Best energy drink for cardio (endurance fuel)

someone is running up the stairs in grey & orange shoes

Energy drinks are beverages that people love, and just like the people they energize, energy drinks should continue to energize you while you’re in the middle of your cardio routine.

Cardio exercise keeps your heart rate up. To keep your heart rate up and going, you need to move muscles. By moving your muscles, you are keeping in shape.

Cardio exercises keep your muscles moving over a period of time and your goal should always be to keep your heart rate above at least 50% of the maximum level.

Now, with exercising there is a goal in mind. Ideally you would like to lose weight or keep fit and healthy, which also means not only adhering to work out schedules, but also keeping to a strict diet. 

Keeping to a diet means you need to cut out food or beverages that don’t work in your favor. Like fast food, extra carbs and sugary beverages. Depending on your type of work out, you might also need extra protein intake or extra energy – which is where energy drinks come in.

Let’s dive in to the subject of energy drinks and cardio.

Do they go together?

Yes!

But, read on to find out how to maximize the benefits you get from combining them.  

Let’s get started.

in a gym, two are sitting down and one is jumping
What’s your go-to cardio beverage? Mine is my favorite energy drink. 

Ingredients in energy drinks 

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is the energy booster in energy drinks.

Consuming moderate amounts of caffeine can provide you the ideal amount of energy that you need during cardio. If you consume too much caffeine, it can not only cause you some side effects but also an impending caffeine crash might be headed your way.

2. Sugar

Sugar also provides energy, but as with caffeine, a sugar crash will often occur when the sugar “wears off”.

Nowadays, sugar isn’t present in all energy drinks, there are many zero-sugar energy drinks on the market. However, sugar-free energy drinks usually contain artificial sweeteners, so look out for that.

3. Calories

Calories in energy drinks mostly come from the sugar content.

If you’ve got a regular cardio exercise routine, either to lose weight or to be generally healthy, you should keep an eye on the amount of calories in energy drinks.

Choose an energy drink that has little or no calories and I think that would work well for your cardio exercise goals.

4. Taurine

Taurine helps to improve athletic performance, which is why taurine in energy drinks is ideal for your cardio sessions.

5. B Vitamins

Vitamin B2, B3 and B12 are usually present in most energy drinks.

Vitamin B2 is especially prominent, as it helps maintain our body’s energy storage by converting carbs into energy. Exactly what you need for your cardio sessions.

6. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

As opposed to all the other ingredients, BCAA’s are not a common ingredient in most energy drinks.

They are more suitable for those wanting to build muscles, as they help with muscle soreness and reducing exercise fatigue.

If you’re looking for an energy drink to suit your cardio exercises, you might want to choose one containing BCAA’s.

What to drink for a cardio work out

Water, sports drinks or energy drinks might come to mind when thinking about what is the ideal beverage for a cardio work out.

The most important thing with regard to choosing a drink is actually just to stay hydrated. This is because when you work out, you will probably be sweating.

Water helps with rehydrating during and after doing cardio. 

However, when you sweat you don’t only lose water, you lose potassium and sodium too. Which is why in addition to rehydrating with water, opting for sports or energy drinks is also sometimes a good idea.

Other than that, a quick sip of a sports or energy drink can help boost your energy levels without having to digest an entire meal.

Sports drinks help to hydrate, refuel and sometimes provide the electrolytes or minerals you body loses during cardio, while energy drinks provide the energy boost you need for your cardio work out along with some other beneficial ingredients too. 

What to drink – before, during and after cardio

Before your cardio

• Energy drinks – pick your favorite one that’s suitable to your needs that day. Continue reading to get the inside scoop on some recommended energy drinks for cardio exercise.

During your cardio workout

• Water – just good ol’ plain water, enjoyed at room temperature or slightly cold.

• Sport drink – rehydrate on the go and replenish your electrolytes.

After your cardio

• Cherry Juice – to fight off muscle damage.

• Green Tea – to help metabolize fat & fight exercise-induced free radical.

• Chocolate Milk – for hydration & to recover lost nutrients.

a lady working out by lifting a dumbbell in the gym
Have your favorite energy drink be your gym buddy.

Energy drinks and exercise

Energy drinks are functional beverages that provide you with the extra energy you need. This is why energy drinks are OK to consume for your exercise – extra energy when you need it most.

With the energy you gain, you should have enough stamina and endurance to power through your cardio sessions.

When to drink your energy drink for a cardio work out

45 minutes before a cardio workout is an ideal time time to drink an energy drink.

This is because once you have consumed your energy drink, it takes about 45 minutes for it to reach peak energy boost level. This happens when the caffeine has been fully absorbed into your bloodstream.

That’s when your energy is at the highest level due to the caffeine content. You might feel like you’re “firing on all cylinders“.

I’ve previously written about the best time to drink your energy drink for your workout, so you might want to check that out for a more detailed explanation.

Energy drinks & daily cardio

Energy drinks are proven to aid athletic performances due to their energy boosting properties.

However, as I have mentioned, consuming energy drinks in moderation is key to their effectiveness.

The caffeine content in energy drinks actually works by enabling you to be more focused and alert for your cardio workouts. If you’re still skeptical, don’t worry, as caffeine is a non harmful stimulant that can enhance your performance quite naturally. 

Caffeine has diuretic properties which means you’ll be losing water through urination on top of losing water through sweating. Energy drinks are designed primarily to provide an energy boost and not to replenish lost fluids, so be mindful to ultimately rehydrate your body with plenty of water in addition to drinking energy drinks.

A quick reminder that the maximum daily recommended caffeine intake is 400mg, so you really don’t want to overdose on caffeine whether you’re consuming energy drinks for cardio or not.

Also, watch out if you have any side effects after consuming caffeine and consult a medical practitioner if you’re concerned about anything.

Is drinking energy drinks before working out bad?

Nope! It is actually recommended to have energy drinks before a workout because, as the name implies, they will provide you the energy you need for your workout sessions.

The caffeine content in your energy drink promotes concentration and alertness, while you are doing your cardio.

It’s also recommended to drink an energy drink 45 minutes before your work out for optimum effectiveness.

Red Bull energy drink is the most popular energy drink in the world
Red Bull is the most popular energy drink on the planet, selling around 7 billion cans per year. But, did you know that it was oncebanned in France

Is it bad to drink Red Bull before working out?

Red Bull contains 110 calories in total, 80mg of caffeine and 27g of sugar. 

Caffeine wise, it seems pretty moderate and might be suitable for you if you’re sensitive to caffeine. Personally, I think this is a good amount of caffeine – not too little, not too much.

However, Red Bull seems to be pretty high in calories and it also has 27g of sugar. That’s quite a lot, especially if you’re doing cardio because you’re trying to lose weight.

Personally, I think that Red Bull is not bad to drink before working out, but it’s not my energy drink of choice.

Is it OK to drink energy drinks while working out?

While working out, you are at your peak of losing fluids, therefore it’s better if you can drink beverages that help to rehydrate your body.

Water or sports drink would be a better option than energy drinks in the middle of a cardio session in my opinion.

It’s preferable to have your energy drinks before working out, to provide you the energy you need.

Having said that, you have probably noticed plenty of people drinking energy drinks in the middle of their workout, so it’s not the worst thing you could do. However, personally, I prefer to have energy drinks before my workout and then focus on hydration in the middle of my cardio session.

Is it bad to drink energy drinks after working out?

Yes, but it depends on how well you kept yourself hydrated during your workout and how much fluid you lost through sweating.

If you find yourself feeling dehydrated, opt for other hydrating beverages instead of energy drinks. Choose water or some kind of sports drink.

If you find yourself in need of energy, then go for an energy drink with a moderate amount of caffeine that’s low in calories. It might also be a good idea to choose one that contains taurine to help with your muscle recovery.

Are energy drinks bad for athletes?

Energy drinks are not bad for athletes, as caffeine is proven to aid athletic performances.

However, not all energy drinks are created equal, so it’s important to choose one with ingredients that make sense for you as an athlete.

Avoid sugary energy drinks, look for low calorie options, you may also want a decent amount of taurine or sodium in the list of ingredients, and of course, there’s no need to overdo it on the caffeine content.

Also, if you are going for to sports competition that has certain regulations in regards to doping then you need to be careful of your caffeine intake through energy drinks.

Did you know that caffeine levels of 1300mg are banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, there’s no need to worry because that’s an absurdly high amount of caffeine and certainly a lot more than you would get from drinking several of the strongest energy drinks you could find.

If you’re a professional athlete, consult your trainer or manager first before combining energy drinks with your cardio training routine.

Do soft drinks help my cardio routine?

No, soft drinks don’t help your cardio sessions. 

Soft drinks usually contain quite a lot of sugar, which is terrible for your general health and fitness. They are high in calories, which also works against your cardio exercise progress and they are often the cause of weight gain in people who drink them habitually.

Soft drinks do have a tiny amount of caffeine, but not as much as energy drinks. If you want to drink caffeine for your cardio, energy drinks are a much better option than soft drinks.

However, you may want to consider electrolyte drinks or sports drinks during a cardio workout. They may not specifically help your cardio workout, but they can help to replenish lost electrolytes and minerals and keep you hydrated.

I suggest you push the soft drinks to the side and never look back at them.

an assortment of energy drinks grouped together
So many fantastic energy drinks to choose from. There’s one for everyone! 

Best energy drinks for cardio workouts

Here’s a list of some of my favorite energy drinks for cardio sessions. Try them all and see which one works best for you.

The highly-caffeinated options

Rockstar Energy Drink has 160mg of caffeine per 16 fl.oz can.

That’s around the same amount of caffeine as 2 cups of coffee.

I think the caffeine amount is OK, however Rockstar also has 31g of sugar and a whopping 130 calories.

Yikes!

If you really need the caffeine and you’re able to burn off all the extra calories, by all means, try Rockstar Energy Drink out. Rockstar Energy Drink is selling for about $2 per 16 fl.oz can at your nearest gas station or store.

You can also find it on Amazon, which might be more convenient.

Or if you need a similar caffeine boost with zero sugar, you can try…

Celsius Energy Drink is actually marketed for you to take before you exercise!

Right on its can it actually “promises” to accelerate metabolism and burn body fat.

That aside, Celsius is quite loaded with caffeine. They have 3 categories, the “Originals” and “Naturals” with 200mg caffeine per can each and “Celsius Heat” with 300mg caffeine per can.

So, depending on how much caffeine boost you think you are in need of that day, you can choose either the lower or higher option. However, even the lower-caffeine option is still roughly equivalent to having 2 cups of coffee at once, which might not be ideal for cardio.

Check the price of Celsius energy drink on Amazon.

The BCAA-loaded options

If you’re not already familiar with Bang Energy Drink, it has “BCAA” printed in big letters on the can. They are promoting the BCAA content in their energy drink.

If you’re looking for an energy drink with BCAA’s in it, look no further. However, Bang Energy Drink also has 300mg of caffeine, which is a ridiculously high amount of caffeine and not something that you want to combine with a cardio workout in my opinion.

Actually, Bang is one of the world’s strongest energy drinks. They’re not something that I’m particularly interested in mixing with cardio workouts.

It also costs around $2.20 per 16 fl.oz can, which isn’t too expensive, but also isn’t super affordable. 

However, I should point out that there have been a number of lawsuits filed against Bang for false and misleading advertising in relation to their ingredients and health claims. Some disgruntled people have specifically mentioned lack of clarity around the levels of BCAA’s in a can – something that Bang themselves don’t disclose.

Read more about Bang and find out if it’s bad for you in my other article.

Check the latest Bang energy price on Amazon.

The sugar-free options

XS Energy Drink is a sugar free option with 80mg of caffeine. If you’re a fan of many flavors, you might be interested in this as it has 18 different flavors! That’s a lot.

But, I find it way too pricey. It costs around $3-$4 for an 8.4 fl.oz can.

That’s just too little drink for too much money in my opinion.

Now, let me tell you about another great energy drink that’s way more affordable…

REIZE Energy Drink is very convenient.
REIZE is home delivered for your convenience. Monthly deliveries or one-time purchases to suit your preferences. 

REIZE Energy Drink is actually my go-to energy drink for cardio sessions, as it’s not only sugar-free, but also has a sensible amount of caffeine – 50mg.

The combination of caffeine, taurine, ginseng and B group vitamins work together to give me a perfect energy boost – with no sugar crash.

Also, for only about $1 per drink delivered right to your door, it’s the most affordable energy drink on this list and definitely ideal for your daily pre-cardio consumption without burning a hole in your pocket.

Give REIZE a try today and you might just find that it also becomes your cardio workout buddy, as it has for me.

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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