Many of the energy drinks that appear on store shelves contain high levels of sugar and caffeine, as well as a host of other potentially unhealthy ingredients. Some claim to be all-natural, but without doing your own research, it can be difficult to determine what's safe and what may be unhealthy. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or teens. The best alternative to the store-bought energy drink is the homemade energy drink that you know uses all-natural ingredients to boost energy.
There are a few smoothie options that can add protein and natural sugars that will give your little one a boost of energy right before a big game or practice. A banana and fig smoothie with honey and bee pollen powder, for instance, provides tons of nutrients and natural sugars for energy. You can even add some plain yogurt for added protein and better texture. Other options are a soy milk, egg yolk and honey smoothie and a carrot, apple, egg yolk, soy milk and honey smoothie. Add about a teaspoon of bee pollen powder to any of these for an added energy boost.
According to Kids Health, a Nemours Foundation-sponsored website, sports drinks can be helpful for kids who will be participating in sporting events that last longer than an hour -- a category that football would fall into. Sports drinks contain sugars that act as a quick energy booster. They also contain sodium and potassium, also known as electrolytes, which kids sweat out during activity. Water alone can't replace those elements or give the added sugar boost and the amount of sugar in sports drinks does not rival the sugar content of many energy drinks.
One of the best ways to get an all-natural energy boost through a drink is to consume juices that are 100 percent fruits and vegetables. Acai juice, which is made from acai berries, is a great source of natural sugar. Orange juice is another great option for replenishing sugar levels and giving a natural energy boost. In fact, most citrus fruits contain fructose (sugar), glucose and sucrose, which all provide instant energy.
The U.S., at time of publication, does not have guidelines regarding how much caffeine is safe for children on a daily basis. Canadian guidelines, however, recommend no more than 62.5mg for children ages 7 to 9 and no more than 85mg for children ages 8 to 12, based on average body weights of children in those age groups.
Many energy drinks are loaded with caffeine -- some equivalent to 14 cans of soda -- because they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, at time of publication. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can actually cause dehydration. This makes energy drinks that are high in caffeine highly unsafe for children who are about to play football, be it practice or a game.
Proper hydration is especially important in football due to the time of year it's played -- usually in the late summer and early fall when the weather is still relatively hot and humid -- and because of the amount of equipment football players must wear.