A typical comment I get is how much more energy people are feeling from a new supplement or product they started. It is usually some multi-level-marketing (MLM) product a friend, family member, or neighbor convinced them to try. They claim it is “all natural” energy and they have never felt better.
So, how is it that these products give a person more energy? What does it mean to be all natural? Will this energy last and is it healthy in the short and long term?
First let’s answer these questions;
Is healthy to be under constant stress? Is it good to be “stressed out”? What exactly is stress?
Let’s say you are walking down the street and a man shows a knife and asks for your wallet. At that moment the stress response, the fight or flight response kicks in. Stress hormones are released from the adrenal glands. Your heart rate goes up, blood pressure goes up, you get a boost of energy because you need to fight or run, digestion goes down because blood is concentrated in your extremities (that is why your muscles feel tense), sugar and fat are released into your blood stream for energy, cholesterol is released to help with clotting in case of injury, appetite is suppressed, rate of breathing is increased, you may feel the need to go to the bathroom (hence the term scared shitless), you are jittery, alert, and have no chance falling asleep. When your stress hormones are up you have more energy and feel good.
“Feeling better does not equal getting better.” Albert Einstein
This stress response is healthy in the short term. It is an extremely important survival mechanism in the event of an attack. However, if you are under a continued state of stress it is very dangerous. Would it be good to have high blood pressure, muscle tension, increased fat and sugar in your blood, increased cholesterol, increased breath rate, inability to sleep, and decreased digestion all the time?
The reason caffeine gives a person more energy is because it causes the release of stress hormones. Caffeine is a stressor. The reason many MLM products give you more energy is because they are loaded with caffeine! You are keeping yourself under a constant load of stress. That is very dangerous over the long term. Caffeine is a drug and these products are creating a drug addiction. People get addicted to drugs because it makes them “feel good” and they feel terrible when they try to quit. It is fatigue and pounding headaches when trying to quit caffeine.
Let’s say there was a new product that came out called Wine-O. Have one bottle each afternoon and you will feel all warm and fuzzy, relaxed, happy and you’ll sleep like a baby. You would feel great for a while after having a bottle of Wine-O each night. You can do it again the next day and the next and keep feeling great. You could tell all of your friends about this great new product that is ‘all natural’ and made from grapes. You feel great every afternoon and sleep like a baby you have to try it! Eventually you start to build a tolerance to the alcohol in Wine-O and need to drink more and more to get the same pleasurable feeling. You need to have some just to get your day started in the morning. If you continue on that path you will get to a point where if you aren’t drinking Wine-O you feel terrible. The same thing happens with consistent caffeine consumption. You create a drug addiction, numerous negative side effects, and will go thru withdrawal when trying to kick the habit. Are these caffeine filled supplements really “all natural”?
Another way affect caffeine has on your system is the blocking of adenosine. Adenosine is hormone released by your body that is a signal to your body that you need rest. Again, if you are constantly blocking adenosine with caffeine this will lead to long term problems.
When you look at the MLM product labels it is easy to see they all have caffeine just from different sources. Guarana has very high caffeine concentration. Green tea extract, white tea extract, coffee bean extract are all just more sources of caffeine. Every energy drink is nothing more than a caffeine delivery system. Most products use a “proprietary blend” so you don’t know exactly much but it’s a lot. You know it’s a lot because you feel a lot of energy! Smart supplement companies are good at hiding ingredients with different names.
Another very import factor to consider is the dosage of caffeine relative to the size of the person. Do you think giving a 115 pound female 200mg of caffeine is going to have the same effect as if given to a 215 pound man? These products recommend the exact same caffeine dosage for everyone. That makes no sense. Some people even recommend these products for kids. You do not want to start children on drugs that can affect their entire endocrine (hormone) system. Think about it. Does it make any sense to give children hormone altering drugs?
This is one thing that is so frustrating with distributors who sell these products. They have no idea what the ingredients are actually doing. They just believe in the clever company marketing and see the potential to make some money selling it to friends. No matter how good their intentions may be they are hurting themselves and their clients.
If you use energy products on a consistent basis you will have negative health consequences. It’s just a matter of time. All you need is a little understanding of basic stress response physiology to understand this.
When it comes to health decisions you have to think long term. Taking caffeine all day will give you more energy and make you feel good for a while. Eventually, you will pay the price.
Would you like to know the best ways to combat the stress response and get true “natural energy”? Exercise, eat healthy, get adequate sleep, and think positively. Be grateful for what you have rather than depressed over what you don’t.
I recently met with a client who is a month into my program. She has been following the diet recommendations and working out on a regular basis. She was thrilled to tell me how much better her sleep is and how much more energy she has throughout the day. One month in and she is hooked! No drugs needed. That is true “natural energy”!
On a side note – If a distributor claims the products are “naturally sourced from the best farms in America.” When and where was the best farm in the country competition? If they were naturally sourced from farms, what companies unnaturally source from farms?
“We are rated the highest bioavailability.” When and where was the supplement bioavailability competition? The highest possible bioavailability would be if you injected the caffeine directly into your blood stream.
“You need to do some research” When a person has research to support their claims, they will cite it. When they have nothing, they go with the “do some research” line in support of whatever they are trying to sell.
At this point a distributor’s only response in defense will be to try and attack me personally and/or professionally. When that happens I know their argument is lost and can’t be defended.
“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Socrates