are home in enough time to relax and get sleepy. There is nothing more powerful as a good night’s sleep! Getting enough rest is the very best way to slow aging and feel great! Aim for 7-8 hours each night and create a sleep pattern so you go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off. It will be well worth it – I promise. This step is extra important for anyone who struggles with depression and anxiety. If all else fails and you can’t sleep well due to stress or hormonal changes, take 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime or six drops of oxytocin to ease anxiety and help you sleep deeper. All healing happens when we sleep, so make it your priority!
3. Drink water! We all need to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water daily to hydrate our bodies. If we are even a little dehydrated, our metabolism can slow down up to 3%! Fill a large water pitcher full of cold water, and add slices of lemons, limes or oranges to make it more appealing so you’ll drink more. Not only does it look great, but it’s less expensive than buying bottled water, which helps our Earth at the same time. Get out your favorite glass and leave the pitcher out in front of your face so you’re called to it everytime you walk by.
Taking care of your health is the best way to prevent fatigue so you never need to buy those garbage drinks again!