If you are anything like me you have tried one of the many “popular” energy drinks out there like Monster, Red Bull, etc. Truth be told, I used to drink 1-2 energy drinks a day for an extended period. Well, a visit to a cardiologist and subsequent diagnosis of tachycardia put the kibosh on that daily ritual of mine. I was then in need of finding a healthy alternative that wouldn’t increase my already elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
One of my biggest criticisms about energy drinks is that they are full of sugar. This is a negative for two reasons: 1) you will experience a crash 2) the high number of sugar in liquid form will spike your insulin levels. This means that after the crash you will be just as tired as before (if not more), and for fitness/health reasons, the only time you would want an insulin spike is immediately post-workout when you want to flood the muscle with nutrients.
So, what are you supposed to do when you are 8-9 hours into a 12-hour shift and you need a pick me up? Well, here are my top choices:
- If you bring a homemade juice with you to work made up of dark leafy green vegetables (and some berries to help with the taste), you will be able to take advantage of Quercetin. These nutrients block brain receptors for sleep chemicals and can also increase the mitochondria in your cells for greater muscle performance. B Vitamins within the juice are important as our body requires them for metabolism to run at its peak
- Green Tea/Tea
- Research shows that the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine, and amino acid found in tea will give you energy while mitigating the overstimulation caused by caffeine alone. Green Tea also contains a smaller amount of caffeine than coffee does.
- BCAA/Amino Acid Supplement
- Amino Acids are the building blocks for your muscles and supplementing with a BCAA supplement can help delay fatigue, while Glutamine can increase energy
- Protein Shake
- Lack of protein is a common cause of fatigue, and if you are going off the RDA for protein I can guarantee you are not consuming enough. If you are looking to take a protein shake as an energy source make sure you add some fruit (small amount preferably berries), wheat germ, or quinoa into the shake to get a more sustainable energy boost from your protein
- Dark Chocolate
- Flavonoids in dark chocolate stimulate bioactive compounds in the brain, boosting energy