Best energy drink after running (work your legs)

Running is a great form of exercise. It also has many benefits including improving your health and preventing disease.

Preparing yourself before a run is important, but did you know that the post-running process is just as crucial?

After your running sessions, you’re likely to have used a lot of energy. At this point, you might be feeling worn out and lethargic. But you still need to go on with the rest of your day.

In this situation, energy drinks can provide the answer.

Energy drinks, as the name implies, can give you a good jolt of energy due to their caffeine content, which won’t leave you as exhausted after running.

Energy drinks can also contribute to energy replenishment in your muscles.

This article will explain how energy drinks can help restore energy in your muscles and how it can help you after your running sessions.

Now, let’s get started

What to look for in an energy drink

Caffeine content

Hand holding a small container of coffee beans
Is caffeine good for you?

As one of the most important ingredients in energy drinks, caffeine is responsible for providing you with energy boosts to make you more alert, awake, and prepared for action.

Depending on the brand you choose, the caffeine content in energy drinks can range between about 50mg to 300mg or more.

A cup of coffee usually contains between around 95mg to 125mg of caffeine, but can sometimes have a lot more than that.

Aside from being an energy booster, caffeine has many other known benefits.

A small to moderate dose of caffeine can enhance athletic and cognitive performance.

However, if too much caffeine is consumed, side effects may develop as a result of an overdose.

As stated by the FDA, generally around 400mg of caffeine in a day is considered safe for healthy adults.

This amount is equivalent to about four to five cups of coffee. However, the amount of caffeine you can consume per day depends on your caffeine tolerance and varies from person to person.

If your tolerance to caffeine is low, you’ll feel the side effects after consuming a small dose of caffeine.

I usually prefer 50mg – 100mg of caffeine per drink. That much caffeine hits the sweet spot for me after a good run.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women or those with medical conditions should consult a doctor before introducing caffeine into your diet.

If you’re pregnant and breastfeeding, I think it’s best to lay off caffeine completely for the time being.

One 2008 study found that consuming more than 200mg of caffeine during pregnancy could increase the risk of miscarriage.

So, if you get stuck figuring out which energy drink might suit you, refer back to the general amount of caffeine you can have to prevent experiencing unpleasant side effects like headaches or dizziness.

Sugar content

Sugar is another ingredient that many energy drinks contain.

I can’t deny that sugar is important for our bodies as fuel. Our body turns sugar into glucose, which feeds our bodies and brain with energy.

However, the sugar that’s truly beneficial for us comes from whole grains, vegetables and fruits that are also rich in vitamins, fibre, and other minerals.

Processed foods and drinks like potato chips, sodas and sweets contain added and processed sugar, which aren’t very healthy for us.

An excessive intake of sugar could cause a sugar crash, which could leave you feeling fatigued and lethargic, not really the state you want to be in after a good run.

Too much sugar can also cause side effects and long-term health risks like:

  • Tooth decay
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Aging skin

According to the guidelines from the AHA, your daily sugar intake should be no more than:

Men36g/150 calories
Women25g/100 calories
Try to limit your daily sugar intake.

I’d recommend going for sugar-free energy drinks instead of the sugar-filled variety. Sugar-free energy drinks taste just as good and don’t contain as many calories.

But, in my opinion, you should replenish your muscle glycogen supply with glucose from healthy carb-rich meals.

Price

The price of energy drinks varies from brand to brand. And sometimes expensive energy drinks aren’t necessarily better quality than the more affordable options.

After all, investing in the most popular and priciest energy drinks isn’t worth your money if they don’t suit your needs. In the same way, opting for more affordable energy drinks doesn’t have to mean you’re compromising quality.

Though in the end, it boils down to your budget and what you’re looking for from your energy drinks.

And of course it doesn’t hurt if you can find a great deal too!

Personally, I always go for REIZE energy drink since it’s super affordable and a great energy-booster after my daily run.

More on REIZE will come later…

Are energy drinks beneficial after running?

woman in gym clothes running near a fence
Running is the best form of cardio.

Energy drinks can be beneficial for you after you’ve finished your daily run. The caffeine in energy drinks can replenish your glycogen stores faster, the main source of fuel for your muscles. This way, you won’t feel so exhausted after your run.

To better understand how energy drinks can be beneficial to you after running, we need to know why replenishing your body’s glycogen is important.

According to this study, glycogen can maintain your blood glucose levels and provide you with energy for sudden, intense activities.

Glycogen can also supply energy for anaerobic activities as glycogen can provide energy even without oxygen present.

If your glycogen stores are low, you’ll experience symptoms like mental dullness and fatigue, and you might find your muscle weight decreasing over time.

After running, your glycogen stores would be low as your muscles have already used up the energy stored in them. You’ll need to refill them quickly before your muscles get depleted.

This is where energy drinks can help.

The caffeine in energy drinks can increase glucose absorption into your bloodstream, allowing your muscles to refill with energy in a shorter period of time.

Of course, before consuming your energy drink, you’ll need to make sure that your body is replenished with carbs to be converted into glucose first.

To make sure your body is re-energized with nutrients, go for a meal with healthy carbs, fat, and proteins. After that, wash your meal down with a can of energy drink for faster glycogen repletion.

Usually, it’ll take 24 hours for glycogen stores to be fully replenished. If you consume energy drinks after running, it could take less time, but it must be combined with a high-carb diet and good rest.

Glycogen is important for energy recovery after running.

Is it good to drink caffeine after running?

Drinking caffeine after running is good because it helps with glycogen and energy replenishment, and muscle recovery after physical activities.

A study on 7 athletes found that individuals who consumed a carbohydrate-containing caffeine drink had 66% more glycogen compared to consuming an only-carb drink. 

In the study, it was reported that caffeine increased protein and enzyme activity during the process of glucose re-synthesis.

Among the proteins and enzymes released during the process is the calcium-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase B (also known as Akt) which play important roles in glucose metabolism. 

It was also discovered that caffeine increased blood glucose and insulin levels, which might have caused a higher rate of glucose uptake into the muscles.

Put it simply, consuming both carbs and caffeine will help your muscles refuel at a faster rate than it normally does and help your body replenish energy faster.

This could be beneficial, especially after some intense exercise like running.

Plus, caffeine can increase fat breakdown and metabolic rate, which in turn increases the amount of calories you burn.

Other than glucose, your muscle cells can also metabolize fatty acids into energy. Thus, the consumption of caffeine can lead to a higher breakdown of fat tissue instead of glycogen, storing away enough glycogen for your muscles to use for injury recovery.

However, caffeine needs to be consumed in moderation to avoid side effects like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased thirst
  • Headache
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Irritability

Besides, you’ll also benefit more from having small to moderate doses of caffeine. As long as you don’t overdo it, your post-run muscle recovery and glycogen re-synthesis will go smoothly.

Can consuming energy drinks help muscles recover faster after running?

Energy drinks contain caffeine, which can help in energy conversion and glucose uptake into the muscles. This will help in muscle recovery as caffeine prevents muscle breakdown over time.

An article from the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that low glycogen levels that aren’t replenished quickly with carbs could lead to exhaustion and amino acid oxidation.

It can also lead to overtraining and the accumulation of muscle injuries that develop after exercise.

Caffeine helps increase the rate and efficiency of glucose absorption into your body. The glucose is turned into glycogen, which is an essential source of energy and recovery for your damaged muscles.

With energy drinks, your body will be able to transport glucose that has been broken down from carbs and re-supply your body with energy.

Aside from that, caffeine might be a good hydrating post-workout beverage if consumed wisely. Though caffeine can increase the frequency of urination, it doesn’t directly contribute to dehydration.

In fact, a 2014 study discovered that moderate caffeine intake had similar hydrating properties as water.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should consume energy drinks all the time after completing your runs.

Water is still the best option for rehydration and electrolyte replenishment after exercise. It’s recommended you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to keep yourself hydrated.

Best energy drinks after running

In particular order, I present some great options to check out after a run.

Red Bull

A can of Red Bull
Drinking Red Bull in moderation can be beneficial after a run.

Caffeine content: 80mg
Sugar content: 27g
Price: about $2

Red Bull is a very famous energy drink brand that can be found almost anywhere on the planet. With 80mg of caffeine, I find it to have a reasonable amount of caffeine for post-running recovery.

Also, if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian you’ll be happy to know that Red Bull is indeed vegan.

However, the sugar content in Red Bull is quite alarming and I don’t believe that large amounts sugar are beneficial in helping you replenish your glycogen supplies after running.

The good news is that Red Bull has a sugar-free version, Sugarfree Red Bull which has the same amount of caffeine, but without the sugar and fewer calories.

The price of each can of Red Bull is also reasonable, costing about $2 per can. 

Give it a try after your next run and see if it works for you.

Celsius

five different flavours of Celsius energy drink
Celsius comes in many exciting flavors.

Caffeine content: 200mg
Sugar content: 0g
Price: $1.60

Celsius energy drinks are available in four varieties, and each variety has a wide selection of delicious flavors to choose from.

One thing that’s great about Celsius is that it’s sugar-free, so you won’t have to worry about gaining weight after your run or any health issues over time.

Plus, Celsius is more affordable than Red Bull at the price of around $1.60 per can. If you want to know where you can get the best online deals for Celsius Energy Drinks, check out this post.

But with 200mg of caffeine, Celsius has a lot more caffeine than I’d like in my energy drink, especially after a run.

If your caffeine tolerance is high, Celsius energy drink may be the energy drink for you. But if you’re new to energy drinks or caffeine in general, I suggest skipping it.

REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)

glass of REIZE energy drink and REIZE packet
REIZE is my favorite go-to drink.

Caffeine content: 50mg
Sugar content: 0g
Price: $1

For me, REIZE is the perfect energy drink after a run.

With a sensible 50mg of caffeine, and smart ingredients like taurine, B vitamins and ginseng, REIZE provides me with the perfect energy boost while refilling my glycogen stores efficiently.

REIZE is also sugar-free, thus no need to worry about any sugar-crashes afterward.

REIZE is a powdered energy drink, with each sachet containing 4g of powder that you can mix with almost any drink you like, whether it’s water, juice, or tea.

The best part is that REIZE is only around $1 per drink, including shipping right to your door.

That’s unbeatable value for money.

Try REIZE today and I’m sure it will soon be your favorite energy drink after a run.

Marty Spargo

I started my own energy drink brand in 2014 and am passionate about educating people about energy drinks so that they can properly understand the ingredients, benefits and risks without being influenced by the marketing messages put out by some brands. You can read my full bio here.

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