With energy drinks, the name should be program. At least that’s what they promise. The sweet drinks are supposed to wake you up and even improve your performance. The term includes all non-alcoholic drinks that promise this effect through a mix of caffeine and sugar. However, you should not enjoy them without hesitation. We reveal what is really behind the promise and which natural alternatives are much better and above all healthier.
The effect of energy drinks
When the circulation sinks to the basement, tiredness sets in and nothing works anymore, many people turn to energy drinks. Because they are supposed to push our organism and provide a burst of energy. Caffeine and sugar are mainly responsible for this effect. The stimulant caffeine stimulates nerve cells in the brain as well as the circulation. The heart beats faster, so that blood pressure and pulse rise. Respiration is accelerated, the blood vessels dilate.
In short: the entire organism is heated. And when our cells are better supplied with blood, we feel more alert and are able to concentrate better.
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It takes about 30 to 40 minutes before you feel any of this. That’s how long it takes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream. And because caffeine has a rather bitter taste, the drink is covered with lots of sugar. It is also the actual supplier of energy. As a single or double sugar, as it occurs in energy drinks, it migrates extremely quickly into the blood, so that your blood sugar level rises within a very short time. Et voilá: Your energy high.
Side effects of energy drinks
However, the energy boost does not come alone. Because your whole body is better supplied with blood. Let’s start with the brain cells. If these are supplied with more blood, this can increase brain performance and thus also concentration. Besides: awake it is usually easier to think. The higher heartbeat increases blood pressure and pulse rate, which boosts your circulation and metabolism. As a result, you could also become warmer.
As nice as it all sounds – all these great effects unfortunately have a decisive catch …
Energy drinks from the can definitely fall through as energy suppliers © GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com
Side effects of energy drinks: Energy with consequences
The energy boost comes from the rapid rise in blood sugar levels. No wonder, with the amount of energy in such a can. But this effect does not last long. Your blood sugar level will plummet at least as quickly and is usually even lower than before. The sugar dose is used up after about an hour. So much for energy. What remains is tiredness and lack of drive. Time for the next dose of energy. As you can see – a cycle from which there is hardly any escape – and there are consequences.
Sugar supplies enormous amounts of calories, which is noticeable on the hips when consumed in greater quantities. In addition, an up and down of the insulin level is responsible for annoying ravenous attacks.
But there are much more serious side effects. For your cardiovascular system, the high dose of caffeine is particularly problematic. If your organism is kept constantly on the go, sleep disturbances, palpitations, restlessness, nervousness, nausea, headaches and even cardiac arrhythmia can follow.
Caffeine, sugar, et cetera: Ingredients of energy drinks
The main ingredients of energy drinks are caffeine and sugar. Without these two, the promised effect would not occur. The list of ingredients also includes exotic names such as taurine, inositol and glucoronolactone. Your body produces all 3 substances itself.
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Taurine is the second most common endogenous, i.e. non-essential, amino acid and therefore does not have to be taken in with food. Among other things, it controls the volume of the body’s cells and regulates calcium absorption. The invigorating effect of taurine is a persistent myth, but it has not been scientifically proven.
Inosite is formed during metabolism, acts as a transmitter of signals in the body and is involved in calcium processing.
Glucoronolactone is an endogenous substance that initiates detoxification processes. In energy drinks it is said to delay the recurring tiredness. But here too, this effect has not been proven.
On top there is a bit of vitamin C and B vitamins. But is this enough to pass energy drinks off as healthy or is it just a way to polish up your image a bit?
Energy drinks: Healthy or unhealthy?
With regard to the ingredients and their effects, we can certainly only confirm your assumption: This caffeine-sugar cocktail is not healthy. A 250 ml can contains an average of 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine, which corresponds to about a cup of coffee. Sounds half as wild at first. Up to 200 milligrams a day should be harmless. But there is no exact value.
In addition, your body gets used to the supposed stimulant in the long run, so that it needs more and more to show the desired effects – side effects included.
Even more problematic is the huge amount of sugar. The WHO recommends covering a maximum of 10% of the energy turnover with it. For women, with a daily intake of 2000 calories, this is about 50 grams. A 250 ml can brings it already on average to 75 grams. And mostly it does not remain then nevertheless nevertheless with the 250 milliliters. With it you load up with a lot of extra calories. Not even vitamins can save anything.
You should definitely provide your body with these through foods with added value, i.e. fruit and vegetables. So there’s really nothing healthy here.
So far, no clearly positive effects of energy drinks on athletes have been proven © GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com
Are sugar-free energy drinks good alternatives?
Since it has become known that a high sugar intake is a health hazard, most brands also offer their energy drinks in a light version (i.e. without sugar). However, the taste should not change. That’s why sweeteners and flavors are used to help reduce calories, but there’s also a catch. Through the sweet taste your body adjusts to an energy boost. But it does not get this and always demands more. So the one drink quickly becomes a second one. Ergo: even more caffeine and even more calories.
So sugar-free energy drinks are not an alternative.
Energy drinks for sport: not a good source of energy
Energy for sport sounds plausible at first. More energy means more performance and that in turn means greater success. In theory, yes, but in practice this only works to a limited extent. Opinions and results from scientific studies differ here.
Clearly positive effects on athletes thanks to energy drinks can hardly be proven. If so, then these are due to the additional energy in the form of sugar. However, these are also available with the help of other foods that are much healthier and from which your body benefits more. Keyword: healthy carbs.
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Energy drinks definitely fail as thirst quenchers during sports. The best source for this is still water. They are also not suitable as a post-workout drink. If you want to build muscles, you have to supply your body with proteins. Endurance athletes have to replenish their energy reserves with good carbohydrates and sugar is definitely not one of them.
Energy drinks to lose weight: Absolute no-go!
You already guessed it: If you want to lose weight, you should immediately stop drinking energy drinks. Although an active metabolism burns more calories, this is only true to a limited extent. In addition, the immensely high sugar content doubles the amount of calories you burn.
If you think you can melt your hip gold with the help of the light version, you are way off the mark here too. Because instead of satisfying the urge for sweets, your body is demanding more and more through the sweeteners and artificial aromas. Lose weight? No way! There are, however, other drinks that can help you get your metabolism and circulation going.
Natural Energy Drinks
The secret of healthy energy drinks are natural stimulants that boost metabolism and circulation. They stimulate your blood circulation in a natural way and thus provide the energy kick. In contrast to the sweet caffeine-sugar cocktails, these healthy drinks are also suitable for losing weight, as they contain far fewer calories.
The best example is ginger. The spicy tuber can be prepared wonderfully as tea. Green, black and mate tea also fall into the category of natural heaters. They contain teaine, which has a much longer effect than caffeine. By the way, delicious cold drinks can be made from cooled tea.
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Smoothies made from fruit and vegetables, for example, are also suitable as healthy energy sources. They contain fruit sugar and many vitamins on top of it. Honey or agave syrup are also suitable for sweetening. Dates are also a great sweetener, by the way, and are also excellent energy suppliers. Of course these alternatives also contain a few calories. In contrast to sugar, however, they are much healthier. But as always: The amount makes’s.
Make your own energy drinks: Healthy Power Recipes
Healthy energy drinks are easy to make yourself. Green tea, for example, provides the Hallo-Wach effect. Energy sources are honey, fresh fruit or coconut milk. Here we have some ideas for you.
Bring a few slices of ginger to the boil with hot water, steep and allow to cool. Squeeze the lime and add the juice. Sweeten with honey, ready. Alternatively, green tea is also suitable as a base.
Matcha orange smoothie
1 apple, ½ EL Matcha powder, 150 ml orange juice, 150 ml water, 2 g turmeric, 1 EL Mix goji berries and 25 ml lemon juice.
Mix the juice of one orange, 1 banana and 125 ml coconut milk.
Conclusion: Great promise with many side effects
As nice the promise is, as disappointing is the yield. Energy drinks from the can definitely fail as energy suppliers. Too many calories, too many side effects and above all, only a short effect.