When we think of energy drinks, most likely that one in a slim silver can comes to mind (and perhaps adding vodka to it) or one of those giant multi-colored cans you pick up at a gas station. Let’s be honest: there’s something that feels a little dirty about having one. Oftentimes you end up with a jittery or jacked-up feeling. But if you don’t like coffee, an energy drink might be essential when you’re on the road or you need a major pick me up after a long right out.
But what about those “natural energy drinks” that have recently begun popping up everywhere? Are those better? Could they actually be good for us? If you’ve been looking at labels or questioning your energy drink consumption, the truth might surprise you.
What a doctor has to say about natural energy drinks
Dr. Mark Iwanicki, ND Lac of the New York Center for Innovative Medicine, isn’t generally a fan of energy drinks. “Most of them are loaded with artificial colors, sweeteners, and chemicals. The biggest ingredient is usually always caffeine, in very high doses.”
The problem is that caffeine can sometimes cross the line between not great for you and potentially dangerous. “Super high levels of caffeine, especially in young children, teens, and adults (the ones those drinks are usually marketed towards), can be very dangerous. Large amounts of caffeine can cause cardiovascular issues like heart rhythm irregularities, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure, especially in young kids,” explains the doctor.
Still, if you like energy drinks, there’s a way to be safe about them. Dr. Iwanicki suggests avoiding any ingredient you can’t pronounce or that has a number attached to it. If the label has both ashwagandha and ginseng, that is also a big red flag. “These ingredients on their own are fantastic at balancing the adrenal glands; however, in combination with high levels of caffeine, they are kind of working against each other (like stepping on the gas and the brakes at the same time).”
Dr. Iwanicki recommends looking for amino acids like Taurine and L-Theanine. “Those ingredients, as well as the B-vitamins, are great at calming the nervous and cardiovascular systems and can give the body an added energy boost in addition to the caffeine.”
Better options for natural energy drinks
One of the newest natural energy drinks on the market is HerPower by MixHers. Founded by Jess Toolson, mother of three and wife to professional basketball player Ryan Toolson, this pandemic-founded brand offers a variety of powered drink mixes designed specifically for a woman’s body and nutritional requirements.
HerPower is a non-stimulant energy supplement formulated to help you have stamina and concentrate as well as improve mental clarity and boost your mood. It doesn’t contain caffeine.
Packed in an individual “stick,” it’s perfect for traveling or using on the go. It also comes in fun tropical flavors including Peach Mango, Piñaberry Babe (my personal favorite), and Coconut Lime. With ingredients including amino acids arginine and citrulline, you get a true energy boost without feeling angry or jittery.
Another alternative is Herhydration which can give you energy through electrolytes and two grams of complex carbohydrates. While not technically an “energy drink,” we all know being dehydrated can be a big energy drainer. It is also a smart alternative to sports drinks.
Something else to consider
If you’re generally feeling low energy, it could be because you aren’t getting enough vitamins and nutrients from your diet. If this is the case, you may want to go with something that’s more of a supplement than a typical energy drink, such as GoBiotix Greens N’ Reds Superfood.
This product gives you energy not only through nutrients but also helps detox the body by adding natural fiber along with digestive enzymes and active probiotics. Made with raw ingredients, it gives your body a daily dose of fruits and veggies, boosting the immune system. Because there isn’t any caffeine or refined sugars, this is a great option for anyone sensitive to caffeine.
Everything in moderation
No one has a perfect diet. So, if you like the way energy drinks taste and make you feel, at least be safe about it. “If you are going to drink one, make sure to not have more than one per day. Read the caffeine content to make sure you aren’t dosing super high. An eight ounce cup of black coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine. You shouldn’t be getting any more than that from any one drink at any one sitting,” says Dr. Iwanicki.
So, if you’re simply looking to get a caffeine fix, the doctor thinks coffee might be a better option. “If you’re going to drink caffeine, organic black tea, green tea, or plain black coffee is a more natural safer, less expensive bet than an energy drink. A simple shot of plain, high quality, organic espresso is the best energy drink you can have.”
He also warns that if you are overly jittery, feeling like your heart is racing, or having racing thoughts or anxiety, it’s best to cut energy drinks completely from your diet.