The Energy Drink Scam — Do Energy Drinks Help You, or Can They Actually Make You Fat?
by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author – The Truth About Six Pack Abs
Today I have a little rant on energy drinks…
I receive a ton of questions about all of these new “energy” drinks that have hit the market over the last few years. They seem to be all the rage, and they promise you the world with outrageous claims of all of the super energy that you are going to have, and how you’ll become the best athlete in the world, start lifting cars over your head, and get a perfect body.
So a couple questions arise:
Are these “energy” drinks really any good for you?
Do they actually increase your energy?
Do they really have some sort of magical energy formula?
Will they help you lose weight?
First of all, let’s look at what most of these energy drinks are usually made of. Most of them are simply carbonated water loaded with gut-fattening high fructose corn syrup (or other added sugars), caffeine, the amino acid taurine, and some crappy artificially-derived vitamins added for show to trick you into thinking there’s something healthy about these concoctions.
Let’s start with the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Well, here we’ve got empty calories that will go straight to your belly fat, and that are possibly even WORSE for you than plain old refined sugar (although that’s up for debate, but semantics in the big picture). Some energy drinks use other added sugars instead of HFCS, but it doesn’t really matter, because they are all gut-fattening empty calories with no nutritional benefit.
Ok, so you say that they also have low-sugar or sugar-free varieties as an alternative to the HFCS-laden energy drinks. Yes, but now you have the problem of the harmful chemicals in the artificial sweeteners which have their own set of health dangers.
Another problem with artificial sweeteners is that there are some research studies that indicate artificial sweetener use leads people to inadvertently consume more calories and gain more weight in the long run… in addition to having a negative hormonal effect in the body. I won’t go into all of the details on that topic because that would fill up an entire discussion by itself.
Just trust me that artificial sweeteners and artificial chemicals in food in general, are ALL bad news for your body! It’s never a good idea to try to “trick” your body with artificial tastes.
What about the caffeine?
Well, first of all, caffeine doesn’t in itself provide “energy”. Technically, the only substance that actually provides energy is calories (from carbs, protein, and fat).
However, caffeine can be an aid for livening or waking some people up, by means of stimulating the central nervous system.
Instead of caffeine artificially added to some carbonated “energy” drink, I’d rather get my caffeine from a natural source like green, white, or oolong teas (or my new favorite – yerba mate teas), which actually provide very powerful healthy antioxidants too!
Keep in mind though, if you’re a regular daily coffee drinker, you probably have some level of addiction to caffeine and probably wouldn’t receive too much benefit from the caffeine in an energy drink anyway.
Tip: try to drink more tea and reduce your coffee intake to only a couple days per week max to reduce your dependency on caffeine. Most teas contain much less caffeine than coffee, and some teas (such as green, white, and oolong) contain synergistic phytochemicals that work to slow the response of the caffeine that they do contain. This means you get a milder response from the caffeine in green, oolong, or white teas compared to the harsher jittery response that some people get from coffee.
Now what about that so called magical blend of taurine and B-vitamins that they load into these energy drinks?
Well, big deal…you get taurine in almost any protein source. And the vast majority of those artificially added B-vitamins are simply coming right out into the toilet in your pee. Vitamins are best obtained naturally from a REAL food source, not artificially added to some carbonated drink. Your body just doesn’t use fake sources of vitamins as readily as natural sources from real food.
So as you can see, in my opinion, I give all of these energy drinks a big time THUMBS DOWN! Don’t fall for the ridiculous marketing of all of these so-called “energy drinks”.
Instead, here’s my recipe for my own home-made energy drink:
1. Make a big iced tea mixture using green tea, white tea, and yerba mate tea. I like to add a little fruit flavor, so I’ll use 1 tea bag of a raspberry or blueberry hibiscus tea, and then use 2-3 green and/or white tea bags, and 2-3 yerba mate tea bags, and make a gallon container of iced tea. I just use a small amount of stevia to lightly sweeten the batch of tea.
2. I buy a container of organic coconut water from a health food store, or buy fresh coconuts to obtain the coconut water from the inside.
3. For my healthy energy drink, I mix a half of a glass of the white/green/yerba mate iced tea mixture and fill the rest of the glass with the coconut water.
This is actually a delicious and truly healthy energy drink instead of the chemical-laden crappy energy drinks that everybody is getting suckered into buying these days.
The green, white, and yerba mate teas contain a small dose of caffeine along with a diverse mixture of powerful antioxidants and synergistic phytochemicals. Plus, the coconut water is a rich source of electrolytes and a diversity of vitamins and minerals. Coconut water is known to provide a good instant energy source, and also contains a small dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are healthy fats that are readily used for energy and also aid your immune system.
So enjoy this natural healthy energy drink, knowing that you’re doing your body good instead of filling it with chemicals with normal store-bought energy drinks.
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Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer