With mid-terms soon approaching, both teachers and students might be needing that extra ‘pick-me-up” necessary for extra studying or grading.  Cue the caffeine… Luckily for us, there are many drinks available these days to choose from, but are they healthy and could they actually do some harm? Whether you choose an energy drink from the vending machine or the new pumpkin spice lattes at the java joint, here are a couple of tips to make sure you get the necessary boost without the unnecessary calories. 1) Read the nutrition labels of energy drinks . For instance, the Monster Energy Drink, contains 54 grams of sugar (that is 13 and half teaspoons of sugar ). What is giving you the energy…an enormous amount of sugar or caffeine? Actually, it is a lot of both. Energy drinks might also contain special ingredients such as an herb or vitamin purported to increase energy or improve mental function.  Most of these claims are not researched.  In addition, the amounts of these ingredients are typically minute and therefore, do very little.  2) Be aware of how much caffeine is in your drink . If you are not used to consuming caffeine or consume more than normal, you could be left with negative side effects. Trying to study when you are shaky or too wired to concentrate could defeat the purpose. Unfortunately, the amount of caffeine is typically not noted on the container. For a list of beverages and caffeine content see ” Caffeine Content ” from the Center of Science in the Public Interest website. 3) How much do you spend a week on your energy ne eds? My favorite coffee drink costs more than $4. Is this $120 a month habit worth it? Maybe, I should start thinking about dusting off my coffee maker at home. Plus, I’ll save calories without the unneeded syrup, whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top. Yum, maybe only twice a week…

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.