Picture this: It’s late afternoon at work, you’re running on fumes, and you need to finish an urgent project. What do you do?
If you’re like millions of people, you reach for an energy drink. But here’s the deal: While that drink will give you a brief boost of energy, you’ll pay a high price for it (and I’m not just talking about how expensive the most popular energy drinks are). Today, I’ll tell you about the dark side of energy drinks—and then I’ll share ten energy boosters that are far safer and just as effective.
The dangers of energy drinks
Energy drinks mask your fatigue by loading you with huge doses of caffeine. Many also contain taurine, which amplifies the effects of the caffeine. That’s why these drinks frequently cause anxiety, “jitters,” and insomnia.
In addition, most energy drinks contain large amounts of either sugar or artificial sweeteners. The sugar-sweetened ones spike your blood glucose, raising your insulin levels and packing on belly fat, while the artificially-sweetened ones wreak havoc on your gut bugs.
Even worse, when the effects of an energy drink wear off, you’ll crash—and that can tempt you to reach for a second drink or even a third one. Overdosing on energy drinks can raise your blood pressure, lead to cardiac arrhythmia, or in rare cases even cause cardiac arrest. More than 20,000 people wind up in the emergency room annually due to the side effects of these drinks.
The solution: safe, natural pick-me-ups
So what are you supposed to do when you’re ready to keel over but you need to keep running? Simple: Reach for a natural energy fix that will rev you up AND do your body good! Here are 10 of my favorites:
- Fat bombs. A small dose of healthy fat is one of the best energy boosters in the world, and fat bombs are a handy source of this fat. These are small, low-carb, high-fat snacks that carry a big nutritional punch, and it only takes minutes to whip up a batch; here’s one of my favorite recipes. (No time to make a batch of fat bombs? Then snack on a few pieces of avocado, some unsweetened coconut chips, a closed handful of nuts, or some olives, which will give you the same little blast of energy from healthy fat.)
- Jerky. Often, people run out of steam because they’re low on protein. If your breakfasts or lunches tend to be short on protein, nibble on a little beef or turkey jerky when the afternoon blahs strike. Look for jerky that’s made from pastured meat and contains no artificial ingredients.
- Bone broth. Bone broth is rich in amino acids that boost your energy and packed with minerals that brighten your mood. And it’s low in calories and has almost no carbs, so it’s a sin-free snack you can have any time.
- Collagen coffee. While energy drinks load you with too much caffeine, a cup of coffee has just enough to give you a boost without making you jittery. Add a dose of collagen to give your body some energizing amino acids.
- Matcha. This superfood, made from the ground leaves of green tea, energizes you and calms you at the same time. You can make matcha powder into a tea, add it to a smoothie, or even use it in fat bombs.
- Water. Often when we think we’re tired or hungry, we’re actually thirsty. (It’s called signal confusion.) So rather than reaching for that energy drink, have a tall, cool glass of water.
- Walking. I know that when you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is get out of your chair! But once you get started, you’ll rev up your circulation and immediately start to feel perkier. For an even bigger boost, climb some stairs.
- Yoga. If you’re home, do a few simple yoga poses—especially poses like downward dog, which will increase the circulation to your brain.
- Nature. Your body isn’t genetically engineered to spend all day in an office under artificial light—so if you can, schedule a quick outdoor walk each afternoon. Research shows that exposure to sunlight and greenery can improve both your mood and your job performance.
- Sleep. Okay, you can’t do this one on the job! But getting enough sleep before your day starts will help you stay alert later on. So set a regular bedtime for yourself, turn off your devices an hour before you turn in, and aim for at least seven or eight hours of sleep per night.
If the afternoon slump is a big problem for you, try these strategies and see what happens. My guess is that you’ll be able to kiss those energy drinks goodbye—and your body (as well as your budget) will be healthier as a result!
Keep thinking big and living BOLD!