Five Ways To Re-Energize Without Extreme Caffeine

Along with Black Friday and the post-Thanksgiving shopping marathon came a rise in the consumption of energy drinks.  Many people felt that the way to power through 12-hour shopping blitz starting at midnight on Thanksgiving night was with Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star.

But pushing your physical limits through the use of highly caffeinated energy drinks can have a detrimental effect on your heart by increasing the heart’s contraction.   A recent study done by researchers from the University of Bonn found that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility even in healthy people.

Energy Drinks

Popular highly caffeinated energy drinks. (Flickr photo by Au Kirk)

More Caffeine Research

For the study researchers recruited 18 healthy people.  There were 15 men and three women with an average age of 27.5 years.  The participants underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging both before and after drinking an energy drink that contained 21 milligrams/100milliliters of caffeine, and  411 milligrams/100milliliters of taurine.

An hour after consuming the caffeinated beverages, the participants underwent cardiac MRI to see what, if any, effect the drink had on their heart. The researchers found that all participants’ hearts had increased contraction rates, which was indicated by increased peak systolic strain in the heart’s left ventricle.

The study did not find that the energy drinks had any impact on blood pressure, heart rate or ejection of blood from the left ventricle.  However, previous studies cited by the American Heart Associated have found that energy drink consumption does seem to increase systolic blood pressure and has a negative impact on the electrical wave in the heart which can increase the risk for dangerous arrhythmia.

If the up-tick in energy drink consumption on Black Friday and the remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend is an indicator, people will be relying on extreme caffeine to get them through the remainder of the holiday season.

Re-energizing Without Mega-Doses of Caffeine

We already know that the holidays are one of – if not the – most stressful time of the year.  It’s a time when we find we’re under pressure to get more done than is often physically possible.  Excessive holiday fatigue comes from too much decorating, shopping and wrapping plus additional social activities, programs at school, carry-ins at work, and no time to exercise.

Top it off with an over-dose of caffeine and you have the recipe for a physical, mental, and emotional melt-down.

There are some ways to keep you energy levels at peak without the help of a 5 Hour Energy drink.

  • Exercise – As little as 15 to 20 minutes of low-impact physical activity every day will help you feel more energetic.  Even if you don’t have time for an hour long spin class or CrossFit session, 15 minutes of yoga or a brisk walk will lower your stress and improve your outlook.
  • Power Nap – A 20 minute power nap before you hit the mall for an evening of shopping can go a long way to reduce your fatigue.  The National Sleep Foundation says that a 20-30 minute nap will increase alertness, enhance performance, and provide an easy to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.  Think you don’t have time for a nap?  In the end,it will pay dividends in productivity.
  • Avoid Sugar – Sugar is a lot like caffeine.  A sugary snack or drink may seem like a good idea for a pick-me-up, but the results are short term.  Once the sugar is out of your blood stream, you’ll fine you’re headed for a crash and will be searching for the next fix to keep you going.  For optimum energy levels, choose healthy, high-protein snacks like peanut butter on apple slices, plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries, or mini peppers dipped in hummus.
  • Drink Water – Studies have found that borderline dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue.  If your water levels are low you’ll feel tired and lethargic.  Instead of reaching for a caffeinated beverage when you’re tired, make your own jug of smart water and take it with you when you go shopping.
  • Stay Positive – Lack of sleep and exercise along with holiday stress and too much caffeine can be the perfect storm for a negative, self-defeating mood.  It’s important to remember that the holidays should be both thoughtful and joyful.  Being in the moment is a great way to keep the repetitive negative thought patterns at bay.

You don’t have to go caffeine free.  A regular cup of java or Chai tea can help you get through a slump without any negative effects. In fact, there are health benefits to both coffee and tea in moderation. It’s the super-caffeinated commercial beverages that are bad put a strain on your heart and overwork your nervous system that you should avoid.

What do you do to re-energize during the holidays?

Be Social! Share!