Energy Drink Alternatives That Are Better For Your Body

Written By John Richards on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | 7:04 AM

Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, and Starbucks Double Shot Energy are just a few of the energy drinks on the shelves of grocery stores, convenience stores and even some department stores. Energy shots like 5-Hour Energy, Mio Energy, and similar products are also available. Both energy drinks and shots contain large doses of caffeine and other stimulants such as guarana and ginseng that provide a temporary energy boost. Many of them also contain a mega-doses of a variety of B-vitamins, which help with energy metabolism. 
We all need an occasional energy boost but the Mayo Clinic recommends limiting energy drink intake to no more than 16 ounces a day. Moreover, children, adolescents, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and people with certain health conditions are advised to avoid energy drinks altogether.
Why is this? Because, the temporary energy boost may come along with negative side effects.  
One possible side effect is skin redness and a hot feeling caused by excessive niacin intake. Another is loss of tooth enamel from the high amounts of citric acid found in energy drinks. The caffeine and guarana can also cause nervousness, sleeplessness, rapid heartbeat, or more serious consequences. 

If you want a healthier alternative to energy drinks, there are plenty of options available. Here are a few you can try: 
  • Water – Caffeine in energy drinks works as a diuretic, causing the body to become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to feelings of sluggishness and fatigue. Drinking water can help you feel alert and energized all day.
  • Green tea – Green tea contains some caffeine to give you a boost but is much less processed than energy drinks! It is also a natural source of many potent antioxidants that may help to fight cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological decline.  
  • Beetroot juice – It’s an acquired taste, but if you’re into juicing, it’s a great option. Red beetroot is one of the best sources of nitrate, which has been shown to enhance performance during endurance activities. 
  • Chocolate milk – The best way to quickly boost energy without crashing later is to reach for a drink that combines carbohydrates to provide quick energy and protein to provide lasting energy. Chocolate milk contains both carbohydrates and protein as well as a small amount of caffeine for an added boost. 
  • Tart cherry juice – Tart cherries are a natural source of many vitamins and minerals, and also offer anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to promote cardiovascular health and aid with muscle recovery.
While you can use these alternative energy drinks for a pick me up, the easiest way to boost your energy is to ensure you are getting adequate sleep, exercising daily, and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
What do you drink before or after exercise?

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Diana Leah Wilson is a registered dietitian based in Raleigh, North Carolina who is passionate about helping college students make smart nutrition choices. She is an adjunct professor for Colorado Mountain College, a communications team member for the SCAN Dietetic Practice Group, and the legislative chair for the Durham-Chapel Hill Dietetic Association. Check out her blog Project Eat Me at http://projecteatme.wordpress.com or follow her on twitter for quick nutrition tips at @DianaLeahWilson.

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