Energy “Wisdom” That Drags You Down
You had a short night’s sleep. So you stop off at the coffee shop for a big cup of “quick pick-me-up.” After lunch, you’re feeling a little groggy, so you grab another.
That cup of coffee – or a can of “energy drink” – is going to cost you. Both in terms of energy and your health. Here’s why… and what you should grab instead.
You love the boost caffeine gives you. It’s fast and it’s powerful. But it isn’t necessarily safe. Especially now that they’re serving up so much of it.
You see, technically, caffeine is a drug. It’s a stimulant. And like other stimulants, it works fine. For a while. But when it clears your system, you crash… hard.
And if you get too much caffeine, you’ll also suffer. Over about 500 mg a day, and you may develop stomach problems, irritability, trouble sleeping… and even an irregular heartbeat.
500 mg used to be about 4 cups of coffee. But University of Florida researchers discovered that’s not true anymore. They found up to 529 mg of caffeine in a single 16-oz cup of specialty coffee!1 Even a cup of donut shop coffee may have over 200 mg of caffeine.2
Plus, most coffee shop drinks – and energy drinks – are loaded with sugar. At one chain, the large size “white chocolate mocha” drink packs a whopping 620 calories. That’s nearly a third of a day’s calories in a typical diet. In just one drink.
Energy drinks are no better. One popular energy drink has nearly 20 teaspoons of sugar per can. That’s more than twice as much as a typical can of cola.3 A couple of cans of energy drink a day could help trigger blood sugar problems down the line.
Besides, loading up on caffeine and sugar doesn’t really help. It just delays paying the piper for a while. What you need is a way to boost your energy without playing dice with your health. And there is an answer.
First, get plenty of B vitamins. But not the “boost” provided by energy drinks. That’s nothing more than hype.
B vitamins play critical roles in energy and alertness. But getting mega-doses of B vitamins won’t make any difference in the short term. Because B vitamins aren’t directly involved in energy production.
Think of it this way. B vitamins aren’t the gasoline that powers your car. They’re the maintenance that keeps the engine running at peak performance. After years of neglect, changing the spark plugs isn’t going to fix a broken-down engine.
Another reason these drinks loaded with B-vitamins aren’t much good is that B vitamins are water-soluble. That means your body will eliminate anything more than your current needs. So those little bottles are really just expensive urine.
Forget the advertising hype. Instead, aim to get plenty of B vitamins every day. Poultry, salmon, tuna and spinach are some good sources of B vitamins. A good supplement can help, too. Since vitamin B-12 is only available from animal sources, vegetarians should be sure to take a supplement.
And to boost your endurance, get plenty of quercetin.
Quercetin is a flavonoid – a plant pigment. It’s a powerful antioxidant. But research shows it also boosts endurance. In one study, people who took a quercetin supplement for just 7 days showed 13.2% greater endurance.3 Other studies show that quercetin increases overall physical power.4
Even better, you won’t need some designer energy drink to get your quercetin. It’s in many fruits and vegetables. You’ll find it in dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, etc.), citrus fruits, apples, parsley… and tea.
That’s right. Tea.
So the next time, you’re thinking of a coffee or an energy drink for an afternoon boost, grab a cup of tea instead. You’ll get less caffeine, no sugar – and something that really keeps you going.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 McCusker RR, et al. Caffeine content of specialty coffees. J Anal Toxicol. 2003 Oct;27(7):520-2.
2 See http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211.
3 Davis MJ, et al. The Dietary Flavonoid Quercetin Increases VO2max and Endurance Capacity. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 2010, vol. 20, no1, pp. 56-62.
4 MacRae H and Mefferd KM. Dietary Antioxidant Supplementation Combined with Quercetin Improves Cycling Time Trial Performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2006, 16, 405-419.