There are many drinks that can give your morning a kick in the pants but they all pretty much use the same couple of ingredients to get you going. The obvious morning drinks are coffee and tea and they rev you up through caffeine (and sugar if you are into that). The other drinks of choice are energy drinks like Red Bull or M150.
CAFFEINE! Give me give me give me!…
…may be what you say when you wake up. Caffeine is the main ingredient that perks you up and keeps you alert -at least until the crash. But what is caffeine? Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a sleep-promoting brain chemical, which in turn makes your body release adrenaline. Caffeine is the world’s most widely used psychoactive substance – a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior. Think about that the next time you slug down a cup of coffee.
Fun caffeine trivia fact: There are over 60 known plants that naturally produce caffeine but the ones that are commonly consumed are: coffee, tea, cocoa, and yerba mate (a plant found in South America). I’m now super curious about all these other plants that could be used for making amazing caffeinated drinks. Where do they grow? Are there people already using them? How can I get a hold of them?
How much caffeine is in the various drinks?
|Item||Quantity||Caffeine Content||mg of Caf/L|
|Hershey’s Special Dark||(45% cacao content) 1 bar (43 g or 1.5 oz)||31|
|Hershey’s Milk Chocolate||(11% cacao content) 1 bar (43 g or 1.5 oz)||10|
|Percolated coffee||207 mL (7.0 US fl oz)||80–135||386–652|
|Drip coffee||207 mL (7.0 US fl oz)||115–175||555–845|
|Cold Brew coffee (diluted)||207 ml (7.0 US fl oz)||85-120||423-579|
|Coffee, decaffeinated||207 mL (7.0 US fl oz)||5–15||24–72|
|Coffee, espresso||44–60 mL (1.5–2.0 US fl oz)||100||1,691-2,254|
|Tea – black, green, and other types, – steeped for 3 min.||177 milliliters (6.0 US fl oz)||22–74||124–418|
|Coca-Cola||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||34||96|
|Mountain Dew||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||54||154|
|Pepsi Zero Sugar||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||69||194|
|Guaraná Antarctica||350 mL (12 US fl oz)||30||100|
|Jolt Cola||695 mL (23.5 US fl oz)||280||403|
|Red Bull||250 mL (8.5 US fl oz)||80||320|
As you can see, on a per liter basis espresso is downright dangerous. I certainly do not recommend drinking a liter of espresso! Red Bull may “give you wings” but regular old coffee packs a caffeinated wallop that is the winner when it comes to getting your caffeine fix. It’s also natural and if you don’t load your coffee up with sugar then it can be pretty good for you.
Okay, besides caffeine, what is there to wake you up in the mornings or keeping you up at night?
Of course, sugar gives you a quick boost, but it also has a notorious crash. Nevertheless, sugar is a key ingredient in the energy drink industry. Sugar itself is not necessarily bad for you, we need sugar to stay healthy. But when we consume sugar in the quantities that most people reading this article do it contributes to obesity, increased risk of heart disease, acne, risk of diabetes, risk of cancer, depression, signs of aging skin…need I go on?
Here is a look at some common drinks that use sugar for that quick fix energy boost. Keep in mind an average adult male should consume 38g of sugar per day and a female should limit their sugar intake to 25g per day.
|Product||Quantity||Grams of Sugar|
|Can of Coke||355ml||39g|
|Cha Yen (Thai Tea)||250ml||53-67g|
|Coffee Yen (Thai Coffee)||250ml||46g|
|Starbucks Vanilla Latte||473ml||35g|
|Starbucks Bottled Caramel Frap||405ml||46g|
Wow! One can of coke and you are already over your recommended limit! Slam a Red Bull and if you are a woman you have used up all your sugar points. And look at that cha yen! 67g of sugar! I’m as guilty as the next person for indulging in a Thai tea every now and then, okay so I used to be an addict but I’m better now. It’s easy to see that relying on these drinks for your pick-me-up is a bad idea. Remember the cancer acne caused by sugar?
The other energy boosting component used by most energy drinks is B vitamins because they help in a variety of ways to use energy better and convert the food you eat into glucose – sugar. For example, B-5 or Pantothenic Acid, D-Pantothenol boosts metabolism and helps to turn fat into energy. And vitamin B6, pyridoxine HCL helps the body to form red blood cells and use oxygen, improving energy levels. But like all things, even these B vitamins are only good in small doses and are best obtained through a healthy diet.
Drink up but go easy on the sugar and B vitamins. I may be biased here but I think drinking black coffee, drip, espresso, or cold brew is obviously the healthiest way to get pumped and stave off sleep.