You’ve probably heard news stories about people being rushed to the hospital as the result of using commercial energy drinks. If you need a boost now and then, there are safe options that will help you steer clear of any risk of excess caffeine or other adverse reactions.
These are some facts about energy drinks and a variety of healthy ways to perk yourself up.
The Low Down on Energy Drinks
1. Read labels carefully. The FDA regulates the amount of caffeine in foods like cola drinks. However, energy drinks are considered a dietary supplement so it may be impossible to tell how much caffeine you’re getting. Plus, there could be additional stimulants like the herb guarana and other substances.
2. Use in moderation. If you still want to consume these beverages, try them in small amounts on a full stomach. Sip slowly because it’s easy to overindulge in any cold drink when you’re thirsty
3. Know the symptoms of caffeine toxicity. Too much caffeine can cause serious health issues. Watch for heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, anxiety and an upset stomach.
4. Skip the alcohol. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks can cause trouble. It’s easy to underestimate how intoxicated you are if you take a stimulant. This can lead to driving under the influence and consuming more alcohol than intended.
5. Talk with your kids. Energy drinks are marketed mostly to young people. Discuss them with your kids and let them know that health experts recommend 100 milligrams or less of caffeine a day for adolescents.
6. Check with your doctor. It’s best to forego energy drinks if you have certain medical conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure. This is also true for pregnant women and women who are nursing.
Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks
1. Hit the gym. Exercise is one of the most reliable ways to pump yourself up. Take an aerobics class or go for a run.
2. Rest up. Getting adequate sleep will keep you feeling your best. Try to go to bed and wake up on a consistent schedule even on weekends.
3. Drink more water. Dehydration causes fatigue. Carry a steel water bottle around with you so you can sip all day long.
4. Eat small and frequent meals. Digesting large meals puts an extra load on your body. Break up your dining into small meals and snacks.
5. Add more carbohydrates to your diet. Carbohydrates are a great source of long lasting energy. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
6. Lose weight. Lugging around extra pounds puts a strain on your heart and other body organs. Follow a sensible diet and increase your activity level so you can gradually reach your ideal weight and stay there.
7. Breathe correctly. You may be surprised to learn that just changing the way you breathe can help you feel more vigorous. Mastering a few basic Yoga positions like the Tree Pose makes a dramatic difference.
8. Turn up the lights. Exposure to bright lights is one of the fastest ways to increase your energy levels. Take a noontime walk to enjoy the sun.
9. Get your caffeine from familiar sources. Most adults can safely consume about 200 to 300 milligrams per day of caffeine, and it’s easier to keep track of the amounts in well-known items like coffee and chocolate. For example, a cup of coffee has about 100 to 150 milligrams.
Commercial energy drinks have become a huge industry totaling more than $5 billion a year in sales. Use these beverages with caution or get your energy the old fashioned way with adequate sleep and a nutritious diet.