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Energy Supplements: Calories continued...

“If there’s a lot of easily metabolized sugar in a product, it could raise your blood sugar and rev you up a little,” says Coates. But that benefit fades pretty quickly. As the blood sugar drops again, you’re liable to feel sleepy.

And in the long-term, relying on high-calorie energy drinks and foods for a boost is a bad idea -- especially if you don’t get much exercise. Calories you don’t burn just become fat. Carrying around excess weight will probably leave you feeling less energetic.

Bottom line: Will these supplements boost energy? For athletes, yes. For everyone else, an occasional energy drink or energy bar might give you a brief blood sugar boost. Taken regularly, they can lead to weight gain and inflammation.

Energy Supplements: Keeping Perspective

So there’s the rundown. Of course, if you’re suffering from serious fatigue, you should check with your doctor before you start taking an energy supplement to make sure a medical condition isn’t causing your fatigue. Then, after ruling out a problem, here are some questions to consider:

  • Is this supplement safe for me? If you already have a medical condition or take regular medication, some supplements might be dangerous. Remember that we just don’t know much about their risks. They aren’t tested and approved by the FDA, like drugs.
  • How good is the evidence that this supplement works? “Many of the energy supplements aren’t supported by much in the way of science,” says Coates. That’s not to say that they don’t work, necessarily. It’s just that there haven’t been enough studies to say one way or another.
  • Do I really need this supplement? A well-balanced diet should give most people the minerals, vitamins, and nutrients they need, says Coates. Are there deficiencies in your diet? If so, why?

Finally, always follow the recommended dosing instructions -- or get guidance from your doctor or a dietitian. “The mentality in the U.S. is often, if some is good, more must be better,” says Clemens. “That’s not the case when you’re taking supplements.”

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