Caffeine and energy stimulants in general are a very large part of today’s world. Learn how to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to energy drinks.
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I often get asked about my thoughts on pre-workout, energy drinks, energy shots and sometimes just caffeine in general. I will be the first to tell you that I am not, I repeat NOT the person who deprives themselves of caffeine. I am a coffee fanatic and I don’t foresee that ever changing. I see many of my fellow Trainers walking around with the newest pre-workout mix and the Group Fitness instructors sipping on an energy drink before they get on stage to teach their class. That being said, we gym employees won’t be the ones to cast the first stone when it comes to needing a kick in the pants for energy’s sake.
Many of us are always on the go and need a little boost to keep the pep in our step. The problem comes in when we don’t stay up to date on the risk vs. reward aspect of these stimulants.
- Stay informed of the sugar content
Sugar is an incredibly common additive amongst energy drinks. Why? Well, for one it’s addictive to the brain, thus guaranteeing the energy drink company that you will be a repeat customer. And two it is added in for that “zap” of quick energy. That sugar surge can send you into a pretty severe crash once your rush of energy starts to dwindle. Not to mention the amount of sugar that is added in to the majority of energy drinks is pretty disgusting. For example, the standard 8.3oz Red Bull contains 27g of sugar! Drinking a whole can is the equivalent to putting 2 large tablespoons of pure sugar in your body. YUCK! So, next time you are deciding on an energy drink, read the nutrition labels. Look for low sugar, sugar free, or naturally sweetened versions.
- Be aware of how they “work”
You’ll see as you read through this article, that I use the word “stimulant”. This word is specifically used because that is exactly what caffeine/energy drinks do. They stimulate your energy senses. So, energy drinks do just that. They give you a bit of energy for a short period of time. By consuming too many energy drinks, you are putting yourself at risk for heart palpitations which can then lead to a heart attack or heart failure. Over time, caffeine can become addictive. Because they are diuretics, energy drinks can dehydrate you. So, if you are drinking a highly caffeinated drink while working out, it’s best to drink a lot of water as well so you don’t pass out or become dizzy. In fact, it’s best if you are going to have an energy booster, to drink it before a work out and not during the actual activity itself.
- Understand they WILL NOT help you shed the pounds
A really common misconception about energy drinks and stimulants is that they assist in weight loss. Well, you just read a minute ago about how much sugar can be in one of the most commonly purchased energy drinks on the market. That shows you just how many people are misinformed or don’t care about their health like they should. Drinking all that sugar is not going to help your waistline in a positive way. In fact it will do the exact opposite. Once sugars are consumed into the body, they are then stored as fat. That is what a lot of people don’t understand when they drink the energy drinks that they see advertised on the commercials with the active gym goer or runner. It’s a marketing gimmick my friends. Nothing more.
Some people swear that they have lost weight while having energy drinks or energy stimulants in their diet.
Yeah. That can happen.
It is normally for a not so good reason. The reason? Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, meaning that it will trick your body into thinking it’s not as hungry as it is. Sometimes that can be abused by people. They’ll guzzle energy drinks or take diet pills in hopes of not eating as much as they would without them. Depriving yourself of the nutrition that your body needs is one of the most dangerous, unhealthy, and unmaintainable ways to attempt weight loss.
- Have an idea of your tolerance level
It’s pretty common for you to feel your heart race, see your skin flush red or have your brain zooming all over the place with motivation. What isn’t common and should be watched for is dizziness, nausea, being able to see your heart pumping in your chest or hallucinations. All of what I just mentioned are side effects of what happens when too much caffeine is consumed. Take it easy! Especially if you are new to the stimulant world. Most energy drink cans or pre workout containers will have a suggested “first timers” amount to drink. They will also tell you that it is not recommended to consume more than one of their products at a time due to the intense amounts of caffeine. So, take it slow! Get a feel for what is enough for your body.
As you see, sometimes sources of energy can be abused or wrongfully consumed by the uninformed. Educate yourself on the effects of energy drinks and caffeine to best benefit yourself and stay safe!