Energy Drinks 101

New Zealand is the fourth biggest consumer of energy drinks in the world, guzzling down approximately 13 billions litres each year. Promising an energy boost and mental alertness amongst other things, these drinks have become hugely popular with school and university students and anyone after that three o’clock “pick me up”. But do we really know what is in these substances and how exactly they are affecting our body?

The “energy” from energy drinks comes from two main ingredients, sugar and caffeine – and lots of it. Just one 250ml can contains approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar and provides us with 65% of our recommended sugar intake for the entire day! Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Energy drink companies continue to release bigger and better cans, the largest coming in at a whopping 710ml along with 19 teaspoons of sugar and 326 calories. Although these drinks may give us a temporary energy boost, our body systems and waistlines are paying a hefty price. When we consume excess amounts of sugar such as in these drinks, it causes dramatic spikes in our blood sugar and insulin levels putting a huge amount of stress on our pancreas and ultimately giving us that “crash and burn” type of feeling later on. Excess sugar in the diet has furthermore been linked to obesity, diabetes, dental cavities, and has also shown to upset serotonin levels as well as the good bacteria in our gut leaving us feeling sluggish and upsetting our digestion.

Sugar however isn’t the only ingredient that can leave us feeling irritable. Many energy drinks contain high doses of caffeine and Guarana, both stimulants that although may energise us short term, can cause some nasty side effects such as increased blood pressure, anxiety, nausea and headaches to name a few. Caffeine furthermore puts a large amount of strain on both our adrenal glands and liver and also increases our cortisol levels, which can lead to weight gain around our midsection and higher stress levels.

We may all need a boost time to time, but energy drinks are not the way to get it if we want to avoid these negative affects on our bodies. So what are some healthy and natural ways to get more energy?


Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. Try going to bed earlier and shutting of any TV’s, phones or tablets at least an hour before bed.


Eat a healthy diet each day to ensure you are getting enough energy, vitamins and minerals in the form of whole food.


Dehydration can make us feel tired and fatigued.


Aim to do 30 minutes of exercise in the morning to wake you up and keep you feeling full of energy all day.


If you’re tired and craving something sweet, try making a banana smoothie. Rich in potassium and B vitamins which support energy levels, a banana smoothie will curb your sweet cravings as well as hydrate and give you the boost of energy that you need!


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Hazel is always immersed in the entertainment world - from tour managing boybands to contributing on KCDC to working on massive events and interviewing international talent.