I received a submission recently from a reader who was advocating the use of 'energy pills' to help with exercise motivation and workout energy.
Had the submission been made through email, I would have deleted it as spam, which it is was, but it was also a good lead-in to an article on the subject of energy pills.
At first I thought that, yes, it would be helpful if you could have a burst of energy prior to and during a workout so that you could make the most of your time in the gym. I didn't know much about the product he mentioned, so I did a little research.
The pills he was pushing, according to the manufacturer, contain vitamins B-2 and B-12. They also contain Caffeine, Citrus Aurantium and Taurine which are intended to produce energy. In there as well is Citrus Aurantium, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Chromium Picolinate, which are intended as fat burners. Lastly, there is Yohimbe, Evodiamine and White Willow Extract, which are supposed to effect endurance and mood.
The product is advertised as an organic formulation, or nutriceutical and of course, they say theirs is different from other products because it contains the 'right' amount of caffeine, not too much, so that it will supposedly produce energy without the jitters.
The manufacturers website does a pretty good job of selling the 'benefits' of the pills, but is a little short on health warnings.
For starters, the use of energy pills is not for everyone. 'All natural' doesn't necessarily mean 'not harmful'.
When it comes to supplements containing one or more stimulant classified herbs or energy enhancing ingredients you should check with your doctor before you start using them. Because of the effect energy pills have on your metabolic rate and your adrenalin production, it could be dangerous to take them if you have high blood pressure, as the stimulants will increase your heart rate.
If you have a family history of heart disease or heart conditions you should not take energy supplements or fat burning products at all since it could give you heart palpitations and an irregular heart beat, if only temporary.
You shouldn't take an energy supplement too close to bedtime or your sleep will be affected.
People who drink coffee don't usually get the same effect as non coffee drinkers as their bodies are exposed to caffeine every day and therefore less sensitive to stimulants than a non coffee drinker.
Women usually do not need the same amount as men to feel the effect. They can probably get the desired effect at half the dosage.
This kind of stimulant shouldn't be taken for more than 3 months at a time and should not be taken every day. If you take them, also take a regular dosage of essential fatty acids to maintain the health of the adrenal glands, as they are stressed and overtaxed by the stimulant.
Be warned that stopping the use of a caffeine supplement can result in headaches for several days as your body goes into a type of withdrawal. I can vouch for this personally as I recently quit drinking coffee.
For years I drank several cups daily, but I was beginning to have trouble sleeping at night and I was having real trouble staying awake in the early afternoon. I quit coffee altogether and experienced constant headaches for several days before they subsided.
I also learned that caffeine withdrawal has been officially recognized as a disorder. There are several different clusters of common withdrawal symptoms: headache; fatigue or drowsiness; dysphoric mood including depression and irritability; difficulty concentrating; and flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain or stiffness.
Chronic caffeine use causes certain neurochemical changes, which can't be reversed overnight...withdrawal symptoms can last for a week or more. Mainstream advice is to NOT quit cold-turkey, but rather to phase out caffeine use gradually, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
It is not smart to take energy supplements on an empty stomach since all vitamins and supplements should be taken with food. Taken on an empty stomach could result in a stomachache or indigestion.
Always consult a physician if you feel unsure or have questions regarding whether you should take an energy supplement or not.
You can learn more about energy pills from supplement expert Will Brink.
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