The Energy Drink Scam -- Do Energy Drinks Help You, or Can They Actually Make You Fat? 

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By Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist. Author of best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen & The Top 101 Foods that FIGHT Aging

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 will 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 us look at the composition of these energy drinks. 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 is something healthy about these concoctions. 

Let us start with the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or other syrups and sugars. Well, here we have 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 is up for debate, but semantics in the big picture). Some energy drinks use other added sugars instead of HFCS, but it does not 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 sugar-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 will not 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 is never a good idea to try to "trick" your body with artificial tastes. 

What about caffeine? 

Well, first of all, caffeine does not in itself provide "energy." Technically, the only substance that actually provides energy is calories. 

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 would rather get my caffeine from a natural source like green, white, or oolong teas (or my new favorite - yerba mate teas), or even a good organic coffee, all of which actually provide very powerful healthy antioxidants too! 

Keep in mind though, if you are a regular daily coffee drinker, and drink more than 1 cup of coffee per day, you probably have some level of addiction to caffeine and probably would not 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 ONE cup of coffee per day max to reduce your dependency on caffeine. Keeping total caffeine intake to around 100-150 mg/day max is helpful to prevent adrenal issues and addiction to 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 too much coffee, or from coffee on an empty stomach. 

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 does not 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! Do not fall for the ridiculous marketing of all of these so-called "energy drinks." 

Instead, here is 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 will 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 white/green/yerba mate iced tea mixture and fill the rest of the glass with 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, including as much potassium as a banana, but with only 1/3 the amount of carbs and calories as a banana. Coconut water is known to provide a good instant energy source.

So enjoy this natural healthy energy drink, knowing that you are doing your body good instead of filling it with chemicals with normal store-bought energy drinks.

IMPORTANT, Read this next: Why you should NEVER eat vegetable oil, energy bars, soy milk, canola oil, and these cereals.

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› How Legit Are Energy Drinks?
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