In the past five years or so, energy drinks have become the rage. These potentially dangerous cocktails combine ingredients like caffeine, sugar, taurine and guarana to give you a hit of nervous energy.
Energy drinks can be dangerous for people who are drinking alcohol. Both alcohol and the ingredients in energy drinks act as diuretics. This can lead to unhealthy levels of dehydration. Caffeine can also mask the effects of the alcohol, making you believe you are less intoxicated than you are.
Many people also use energy drinks to stimulate them before physical exercise. This too has inherent risks. The ingredients in energy drinks can raise your blood pressure, and over-stimulate your heart and nervous system. This not only undermines your workout, it can also make you seriously ill.
So what are some ways to boost your energy during the day without resorting to energy drinks?
Wholesome Energy Boosts
If you want to make sure your energy levels remain constant throughout the day, follow these simple recommendations:
• Eat breakfast: You’ve heard it a million times before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet over 31 million Americans skip breakfast on a regular basis. There’s research that proves people who eat breakfast feel mentally and physically better prepared for the day ahead. Eating breakfast may even reduce levels of the body’s stress hormone, cortisol.
• Eat frequent, small meals: Eating small meals five times a day stabilizes your blood sugar more effectively than eating three large meals a day. Blood sugar fluctuations are often the source of that listless feeling that hits many people in the afternoon. Large meals also take a lot of energy to digest, and this can leave you feeling exhausted.
Try to include carbohydrates in each of your small meals. Carbohydrates are the best source of quick energy. Protein will help you sustain that energy over the next few hours. Finally, healthy fats like those found in fish, nuts and olives will give you a satisfying feeling of fullness.
• Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in helping people remain mentally alert. They are the fats commonly found in marine and plant sources. Foods with high omega-3 fatty acid contents include salmon, tuna, walnuts and canola oil.
• Drink water: Most Americans don’t drink enough water throughout the day. As a result, they become slightly dehydrated. The more dehydrated you are, the thicker your blood becomes. That means your heart has to work harder to circulate blood throughout your body.
You don’t have to drink water to stay hydrated. There are plenty of delicious foods that have a high water content. Eat juicy fruits like oranges and grapefruits, or vegetables like broccoli and carrots. These foods will keep you hydrated.
• Limit your caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant, so it’s only natural to use it as a pick-me-up when you’re lagging in the afternoon. However, if you drink caffeine too late in the afternoon, it will affect the quality of your sleep. If you don’t sleep well, you’ll feel it the next day.