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Energy Drinks and Energy Bars - Are They a Good Idea for You?

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Food & Drink
Are you trying to live a healthy lifestyle? Do you hope that using energy drinks and energy bars will help you stay alert, keep active and loose weight?

While the claims made by advertisers can be convincing it is important for you to understand the differences between products and how that affects your health.

ENERGY DRINKS, SPORTS DRINKS and MEAL REPLACEMENTS

Energy drinks have become a three billion dollar business in the US. However, the popularity of these drinks does not mean that they are all created equal.

Sports drinks, like Gatorade, are created for athletes to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes. Water alone cannot provide these nutrients to hard working bodies. These additions, along with flavor enhancement which encourages more drinking, can help with rehydration which will increase energy if lack of hydration is the cause of fatigue.

Energy drinks that are advertising a herbal energizer are not always using enough of the herb to create any noticeable effect. On the contrary, if too much of the potent herb is present it could even cause adverse reactions with other medications.

Many of the marketed energy drinks rely on caffeine as a stimulant. They are also very high in sugar. While this may give you an initial boost it will also lead to sharp drops in sugar levels which will create a cycle of dependency. The caffeine can also lead to addiction - a special danger to children who may regularly choose energy drinks without understanding the health risks of caffeine.

Meal replacement drinks can also improve energy in that they provide optimum nutrients which may otherwise be lacking in the diet and causing fatigue. However, meal replacement drinks are high in calories and will actually increase your calorie intake per day if added to a regular diet instead of used in place of a meal.

ENERGY BARS and MEAL REPLACEMENT BARS

Energy bars seem like a smart choice when a hungry guy or girl just doesn't have time for a meal. However, choosing wisely will prevent you from making unhealthy selections or adding unwanted calories to your diet.

Energy bars have the same precautions as energy drinks. While some may provide you with a quick lift they may also be high in things which are very good for you - like sugar and hydrogenated oils.

Soft textured bars are more likely to have high levels of hydrogenated oils. Choosing a bar with whole grains and fruits that is harder in texture is more likely to give you the proper source of energy producing carbs that you want without the less desirable additions.

Again, meal replacement bars are just that - designed as a full meal replacement for weight loss or calorie restriction. Eating a meal replacement bar in addition to your regular diet will only increase the amount of calories you take in which will not provide you with the energy you desire.

Adding the appropriate choice of energy bars or drinks to a balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy diet even when you are on the go. Including them as a part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle will provide you the most health benefits and greatest energy.