The problem with consuming caffeinated drinks to boost your energy
If you are relying on cups of coffee or cans of energy drinks to get you through the day, then it might be time to consider some healthier alternatives to boost your energy naturally.
So, what’s the problem with these drinks? Well, the main issue is that both coffee and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine. While it’s well known that this stimulant can give you a boost of energy and increase alertness, what is often not realised is that this jolt of energy is short-lived and the drop afterwards can leave you feeling lethargic and even more tired. In other words, it’s a quick fix, but not the answer to sustaining your energy.
Also, if you drink caffeinated drinks regularly, your body can get used to this stimulant and its effects can be diminished, meaning that you won’t even experience this short burst of energy.
The side effects of consuming too much caffeine include feeling anxious, nervous and jittery. It can also cause sleep problems, digestive issues, high blood pressure, increased heartbeat and irritability, all of which can lead you to feel even more tired.
But what is considered too much?
According to Mayo Clinic, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine (roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of coffee) appears to be safe for most healthy adults.1 However, as well as coffee and energy drinks, there is also caffeine in tea, fizzy drinks, and even chocolate, so you could be consuming more than you realise.
Furthermore, people also process and metabolise caffeine differently, with some people being hyper-sensitive to caffeine, which means even a small amount can cause them to feel the side effects more readily.
Also, the time of day you consume caffeinated drinks could have an impact when it comes to tiredness. Studies have found that consuming caffeine in the late afternoon (approximately 6 hours before bedtime) can still disrupt your sleep, which can then cause you to feel tired the next day and restart the cycle of needing caffeine to get you through the day!2
Our sleep advisor Marianna takes a closer at caffeine and its impact on sleep in her article 'How does caffeine really affect your sleep?'
What drinks are good for energy?
So, if you want to boost your energy in a healthier and more lasting way, then you may want to consider some of these alternative energy-boosting drinks:
It’s simple, free and the best drink for maintaining energy throughout the day. If you are feeling sluggish or tired then water should be the first option you turn too. When energy slumps, all too often people look to caffeine for a boost when really they are just dehydrated and need water.
Plain water is always best, but if you want a little flavour then please avoid bottled flavoured water or fizzy water. Instead, I recommend that you get creative with fruits and vegetables to make home-made, flavourful, fruit-infused water.
Many people like to add lemon to their water, but other simple fruits which can add flavour include oranges and limes. You could also try some tasty combinations such as mint and cucumber, as well as strawberries, oranges and mint leaves.
2. Coconut water
Packed with energy-boosting vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium, coconut water is a great way to increase your energy levels.
Known as nature’s sports drink, many athletes are turning to this tropical drink to restore hydration and replenish electrolytes lost during exercise. Several studies have shown just how effective it can be after finding that coconut water restored hydration after exercise better than water and just as effectively as high-electrolyte sports drinks. 3, 4
This water is best when it comes directly from the coconut, but you can also buy bottled coconut water. Just be sure to read the ingredients to make sure it is 100% coconut water and doesn’t contain any added sugar or artificial flavours.
Packed with essential nutrients, smoothies are a great way to load up on energy-boosting fruit and vegetables to power up your day, but they can also be super sneaky sources of sugar, especially shop-bought bottled smoothies!
Much of the high sugar content of smoothies comes from the naturally occurring sugar (fructose) in fruit, which can spike your blood sugar levels and cause your energy levels to plummet soon after.
Added sweeteners can also be an issue! Things like maple syrup, honey, agave syrup and coconut sugar can also cause the sugar content of smoothies to go astray.
But don’t despair; it’s all about choosing the right ingredients for your smoothie. A good ratio to follow is 70% vegetables to 30% fruit. More specifically, use plenty of greens! Leafy green veg added to your smoothies can boost the fibre and iron content: the fibre helps to slow the absorption of sugar, whilst iron is a key component of energy production in the body. Good greens to add to your smoothies include kale, spinach, watercress and Swiss chard.
Here are a few delicious green smoothies which can give your energy levels a good boost:
Kiwi & Ginger Green Smoothie
Easy Green Smoothie
4. Green tea
If you are craving a little bit of a caffeine hit, then green tea might help take the edge off. While it does contain some caffeine, it’s nowhere near as much as coffee or regular tea, so won’t cause the same crash in energy. Green tea may also help to give our metabolism a slight boost, which can make it easier and quicker to digest food and absorb the nutrients and energy you need.
If you would prefer a caffeine-free hot drink, then they are many other drinks you could try including Rooibos (red) tea, liquorice tea, chai tea, chamomile tea or you could try our Bambu fruit and grain drink, which makes a great coffee substitute.
5. Beetroot juice
Similar to coconut water, beetroot juice has become another popular drink with athletes. High in potassium and nitrates, there’s lots of research to indicate that beetroot juice helps to improve oxygen consumption in the body, which can keep muscles fed for longer, therefore reducing fatigue and improving performance.
A study from the University of Exeter found that this vegetable can make exercise less tiring and extend athletic stamina,5 whilst another study from 2010 found that participants lasted 12%-14% longer on a treadmill after daily consumption of beetroot juice.6 These studies show just how effective beetroot juice can be for boosting energy.
You can add beetroot to a smoothie or drink it straight as a juice. If you’re looking for a great-quality beetroot juice, I recommend Biotta’s Beetroot Juice. It’s made from 100% organic beetroot and is never from concentrate, so it retains all the goodness of fresh beetroot!
6. Balance Mineral Drink
Our Balance Mineral Drink is packed full of vital vitamins and minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamin D, which combine to help to reduce fatigue and support energy metabolism. Magnesium in particular is famous for its fatigue-fighting qualities, whilst calcium aids the energy metabolism process. It’s also a great way to replace vital electrolytes after exercise.
As a long-term solution to fatigue, this is best taken every morning to keep nutrient levels topped up daily. If you want to avoid the mid-afternoon energy slump, then have a glass of Balance drink between 2pm and 3pm or whenever you feel your energy levels dipping.
My article ‘How to get the best out of your Balance Drink’ goes into more detail on how this drink can help boost your energy levels and how best to take it.
To sum up
As you can see, there are lots of alternative drinks you can try to help increase your energy levels. So, the next time you feel the need for a pick-me-up, try one of these drinks instead of a cup of coffee or energy drink for a healthier energy boost that will get your day back on track.