In summary:

  • For a multitude of reasons including sleep issues, millions of people struggle with low energy levels and brain fog on a daily basis
  • Sugar and caffeine create a short lived “high”, quickly followed by a “low”
  • Sugar damages the mitochondria, the energy batteries of the cells by creating excess free radicals; REAL energy comes from the health of the mitochondria

Millions of people struggle with fatigue and brain fog on a daily basis; they struggle with sleep (crucial for preventing ageing and ill-health), the reason they may be groggy.

Hence the reasons why many people opt for an energy drink at some point in the day in the false hope that it will sustain them throughout the day.

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are different from other drinks including soft drinks and sports drinks in that they are super loaded with caffeine and other stimulants, but similar to soft drinks in terms of sugar and artificial sweetener content.

Energy drinks list caffeine and vitamins as two main ingredients, and the vitamins give the impression that they are healthy, but they are very low in amounts and poor quality, and caffeine causes a host of health problems in excess including the short lived “high” quickly followed by a “low”.

Furthermore, sugar is a dirty fuel for the mitochondria (the power plants that make cellular energy) of the cells, which in turn drives more free radical production that impacts cellular energy production that takes place in the mitochondria. We discussed this process at lengths in the two blogs, “Mitochondrial dysfunction” and “Pomegranate enhances sports performance and recovery”. This is why energy drinks are FAKE energy and REAL energy is cellular energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) that is made in the mitochondria; the healthier the mitochondria, the more cellular energy produced and therefore the more REAL energy you will have on a daily basis.

To make matters worse the most popular drug in the world is caffeine, the very thing that millions of people use in a futile attempt to fight fatigue and boost energy levels, and the very thing that is loaded with side effects including severe addiction. (1)

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a cup of Java with breakfast or lunch; however when this spills over to 3 or 4 cups per day or in the case of energy drinks, 1 to 2 cans per day, plus the presence of sugar and other additives, then serious downstream health problems ensue.

Adverse reactions to these fake energy drinks include;

  • Headaches, stomach aches, diarrhoea
  • Feelings of anxiousness of nervousness
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness, lack of focus
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Periodontal issues

Health issues linked to these fake energy drinks include;

  • Blood sugar imbalance and diabetes
  • Immune suppression
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fertility problems
  • Addiction and withdrawal
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Heart problems; there are many reports of rapid heartbeat; chronic use is linked to heart arrhythmias and heart failures and in extreme cases, death.

Please note that people who suffer from heart conditions (50% of people show no symptoms before dying of a heart attack) and asthma are even more vulnerable to the effects of energy drinks.

The mechanisms for FAKE energy

As alluded to above, caffeine and energy drinks don’t actually produce chemical energy, the body’s REAL energy currency made in the mitochondria of the cells; instead, caffeine and energy drinks fool the body into creating FAKE energy.

How does the body make this FAKE energy?

Caffeine’s main mode of action involves blocking the adenosine (not to be confused with adenosine triphosphate or cellular energy) receptors in the brain, preventing the uptake of adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel tired. Hence the reason you feel energised when you drink caffeine fuelled beverages.

This feeling of being more energised, with an associated improvement in mood is short lived. Unfortunately, once the caffeine wears off a few hours later, the brain chemical adenosine floods back into the receptor sites in the brain that were occupied by caffeine, and bang, you have the crash with your mood and energy levels hitting the floor.

Take a look at the graphic below and in particular on the right of the red line;

When the caffeine from the energy drink wears off, the “high” of improved energy and mood are lower than baseline normal (without caffeine). Before you reach for another cup to reboot yourself, think again!

Because if you consume caffeine on a regular basis as people certainly do with energy drinks, you are creating the bigger problem of brain chemical changes that will lead to a continual downward spiral. Why is this? When caffeine continually occupies the adenosine receptor sites in the brain preventing the absorption of adenosine, then the brain gets chronically hyper stimulated. However the brain is very smart and will endeavour to counteract this imbalance of too much stimulating brain chemicals and not enough calming brain chemicals.

How does it do this?

By making more adenosine and adenosine receptors, it rebalances the imbalance caused by caffeine uptake in the adenosine (the feel tired brain chemical) receptor sites, and hence the caffeine fatigue or “low” starts to kick in again.

Basically two things have happened here;

  • The chronic caffeine or energy drinks consumer has built up a tolerance due to the brain chemical adaptations previously described.
  • Even worse the addicts’ baseline markers have been lowered more than their previous baseline; this basically means that they have a reduced state of mood, energy and performance when they have no caffeine in the system than they did before they became caffeine addicted.

The reason for this is when there is no detectable caffeine the brain becomes very responsive and sensitive to adenosine, because there is more adenosine from the neurochemical changes that took place due to the chronic caffeine consumption. This basically means that when there is no caffeine in the system, your energy levels suffer markedly, more than they ever did for you became hooked on caffeine.(3)

Before people start claiming that they do get the benefit from these stimulant beverages, there is lots of research out there countering this with a condition known as “withdrawal reversal”.(4) Summing up simply, chronic consumption of caffeine beverages significantly impacts normal function; that is functioning without caffeine in the system. When they get their “hit” from caffeine, it only takes them back up to a normal state; in a nutshell they need caffeine just to achieve normal function.

Describing it another way to make it clear; short term abstinence from caffeine decreases energy and mood as well as reducing performance. Then when you consume caffeine the perception is that it’s taking you to a new “high”, but in actual fact the habitual use has lowered baseline energy making you sleepy and tired, and all you are doing is giving yourself a jolt back to the levels of functioning that used to be normal without caffeine. There is no added boost; it is FAKE and begs the question why we participate in this futile habit.

Furthermore caffeine signals the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands, which initiates the “fight of flight” response stimulating your heart beat and instructing the liver to release stored glucose (glycogen) for what the body perceives as an emergency situation. This “fight or flight” response is part of our evolutionary survival mechanism when we had to escape the sabre tooth tiger or chase the buffalo for food.

However the body is not in an emergency situation and therefore does not need the energy release into the bloodstream for use by the muscles; this can end up causing insulin resistance due to continually high circulating glucose in the bloodstream and subsequent fat storage.

Moreover the real emergency (not the FAKE one created by stimulants or chronic stress) situation is eventually dealt with and the “flight or fight” response is switched off. However chronic use of stimulants and sugar and chronic stress keeps this highly damaging cycle switched on.

Please note that stress including physiological stress caused by over training or too much sport starts and continues the same vicious cycle; we touched on this in another blog, “pomegranate enhances sports performance and recovery”.

Research also shows that the amount of caffeine we consume matters.(2)

Normal daily consumption of caffeine, equivalent to between 1 and 2 cups per day does not appear to stimulate FAKE energy. However titrating up to 3 and over will not only give you the FAKE energy release, but also the many negative side effects attributed to excess caffeine consumption. The same applies to energy drinks, although it doesn’t take many to replicate the effects of excess coffee consumption.

As with all FAKE energy products including refined sugar products, the “high” you experience is short lived, which forces you to continually chase the “high” after experiencing the associated, imminent “low”, making you feel that you are on an energy rollercoaster. However as we discussed above, due to adaptations of brain chemicals that counter the effects of caffeine, the highs are not real; they are only a return to baseline energy without caffeine.

"Normal daily consumption of caffeine, equivalent to between 1 and 2 cups per day does not appear to stimulate FAKE energy."

What is REAL energy?

Now we know that the soft drinks industry makes Billions each year selling FAKE energy and performance products, it’s time to discuss the crux of not just REAL energy production, but optimum health and anti-ageing.

We have already discussed how REAL energy is created in other blogs, but basically the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells create adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which drives all cellular metabolic processes. ATP represents the cell’s energy currency, which is created in a process known as cellular respiration where glucose and fats in the presence of oxygen are converted into ATP chemical energy in the mitochondria of the cells.

This is the most important metabolic process in the human body since ATP is the energy currency of life itself. You may have noticed in the paragraph above and in the above schematic that the mitochondria use glucose; this is real, but the trick is to restrict carbohydrates in the diet and emphasise more healthy fats, since the mitochondria produce less free radicals from cellular respiration when there is a dietary emphasis on healthy fats.

As we learned from previous blogs, free radicals damage the mitochondria’s ability to make ATP energy, so we also need to boost antioxidant levels that our Skin+Beyond drink effectively does, but also limit the environmental factors that generate free radicals, as well as emphasise healthy fats as opposed to sugars that are a dirty fuel for the mitochondria.

Glycine another key ingredient in Skin+Beyond plays an integral role in the central nervous and digestive systems, which allows glycine to boost energy levels, balance blood sugar and prevent fatigue. Further it can soothe nervous anxiety that can affect your sleep, and can shuttle nutrients into cells and tissues for energy metabolism constantly throughout the day.

Researchers at the Japanese Society of Research showed that glycine improves sleep patterns, reduces daytime sleepiness and increases memory recall tasks.(5)

One of glycine’s most important functions is its role in heme biosynthesis; heme is a constituent in haemoglobin that helps make and maintain red blood cells.(6) Red blood cells are oxygen transporters for all bodily tissues, and oxygen in the presence of food are the inputs into the energy powerhouses of the cells, the mitochondria that then create cellular energy or ATP. Hence one of the reasons why glycine is used by some athletes for enhanced energy output and fighting anaemia induced fatigue as well as regulating blood sugar levels. Also the two B3 vitamins in Skin+Beyond are fully utilised to boost cellular energy production via their role in the production of a key energy producing molecule, NAD+ that  boosts all cellular systems and increases lifespan.

Why not replace the damaging effects of caffeine in your diet with the REAL energy boosting effects of Skin+Beyond?

Not only does it serve the exercise and sports community, but also people who are just looking for more energy in their hectic, daily lives. There are also many other strategies for boosting mitochondrial health, and thus ATP energy production. Remember everything that applies to energy drinks also applies to other caffeine and sugar drinks including coffee and even protein recovery drinks.

Buy Skin+Beyond here: