Today we live with the world at our fingertips. We have microwave dinners, express carwashes, a solution for everything —even if there isn’t a problem. Life is becoming easier in many ways for us. But in our rush to improve, are we making some mistakes? What about the “advancements” that are sending us backwards?
One of our weirdest developments is that we can now buy energy in a can! We’ve all seen them, those cool looking energy drinks that boost your status just by holding one. But let’s just say you’re not drinking them for swag points. What if you’re actually drinking them for the energy hit? Does it work? Are you really getting that promised energy boost or are you being mislead?
Bottom line is yes, energy drinks do give you a boost, but not the kind you want.
A few minutes after sipping on an energy drink you might experience a “rush”, which could involve increased alertness, super concentration or just the ability to stay awake longer. What they don’t tell you though, is that energy drinks hold a close resemblance to certain forms of drugs. They’re not only packed with sugar—the “silent killer”—which we know causes a spike in blood sugar levels, but they also contain caffeine, a stimulant that causes your heart to beat faster. The two of these combined produces a powerful effect on the body, which in turn causes your brain to panic, trying to bring you back to a normal level of functioning. So this supposed “energy hit” you’re receiving is actually just over-stimulation.
So what’s the problem? Well, energy drinks may give you wings, but be prepared for the bonus headache. Migraines, insomnia, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, cardiac arrest . . . we’ll stop there because I have a word limit.
Of course, one or two energy drinks over a few weeks isn’t going to hospitalise you, but prolonged regular use just might. The key is knowing what is in these drinks, and what it’s doing your body.
So now that energy drinks have been ruined forever, what next? If you’re looking for an alternative, there are heaps of other options that will be of far greater benefit to you without the side affects.
1. An apple—boring? One apple actually gives you more energy, which lasts longer, and doesn’t cause you to come down after your energy high. This energy boost will last you as long as 2-3 hours, as opposed to a maximum of 15-30 minutes from an energy drink.
2. Fifteen star jumps (30 if you’re Rocky). This takes you about 20 seconds, and the short burst of activity is all it takes for your body to release endorphins causing a boost in your mood, concentration, and motivation.
3. Water—one of the main causes of fatigue or lapses in concentration is dehydration. Staying hydrated will avoid these issues altogether.
4. Take a nap! Your body knows best. If you’re struggling to stay awake, sleep! After a 15 minute power nap you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.
While we are working away at making life easier for ourselves, always keep your eye out for sneaky short cuts. They may take you somewhere you really don’t want to go.
Ellesha Knight lives in Melbourne, Victoria, and is studying a Masters of Occupational Therapy at La Trobe University.