Energy Drinks - Are they good?
We are talking this week about energy drinks, are they really a good thing to do to quote unquote, boost your energy? So one of the things that I try to do when someone asked me a question like, hey, is this a good supplement? Is this a good energy drink? Is this a good whatever? I try to focus on the objective data. Instead of just having an opinion and a thought, like, oh, I don't like that, I try to educate people on why there's maybe there's an ingredient in there I don't like and I tried to tell them why.
So, this topic is actually motivated by a question I had from somebody in the office. It was it was a young man. Actually, a really young man. And he was talking about how he has a rigorous work schedule and just had a baby. He has a pretty heavy work schedule. And in order to keep going and do all these things, he was living on some energy drinks. And he did that for a while. And he noticed like, all of a sudden, they just weren't working as good as they did at first. So I just said, Hey, tell me what one you're taking. And I'll look it up. And I'll tell you, you know what's in it, and why there might be some other things that you can try.
I feel like the first conversation we need to have is, why are people so tired, they can't function and make it through their day? That is not God's designed for our bodies, we are meant to be contributors and be able to do what the things that God put us on this earth to do for until we die. I think that's the conversation... we need to realize that we are meant to be healthy and vibrant, and it is not normal to be super tired and fatigued. So that's kind of the first thing. But then let's, let's unpack this a little bit.
First of all, I'm going to answer the question of why if you start taking the energy drink, and you take it for a little bit why it works for a while. And it is because there's a few ingredients in there that can be stimulating. Number one caffeine. Most of them are equivalent to drinking like two cups of coffee. So, Is the caffeine terrible? No, it's not, but what you're doing is using caffeine as an adrenal stimulant, meaning that it helps your adrenal glands, that's your stress handling system. Caffeine helps your adrenals secrete more stress hormone. So that means if you are trying to get more output, so to speak out of your adrenal glands then caffeine is going to do that for you. So that's kind of like with the jockey that's whipping the racehorse. He's riding this horse, and we want him to go faster and faster, so we keep whipping them. Now, if you do that a little bit, you will get performance out of the horse. If you keep doing it. Eventually, this horse can't go any faster. He is subject to the limitations of what his body can do. We are no different. We can push ourselves a little bit to a point and we will get more performance out of ourselves. But it's when we cross that line that we start to go downhill, and the wheels kind of fall off the bus. So that's what really happens to a lot of people. They rely on things like caffeine hits. Sugar is another thing that really kind of pumps you up temporarily. Carbs, salty foods, all of those things, your your adrenal glands respond really well to them for a short season of time. So, you you do that and you get a little bit of extra performance out of yourself. But it's not something that is going to be sustainable long term. So that's, that's the number one thing is caffeine. Consider, you know, how much you can tolerate how much you can handle.
And then the other thing is that most of these drinks have artificial sweeteners. And I'm talking about things like Splenda, sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K. There's a bunch of them that go by different names. So, like sucralose and Splenda are the same thing. Aspartame is its own animal, but there's a reason why almost all of these have an effect that that we don't want. Number one, what you need to know about artificial sweeteners is that they do have an effect on your insulin levels. Unfortunately, the research shows that even though there's no sugar in there, they don't have calories in them and they don't have "sugar", these artificial sweeteners still raise your blood sugar, and even worse than the regular sugar in some cases. The other thing is some of them are cancer causing. One of the nasty things with aspartame is it has a demyelinating effect on the neurons in your brain. So that's just a big fancy way to say it eats the waxy, fatty covering off the neurons in your brain, which that's probably about as good as it sounds. Those are the the big issues with artificial sweeteners. And that's kind of why you probably want to steer clear of them.
Now I get asked a lot about stevia. So, stevia is actually an herb, it's not an artificial sweetener. So now we're starting to see some some drinks being sweetened with stevia versus these artificial sweeteners. Now, I'm still not a fan of the ones with that combine a whole bunch of caffeine even with stevia, but that that is a better alternative to artificial sweeteners, in my opinion.
So then, let's talk about the B vitamins. That's the other thing. The claim to fame of these energy drinks is B vitamins. And while it's true that most people that I see are low on B vitamins, because I test that on everyone, and I've tested a lot of B vitamin levels! B vitamins are one of there are four really key ingredients that you need for your mitochondria to be able to produce energy: B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and CO q 10. Those are the big heavy hitters, when it comes to being able to produce energy, a lot of people don't have enough B vitamins, a lot of people don't have magnesium. Iron can be low, especially in women in their childbearing years. Co Q 10 tends to be low in those over 40 especially if taking a statin drug. It's an antioxidant that we produce less of once we get to age 40. And also in those that are taking statin cholesterol lowering lowering medications, they really tap out their CO Q 10 levels. So those are the four things that that you really need to make energy. And what they do in these energy drinks is they put a bunch of B vitamins in there. And there's nothing wrong with B vitamins, however, most of these are in a form that up to half the population cannot tolerate and that is the form of folic acid. There's a genetic variation called MTHFR. And that just means that you do not break down and assimilate folic acid, the way that people without this genetic mutation can. And what that means is it becomes somewhat toxic to you especially in high doses. So, folic acid can make people feel pretty bad. And I've seen that over and over again. People think "I'm low on energy, everybody tells me to take a B vitamin." So they take a B vitamin and and actually makes them feel worse. And we find out that they're one of the almost 50% of the population that can't tolerate folic acid, so I'm not a fan of folic acid in supplemental form. I use other forms of folate when I work with people that are what are called methylated forms of folate. So that's how I address that. But what you're going to find in most of these energy drinks is folic acid, because it's cheap, and that's why it's it gets makes it into the drinks and the and the supplements. So those are just a few of the reasons that I'm not a huge fan of, of energy drinks.
What can you do if you feel like you need energy? Look at why you are tired.
1)Are you getting enough quality sleep - 7-9 hour and getting to sleep by 10:00?
2)Are you eating a diet that supplies adequate B vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants?
3)Do you have enough iron?
4) What is your blood sugar doing? If your blood sugar is swinging widely, that puts quite a bit of stress on your adrenal/stress handling system. Until you stabilize that, you might have a hard time feeling better
I hope you found this helpful!
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To your health,