Often times, when a person thinks of activities such as going to the gym, playing sports, running, etc. he or she thinks about the energy required to accomplish said activity. This will typically bring a person’s train of thought to the source of this desired energy.
Society tells people that getting a good night’s sleep and drinking plenty of water throughout the entire day is a good starting point for a healthy amount of energy, but it’s not enough if you truly want to excel. You also need supplementary components, something that is readily available for the consumer and also requires his or her money. Does anyone else smell something fishy? Society has to benefit somehow for their efforts, don’t they? We’re not just talking about mere suggestions for the average Joe’s state of health anymore; frankly, I think that was thrown out the window quite some time ago. We’re talking about the #1 marketing platform (society) supporting ideas that not only benefit them, but they benefit groups of corporations and businesses, as well. When I see behavior like this taking place, it automatically sends up a red flag in my mind and it also makes me question the validity behind the statements they’re feeding us. More than anything, it makes me triple-check the true quality of whatever product they want us to buy. I’ve already been the consumer who wholeheartedly trusted everything the marketing teams pushed my way. I gave these teams the benefit of the doubt and accepted what they had to say as fact.
I figured there’s no way that a corporation like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow anything unhealthy or potentially harmful to be put into the food I eat. I’m going to let you in on a little secret I wished someone had told me years ago…question everything when it comes to the foods you purchase. Never expect food companies to choose healthy ingredients over unhealthy ingredients for the sake of the consumer. When it comes to the consumer, we’re only a concern of theirs until we purchase their product. The same is true for those companies selling energy-related products, most especially energy drinks. Here’s a little food for thought for all of my readers…how are supposed to expect these products to be healthy when the foundation of entire company is based on a lie? If honesty isn’t a key component in the heart of the manufacturer, it certainly isn’t going to be a key component in the products they so desperately want us to purchase. My advice? Ignore that mission statement provided by the company and focus on the ingredient labels. The ingredient label is your guide to understanding the true quality of any product.
First, you need to bypass all of the false advertising so that you can get a clear perspective on the real issues. Like anything in life this is easier said than done because we’re all fooled into believing the lie created by the food and beverage industry and promoted by society…we need a boost throughout the entire activity if we are to be successful in our endeavors. Their definition of a boost? Sports drinks, electrolyte infused water, and specialty powders to add to your water. The majority of companies producing these products go one step further in their efforts to convince each potential consumer of their need for these products…advertisements that include famous athletes. If you’re playing basketball, for example, and you have goals to become a serious athlete, why wouldn’t you use the same sports drink product endorsed by LeBron James? It might up your skills out there on the court if you do the same thing he’s doing! It doesn’t hurt to at least try his strategy, right? Plus they usually taste really good! This is where things get a bit confusing for the majority of consumers because the advertisements tell you these products are beneficial and healthy, but the entire makeup of the product disagrees! Reading the ingredient label of any product created for energy enhancement is key in discovering just how detrimental every product is for your overall health. For me, I always liked the bright colors these drinks were available in! Little did I know, I was being fooled by a preposterous social norm.
I’m here to tell you that society and their biased advertisements are wrong! Fueled by profits, the food industry hammers the idea into our heads that we can only get energy from these types of synthetic sources.
Oh, really? Well if that’s true than how is it possible that I have been able to get legitimate boosts of energy from natural sources that are also completely free of synthetic ingredients? I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade by saying this, I know so many people who use these synthetic sources for energy when they go to the gym. There was a time when I loved electrolyte infused water and wasn’t against a sports drink slushie. However, circumstances have drastically changed in my life over the past eights and, as a result, so have my eating habits. There was a time when reading the ingredient label on anything made me feel like I was trying to understand a language I couldn’t speak. As it turns out, the complicated names we see listed kind of are in a different language. They’re in the language of chemistry and science because the majority of these ingredients aren’t grown in the ground; scientists concoct them in a laboratory. Whenever I’m researching an ingredient name, there’s a part of me that is actually afraid of what this bazaar name actually contains. If ingredients like petroleum have snuck their way into our food, it could be anything! Discovering all of the dirty little secrets is part of taking charge of your health for the better.
Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?
Gatorade Original Thirst Quencher Ingredient Label (Strawberry Watermelon flavor):
Water, Sucrose, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Red 40
Water—Ordinarily I would consider this ingredient to be the only healthy ingredient on the entire label; however, we do not know the source of the Gatorade Company’s water. It could be pond water for all we know! The worst part is that they are not required by the FDA to supply this information to the consumer.
Sucrose—although originally obtained from sugar cane or sugar beets, this form of sugar is most commonly known as table sugar. Therefore, it has been processed, refined, and bleached white to fit the stereotypical look, feel, and taste of generic table sugar. This form of sugar can be naturally derived from fruits and vegetables, but I highly doubt that is the case for the sucrose found in Gatorade or any other sports drink. The worst part about this ingredient is the way it is digested and dispersed by your body once consumed…“The body will use glucose as its main energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose” (healthyeating.sfgate.com). Basically, this form of sugar is making you fat. Interesting choice of ingredient for a product intended for athletes and other active people.
Dextrose—“the name of a simple sugar that is made from corn and is chemically identical to glucose, or blood sugar. Dextrose is often used in baking products as a sweetener, and can be commonly found in items such as processed foods and corn syrup” (healthline.com). We all know processed foods and corn syrup, are especially poor choices for any person’s diet…especially those actively fighting to get in shape! You’re already fighting your body fat to get in shape; you don’t need to fight your energy drink, as well.
Citric Acid—though this ingredient may sound natural because its name includes the word, “Citric,” I’m sorry to say that isn’t even close to being naturally derived from any type of citrus fruit. It happens to be a preservative, commonly found in a variety of processed foods, especially those of a canned and jarred nature. If you’re curious about the origins of citric acid, let me shed some light… “Industrial food ingenuity has made it so that citric acid can be created from Aspergillus niger, a common black mold. Although citric acid can be obtained from lemon or pineapple juice, producing citric acid from A. niger is a far less expensive process” (ethicalfoods.com).
Natural Flavors—the biggest problem with this ingredient is the fact that it really could mean anything. The FDA isn’t asking for an explanation and, chances are, food companies aren’t exactly handing this information out on a silver platter. Hence the use of a code name for whatever the ingredient truly may be. I actively avoid this ingredient not because it could be referring to some pretty gross stuff that I’d rather not consume, including Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (Care2.com). The ingredients covered under the umbrella name of Natural or Artificial flavors offer no benefit to consumer because they are filler ingredients. These flavors are synthetic and meant to replace those of real foods. They’re cheaper and their expiration date is abnormally long.
Salt—finally an ingredient name the consumer will recognize! Despite the familiarity, it is important to consider the source of this ingredient. If it processed and refined table salt the Gatorade company is using (this is very likely, by the way) then you will be consuming a type of salt that will only strip your body of even more nutrients than it will restore them. “Common (refined) table salt (NaCl), which most people are accustomed to is comprised of about 97.5% Sodium Chloride and 2.5% toxic chemicals…this salt is easily recognized because of its white appearance and color. It’s highly processed—dried at over 1,200 degrees, bleached and chemically cleaned, resulting in the loss of trace minerals and essential macronutrients. It becomes something the body doesn’t recognize” (lifewithgreens.com). And how are we to know whether the salt in this product is the refined, chemically altered kind or the natural, unrefined kind? You would have to call the company directly and even then I don’t know if it is possible. Here’s one thing I know, there is a recurring pattern amongst processed food companies they always choose the cheapest method possible when it comes to making their product. Refined salt is cheaper than unrefined salt, you tell me which kind they most likely used in this sports drink…
Sodium Citrate—yet another salt-related ingredient. Sodium Citrate is synthetic, it was born in a lab, and it is most often used as a preservative or flavor enhancer to foods. This particular ingredient is what adds that sour and/or salty flavor to a product, in this case a sports drink. It is very similar to Citric Acid, so similar that the two names are actually interchangeable amongst scientists. This brings us back to the black mold issue I discussed under the Citric Acid ingredient name (if you didn’t read it, I highly recommend you do!). Not to mention, this is the third ingredient containing sodium. Not great for those of you with sodium-sensitivities or sodium-related health issues.
Monopotassium Phosphate—this particular ingredient was the only ingredient I actually had issues with finding a description of the role it plays in our food. I soon discovered the reason behind my struggle…it is more commonly found in fertilizers and intended for use on plants, not humans. Apparently, it is a great source of phosphorus and potassium for plants so how on earth did it end up in a sports drink? “Monopotassium phosphate is a soluble salt used as an additive in cigarettes, fertilizer and as a fungicide and buffering agent in vaccines. The synthesized, active, end-use product is a crystalline powder containing 100% active ingredient” (novaccine.com). Clearly this ingredient is being used as some sort of additive, a preservative is most likely. Whatever role it plays in the sports drink; based upon its synthetic and chemical structure you can guarantee that it in no way benefits your body or your energy levels.
Glycerol Ester of Rosin—this oddly named ingredient acts as an emulsifier, it prevents any separation between oil and a liquid when the two have been mixed together. Once again, this ingredient is synthetic. Derivatives of Glycerol Ester Rosin, such as Glycerol ester of gum, Glycerol ester of tall oil rosin, and Glycerol ester of wood rosin have all been labeled as “On Alert” ingredients by the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand.
Red 40—the last ingredient on the label, but certainly no less innocent than its predecessors. When thinking about food coloring, I’m automatically brought back to when I was a kid on Easter Sunday and we would dye eggs. Not once am I prompted to consider what these seemingly harmless food dyes were actually made of. “Red 40 is a certified color that comes from petroleum distillates or coal tars” (healthline.com). Not only can this ingredient be incredibly toxic to its consumer, “Red 40 contains p-Cresidine, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says is ‘reasonably anticipated’ to be a human carcinogen” (Healthline.com), but “research shows they can also cause hyperactivity in children” (healthline.com). As if the 21 grams of sugar in the sports drink wasn’t enough to cause this kind of behavior. My next concern is the effect energy-boosting drinks such as Gatorade are having on the brain activity of its consumer.
As you’ve probably already deduced from my descriptions of each ingredient, Gatorade isn’t exactly my go-to product when I’m looking for a healthy boost of energy. The worst part about sports drinks as a whole is that they are often marketed toward children. Those cute mini-bottles Gatorade now sells are the perfect size for kids of all ages involved in sports. Whether it’s game day or just another practice session, this beverage is often distributed as a “beneficial” option for the athletes. However, the ingredient label, the 34 grams of sugar per serving, and 270 milligrams of sodium on the nutrition label of a 20 ounce bottle tend to disagree. I may not have any children just yet, but if I saw this nutrition label, I would never think to give it to them as a “healthy” snack. Apparently, I’m not alone! My cousin, who has two children ages 6 and 4, recently informed me how she avoids sports drinks like the plague because of the sugar rush it gives the kids. According to her, the kids become hyper, out of control, and just plain crazy immediately after consuming any kind of sugary sports drink. She said the amount of hyperactivity created by these types of beverages is worse than soda. The worst part is that the effect of the poor quality ingredients in Gatorade continues long after the sugar rush is over. As physics dictates, what goes up must come down, and down they all go. Their energy, their patience, and their overall ability to be kind seem to crash right along with this so-called “energy boost.” Although at this point, I think psychotic episode might be a more accurate way to describe the behavior prompted by products such as Gatorade. So you get unmanageable behavior for who knows how long and then you have grumpy kids for the rest of the day…if you are a parent reading this right now, you’re probably wondering why you ever bought your child Gatorade. Your motivation was good; it’s not your fault that this happens to be a crappy product! The best thing you can do right now is to learn from it and move on. Bottled water or fruit-infused water is always the better choice!
Speaking of fruit-infused water, when you think about increasing your energy using food and drink products, do vegetables and fruits ever come to mind? Probably not. When I think about vegetables my mind is automatically redirected to dinner where I’m used to eating a type of green veggie, such as broccoli or green beans, as a side dish or I think of salad…once again a side dish to a meal. Green vegetables have been stifled into this category over the years and as a result we have been deprived of their energy-boosting abilities!
Fruits have been stifled into more of a snack category, meant to eat alone or, depending on the fruit, to complement a meal. Once again, they’re never considered as an energy boosting food. And why should they be when society and produce companies never market these products as such??
I have two words that will blow every other marketed energy-boosting drink, food, or powder out of the water…Green Smoothie. Not the processed kind that you can buy bottled at your local grocery store. No, I’m talking fresh, organic veggies and fruits that are washed, cut and thrown into the blender then liquefied into a very healthy and very potent energy-boosting juice. Notice I said Blender and not Juicer…I’m not trying to worm my way out of paying for an expensive juicing machine and therefore choosing the cheap or less effective route. For those of you that do not already have a juicer, but happen to own a blender this news I’m about to share is going to be a Win-Win for you! Juicing machines are one of the most overrated inventions ever created! I’m not saying this because I don’t have one, but secretly really, really want one and I’m redirecting my own personal envy into this article. Unfortunately, I do own a juicer and I still consider it to be one of the most ridiculous purchases I have ever made, not to mention a huge waste of money, as well!
Here’s the thing about juicers, they liquefy anything you put into them, but discard all of the pulp from the fruits and veggies. Sure, you get a fantastic texture in your homemade juice, but you also get a product that has been completely stripped of its nutritional value. You see, the pulp is where the majority of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are found. The skin of fruits such as apples, are packed full of vitamins! The inside is just an added bonus to the fruit, if you’re looking for nutrients; you want the skin, the pulp, basically everything that is discarded by the juicing machine. It completely defeats the purpose of trying to be healthy and consume more vitamins and minerals. If this were discussed more often we would most likely see a significant decline in the sale of juicers.
So why is the blender so much better? It doesn’t discard anything! It blends the insides of your choice of produce and the pulp so that you get the best of both worlds. You get the flavor you’re looking for and the nutrients your body desperately needs. For those of you that are texture people, try finding a blender that offers a liquefy option in addition to the blend option. Personally, whenever I make green juice I always blend everything together for one minute and then I liquefy the contents for two minutes. It always produces a perfectly liquefied product, no existing pulp, foam, or chunkiness. If this texture still isn’t fluid enough for you, liquefy it again! It doesn’t matter how long you blend the ingredients for, you’re not draining any of the vitamins or minerals; you’re simply combining the ingredients even more! Just in case you’re looking for a new blender and need a recommendation, I am currently using a model created by Breville. I also own a toaster by this company and so far their products have proven to be great quality machines! The great thing about my Breville blender is that it has a variety of options including “Blend” and “Liquefy,” which come in handy for making juice!
Like many of the other topics I have written about here on Seize the Day Blog, my inspiration behind the idea of replacing commercial energy-boosting products with fruits and veggies is personal experience. I only recently began using this method for my own energy needs. It all started when I began going to the gym regularly again. My personal trainer created a personalized meal plan for me, which included two green juices a day. He recommended drinking the first juice one hour before my workout session at the gym and the second immediately after with a little added protein powder (you can find a super simple recipe for homemade protein powder here). I didn’t give these instructions much thought; I simply followed them and hoped for the best. What I got was a complete shock! I decided to take full advantage of this all-natural charge of beneficial vitamins and nutrients via green juice twice a day so I increased my intake to everyday. Even on days I didn’t workout, I still drank my green juice at 10:00 AM and 12:30 PM. After about two weeks of consistently consuming this amount of green veggies and fruits, I noticed an interruption in my sleep pattern. Ordinarily, I sleep like a baby…just ask my sister, she’ll tell you how crazy it is that I literally fall asleep after only 10 minutes of going to bed (I like to tease her that she’s just jealous of my apparent superhuman ability, I don’t think I would be fulfilling my duties as a “big sister” if I didn’t). Once I’m asleep, I sleep all night and don’t wake up again until 7:30 AM, now that I think of it this doesn’t exactly sound like a realistic typical night sleep for a baby, but you get the picture. So it was completely out of the ordinary when I got into bed and struggled to fall asleep. In fact, I really didn’t even feel tired or ready for bed when 10:00 PM (my typical bed time) rolled around. One bad night sleep is random, two could be coincidence, but three nights of struggling to fall asleep and actually stay asleep began to concern me. Maintaining a consistent sleep pattern has always been key in preventing seizure activity for me, personally. So when this inability to fall asleep persisted I was concerned about more than the shadows beginning to form under my eyes, my overall brain health was being affected. Something had to be done before another seizure happened.
As I looked back over the past few weeks, the only two changes I had made to my daily routine were going to the gym three times a week and drinking green juice every day twice a day. Well, I figured an increase in physical activity certainly isn’t going to make it more difficult for me to sleep so it must be the green juice. I definitely wasn’t going to stop drinking it altogether! I love the way it makes me feel, not just in the gym but everywhere! You know when that feeling when your body just feels good in a way that tells you whatever you’re doing is making your entire body very happy? Well that’s how I felt! So I decided not to overreact and I began experimenting with the amount of green juice I drank on the days I didn’t workout. Instead of drinking it twice a day, I tried drinking it once a day. The first day I made this change, the effect was immediate…I had no issues going to sleep and I didn’t wake up once…Basically, my superhuman ability was back. It has been one month since I made this change and I am yet to have a bad night’s sleep. Long story short, my body loves the green juice!
As crazy as this may sound compared to society’s perspective, you really don’t need any synthetic energy-boosting products to give you an energy boost so powerful it will work all day and all night. What you seek does not lie in a chemically altered juice or powder; it lies in the produce section of your grocery store (preferably, the Organic section). We have severely underestimated the benefits of spinach, kale, chard, cucumber, green apples, kiwi, carrots, cantaloupe, honeydew, and a multitude of other fruits and veggies! Next time you’re looking for a boost of energy, I hope you choose a source that is naturally derived and doesn’t require any added ingredients to get the job done!
I’ve provided a few of my favorite personal creations I’ve made over the past two months since my return to the gym. Each is super easy and all it requires is a blender!
If you know of any yummy green juice recipes please comment via Twitter & Instagram (@seizethedayblog) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m always looking for new juices to try!
Refresher Smoothie Recipe:
½ bunch spinach
½ bunch kale
½ cup cucumber, sliced
½ lime, peeled
1 green apple
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/8 cup greek yogurt
½ cup water
Handful ice cubes
Put all ingredients into the blender and liquefy until it reaches your preferred consistency, I usually let it run for about 2-3 min. This may sound like a long time, but it is necessary if you want a thin, liquid texture more than you do a thick, smoothie-like texture. Drink immediately.
Honeydew Fusion Recipe:
½ honeydew, peeled, cored, & chopped
1 bunch spinach or kale
½ lime, peeled
1 green apple
1/8 cup greek yogurt, unflavored
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey
Handful ice cubes
Put all ingredients into the blender and liquefy until it reaches your preferred consistency, 2-3 min seems the best amount of time for a thin, liquid texture without any pulp. Drink immediately.
Not-so-green Smoothie Recipe:
1 bunch spinach
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced
½ cup cantaloupe, peeled, cored, & chopped
1/8 cup greek yogurt, unflavored
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey
¼ cup water
Handful ice cubes
Place the spinach, carrots, and cucumber into the blender and blend for approximately 1 minute. Add the cantaloupe, yogurt, coconut oil, honey, water, and ice cubes. Liquefy for 2 minutes. If the texture is still too pulpy, blend for another minute or until it reaches your desired consistency. Drink immediately.
The information posted on Seize the Day Blog, including but not limited to, articles, images, recipes, text and other material are shared for informational purposes only. None of the writings should be looked upon as advice meant to replace that of an actual medical professional. If you suspect you have a serious medical condition you should seek help from a healthcare professional immediately. Please be aware that the author of this website is posting information simply to inform NOT to recommend others about health-related topics. Before following any information (i.e. undertaking a new healthcare or diet routine) found here on Seize the Day Blog, you should always consult a medical professional first. Please be sure to never disregard any medicinal advice because of something you have read on this website.
Be Food Smart: http://www.befoodsmart.com/ingredients/citric-acid.php
Ethical Foods: https://ethicalfoods.com/citric-acid/
Healthy Eating/SF Gate: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/difference-between-sucrose-glucose-fructose-8704.html