I’ll start out by saying that I am no longer on the stimulant roller-coaster. I quit caffeine when I developed test anxiety in medical school. For me, caffeine is something I ingest by accident, if the Barista made a mistake with my drink. Why am I done with stimulants? I get the shakes, I become irritable and I get these circles under my eyes that make me look like a skinny, pissed-off Panda. I’ve scoured the internet looking for healthy energy drinks and there are some, but the ones that are the most successful in the marketplace are generally the worst ones for you.
So what are the ingredients I should be aware of?
- Caffeine – It is a stimulant. Click here to see my article on why I don’t like stimulants such as caffeine.
- Guarana – has a small amount of caffeine – equal to 2 cups of decaf coffee. So if you are sensitive, stay away from this.
- Green Tea – there are many health benefits of Green Tea and it is great, if you are not sensitive to caffeine.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – I had to highlight this nasty little ingredient because it has a very different effect in the body than other sugars. Click here for a great article on why HFCS is a problem.
- Refined Sugars – sugars are the building block for all carbohydrates but in highly refined forms is as potent as a drug in it’s effect on the body. Some forms that are metabolized differently than others. If you eat packaged foods, it is unavoidable. My threshold for sugars of any kind in energy drinks? I’d like to see less than 20 grams per container.
- Articificial sugars: e.g. aspartame, lactose, acesulfame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose,
- Alcohol sugars: sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol etc. Just look for ingredients ending in …ol.
Okay, so if I follow this advice it rules out almost all of the energy drinks on the market, right? No. There are healthy ones out there so keep your eye out for another article on Our Top 5 Energy Drinks from a health perspective.