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Natural energy drinks that work

© / David Crockett © / David Crockett

By Derek Beres
Completely You

With $1.3 billion spent on energy shots in 2011, and more than $6 billion spent on energy drinks overall, there is no question that marketers and beverage companies now rely on these drinks for big business.

To appease consumer fears, nutritional alchemists first cut out sugar and then caffeine, touting instead the energy benefits of B vitamins.

Unfortunately, the idea that B vitamins give you energy is a myth (what they actually do is help you extract energy from your food quickly), and so beverage lab scientists continue to seek new combinations of chemicals to keep the profits coming in.

And yet, energy drink–related emergency room visits have increased tenfold in just seven years -- a sure sign that energy drinks remain questionable.

Below are a few healthier options for finding energy. Although it's better to get your energy from simple, effective methods such as getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating, and doing yoga and breathing exercises, getting your quick fix when you need it is not necessarily a bad thing -- if you choose wisely.

1. Green Tea

Green Tea is packed with cancer-fighting flavonoids (it contains more than fresh fruits and vegetable juices do), and its subtle caffeine levels are only one benefit of drinking this ancient and delicious beverage.

Monks around the world are known to consume cups of it before sunrise to keep their meditation sharp and focused. What it lacks in terms of immediate boost measured against a Monster drink, it clearly makes up for in antioxidants.

Try to keep it natural and forgo the sweetener; your palate will soon appreciate the taste of tea and not honey or sugar. My other reco: Temple Tea varieties. You'll get an incredible monthly selection shipped directly from the company's tea master in Taiwan for only $20.

2. Banana and Date Smoothie

This simple smoothie gives you sustained energy and can serve as a meal replacement. Dates provide natural sugars, bananas aid digestion, and honey gives you a non-jittery energy boost.

To make the smoothie, simply place one banana, 1 teaspoon of honey, three dates and 8 ounces of unflavored coconut water in a blender.

The benefits aren't immediate, but there is also no crash or craving for more. Sustained energy is much more efficient than the crash-and-burn type anyway, and this is a great way of ingesting plenty of natural sugars -- without worrying about added chemicals.

3. FRS Healthy Energy Drinks

Still prefer to look for your fix in the supermarket aisle? Well, then, try FRS: The science behind these energy drinks appears to be valid.

The company does not overload you on B vitamins, but instead focuses on quercetin, which has been shown to help you fight fatigue during exercise (notice the exercise component) as well as block brain receptors for adenosine, which makes you feel sleepy. Sugar content is low, though personally I'm not a huge fan of the taste.

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