Energy Drinks

Among the most heavily consumed dietary supplements, energy drinks are wildly popular. But do they work as advertised? If so, at what cost to our health? And why do we rely on them so heavily? We explore where real energy comes from, the mechanisms by which energy drinks may give us a real or perceived boost, and why that boost may come with some serious strings attached.

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Energy Drinks — the surge of popularity they’re currently enjoying, and the widespread energy-deficit that appears to be driving their consumption.

We explore where real energy comes from, the mechanisms by which energy drinks may give us a real or perceived boost, and why that boost may come with some serious strings attached.

Whether you’re a fan of energy drinks, or concerned about the effect they might be having on you or someone you love, we offer you insights into their potential pros and cons, and we suggest some experiments to help you generate more sustainable energy in ways that work for you.

“Energy Drinks” Episode Highlights

  • Humans’ longstanding relationship with caffeinated drinks like yerba mate and coffee, and the recent rise of energy drinks (now “the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults”  according to the NIH)
  • Dallas dives into what energy is and how humans turn food into fuel, the relationship between energy and alertness, and the different forms of fatigue
  • Why an optimally-functioning person doesn’t need energy supplements, and the habits and inputs that make a person function optimally over their lifetime
  • The use of energy drinks as a symptom that the stressed body’s natural needs and rhythms are being ignored
  • The immediate stress-hormone-elevating effects of one 16-oz serving, and how regular consumption can impact health and make fatigue and anxiety cycles worse
  • How energy drinks can lead to panic attacks, risky behavior, and more
  • The potentially habit-forming ingredients in many energy supplements
  • Alternatives to energy drinks as a short-term solution, and the importance of addressing the underlying causes of a lack of energy and focus vs. only dealing with symptoms

If you currently use energy drinks or coffee to keep your energy up:

1) Drink two glasses of room-temperature water within 15 minutes of waking. Notice if you feel you need less (or any) caffeine to get going.

2) Repeat in the mid-afternoon when you usually feel your attention flagging, and take a brief movement, deep-breathing, or sunlight break. Note again if it decreases or eliminates your desire for an artificial energy boost.

1) At first sign of energy dip, fatigue, or loss of focus, take a 10- to 20-minute ultradian rhythm break (listen to our “Pause” episode) to allow your body to rapidly replenish your energy by natural means.

2) Pay attention to the display, marketing, and packaging of energy drinks. Notice how much of what you’re being encouraged to buy into is an appealing image or ideal, as opposed to what the drink actually provides.

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