You’re sitting at your desk, knocking out tasks, checking items off your to-do list. Nothing can stand in the way of your productivity.
Until suddenly—a yawn. Then two, then three. It comes on out of nowhere: the dreaded, mid-afternoon crash.
The feeling of fatigue hits you like a ton of bricks. Your workday comes to a grinding halt.
Quick! You need to find a way to counteract this lack of energy and sprint through the final hours of the day with that same productivity it started with.
You’re looking for a source of energy—the strength needed for sustained physical or mental activity. When seeking out an energy source, it’s imperative to find the best option for your needs.
Many people reach for the typical energy drinks found in a convenience store fridge, but that boost is typically short-lived with a crash. Traditional energy drinks have been a part of the mainstream American marketplace for over 30 years, but they often come with a price that goes beyond dollars and cents. Quick crashes and questionable ingredient profiles have left consumers turning to natural energy drinks as a viable alternative.
But where should you turn when you’re looking for a natural source of energy?
Let’s look at some of the best natural energy drinks to keep you going without the crash.
Caffeine has been touted as the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world.
A study performed on 66 subjects gave coffee to one group and placebo to another group after an overnight fast.
Not only is caffeine a great source of external energy, but it can also affect your body’s energy expenditure as well.
Caffeine can help increase thermogenesis and increase daily energy expenditure. A study was performed on both lean and obese subjects who were given 100mg of caffeine over a 150-minute period.
The net result was an increase in EE of 150 calories in the lean group and 79 calories in the obese group.
Another study on caffeine was performed on eight healthy men who consumed 10mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo both 90 minutes before and 240 minutes after ingestion.
Obviously, caffeine is a substance that gives us increased levels of energy and is consumed from an external source. But these studies show that caffeine might also have an effect on the way energy is used within your body.
Maybe coffee isn’t for you.
If you’re really searching for that extra boost of energy, be sure to check out caffeine-containing nootropics specific for energy and focus, like Sprint. It’s perfect for on-the-go needs, formulated to promote alertness, focus, and relaxation—it can put you in the right state of mind necessary to power through the workday. Enjoy clean energy, avoid the afternoon slump and maybe, avoid that coffee stain on your white shirt.
Drink of Choice
If you’re looking for a caffeinated beverage to help power you through the day, why not try a portable cold brew, perfect for taking on the go.
- ⅓ cup ground coffee beans
- 1 ½ cups of cold water
- 1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
- In a mason jar, combine coffee and cold water. Give it a quick stir, then cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
- The next morning, strain the coffee through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. You now have cold brew concentrate.
- In a new glass, mix together equal parts cold brew concentrate and water to taste.
- Add heavy cream if desired
Like the name implies, coconut water is the clear liquid found at the center of young, green coconuts. Popularly used for hydration, coconut water contains natural electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and manganese—many people call it “nature’s sports drink.”
A study was performed on eight healthy male volunteers who exercised at 60% VO2max until losing 2.78kg of body weight.
The study leads us to believe coconut water can be a superior source of hydration compared to water alone.
And staying properly hydrated is one way of maintaining mental energy throughout the day.
Coconut water can also help maintain electrolyte balances, which is another way of keeping energy levels up. Electrolytes carry electrical impulses needed for various physiological processes like muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmissions. What’s more, we lose electrolytes in sweat. These reasons leave many athletes reaching for electrolyte-enriched beverages for sport.
In a study performed on four male and four female participants, each was given either two liters of coconut water or tap water for four days.
Coconut water was shown to increase theses electrolyte balances suggesting that coconut water can help rehydrate, which in turn may prevent fatigue and decreased energy levels.
Drink of Choice
If you want to try an all-natural source of coconut water for your daily energy boost, be sure to check out Harmless Harvest Organic 100% Raw Coconut Water. Its pure ingredients and fresh flavor make it a good source of coconut water without all the added sugar you may find in other energy beverages.
Green tea is another natural source of caffeine and energy. This natural energy beverage has been consumed for centuries across the world, providing a quick way to boost energy without added sugars.
One key ingredient found in green tea is L-theanine, which is often used to improve focus, memory and attention.
A study was performed on 12 habitual and 12 non-habitual consumers of caffeine; each received either 75mg caffeine, 50mg L-theanine, 75mg caffeine plus 50mg L-theanine, and placebo.
For supplements, look for nootropics that combine caffeine and L-theanine for energy and focus. When combined, these two ingredients can boost short-term working memory, long-term semantic memory, and increased alertness.
Green tea can also help control weight through increased energy expenditure.
A cross-over study was performed on ten healthy men who were given 50mg of green tea extract, 50mg of green tea extract and 90mg epigallocatechin gallate, or a placebo at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Another health benefit of green tea might be reduced cardiovascular risk.
A study performed on 240 subjects over a two week period gave them either 583mg of catechins or 96mg of catechins per day (catechins is a green tea extract).
The ingestion of more highly concentrated green tea resulted in reductions in body fat, systolic blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol. The study suggests that ingesting green tea extract can lead to decreased in obesity and potentially, risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Drink of Choice
If you’re searching for a green tea to provide a natural boost through your day, look no further than Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant as a green tea blend that contains both antioxidants and are free from artificial sweeteners.
The human body’s ability to produce and oxidize evolved as a survival mechanism. When our great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers were on the hunt between large meals, they needed a way to use stored body fat for energy. But the brain—our biggest competitive advantage over our prey—can’t use fat for energy.
Normally the brain relies on carbohydrates for energy, but without them, the body began using fat as fuel. This led to the production of ketones in the liver.
That’s why you hear about the anecdotal feelings of mental clarity from those on the keto diet.
Evidence from animal studies has shown the can increase the creation of new mitochondria through a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, where fuel converts into bodily energy. More mitochondria mean more efficient energy production.
Ketones are also a cleaner-burning energy compared to carbs; they result in fewer free radicals when processed, compared to glucose.
Total energy expenditure may also be increased from ketosis.
A rat-model study was performed to determine if a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet result in changes of total energy expenditure.
Drink of Choice
Going into ketosis can vary from person to person, but there are two types of ketones that can help us achieve this state. The first is endogenous, which refers to ketones that are produced within the body via diet or fasting. The second is exogenous, which are achieved by consuming a ketone drink such as .
Exogenous ketones can enhance your physical and cognitive performance while supporting your fasting and dietary goals. Studies on exogenous ketones have shown an improvement in endurance performance, but more recently, we’re also seeing results from studies that assess its cognitive ability.
One study tested male athletes on cognitive multitasking both before and after exercise. Those using a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution had more incorrect answers after physical exercise; those using exogenous ketones had the same amount of incorrect answers, both before and after exercise. This suggests exogenous ketones prevent cognitive decline normally seen after exercise.
The name for ginseng is derived from the Chinese word meaning “man root” because it resembles the shape of the human body. Panax ginseng is an herbal medicine used to boost immune function, normalize blood pressure, and help control blood sugar levels in traditional Chinese medicine.
Ginseng and its extracts have been shown to reduce mental fatigue allowing for extended periods of high-energy mental tasks such as psychological testing.
A study was conducted on 30 healthy young adults who consumed 200mg of ginseng, 400mg of ginseng, or a placebo.
Another study was performed on mice that were divided into groups and given 125mg, 250mg, or 500mg of ginseng.
Because of ginseng’s ability to potentially reduce fatigue, it’s a natural choice for an energy supplement to help get you through the day.
Drink of Choice
Many mainstream energy drink sources such as Red Bull may contain ginseng, but these also come loaded with other less than optimal ingredients such as sugars and artificial sweeteners. A better alternative would be Celsius Energy Drink by Elite FX. It claims to help raise metabolism and increase the number of calories burned with exercise.
The Dark Side of Energy Drinks
While energy drinks have been popular for the last couple of decades, many have questioned their safety. With high amounts of stimulants, some conventional energy drinks have been linked to health concerns such as cardiac issues.
Anecdotally, a 25 year old man had been drinking massive quantities of caffeinated beverages daily over the course of a week.
Some harmful ingredients you should look out for in conventional energy drinks include:
B Vitamins: although B vitamins can provide health benefits, some energy drinks contain high levels of B3 and B6 which may cause skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, liver toxicity, and nerve damage.
Taurine: many energy drinks contain taurine, which is an amino acid that supports neurological development. However, too much can be harmful even leading to kidney problems.
Sugar: the majority of energy drinks contain high levels of sugar or high fructose corn syrup which can lead to issues related to insulin sensitivity and diabetes along with cardiovascular problems.
Artificial sweeteners: although some brands now have artificial sweeteners instead of sugars, they have anecdotally been linked to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.
Be on the lookout for energy drinks containing these ingredients. You should take caution with energy drinks that contain these ingredients in favor of natural alternatives.
Which Energy Drink is Right for You?
Natural energy drink sources can provide cognitive benefits and increase energy expenditure within the body. Although several different types of energy drinks can be found on the market, it’s important to take caution against ones with questionable ingredients.
Try out different sources of natural energy drinks and get a sense of which one works best for you. The key is discovering which one provides the best source of energy with minimal side effects. Only you can determine which option is right for you.
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