Cramps occur when your muscles are in fatigue. They “shut down” and you’ll be left in excruciating pain.
Cramps can occur in various situation, most commonly are while exercising, when you’re using your muscles. For women, it’s common when menstruating. For some others too, it can occur while you’re asleep.
Some say energy drink might be the cause of cramps, others say that energy drinks can help with cramps.
Now which is a myth and which is a fact?
Continue reading to find out more.
Ingredients in Energy Drinks
Caffeine is the main ingredient in energy drinks. Its main target is to boost your energy levels providing you with alertness, enabling you to keep awake or stay focused.
It also can improve your physical performances which would be a good partner for your exercises.
Caffeine however can contribute to cramps thus depending on your situation, you might want to stay away from energy drinks for just a while.
Sugar too helps with energizing you but sugar is generally unhealthy. Sugar too can be inflammatory which means it has the ability to worsen cramps.
Many energy drinks in the market nowadays are sugar-free which is good news for all, but do beware of artificial sweeteners.
Guarana can naturally increase the amount of caffeine in an energy drink. Therefore, if you see guarana extracts added to an energy drink, it might possibly have way more caffeine than what is stated.
BCAA is not a common ingredient in most energy drinks but it’s present in a few. BCAA helps with athletic performances and could also indirectly help reduce muscle cramps you might get during or after exercise.
Caffeine and cramps
Excess caffeine consumption can induce cramps but it’s not the main factor causing cramps.
When we consume caffeine, especially in excess there will be some unwarranted side effects, like tremors, jitters and twitching. These causes our muscles to have minor contractions which could build up to cramps.
Other than that, caffeine is diuretic, which means we tend to pass out more urine which could lead to dehydration and lack of nutrients can cause our muscles to cramp up.
As for period cramps, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor causing your blood vessel to constrict making the vessels around your uterus to tighten that would result in painful period cramps.
A previous study however has dismissed the link between caffeine and significant increase in period cramps women suffer during PMS.
Therefore, we can still enjoy caffeinated beverages like our daily pick-me-up coffee or a can of energy drink, just make sure we are aware of our caffeine intake that won’t interfere with our muscles.
The recommended daily caffeine intake is 400mg for adults. That is also depending on your lifestyle and tolerance. If you have a lower caffeine tolerance, it means you are more susceptible to the side effects that could lead up to muscle cramps.
Do BCAAs in energy drinks help with muscle cramps?
Yes, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) does help with muscle cramps.
BCAAs are commonly taken in conjunction to boost athletic performances and also to reduce fatigue after it.
The best part about BCAAs is that is can help with muscle soreness. Based on previous studies, participants reported a lesser level of muscle soreness by 33% and an improved performance level of 20%.
As the energy drinks market expands, there are more added ingredients (or even reduced, like sugar) which includes BCAAs. Some energy drinks brands formulate their drinks specializing it for those that are physically active, that could potentially not only elevate performance but also reduce the muscle cramps that comes with it.
How to prevent cramps when exercising?
• Warm up
A simple warm up before you exercise, lift weights, do your cardio or go on a marathon can help regulate your blood flow to your muscles, thus getting nutrients and oxygen in and waste out faster. This can decrease your chances of suffering from a cramp while or after exercising.
• Stay hydrated
When we exercise, we tend to sweat a lot more than per usual. Sweating results in you losing not only water but also sodium and other electrolytes.
That would then result in your interstitial spaces shrinking and your nerve-to-muscle connection becomes hyper-sensitive. This will be around the time you feel little twitches before it becomes a full-on muscle cramp.
• Keep track of your caffeine intake
What you consume before you exercise plays a role too in whether you’ll end up with a cramp or not. In relation to energy drinks, yes too much caffeine may cause muscle cramps.
However, moderate amount of caffeine can actually supplement your exercise. This includes if did you drink a cup of coffee in the morning and an energy drink before exercising, the amount of caffeine totals up and might be too much for your muscles to handle.
Would Red Bull cause me to have a cramp?
It depends your tolerance and body’s reaction towards caffeine. Red Bull does however contain a very moderate amount of caffeine, which is 80mg thus maybe can’t affect you much.
However, if you consume a few cans of Red Bull in a day then maybe you’re bound to have cramps due to excess caffeine.
I personally would not suggest drinking Red Bull just for the high amount of sugar and calories it carries, 27g and 110 respectively.
So I think Red Bull won’t give you cramps but maybe diabetes and obesity.
You could also refer to my recent post for a further breakdown on this infamous Red Bull energy drink.
Can energy drinks help me when I have a cramp?
Energy drinks might not be helpful once you have your cramps.
It’ll be best to stay away from caffeine and sugar for the time being, and once the cramps are gone, you should be fine to once again have your favorite can of energy drink.
If you find yourself always getting cramps after consuming energy drinks, then you might want to consult a doctor on this.
Other drinks to help with cramps
• Green tea
Although green tea has caffeine in it, it’s a way lesser dosage and an alternative to your usual coffee or energy drinks.
A cup of hot green tea is soothing and filled with antioxidants that can help you power through your menstrual cramps.
• Peppermint tea
Peppermint tea is caffeine-free and a herbal concoction yummy enough to soothe and relax your uterine muscles that causes menstrual cramps.
Best energy drink for cramps
BCAA Energy Drink by Nutrend
This new product claims to be able to support your fitness journey. It has zero sugar and 100mg of caffeine, recommended to be taken 20-30 minutes or during your exercise. It also has up to 5000mg of BCAA.
For your information, you should take 91 mg of BCAA per pound of your body weight. Therefore, the 5g of BCAA in BCAA Energy Drink by Nutrend seems to be too little to even work for you.
XS Energy Drink has 80mg of caffeine, with only 10 calories and zero sugar.
The low caffeine content could probably not trigger oncoming cramps while providing you the energy you still need to get through your day.
XS Energy Drink also has 2 caffeine-free options:
• Caffeine-free cranberry-grape blast
• Caffeine-free mango pineapple guava
Those are what you might want to consider having while you’re having cramps as there’s no caffeine to further trigger it while still getting your energy boost.
MATCHABAR HUSTLE UNSWEETENED ENERGY DRINK
This is a healthier option and matcha flavored, the hype nowadays. I do personally like matcha items, so this gets a thumbs up from me.
Aside from being sugar free, it does only contain 5 calories per can. It does however has 120mg of caffeine that is derived naturally from green tea, hopefully is not as strong as synthetic caffeine that might trigger your cramps.
Here’s my ultimate favorite.
First and foremost, REIZE Energy Drink only has 50mg of caffeine – barely enough to trigger an episode of cramps but just nice to give me my energy fix throughout the day.
Also, it’s sugar free, and only has 11 calories, that could save me a trip to the gym.
Perhaps best of all, REIZE ships right to your door for around $1 per drink, including shipping. That’s amazing value for money.
I love the fact that I can get my caffeine fix and enjoy a nice energy boost without having to worry about cramps creeping up and attacking me.
Try REIZE Energy Drink today, and you might just find that it’s the best energy drink for cramps.