We think we’re doing good by shelling out for pricey juices, teas, probiotics, and natural energy drinks, but sometimes we wonder if they’re really worth it. In fact, we wonder if some of them are even safe to drink. We picked a few of the most trendy drinks off the shelves of our favorite natural food stores and asked Lauren Slayton of Foodtrainers: To drink or not to drink?
Here’s what Lauren has to say:
Energy drinks come in attractive packages and make all sorts of nutritional claims. Their ingredients run the gamut from super healthy to drink at your own risk, and it’s hard to tell what’s worth the money and the calories. There’s an assortment of beverages here; I’ll give you my thoughts and final verdict. I was a tough grader, but there are energy drinks I like. I’m a fan of EBOOST, a green tea drink that can be mixed in your own BPA-free water bottle, and I also like Ito En Teas‘ unsweetened, gimmick-free green teas. Coffee with organic milk works for me as well.
Just remember, even when you get a fancy, expensive beverage, don’t forget the prerequisites of energy 101: good hydration (water) and at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Steaz – Energy Drinks ($2.19)
Verdict: DO NOT DRINK
Talk about energy! Steaz has 3 sources of speed — I mean, caffeine. There’s green tea, guarana and yerba mate; I would be bouncing off the walls at work. I worry about the overall effect of using three “uppers” all together. I’m not saying it’s unsafe, but I personally wouldn’t have coffee, tea and espresso all at once, either.
POM Wonderful – Pomegranate Juice ($5.50)
Verdict: DRINK DILUTED
POM is pomegranate juice, which is loaded with antioxidants. But this juice also has over 30 grams of sugar per cup. On its own, it’ll give you a blood sugar spike that leaves you with less energy, not more. I suggest clients mix 1-2 ounces with seltzer versus straight up.
Bragg’s – Apple Cider Vinegar Acai Concord Grape Drink ($2.19)
Verdict: DRINK IF BLOATED
Braggs is known best for their soy sauce substitute condiment. This apple cider drink is interesting. I haven’t tasted it but drinking vinegar hadn’t occurred to me and sounds a little odd. This is a low calorie, stevia-sweetened drink. I don’t think there’s enough acai to make a difference. This is really a diuretic (a.k.a. debloater).
Sambazon – Acai Rio Energy Drink ($2.19)
Verdict: DO NOT DRINK
Sambazon is really the the acai brand; this drink has more acai than the Braggs. Acai has some protein, a small amount of omega-3 oils, and is quite healthy (but tart). The added apple juice makes it more palatable, but it also raises the sugar content. Guarana provides the caffeine. I prefer the Sambazon smoothie packs, which give you acai with far less sugar, and can be blended into a smoothie.
GT’s Synergy Drinks ($4.99)
Verdict: DO NOT DRINK
These Synergy Drinks are just a mix of juice and kombucha. I suspect they’ve added juice to disguise the taste of kombucha (a fermented, fizzy tea drink), which many people don’t care for (including myself). I have concerns regarding the safety of kombucha: It’s particularly dangerous when made at home, as it can be easily contaminated and deaths have been reported. In bottled versions, my worry is the possible side effects, which range from jaundice and GI complaints to antibiotic resistance, as kombucha can have antibiotic properties. There are enough worry-free drinks out there.
Helios Nutrition – Organic Kefir ($3.99)
Kudos to Helios for their single-serving, no-sneaky-math-required kefir. This is a great immune-boosting beverage, perfect for a protein-rich afternoon snack. It isn’t energy-boosting per se, but if you’re feeling a little under the weather, this can help.
Lauren Slayton, M.S. R.D., founder of New York City’s Foodtrainers, has more than a decade of experience as both a dietician and nutritional counselor. Offering one-on-one sessions on weight and nutrition management, Foodtrainers helps clients create, record, achieve, and maintain personal health goals. For those in need of grocery shopping guidance on a budget, Foodtrainers also offers an affordable program, Market Foodtraining. Check out Lauren’s Foodtrainers blog and follow Lauren on Twitter: @foodtrainers.