To get through a workout or a jam-packed day, your mind and body both need to be in the game. You need the energy to be focused and alert so that you’re giving it your all.
When you’re dragging — whether from lack of sleep or just distracted and stressed out — your first reaction might be to reach for a trenta-sized cup (or pot) of sugary coffee.
But then you may end up wide awake, jittery, and probably still distracted and stressed out. What then?
Another alternative: an energy supplement.
Some contain ingredients that will energize you, but when it comes to energy drinks and related products, “there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors out there,” says Denis Faye, M.S., and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition.
Before you buy anything, it’s important to understand that not all energy supplements are created equal.
You want to feel good when you take an energy supplement, not anxious or jittery. Find out what else you need to know about choosing the best energy supplements.
3 Things You Should Know About Energy Supplements
If you’re truly exhausted, skip the energy supplements. The number one thing you should know about energy supplements is that they’re not supposed to be an everyday thing.
Think of it this way: You can jump-start a car battery with jumper cables when it gets drained, but there are times — when the battery is too worn out — that no amount of jump-starting will help.
The same goes for energy, says Faye. “An energy supplement doesn’t replace sleeping, it doesn’t replace a day of rest,” he says. “It’s a different thing. Don’t treat it that way.”
Energy supplements can be a “nice little ‘extra’ to your life so that you can get a little bit of energy, but if you can’t get out of bed in the morning without them, then it’s not good.”
Go ahead and keep natural energy supplements on hand for the days you really need them, but also work on healthy habits like managing stress and getting enough sleep.
1. Less is more when it comes to caffeine
Caffeine is probably the most common thing that comes to mind when you feel like you need a boost; in fact, 85 percent of Americans consume at least one caffeinated beveragea day.
It’s in coffee, tea, and plants like guarana (more on that one later) and caffeine has been shown to have an “ergogenic effect,” meaning it may enhance physical performance, when ingested before high-intensity exercise.
But Faye cautions against thinking you need to drink cup after cup of coffee for energy — that’ll make you jittery and keep you from sleeping, which will interfere with your body’s natural recovery process. “That’s not a good idea at all,” he warns. “A little bit of coffee can go a long way.”
If you’re sensitive to caffeine, look for an energy supplement made with other sources of caffeine, Faye suggests, such as matcha, a type of green tea made from whole, ground tea leaves.
2. Be wary of beverages touting high amounts of B vitamins
Faye says B vitamins will not lead to an instant boost of natural energy (that’s not how B vitamins work), and he adds that there’s no research showing mega doses of them are the way to go — so save your money.
“That’s a downfall of a lot of supplements, like the ones in the cans,” he says. “People are, like, ‘oh, B vitamins give you energy,’ and, yes, all the B-complex vitamins are super important for energy systems, but there’s no research showing that a whole bunch makes a difference.”
The energy boost from those products, he says, usually comes from the accompanying caffeine or other stimulants. And, he adds, since B vitamins are water-soluble, you just pee them out — you’ll know that’s happening when your urine is neon yellow.
3. Stress naturally zaps your energy
Your adrenal glands are your body’s natural stress-response system, and the stress your body and mind undergo on a daily basis impacts your energy levels.
There is a group of herbs (and some mushrooms) called adaptogens, that in many Eastern traditions have long been used to support the body’s stress response, Faye says.
Adaptogens are popular right now, and you’ll see them popping up in everything from teas to baked goods. The plants are called adaptogens because they are believed to help your body “adapt” to mental and physical stress.
Many of the ingredients in Focused Energy, a Shakeology boost, are considered adaptogens. “We have thousands of years of historical use with them,” Faye says.
The Benefits of Energy Supplements
While the benefits of energy supplements usually focus solely on caffeine, that ignores other key aspects of natural energy.
Focused Energy includes herbs and mushrooms that help support mental clarity and focus, and these ingredients also help improve alertness and attention, with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.*
Each serving of Focused Energy contains 100 mg of caffeine from guarana and green tea, which is about the same amount as a single cup of brewed coffee, says Faye.*
In fact, you can replace your daily cup of coffee with this wholesome boost of energy by adding it to Shakeology or your favorite beverage. So on days you need a boost of energy for your mind and your body, you can use this without compromising your health.*
“This one is a bit more holistic,” says Faye of Focused Energy. He says the ingredients combine ancient wisdom and Eastern medicine with “good old caffeine.”
But Focused Energy, with caffeine from green tea and guarana, is less intense than coffee, in his experience. “If a cup of coffee kind of makes your tummy feel funny and hits you fast, this is going be a lot smoother.”
Here’s what is in every scoop of Focused Energy:
This is an energizing plant that may help increase mental alertness, fight fatigue, as well as help support focus.* Native to the Amazon basin, it naturally contains caffeine.*
Matcha & Green Tea
Green and black tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is how they’re processed; black tea is oxidized, while green tea is not. Matcha is green tea made from tea leaves that are kept in the shade before harvesting, then ground into a powder.
They are consumed as you drink the tea, whereas the leaves are usually strained out with other types of green tea. You’ve probably seen matcha lattes popping up on the menu of your favorite coffee shop, in your Instagram feed, or in smoothie recipes.
For centuries, the Chinese and Koreans have used this ancient herb to help promote vitality as well as support mental clarity.* Focused Energy uses both Panax ginseng, which is native to Asia, as well as the American variety.
This powerful adaptogen, which grows in Siberia, has traditionally been used to enhance the body’s ability to adapt and respond to the effects of stress.*
In addition to herbs, Focused Energy contains several mushrooms that support a healthy stress response.*
One of the four traditional mushrooms included in this boost, lion’s mane has commonly been used to help support the body adapt to stressors.* It can be cooked and eaten on its own — and tastes delicious!
Eastern cultures have long used this orange mushroom for energy support, and it recently has drawn the attention of athletes.* This mushroom is often consumed in supplement form, but is not usually cooked.
This mushroom, which ranges in color from white to orange and brown, has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.
It often has been used by herbalists to support energy.* Reishi, which is usually too hard and dense to eat, is often consumed as a tea, tincture, or dried powder.
Also known as the King Oyster mushroom, King Trumpet is a source of phytonutrients.* King Trumpet mushrooms are thick and white, and you’ve probably seen them at your local grocery store.
You need energy to balance your work and home life — and still be able to give attention to your health goals.
When you need a boost of energy on your busiest days, reach for an energy supplement that contains more than just caffeine so you can also help promote healthy focus, mental clarity, and altertness.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.