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There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done, and by noon, many of us are already feeling the fatigue. Our morning dose of caffeine is wearing off and our second will hold us for another few hours, then we’ll have a third, and maybe even a fourth later on. For many, this means several trips to your local coffee shop, but for millions of others, their energy comes in the form of popular energy drinks.

But do we really know what’s in that can? According to a report by Rodale, when ConsumerLab.com tested popular energy drinks, many were found to contain even higher levels of caffeine than what’s noted on the can. There are also other ingredients, “…including sugar or sweeteners, amino acids, vitamins, and an assortment of poorly researched herbal extracts," Kathleen Miller, PhD, told Rodale. "There's relatively little research about how these herbal extracts interact with each other or with caffeine.”

Sounds a little scary to us! But here’s the thing: There are healthful ways to amp up your energy, as Rodale noted in their list of energy boosters. Try a few of these pick-me-ups the next time you find yourself hitting that 3 o’clock wall!

Dark Chocolate
While some energy drinks can give your muscles a kick-start, they do next to nothing for your mind. When you feel like you’re suffering from a mental block, try munching on some flavonoid-rich dark chocolate to boost your brain. This tasty snack is also packed with phytonutrients that increase your body’s energy expenditure and can even protect you against weight gain. Wait, what? Bring on the dark chocolate!

Luna Chocolate Peppermint Stick Bar
Instead of the sugary candy bars, stash a few natural energy bars in your desk for a midday pick-me-up. Brands like Luna boast whole grains, nuts, and fruit, which make it an excellent source of natural energy and fine nutrition. The sharp aroma of peppermint in this particular bar is an excellent stimulant. Just be sure to check the ingredient list before buying, because too much sugar could signal an unhealthy imposter!

Beet Kvass by Zu-Kay Live Foods
Get your daily dose of veggies and a natural kick in the butt with this fermented brew. While this bottled beauty doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, it has the power to help your body use oxygen more efficiently and give you a natural boost of energy without caffeine’s side effects like crashing. It’s available at Wegmans, Whole Foods, and other natural food stores nationwide.

Blue Potatoes
Local farmer’s markets are a great place to pick up these knobby veggies. Although potatoes are usually frowned upon for their high carbs, moderation is key. This colorfully odd offspring contains lots of phytonutrients and iodine, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy thyroid. Low iodine levels have been linked to low energy levels, so add some chunks to a soup or bake them for a snack.

Steaz Organic Energy Drink
If you can’t avoid the can, this drink contains fruit extracts and yerba mate, an energy-boosting compound from the leaves of a tropical tree that has been used by South Americans to combat fatigue. While this is a healthier and safer option than other popular energy drinks, try not to overdo it — it still contains a high amount of sugar and may include the chemical BPA, which is found in canned beverages. Pick it up at Wegmans, Whole Foods, or Sunflower Markets.

For the complete list of energy boosters, head over to Rodale.


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