Many people reach for a commercial energy drink daily or even several times a day to help avoid an afternoon slump. However, a 16 oz. can of Red Bull contains 52 grams of sugar, about the same amount as 11 Oreo cookies, and more than a 12 oz can of Coca-cola which has 39 grams.
Although energy drinks claim to provide a boost for mental and physical stimulation, the effects are often short lived. They often contain artificial colors, preservatives and low quality supplements or herbal additives. Excessive doses of caffeine and other stimulants will also increase your heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to irritability, anxiety and an inability to sleep. If you have an energy drink in the late afternoon, the effects of these stimulants can stay in your system well past 10pm at night.
Here are some healthier alternatives to an afternoon energy drink:
Green Juices and Smoothies
The dark green vegetables such as spinach, parsley and kale used in green drinks are a great source of B vitamins which our body requires for metabolism to run at its peak. Since the best sources of energy are whole foods, high metabolism combined with a diet full of vitamins and nutrients will have you feeling fueled all day long. Consider adding lemon juice or ginger to taste and flax or chia seeds for a boost of omega-3s
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Organic Green Tea
Green tea contains less caffeine than an equivalent volume of coffee while providing many health benefits including decreased risk of heart disease and cancer. This makes it a great energy drink alternative. There’s also evidence that green tea helps improve mental clarity and performance. Organic teas will have much reduced levels of pesticides and may taste better.
Lack of protein is a common cause of fatigue. A high quality protein shake can help your body reach its nutrient requirement. Protein requires carbohydrates to turn into an energy we can use. Add fruit, wheat germ or quinoa to your shake with 10 grams of protein from a powder, yogurt, milk or soy milk for a more sustainable energy boost.
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All of the metabolic reactions that happen in the human body happen in water. When we’re dehydrated all those metabolic reactions start to slow down and you start to feel tired and slow. Dehydration is one of the main reasons we experience a drop in energy. If you think drinking water is boring add some flavor with fruit slices, blueberries or strawberries. The fruit provides some carbohydrates and B vitamins for an extra nutritional punch. You can also use fresh mint, ginger or cucumber for flavor.
Replace Lost Electrolytes
A good quality electrolyte powder can help you replace salts and minerals lost during physical activity, working long hours in air-conditioning or in the hot sun. This can be added to a liter of water and sipped throughout the day.
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