Energy supplements in the form of a delicious bite-sized, chocolate-coated candy? How about jerky that'll perk you up?
It's all a part of the ever-growing energy food industry, which was on display recently at the National Association of Convenience Stores Expo in Las Vegas.
"You have energy (products) everywhere," said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores. "It's all about convenience; what somebody can grab in two to three minutes and be on their way."
Energems, a new energy product that will be offered in stores later this year, is chocolate-coated pieces of milk chocolate and looks like a box of M&Ms. But inside the sweet tasting candy is a blend of caffeine, B vitamins and amino acids that are meant to get your blood flowing instantly. Billed as a dietary supplement, it claims to enhance focus, energy and concentration. Surprisingly, you don't taste much caffeine despite packing quite a punch.
"(A box of Energems with nine pieces) would be the equivalent of an 8 oz. energy drink," said Joe Fairleigh, vice president of sales for Energems. "Really what it is, it's a great way to have energy on the go."
Another unlikely energy booster: beef jerky.
Perky Jerky is an all-natural beef jerky company that can be found in stores across the country. The all-natural jerky puts a spin on energy products by blending the jerky's natural flavors of soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, and other spices with a popular energy product ingredient called guarana, a berry from the Amazon that naturally contains caffeine.
While guarana is also used in popular energy drinks like Rockstar and Monster, you won't feel the same effects with this chewy, flavorful jerky.
"The guarana adds a little bit of a kick," said Brian, Levin, owner of Perky Jerky. "It's about the same as drinking a diet coke."
Energy supplements have received mixed reviews of late, with some allegedly not doing what they claim and others having possible adverse health effects. Energy drinks such as Monster, Rockstar, Full Throttle, are particularly under the microscope. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports that five people died and one survived a heart attack after consuming energy drinks.
So how safe is it to eat chocolate or jerky for energy purposes?
Rachel Begun, a registered dietitian and works as a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, consumers in general take a risk of dealing with the unknown when it comes with energy supplements.
"Many energy products use several ingredients to illicit a buzz, but we don't know the effects of their interactions when taken at higher doses," said Begun.
Begun suggests getting your energy from more traditional forms.
"The ingredients in popular energy drinks and foods can provide a short-term buzz, but that's different than the long-lasting energy you get from nutrients that provide calories, such as protein, carbohydrates and fats."
And if you do take them, be sure you're aware of what else you eat or drink while taking them. If energy food products work better for you, your options just got a whole sweeter...and saltier.