By Dr. Janet Brill

Q: What’s the deal with energy drinks like Red Bull or Full Throttle? How do they impact my body and energy?

A: We live such busy lives, is it any wonder so many of us feel tired and run-down and in need of a shot of energy to keep us going? Sadly, the recipe for good health and vigor simply can’t be bought in a single bottle of liquid. The most energetic people are those who are physically fit, and physical fitness comes from living a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and routinely getting a good night’s sleep. Time management is also another piece of the puzzle, learning how to prioritize and leaving some time for rest, relaxation and even a quick cat-nap to reinvigorate ourselves during our long, hectic days.

What is in that energy drink that makes us feel more alert and full of pep after we down one? The answer, in a single word, is stimulants, namely caffeine and taurine. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that will result in raising your mental alertness but for many has unwanted side effects, such as jitteriness and stomach upset to name a few. And what about the “crashing” effect when it wears off? Taurine is an amino acid that is believed to augment the stimulant effect of caffeine. Some of energy drinks also contain a stiff dose of sugar, which will contribute to raising your blood sugar level (albeit short-term), giving you a nice lift but could add considerably to your waistline while it peps you up (one 8.3-fluid-ounce can of Red Bull contains 115 calories and 26 grams of sugar).

The bottom line is that no energy drink can compete with a healthy lifestyle for keeping your energy level up—the natural way.

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