Alternative Fuels (Part 2)
Coffee Energy Drinks
Herbal ingredients may trigger a guy’s skepticism, but coffee appeals to the average Joe. “Coffee is a commonly consumed, relatively safe product,” says Marczinski. “So people may assume coffee energy drinks are safe, too.” But even if the label says “coffee,” you may still be downing an alphabet soup of ingredients. Java Monster, for example, which claims to contain “premium coffee and cream,” is actually a blend of coffee extract, milk, taurine, panax ginseng, caffeine, and guarana. “Panax ginseng has been linked to pretty significant side effects, including abdominal pain and headaches,” says University of Massachusetts toxicologist Richard Church. And guarana is just an herbal guise for an extra shot of caffeine—its seeds pack about four times the caffeine of coffee beans.
YOUR MOVE Fire up the coffeepot instead. “In addition to the caffeine boost, coffee can lower your risk of depression, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease,” says Dr Edlund. “Plus, it has a healthy social element. You’re often with others when you drink coffee.” If you’re brewing at home, opt for light-roast blends; these offer significantly more antioxidants than dark roasts, a 2011 Portuguese study found.
Juice and Tea Drinks
About half of energy drink consumers are interested in juice- or tea-based alternatives, according to Mintel. That’s a bright spot: Juices contain many of the same vitamins added to energy drinks, but in their natural form. “Food is not one substance or vitamin,” Dr Edlund says. Whole foods provide a matrix of nutrients, some of which may enhance others’ effects in your body, he says. So isolating a single nutrient could rob you of the whole food’s full benefits. And while Red Bull may amp you up more effectively than tea, the liquid in that silver can lacks tea’s disease-fighting antioxidants.
YOUR MOVE Check the label: Juice and tea should replace, rather than accompany, energy drink ingredients such as guarana and B vitamins. Or just grab a bottle of tea. According to a 2008 study in Psychopharmacology, the combination of caffeine and theanine, an amino acid in tea, may boost alertness without raising blood pressure as much as caffeine does alone.
Energy boosts no longer require a bottle, now coming in gum form, with 40 milligrammes of caffeine in a single piece. The danger: “People think a stick of gum is a stick of gum. Before they know it, they’ve crammed five pieces into their mouths,” says Dr Church. That’s like drinking a pot of coffee—but with a side of artificial sweeteners or, in the case of the chews, corn syrup and evaporated cane juice.
YOUR MOVE Close your eyes and focus on a specific place of tension on your head or neck, Dr Edlund says. “Removing one spot of tension can help your entire body relax. Focus and energy are closely related.”
Words by Laura Roberson. Image from Stockexchange
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