8 Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks

Exhausted? Try these healthier options

Relying on energy drinks to function is bad for the waistline and more.

It’s 3 p.m., and you’re hunched over your keyboard in a post-lunch fog. Even your fingers feel fatigued as they clumsily plunk across the keys. Your eyes begin to droop, then pop open again as you glance around the office, terrified your boss just saw you nearly napping on the job. So what do you do? Many of us head to the mini-fridge and chug an energy drink, knowing it’s probably not healthy — but how else to fight off the mid-day drag? And hey, how bad could one energy drink a day really be?

8 Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks (Slideshow)

Unfortunately, pretty bad. One can of Monster Energy Drink has 54 grams of sugar. That’s more than three chocolate glazed cake donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts! Imagine how bad you’d feel after scarfing down those bad boys at your desk for energy.

And it’s not just the sugar in energy drinks that is wreaking havoc on our energy levels and stamina. Most popular energy drinks also contain taurine along with copious amounts of caffeine, and sometimes ginseng. According to Lauren Slayton, MS RD, founder of FoodTrainers.com and author of The Little Book of Thin, “When you combine this blend of multiple ‘uppers’ and consume them long-term there are questionable side effects for the gut and heart. As with anything, the body can become accustomed to needing such ingredients to function.”

Recent studies have even shown that prolonged dependence on energy drinks can even change the way our hearts beat by increasing heart contractions after consumption, which means that energy drinks may not be safe for those with heart problems.

So the bad news is that some of us will stop at nothing to get our energy fix, yet relying on energy drinks to function is absolutely bad for our waistlines and could have long-term detrimental impacts on our hearts. What to do? Find a healthier way to put a little pep in our step throughout the day without depending on drinks that may or may not be dangerous. Below, we’ve compiled a list of drinks to try for healthy energy that won’t leave you feeling dreadful down the road.

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a South American plant with leaves that are commonly dried and made into tea called mate (pronounced MAH-tay). A cup of this rich-tasting tea has 85 grams of caffeine, almost the same as coffee — but unlike coffee, mate is also a great source of antioxidants that may help prevent disease.

Beet Kvass

Okay, before you say there’s no way you’re drinking something made from fermented rye and beets, hear us out. The carbohydrates found in rye will give you a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day, and beets are a wonderful source of both iron and potassium, which work to fight fatigue. In Tolstoy’s War and Peace soldiers drank kvass after fighting on the battlefield, and you know what they say: if it’s good enough for Tolstoy…

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Energy drink makers go above and beyond to clearly label their products and conform to all FDA regulations. Moreover, despite misinformation propagated by the media, the fact remains that most mainstream energy drinks have about half as much caffeine as a similarly sized cup of coffeehouse coffee. Also, a number of the other ingredients found in energy drinks occur naturally and in other foods that we enjoy regularly. For instance, taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body, as well as in common food items such as seafood, scallops and poultry. In sum, these beverages are approved for consumption, and have been safely enjoyed for nearly three decades around the globe.
-American Beverage Association

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