The beverage market is being flooded with Energy Drinks as an alternative to drinking sugary (non-diet) soft drinks. Many contain as much or more sugar than soft drinks. Americans consume over 38 gallons of soft drinks per person per year, according to the American Beverage Association. That corresponds to about 63,000 calories or 18 pounds of body weight from excess energy requirements per year!

One of the reasons these energy drinks contain high amounts of sweeteners is because the vitamins, minerals, and caffeine products added for nutrition promotion have undesirable flavors like bitterness and metallic aftertaste.

Leading the list of nutritional beverages is Gatorade- a high sugar, high sodium plus potassium beverage. Potassium is recommended for vomiting, muscle weakness, diarrhea, and diminished respiration during acute illness. Eight ounces of Gatorade provides only 30 mg potassium while 8 ounces of orange juice = 450 mg potassium. Why settle for such an inferior potassium source at four times the cost?

Gatorade is also a poor sodium choice. It contains 110 mg sodium per 8 ounces. Sodium replacement is encouraged for fatigue, cramps, hypotension, and prolonged diarrhea. An 8 ounce glass of vegetable juice cocktail provides 653 mg sodium (plus 467 mg potassium) with no added sugar, artificial colors and flavors.

Caffeine-containing products are the most common botanical added to energy drinks. Caffeine, ginseng, Brazilian guarana and yerba mate (a tree cultivated in Paraguay) are ingredients in many of the above mentioned energy drinks. Caffeine-containing products tend to be bitter so these products have some of the highest content of sugar.

B vitamins- thiamine, riboflavin, B12, pantothenic acid, B6, niacin, and folic acid- appear on some drink labels. Consumers have erroneously been led to believe these extra B vitamins will be used to help cells produce more energy from the high sugar level that is needed to mask their taste. Cell metabolism does not work that fast.

Amino acids like taurine and carnitine are helpful in muscle recovery but will do little to enhance performance. Furthermore, amino acids taste BAD and require still more flavorings and sugar to disguise their taste.

Eating a 1-ounce stick of Mozzarella cheese and a medium apple will give you more sodium, potassium, B vitamins and amino acids than any of the energy drinks on the market. Of course, there would not be the sugar and caffeine “high” and chewing is required!