Understanding what makes a beverage healthy or not can be the difference in how your body feels the rest of the day. Many of these beverages rely on excess caffeine or added sugar content for any perceived increase in your energy levels. Here we will break down the facts on some of the “health” drinks on the market.
Most energy drinks have at least three times the caffeine as a cup of coffee and over 20 grams of added sugar. This amount of caffeine and sugar leads to a short-lived energy boost, followed by a crash. If you’re having trouble sleeping, these drinks might be the cause. Research has shown energy-drink consumers suffer from insomnia and jitteriness (Nadeem et al, 2021). These drinks are a temporary fix and cause you to feel more tired than before. If you are looking for a "healthier" energizing beverage, we recommend opting for a cup of black coffee, tea, or caffeinated seltzer water. You can also speak with a Registered Dietitian if you are having energy slumps throughout the day, the issue may also be rooted in eating patterns.
These drinks contain all the sugar and none of the fiber as their whole fruit counterparts, so often they can result in blood sugar spikes. Consuming this sugar without fiber contributes to poor blood sugar control. Instead, we recommend grabbing the whole orange or apple for a quick snack. If you do choose to grab a fruit juice, search for "100% fruit juice" and remember you can dilute it partially with water or seltzer.
The intended purpose of sports drinks is to replace fluid, electrolytes, and carbohydrates for those playing high-intensity sports or activities. For the average workout, sports drinks may add unnecessary calories and sugar. Instead, we recommend choosing water or unsweetened coconut water if you want some more flavor alongside your workout. Sports drinks have a place if you are exercising for more than 60 minutes at a time in order to properly replace the fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat.
Bottled Smoothies and Protein Shakes
Unfortunately, the convenience of these products may come at a cost. Most of these beverages have a high amount of added sugar (not from fruit!) and not enough fiber to keep them from spiking your blood sugar. Instead, we recommend making your smoothies at home, with frozen fruits and veggies you can quickly add in the fiber you need with flavors you love as well as making sure that you have enough protein like Greek yogurt or kefir.
Curious about other drinks? Chat with one of our Registered Dietitians in the d.velop app!
Laura Ward, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Nadeem IM, Shanmugaraj A, Sakha S, Horner NS, Ayeni OR, Khan M. Energy Drinks and Their Adverse Health Effects: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Health. 2021;13(3):265-277. doi:10.1177/1941738120949181.