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updated: 7/9/2012 2:07 PM

Fueling up vs. filling up with homemade smoothies

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  • You don't need to stop at a convenient store for an energy boost. A homemade smoothie of blended blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, spinach, apple juice and milk gets you going.

       You don't need to stop at a convenient store for an energy boost. A homemade smoothie of blended blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, spinach, apple juice and milk gets you going.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Who doesn't want wings to fly?

But the big promises of energy drinks are hardly reliable. At most, many store-bought energy drinks supply a short-lived energy boost, and some individuals experience undesirable effects such as headaches, nervousness, nausea and rapid heartbeat due to the high caffeine content. Regulating caffeine levels in energy drinks has even drawn the attention of some lawmakers.

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Besides being high in caffeine, some energy drinks are high in sugar and calories -- the average 16-ounce energy drink weighs in with about 230 calories. Add one drink a day to your normal food and beverage intake and you could weigh 24 pounds more in a year.

That energy buzz don't just cost you calories, it costs you dollars and cents. Buy one a day at roughly $2.63 and you're spending $957 a year on energy drinks.

Don't confuse energy drinks with sports drinks. Sports drinks are designed to replenish electrolytes, carbohydrates and provide hydration. Energy drinks, on the other hand, lack nutritional value and the high levels of caffeine have a diuretic effect that actually increases your loss of sodium and urine -- leading to possible dehydration.

Sugar and caffeine aside, some brands also may contain mysterious ingredients. If you want to make sure you're getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients for a healthy body, eat a balanced diet.

Our body's best source of energy comes from foods with carbohydrates. Therefore you can get energy from fruit, milk or yogurt, whole grain breads, crackers, cereals, rice, pasta and other grains.

For those times when you feel like you're lagging consider a superior, healthier way to add more pep to your step. This Fuel You Up Smoothie is just the thing. This smoothie provides vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium and iodine from fruit, milk and vegetables. Obtaining nutrients from whole foods like those provides energy without the potentially adverse effects of caffeine. Plus, these smoothies will fill you up without emptying your wallet.

• Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian, works for the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and is a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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