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Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks for Girls

Written by Dr. Keith Kantor, PhD, ND

healthy girl drinksWhy do we want to encourage girls to stay away from energy drinks?

Energy drinks have the potential to do major metabolic damage over time.  Most energy drinks contain high levels of sugar, which will raise insulin levels causing the body to stop burning fat, resulting in weight gain.  The sugar free options are no better, the artificial sweeteners will still result in weight gain and have been shown to increase appetite and pose a potential risk for other chronic diseases like cancer.  The potent amount of caffeine in energy drinks can wear out the adrenal glands over time and can also contribute to irregular heartbeat.  The adrenal glands are responsible for the body's stress response, if the adrenal glands are fatigued due to excessive cortisol output from poor sleep or false energy from stimulants like caffeine it becomes more difficult for the body to metabolize carbohydrates and fats, the result is excess fat settling in the mid-section. 

What are some healthy yet good-tasting food and drinks she can reach
for instead to fight off the afternoon slump?

Green Tea- Green tea is a natural energy source rich in antioxidants with only about a quarter of the amount of caffeine compared to a cup of coffee.  Green tea has numerous health benefits, it has been shown to improve bone and oral health and those who consume green tea regularly have been shown to have a lower risk of both heart disease and cancer. 

Coconut water- Unsweetened regular coconut water is a great alternative to both sports and energy drinks.  Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes, healthy fats and hydration without all of the added sugar, sodium, and dyes like traditional sports drinks. 

Chocolate almond milk is a better alternative to both energy drinks and traditional chocolate milk.  Almond milk is less inflammatory then cow's milk and the chocolate added makes it a great source of carbohydrates and healthy fats.  This would be good to consume before or after exercise. 

Water (with fresh fruit), everyone should aim to consume at least half of their bodyweight in ounces of water per day.  If you think plain water taste boring add fresh fruit to it like lemons, limes, oranges, mangos or berries.  Fatigue is normally a result of dehydration especially later in the day, drinking adequate water will help transport all of the necessary nutrients throughout the body keeping it energized all day. 

Smoothies are a great way to energize the body with nutrients rather than caffeine.  The base of your smoothie should be a low sugar fruit like berries, with unsweetened almond or coconut milk, a scoop of protein powder and a handful of spinach.  This smoothie is a great source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates will boost your metabolism and keep your energy steady throughout the afternoon. 

This is a preview to an article which will be featured in Girls' Life Magazine.

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