After a good workout, your body probably feels tired and sore. The most important thing to do after cooling down is to refuel your body before it starts using your muscle proteins for energy.
What better way to do so than to consume energy drinks to provide you with that energy?
It may be shocking, but caffeine actually has benefits as a post-workout beverage.
If you’re looking for the best energy drinks to have after a workout, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started…
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What to look for in energy drinks?
Finding the perfect energy drink for you can be a challenge, especially when there are tons of them to choose from at your local store. Each of these brands of energy drink claims to be the best for you, but you need to be careful as not all of them will fit your needs.
For me, I choose my energy drink by assessing it according to the following criteria:
Energy drinks and caffeine are an inseparable duo. Caffeine is one of the main ingredients in energy drinks that provide you with energy.
You might think that caffeine works better before your workouts to help you exercise longer, but to tell the truth, caffeine works just as well even after your workouts.
After a good workout, you need to replenish your glycogen stores and restock your energy levels. It might be hard to believe but caffeine can actually help you with that.
Your body draws energy from glycogen stores in your liver and muscle cells. After completing your workouts, your glycogen stores will be depleted and your muscles will resynthesize glycogen from glucose. Glucose can come from a carbohydrate-rich meal.
However, if you don’t get proper nutrition after your workouts, your body will start eating away at your muscles to regain energy.
Consuming energy drinks can help rebuild glycogen and refuel your body with energy faster.
Depending on the types of exercise you do and the muscles you use, it can take up to 22 hours to four days to fully replenish your glycogen supply. If you continue to work out when your body hasn’t refuel and recover properly, you might end up with muscle injuries and low energy levels.
In one study involving seven cyclists, the participants went through four sessions of intense exercise to the point of exhaustion and consumed a carbohydrate drink before going home. The next day they came to do the same exercise but this time they were given a caffeinated carbohydrate drink instead.
This process was repeated for around a week and it was discovered that the athletes who had taken the caffeinated carbohydrate beverage had 66% more glycogen four hours after intense exercise than those didn’t.
Thus, it means that consuming caffeine can help your body transport glucose faster to the muscles and enhance glucose absorption into your muscle cells after performing exercises.
This is beneficial especially for athletes and for those who practice regular workout sessions. It also means you’d be able to work out more often since caffeine helps your body bounce back from exhaustion and muscle soreness.
Furthermore, caffeine is a great source of energy, which contributes to the reason many people like drinking coffee and tea. After consuming caffeine, you’ll feel less tired, more alert and ready to get back on your feet.
An experiment conducted on 24 participants found that consuming caffeine even in the daytime increased alertness, improved vigilance and increased the time it took for them to develop drowsiness.
I’m sure that your post-workouts don’t simply end with you leaving the gym and heading home to sleep. You probably have other tasks you need to do like showering and getting your post-workout meal. In order to do so, you need energy.
Taking energy drinks will supply your body with an energy boost that’ll help you get through the rest of your day after you’ve completed your workouts.
However, too much can lead to some nasty side effects and can be harmful to your health. The FDA recommends consuming less than 400mg of caffeine in a day for adults. For children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, caffeine should be avoided completely.
Sugar is another ingredient that you can find in many energy drinks.
There’s no denying that sugar is important for our bodies as energy. However, the kind of sugar you really need comes from natural sources like fruits and carbohydrates because these foods contain vitamins, fibre and other nutrients aside from sugar.
Processed foods like cakes, ice-cream and sodas contain added sugars, which aren’t beneficial to your body.
Too much sugar can lead to a sugar crash, leaving you tired and lethargic. It can also cause stomach discomfort like nausea and diarrhea, which aren’t the best outcomes after a workout.
According to the guidelines from the AHA, your daily sugar intake should be no more than:
Thankfully, there’s plenty of sugar-free energy drinks out there to choose from. In my opinion, you should replenish your glucose supplies from a healthy carb-rich meals instead of depending on the added sugars in energy drinks.
When it comes to getting an energy drink, price is important (to me at least).
But this doesn’t mean that I’ll compromise on the quality of my energy drinks to save on a few dollars. If I happen to find an energy drink that’s of great quality and lower price, I’ll definitely choose it.
After all, the price tag on an energy drink doesn’t always reflect the quality of its ingredients or effectiveness. If you pay close attention, you’ll find some great deals out there.
My favorite energy drink of all time is REIZE, which only costs around $1 per drink, but more on that later.
Are energy drinks good after workouts?
Energy drinks are great to have after a workout. I’d suggest having energy drinks after a meal to help your muscles create more glycogen for energy.
Caffeine is known to cause the brain to release adrenaline into your body and increase your heart rate and blood pressure. That’s why after having caffeine, you’ll usually feel excited and your heart beats faster.
Once you’ve completed your exercise, your body needs to cool down and return to normal resting levels.
If you have energy drinks straight after you’ve completed your workout, you might experience adverse effects instead.
While your body is cooling down, go for plain water first to rehydrate your body and maintain your electrolyte balance.
After that, make sure you fill yourself up with some carbs to increase your energy levels. Wash your meal down with an energy drink. In that way, your muscle cells will have an easier time absorbing glucose after it’s broken down from carbohydrates.
Energy drinks will also give you energy to do other things after your workouts. Just make sure to stick to the 400mg caffeine limit.
Is it good to drink caffeine after a workout?
It may come as a surprise but caffeine may be beneficial to you after a workout. Not only does caffeine help you burn fat even after exercise, it also aids in glucose absorption into your muscles.
A study on nine participants reported that caffeine increased the breakdown process of fatty acids before and after exercise.
Since caffeine also improves your metabolic fat, your body will burn more fat and calories even while you’re resting. Of course, this only works if the calories you burnt during your workouts are higher than the calories you’ve consumed.
Caffeine also promotes faster glucose transportation to the muscles and improves glycogen synthesis in the body.
Glycogen is important for elevating energy levels back to normal and repairing the muscles, particularly after high-intensity workouts. After having your post-workout meal, drinking caffeine may reduce muscle soreness and enhance your recovery process.
Therefore, consuming caffeine after a workout might be beneficial for your body. I’d recommend having some caffeine to wash down your meal for better effect.
Does consuming caffeine after workouts help muscle recovery?
Caffeine aids in muscle recovery by refuelling your depleted glycogen stores and repairing your muscle proteins after your workouts. Consuming caffeine after workouts also reduces muscle protein breakdown and improves muscle protein synthesis.
In other words, caffeine can enhance the speed of these processes within your body, meaning you’ll feel energized earlier and your body won’t feel sore and tired anymore after your workouts.
Plus, caffeine may be a mild diuretic, but it doesn’t seem to cause dehydration. But I won’t recommend consuming caffeine immediately after a workout since caffeine takes around 45 minutes to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream.
The best time to take caffeine after a workout is when you’re done with your post-exercise meal. Washing down with caffeine after your meal will increase the transportation of glucose to your muscle cells to change it into fuel and create muscle protein.
I’d also advise against consuming too much caffeine after a workout. An excessive intake of caffeine can lead to undesirable effects like insomnia, digestive issues and muscle breakdown.
What should I eat to boost my energy after a workout?
To get enough energy back after exercising, you should consume foods like:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Sweet potatoes
Best energy drinks after a workout
Since you know that caffeine can be beneficial for your body after exercise, here are a few energy drinks you can try as your post-workout beverage…
Red Bull energy drink
Red Bull is the most famous energy drink brand and you can find it in most stores anywhere on the planet. Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine which I consider to be a moderate amount that will give you an efficient energy boost without overdoing it.
Plus, an 8.4fl.oz can of Red Bull costs around $2 – a reasonable price.
The only issue I have with Red Bull is the sugar content, which is 27g per 8.4 fl.oz can. It’s a little high for me and I’d be worried about crashes after consuming it.
Give it a try and see if it works for you.
MatchaBar Hustle Unsweetened energy drink
There are a few things that I like about this energy drink. As the name implies, MatchaBar Hustle is sugar-free. I also like the fact that it has a matcha flavour to it which is something new and refreshing to me.
However, one 12 fl.oz can contains around 120mg of caffeine, slightly more than I would like and may lead to mild jitters or restlessness. If you’re someone who has a high tolerance for caffeine and likes drinking matcha, this drink might be for you.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend having this much caffeine late in the afternoon or evening if you want to get to sleep at a normal time.
The price of a can is also pretty steep, usually going for around $3 or $4 per can.
REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)
When it comes to replenishing energy after workouts, REIZE my go-to energy drink.
With a sensible 50mg of caffeine, it’s enough to make me feel invigorated and less sore. I also don’t have to worry about crashes, since REIZE is completely sugar-free.
Furthermore, REIZE contains a smart mix of taurine, ginseng and B vitamins that’ll help your body repair and recover faster. REIZE also comes in convenient sachets and is extremely versatile that it can be mixed into just about any beverage you like.
The best part is that REIZE only costs around $1 per drink, including shipping.
That’s amazing value for money.
Give REIZE a try today and you might just find that it’s the perfect energy drink for replenishing your energy after a workout.