Energy drinks make up 3% of the total non-alcoholic soft drinks sold in the United States and manufactures are finding new ways to boost sales every year. Currently, multiple energy drink companies are even becoming college sponsors, making students the most targeted demographic.
While they do provide temporary alertness, increased focus and heightened cognitive function, they should also come with some warnings.
Healthy adults can consume up to 400mg of caffeine throughout one day.
· 1 8oz cup of coffee contains 100mg of caffeine
· 8oz Monster Energy contains 92mg of caffeine
· 9oz of Red Bull contains 83mg of caffein
The typical can however is 16oz and most people will drink multiple in one day:
· 16oz of Monster Energy contains 184mg
· 16oz of Red Bull contains 166mg
The typical threshold before symptoms arise is 300mg of caffeine in one day:
· Anxiety, shakiness, restlessness, increased heart rate and panic attacks are common
At 600mg (about 3 or 4 energy drinks) you are considered intoxicated:
· Insomnia, tremors, tachycardia, heart palpitations, and upset stomach are seen.
Finally at 10g of caffeine it is considered an overdose:
· Vomiting and abdominal pain, hypokalemia, hallucinations, increased intracranial pressure, cerebral edema, stroke, paralysis, altered consciousness, rigidity, seizures, arrhythmias, and death can occur.
So, instead of reaching for an energy drink while studying try eating properly throughout the day to sustain energy levels without side-effects or crashes. For your body to stay up and alert all day you need the proper nutrition.
· Carbohydrates are the most critical component of a healthy diet, helping the brain to operate, which helps you stay alert throughout the day.
· Fats (particularly unsaturated fats) are also important for day-long energy. Your body will break these down for use in a process called metabolism.
So what should you be eating throughout the day if you want to survive work, classes, homework, and cramming for
· Milk is high in protein and vitamin B12 which is responsible to nervous system function and helps your body to keep its energy up.
A mid-morning snack can be helpful if you are running between classes and need a pick-me-up before that long lecture.
· Try an 8oz cup of coffee to increase your neurofunction! It helps your brain to release dopamine and norepinephrine to give you that up-beat feeling and razor sharp focus.
· A cup of blueberries is also a great morning snack to prevent hunger. With no fat, lots of vitamin C, antioxidants and a good source of fiber these little guys will help keep your heart healthy and your cholesterol down all while giving you the vitamins and nutrients you need for proper health.
If your day is busy and you still need some help to get you through the day try an energy supplement paired with a high protein snack.
· Products such as NoDoz have anywhere from 75-200mg of caffeine and extra added vitamins they are shown to increase alertness and focus without the crash.
· Pair it with Greek yogurt topped with granola for a filling lunch. Greek yogurt contains large amount of protein, potassium, magnesium and calcium, not only for bone health but also to regulate your blood pressure and aid in good digestion.
· The added granola not only adds some great flavor but the extra carbohydrates will help keep your mind sharp.
As you run around throughout your day remember that it is important to maintain proper hydration so dehydration doesn’t slow you down.
· PowerAde or other sports drinks will help to keep your blood sugar and blood sodium levels at the proper levels. These sports drinks can also ease headaches that can be brought on after a long day.
· Or try some coconut water, its low in calories, fat free, and has more potassium than 4 bananas! It contains easily digestible carbohydrates in the form of natural sugar and electrolytes.
· Remember that your body still needs good, clean water to stay functioning. As a rule of thumb divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water each day!
When you can finally sit down for dinner before hitting the books again, fill your belly with a good dinner to get you through the last push of the day.
· A pasta dinner will put some final carbohydrates into your body; if you add some meat or beans you will have the added protein and fat boost your body needs after a long day.
· Pair it with a sweet potato to help regulate your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C all while being low calorie.
If you still plan on hitting the books at the end of the day, avoid excess sugar or caffeine so your body will be able to sleep after the cram session.
· Try a cup of green tea to help you get through the rest of your night. Green tea will boost your metabolism, help your heart, remove toxins, boost your immune system, and protect your liver, kidney and lung function. The amino acids in green tea also help to increase your mental focus without the effects of caffeine.
· Pair this with a fish oil (omega 3 fatty acid) supplement. These have been shown to increase memory and focus in those who take them regularly. They also have the added benefit of pain and inflammation reduce and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
By avoiding grabbing a sugar-filled energy drink whenever you need a pick-me-up and instead eating right throughout the day, you are setting yourself up for success. By saying no to excess sugar, calories, and harmful chemicals and choosing whole foods and proper nutrients your body, and your GPA will thank you.
For more information please visit: Choose My Plate or Today's Dietitian