By Ceilidh Adams
Gulp. A surge of energy races through my body, and warms me up from the inside. My heart thumps faster, and suddenly I am awake and energized, ready to take on the day.
Whether it’s a Monster Energy Drink, a RedBull, a Five-Hour Energy shot or just a regular old cup of coffee, if you’re like me, you cannot start your day without that burst of caffeine to get you going.
As college students, we use caffeine to our advantage – it allows us to study for that exam or work on that paper at 3 a.m.. Or let’s be honest, it allows us to watch one more episode of our favorite show on Netflix.
As we all know, weather in New England can be brutal. With all of the snow and harsh weather we’ve been getting, we are now even more tempted to pour ourselves a piping hot cup of coffee or have an energy drink to beat our winter blues.
It’s no surprise that we, as college students, are highly over-caffeinated. But what is all of this caffeine doing to our bodies?
First, let’s start with energy drinks. More often than not, these types of drinks have way too much sugar in them, and they contain little to no nutritional value. So, by drinking energy drinks, you are not doing any favors for your health.
Even if you just stick to coffee, the amount of sugar that you put in your cup can exceed your daily sugar intake. Unlike most energy drinks, some types of coffee contain harmful fats and copious amounts of calories in one serving. Adding that to all the sugar you drink throughout the day is a recipe for disaster for you body.
Drinking too much coffee or too much of one energy drink in one sitting can also have negative side effects on your body – for example, you can feel jittery, anxious, and/or agitated as a result of over-caffeination.
But wait! It’s not all bad news. There are plenty of ways to still feel energized, awake and ready to go without experiencing the extremely uncomfortable side effects of being over-caffeinated.
Eating certain foods will give us natural energy. Or by reducing the amount of caffeine we consume throughout a day, we can start to lead healthier, more productive lives.
It is typical to pour a cup of coffee to give ourselves that boost in the morning. Keeping that in mind, one of the smartest things that you can do to gain more natural energy is by getting eight hours of sleep each night. By doing this, you can start your day feeling naturally awake and energized.
Similarly, taking a quick power nap during the day can keep you well rested and energized when you need it most. Try limiting your naps to no more than thirty minutes, though, because too much sleep can leave you feeling groggy and tired.
Healthier foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients and that will also give you energy. Fruits such as apples, oranges, pears, and strawberries have a lot of natural energy and sugar in them, and they are also packed with wonderful vitamins and nutrients. More importantly, this is natural energy that you’ll be getting, so you can avoid that dreadful sugar crash that you would normally feel from coffee or an energy drink.
Energy drinks will also leave your body feeling dehydrated. In turn, you can feel drowsy, sluggish and zapped of energy. In order to counteract these feelings, experts recommend drinking at least eight cups of water a day. Being hydrated throughout the day can make us feel awake and energized, so drink up!
There are also steps that you can take in order to reduce the amount of caffeine you put into your body. For example, if you’re a coffee drinker, try slowly reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee each time you drink it. This will allow you to enjoy your coffee while you experience less of the negative side effects.
If you’re into energy drinks, try slowly reducing the amount of your prefered energy drink. Pour it into a smaller glass, so that you’ll be less tempted to drink more of it.
So the next time you go to pour that glorious cup of coffee for yourself in the morning, think twice. Reach for an apple, a bottle of water, or a smaller cup. By taking small steps in reducing our caffeine intake, we can all lead healthier, more productive and active lives.
Ceilidh Adams is a Comment Contributor.