As you know, I am always researching the latest nutrition trends, and the predictions for 2024 are both exciting and promote ingredients I want to see more of. From cacao to spice to caffeine, the flavors and health benefits are coming for us this year in a really exciting way! One trend that I know we can all get behind is “the better boost” trend highlighting clean caffeine or should we say caffeine with benefits (even more than it provides already!). We can now get our caffeine buzz through food, in forms that of course, easily fit into my busy lifestyle and therefore yours!
As we have all noticed, in the past, energy drink sales surged in popularity despite nutritional and potential health concerns. I can admit that it was alarming when my 15-year-old son came home with a Celsius, as I am not a fan of its artificial sweeteners and high caffeine content. What excites me though is that after recently examining a survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults, it’s clear that consumers are leaning towards the idea of a caffeinated energy bar as a healthier option over energy drinks. You know how I feel about drinking your calories right? Skip it. Let’s get our calories from actual food please!
Seems study participants nationwide agreed with me. Most were aware of energy drinks’ unhealthy ingredients and artificial sweeteners, 83% were interested in trying a caffeinated energy bar as a healthier alternative to energy drinks, and 80% are seeking more nutrition from their caffeine sources. Not surprisingly, they were motivated by the option of increasing their energy without the jitters, energy crashes and spikes too many caffeinated beverages can cause. I can totally hang with this crew!
Another thing I really love about a caffeinated energy bar is how convenient and available it is in comparison to a beverage. If you know me, you know I advocate for carrying snacks to bridge the gap between meals. This is another great idea for our snack kits. And, fun fact, 82% of surveyed individuals feel the same way, choosing a caffeinated energy bar over energy drinks due to the anywhere-anytime versatility and convenience. A great example of this is the plant-based, caffeinated bar I mentioned in my Fall “Real Obsessions” healthy snacks picks, Quantum Energy Squares. Each square has a moderate 100 mg of caffeine per bar (about the same as an 8oz coffee) and ingredients I can stand behind for blood sugar, balanced macros and energy (I see you chia, plant-based protein, monk fruit and almond butter).
For those who are fitness focused or enjoy outdoor activities (I’m headed skiing in a few weeks, you?) this new energy format is a no brainer. In fact 26% of respondents stated they would eat a caffeinated bar as a pre-workout snack to allow for prolonged energy and endurance, and a whopping 64% choose them for a midday boost. We know that caffeine enhances athletic performance, pair that with actual food ingredients and that afternoon pick me just got a glow up! Not to mention it conveniently fits into your pack, pocket or bag with no spill, no mess, no temperature issues. Sign me up!
As a Dietitian, I also want to point out my excitement by the heightened awareness regarding the unhealthy and even dangerous ingredients found in many energy drinks. A resounding 82% of consumers are actively seeking new energy products that do not contain artificial sweeteners or harmful chemicals. I regularly discuss with my clients the health concerns from the long term use of artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols and alternative energy ingredients. These have raised health concerns from the WHO, NIH and others with reported potential links to chronic diseases, neurotoxicity and mood-related disorders. In fact, some ingredients like Guarana have even been banned from NCAA athletics. Yes, unhealthy ingredients hide in energy drinks under pretty packaging and smart marketing, but many of us are catching on while energy drinks try to position themselves as a health-conscious option. In my efforts to support my audience and client base, I’m excited by this “better boost” trend that introduces wholesome, convenient, and health-focused caffeinated food products for the increasingly ingredient-savvy US consumer focused on their overall health.
So this vacation, and from here on out, I’ll be packing Quantum Energy Squares in my ski kit, work bag and yes, even in my 15-year-old’s hockey gear. I’m heading into the new year with a buzz I can handle while keeping my nutrition goals intact!
To see more of my good energy predictions for 2024, you can view my full analysis of the survey below.