Let’s be honest, we all have those drowsy days when we don’t know how we’re going to make it through the next meeting at work- much less get through an intense workout session after work. These are the days when all you want to do is go home and crash- but you know that the best thing to do is power through that workout. If you’re having a day like this and coffee just isn’t hitting right, an energy drink may do the trick.
However, there are lots of energy drinks on the market and the truth is- they are not all the same. If you are looking for an energy drink that will give you a burst of energy without causing you to crash and burn later, you need to keep a few things in mind. You want to make sure that the one you choose contains the appropriate amount of caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients to help you power through the day.
Things to Consider When Buying an Energy Drink for Working Out
When you are choosing an energy drink for working out, there are several things that you should keep in mind. We’ll explore these a little bit below:
How much caffeine is in it?
The first thing to consider is how much caffeine is in it. In moderation, caffeine is not going to be harmful. In fact, medical experts say that the average person can consume up to 400 milligrams without a problem. It is actually good for your heart and cardiovascular system and can even keep you sane during the day. Ideally, stay between 100 to 300 milligrams per serving.
How much sugar is in it?
As a general rule, sugar is bad- no matter how you think about it. However, depending on where you’re getting it from, it might not be as bad as you think. If you are having an energy drink instead of coffee, you can actually save yourself an average of 25 to 30 grams of sugar. Just make sure that you are paying attention to your sugar consumption so you don’t consume too much.
What ingredients are in it?
These days, some of the newer, organic energy formulas almost require you to have a research degree to understand what is in them. However, instead of trying these formulas, stick to those with ingredients that make sense: Ginseng, Natural Caffeine, and B-vitamins to ensure you get the best results from your energy drink.
What does it taste like?
Let’s be honest, if it doesn’t taste good, it’s a waste of money. Of course, if you’re shopping online, it may be difficult to choose because you have no way of trying it. In this case, you’ll have to trust the customer reviews. You can also consider the product itself by keeping in mind that the higher the carbonation, the less flavor it will have. Most of the zero-carb and zero-cal drinks are not going to be carbonated and therefore, will have lots of flavor.
What is the quality of the brand?
Does the brand have a reputation of using good ingredients? Do they use artificial flavors and/or colors? After reading through our reviews, make sure you do some additional research to be sure that it fits with your needs and goals before taking the plunge.
What size is the container?
You’ve heard the phrase “size doesn’t matter”- but in this case, it really does. If you are taking your energy drink with you to work, you want to have enough that you stay hydrated for a while- but not so much that it keeps you jacked up all day. On average, a 12-ounce can should be plenty for the average person.
Why do You Need an Energy Drink?
The purpose of energy drinks are to improve physical and mental performance. Therefore, whether you are in for a long day at the office, an intense session at the gym, or a late-night study session, the right energy drink can make or break you.
Energy drinks give you the ability to maintain your performance in situations that are not ideal. The biggest problem that people seem to have is lack of sleep. When you are dealing with a lack of sleep, you need improved energy and concentration. The effects you can get from an energy drink can help you improve your cognitive performance, clear up your foggy memory, and/or mitigate sluggish reactions.
Whether you are looking to enhance or sustain your current mental and physical performance, there’s surely an energy drink for you. Later, we’ll go over the benefits and side effects associated with energy drinks. We’ll also give you 5 options to choose from to help you get started with energy drinks safely.
When Should You Drink an Energy Drink?
If you are planning to use an energy drink to help you power through an intense workout session, you should consume it about 45 minutes prior to the session. You may notice a bit of a buzz within a few minutes of taking the first sip- but you are not likely to reach maximum energy until about 45 minutes later.
More than 45 minutes, and you risk your energy running out prior to completion of your workout. On the other hand, if you work out too soon after consuming an energy drink, you risk the drink not kicking in yet.
How Safe are Energy Drinks During a Workout?
According to most experts, as long as you are healthy overall, one energy drink during a workout is safe. In fact, some studies have indicated that energy drinks actually have a positive impact on your workout performance.
While it may not exactly be the healthiest option, overall, it’s safe to consume one. You don’t want to overdo it though because of the caffeine. There are a few reasons why you would not want to use an energy drink:
- It takes approximately 45 minutes to kick in
- Most are fizzy, which is not the best thing for your digestive system during a workout
That being said, there are some options that are not fizzy. You may wish to try those instead.
How Many Energy Drinks Can I Consume in 1 Day?
This is a bit difficult to answer because there are several factors that come into play. First, the brand matters. Also, the amount of caffeine and other active ingredients it contains make a difference. However, the general rule, according to the FDA, is that the maximum recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400 milligrams. Therefore, as long as you don’t exceed that amount, you should be fine.
This means that you’ll want to check the labels on your energy drink and if you still have concerns or questions, consult your medical professional. They can provide you with more specific guidance based on your personal situation.
Of course, it is also important to note that while they are generally safe, energy drinks can cause serious health issues if you’re not careful. We’ll be exploring the benefits and side effects of energy drinks below. Typically, it should be safe to consume up to 2 energy drinks, as long as they are low in sugar and caffeine. Just pay attention to the label and that should give you an idea of what’s safe and what’s not.
Make sure that you do your research before you decide what you want to fuel your body with.
Best Energy Drinks for Working Out Reviews
Now that we’ve explained a bit more about energy drinks in general, it’s time to go over some reviews of what we feel are the top 5 best energy drinks for working out. We can assure you that these will give you the energy, stamina, and endurance that you need to get through even the most intense workouts.
XWERKS has been in the supplement industry for some time. They are well-known and well-respected. This is a premium pre-workout formula that is designed to ensure maximum performance. According to research, this product has no side effects associated with it.
It does contain nootropics, which are proven to give you long-lasting, steady energy without crashing when it wears off. It elevates nitric oxide in your body, which means you’re not going to run out of energy even during intense sessions.
If you are using this product, you are not going to need or want other caffeine sources- Ignite gives you all you need. You will find that there are several flavors available: blue raspberry, orange, watermelon, and green apple. According to XWERKS, Ignite will give you explosive energy, ensure major muscle gains, decrease recovery time, and more. If you want a guaranteed effective workout without being concerned about crashing, this should stay at the top of your list.
Bang Energy was founded in 1993 by Jack Owoc, who also runs VPX and Redline. This is one of the most effective energy drinks you’ll find. It contains a high amount of caffeine: 300 milligrams per can, along with essential amino acids, BCAAs, creatine, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. These are all great for your body, providing significant benefits.
If you are highly sensitive to caffeine or have a low tolerance, you may want to try a different energy drink. After all, if you have a low tolerance or sensitivity, it could be dangerous to consume and can cause health issues.
There are lots of flavors, including:
- Cotton Candy
- Peach Mango
- Sour Heads
Of course, there are many more flavors and it seems like they are always coming out with new ones as well. They do have a few coffee flavors, if fruity is not your thing:
- Mocha Madness
- Heavenly Hazelnut
- Cookies & Cream
There are a few others here as well. If you can handle high doses of caffeine and like lots of flavor options, this may be the perfect energy drink for you. On the other hand, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to find one that doesn’t have as much of this ingredient.
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, CELSIUS can help you recharge your energy and refocus your goals! This energy drink is made with ingredients that are clinically proven and comes in 13 delicious flavors, giving you an ideal balance of flavor and energy that is ideal for active lifestyles.
The ingredients in CELSIUS include: green tea extract, vitamin B, guarana seed extract, vitamin C, ginger root, and chromium.
As mentioned, there are 13 delicious flavors: Sparkling Mango Passionfruit, Sparkling Strawberry Guava, Sparkling Orange, Sparkling Tropical Vibe, Sparkling Fuji Apple Pear, Sparkling Peach Vibe, Sparkling Watermelon, Sparkling Kiwi Guava, Sparkling Grape Rush, Sparkling Wild Berry, Sparkling Cola, Peach Mango Green Tea, and Raspberry Acai Green Tea.
CELSIUS energy drinks are kosher-friendly, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, and sugar-free.
Transparent Labs Preseries
Transparent Labs is also well-known and loved in the fitness supplement arena. They are known for producing high-quality bodybuilding supplements, targeting a plethora of goals for health/fitness.
At this time, they offer six options for energy drinks (pre-workouts). Some are designed for bulking, some specifically for energy boosting. Some offer users stimulants to give them energy, others are free from these stimulants.
At this time, Transparent Labs has the following products available:
- Jesse James West Bulk
- HowToBeast Bulk
Most of the other products on the market take an all-in-one approach, but Transparent Labs has taken the time to formulate their products based on your personal goals. In fact, this is one of the best products on the market today when it comes to energy drinks for working out because of their proven ingredients available at stronger dosages.
Ghost Energy has been in the industry since 2016. Their home office is located in Nevada and their name and mantra (“Be seen”) come from the feeling of wanting to be heard and wanting to make an impact.
This energy drink contains zero artificial colors and zero artificial sugars. Ghost Energy is said to be zero-BS. According to their website, their labeling offers “full disclosure.” You don’t have to wonder about what is in their drinks and how much. This energy drink for working out comes in a variety of unique flavors:
- Sour Patch Kids
- Gamer X Warheads
- Gamer X Bubblicious
- Swedish Fish
We’ll stop there for now. There are lots of other unique flavors. Each are sugar free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan friendly. One container offers 40 servings and costs $39.99.
How We Chose Best Energy Drinks for Working Out
When we were creating our list, we had a lot of energy drinks to go through. It took some time and attention to detail- but we finally got it done. Here are the criteria we considered when building our list.
Chances are, you know some of the brand names on our list. However, they were not put on the list based on name alone. We added them to our list based on whether or not they fulfilled the hype associated with their name.
Yes, caffeine will give you an energy boost- but it must stay within a certain range. Most of the energy drinks contain between 100 to 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is an acceptable range. Experts say you can consume up to 400 milligrams daily. We tried to avoid including energy drinks that had high, unstable levels of caffeine in their beverages.
We quickly learned that everyone is affected differently by the common ingredients in energy drinks. One person is likely to have totally different effects than someone else and many times, it’s based on your current health and medical history. In most cases, user reviews help reveal other aspects that show how one may be better for you than another.
Finally, we considered the price. How many cans/bottles can you get for a certain price or how many servings come in a container and what are the results you can expect per serving? While price was a factor, it was more the value versus price. This means we consider whether the price was worth it or not.
Benefits Associated with Energy Drinks
As a general rule, energy drinks contain caffeine and usually other ingredients to give you a burst of energy. The most common ingredients included in energy drinks include:
- Green tea extract
- B Vitamins
- Yerba Mate
When it comes to proof of whether these ingredients actually work or not, the evidence varies. We’ll explain below:
As we mentioned, as a general rule, energy drinks contain caffeine. This chemical plays the biggest role in energy provision. It is a stimulant, which means that it improves reaction time, increases alertness and metabolism, and improves your overall performance during your workout. Of course, the effects are based on the amount of caffeine you consume and it’s important to keep in mind that there is such a thing as “too much” of a good thing!
This is another very common ingredient when it comes to energy drinks. However, it may not be as important as you think. The name comes from the fact that it was first discovered in the 1800s in the liver bile of oxen. That being said, it’s also present in the human body as well and is involved in nervous system development and function.
The reason that taurine is often included along with caffeine is to elevate your nervous system. This can’t be achieved with caffeine or taurine alone. In 2012, a study by researchers at Tufts University, including Grace E. Giles attempted to learn how caffeine and taurine interact to create the benefits associated with energy drinks.
In this study, participants were given four randomized treatments:
- Only caffeine
- Only taurine
- Taurine & caffeine together
After receiving the treatment, participants were subjected to cognitive testing. As they expected, caffeine was significantly and consistently beneficial on tasks related to reaction time and short-term memory. Taurine was also somewhat beneficial. However, when paired with caffeine, it resulted in an unpredictable effect on cognitive performance.
That being said, this study did not look at all aspects that energy drinks claim to improve- but this does prove that taurine content should not be one of the major factors to consider when weighing the benefits of an energy drink.
According to experts, B-vitamins may improve nervous system functioning. Just as with taurine, the idea is that the B-vitamins interact with the caffeine to improve energy levels and increase alertness better than with caffeine alone.
In 2012, a study by Brandon D. Spradley and associates indicated that an energy drink containing caffeine along with B-vitamins and a few other key ingredients did increase performance on lower body muscular endurance and agility during a workout session. This study was published in the journal, Nutrition & Metabolism.
That being said, this study did not look at the effects of each ingredient individually, but only used a true placebo. They did not include a caffeine-only supplement.
In addition, it is believed that B-complex vitamins improve your mental and physical stamina and your concentration. Many of the energy drinks on the market contain B-complex along with the sugar, caffeine, taurine, and other ingredients.
Do B-vitamins really do anything? According to some research, yes. One four-week study showed the effects of high doses of B-complex on concentration, mental stamina, and physical stamina. The results of this study were published in the journal, Human Psychopharmacology. Participants were divided into 2 groups. One group was given a high-dose B-vitamin complex and the other, a placebo. They were asked to rate their mental states on an app on their cell phone regularly. This would give researchers a read on the trends of their mental status.
While it’s true that there’s risk of bias when self-reporting, the careful use of the placebo prevents this from happening so much. Both groups believed that they were benefiting from the supplement they were given.
After researchers analyzed the data, it was proven that the B-complex supplement improved concentration, as well as physical and mental stamina in the participants. Since perception plays a major role in overall productivity, this study proves that B vitamins in an energy drink boost performance and elevate mood.
Side Effects Associated with Energy Drinks
As with every other dietary supplement on the market, there are some disadvantages to consuming too much of the ingredients found in energy drinks. The two that seem to cause the most issues are niacin (that is Vitamin B-3) and caffeine.
We know that caffeine is a stimulant and if you take too much, it can have detrimental effects on your body. The most common side effects of consuming too much caffeine include insomnia, jitters, racing heartbeat, nausea, and more. One study by Turkish doctors in 2013 proved that in rare cases, too much caffeine could cause abnormal heart rhythms, which can ultimately lead to death.
Some medical reports indicate that the overuse of energy drinks in conjunction with strenuous physical activity can cause heart issues– regardless of medical history of the patient.
Medical professionals pretty much agree that most people can consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily without any issues. Many people actually consume much more than this and there does seem to be a range in tolerance- but 400 is a good place to start.
Niacin, also referred to as Vitamin B-3, has been proven to cause discomfort when taken in excessive dosages. Most studies indicate that doses of 35+ milligrams can result in tingling, flushing, itchiness, and redness.
Some energy drinks come really close to the 35 milligrams, so if you want to avoid these issues, it’s best to avoid other supplements containing niacin or consume more than one drink per day if it has high niacin levels.
We all have days where we’re not sure we’re going to make it through the rest of the day, much less that workout session we have scheduled later on. This is where an energy drink for working out comes in. If you feel yourself dragging, consider grabbing one of the drinks we have listed here. From there, you can experiment until you find the one that works the best for you.
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“B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-complex.
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Spradley, Brandon D, et al. “Ingesting a Pre-Workout Supplement Containing Caffeine, B-Vitamins, Amino Acids, Creatine, and Beta-Alanine before Exercise Delays Fatigue While Improving Reaction Time and Muscular Endurance.” Nutrition & Metabolism, vol. 9, no. 1, 2012, p. 28, 10.1186/1743-7075-9-28.
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