As an endurance athlete, you must be well-trained and prepared with the mental fortitude to push through the stress and obstacles that come with the sport you’re participating in, whether it’s cycling, wrestling, and swimming.
Energy is an important part of the equation, so how do you get your supply of energy?
Answer: energy drinks!
Energy drinks are great beverages to bring to a race or a triathlon. They are loaded with caffeine and a bunch of other helpful ingredients that don’t just increase your energy levels, but also improve your performance.
Thus, in this article, I’ll be elaborating on whether it’s okay for you to have energy drinks and how the ingredients in energy drinks can help you perform better.
Read on for a detailed discussion on how energy drinks affect endurance to a list of brands that’ll be perfect companions for you as an endurance athlete.
Let’s get to it…
Table of Contents
Do Energy Drinks Improve Athletic Performance?
Energy drinks can improve athletic performance thanks to the caffeine present in them.
Caffeine is the main ingredient that makes energy drinks effective in providing an energy boost and enhance your physical and mental performance.
A 2012 study discovered that a caffeine-containing energy drink significantly enhanced athletic performance among 19 participants. Moreover, another study found that upper body muscle endurance notably increased after the ingestion of a Red Bull energy drink.
As an endurance athlete, you’re surely aware that it doesn’t only involve your physical abilities, but also your mental focus and concentration.
Energy drinks can improve your cognitive performance and help you stay focused till the finish line. A review reported that energy drinks could enhance and/or maintain mood and performance during tiring and mentally demanding situations.
Which is the strongest energy drink?
Energy drinks with large doses of caffeine may be powerful but they can also be dangerous to your health. Regular consumption of highly caffeinated beverages including energy drinks can lead to a caffeine overdose.
With that in mind, I highly recommend that you choose not the energy drink with the highest caffeine content thinking that they’re more effective but instead choose one with a modest caffeine content to reap the benefits.
Are Energy Drinks Safe?
According to the American Beverage Association, energy drinks and their ingredients are safe provided you’re a healthy adult and are consuming them in moderation.
Energy drinks have gained a bad reputation for being one of the main causes of health problems and risk-seeking behavior among young people.
This is because energy drinks contain large quantities of caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants, exposing youths to unnecessary adverse effects like insomnia and irregular heart rate.
Another important thing to consider is to take note of your caffeine metabolism. Everyone metabolizes caffeine differently, so you should choose your energy drink based on the amount of caffeine that has the best effect on your performance.
Like all other foods and drinks we consume, we must also consume energy drinks in moderation to avoid any long-term consequences.
What’s the best drink for athletes?
The best drink for athletes must be one that is hydrating enough to replace lost fluids during or after an intense game or practice session. Some of them include water, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
Water is the best drink to replenish and rehydrate athletes.
Our bodies are made up of 60% of water so it’s no surprise that we consistently need to drink water throughout the day to keep it functioning optimally. Water is especially important in regulating body temperature and delivering oxygen to all parts of the body.
Energy drinks and sports drinks are also great options for athletes to drink. Depending on the brand, some energy drinks contain additional electrolytes and necessary minerals that help replenish the body.
Check out this article to learn more about the best energy drinks for athletes and which energy drinks make the cut.
And if you’re wondering, no, energy drinks and sports drinks are not the same things. They contain different ingredients, with caffeine being the major differentiator.
Find out how energy drinks and sports drinks differ from each other in this article right here where I outlined all the similarities and differences between the two.
How Do Energy Drinks Affect Athletes?
Energy drinks can either positively or negatively affect athletes’ performance depending on how you consume them. There are three main ingredients namely caffeine, sugar, and taurine present in energy drinks that are known to contribute directly to athletes’ performance.
Commonly found in plants like tea leaves and coffee beans, caffeine works by stimulating your brain and central nervous system, which in turn makes you more alert while reducing the symptoms of fatigue.
Caffeine can also keep you awake for long periods, so it isn’t wise for you to have caffeinated drinks close to your bedtime.
Aside from that, caffeine is recognized also for its benefits on physical performance – even endurance. A 2010 review reported that the ingestion of caffeine improved muscular endurance and maximal voluntary contraction strength.
However, as advantageous as caffeine is, you must remember to consume it in moderation. The FDA recommends a maximum daily caffeine limit of no more than 400mg for healthy adults.
Any more than that, and it might lead to side effects like:
- Restlessness and shakiness
Hence, you must consume caffeine-containing energy drinks in moderation and make sure to stay under the daily caffeine limit to be safe.
Sugar can be good or bad for endurance athletes depending on how much sugar you consume and how you use it.
Although sugar is known to be an ‘unhealthy’ ingredient, indulging in some sugar every now and then is completely okay. For athletes, it’s a matter of finding a balance. If you consume sugar in moderation, you can use it to your benefit by taking advantage of the energy boost from the sugar rush.
According to the AHA, the maximum recommended daily sugar intake is:
Besides that, having more than the recommended daily sugar limit might eventually lead to health-related issues in the long run too:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Tooth decay
Though many energy drinks contain sugar, fortunately, there are plenty of sugar-free energy drinks in the market that’s just as tasty and are healthier too.
The best way you can make sugar your friend is to consume it in moderation. You should also cut sweets from your diet, avoid processed and added sugar but instead increase your intake of fruits and vegetables that contain ‘healthy’ sugar.
Taurine does enhance physical performance and many studies prove as such.
Taurine is an ingredient that’s often found in energy drinks. In truth, taurine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces and is important for a number of essential body functions.
Taurine can also be found in certain foods like meat and fish.
Taurine is very beneficial in increasing protection around certain organs in your body like the eyes, heart, and muscles. Furthermore, taurine can also enhance exercise performance.
A 2013 study discovered that the running performance of eight participants improved by 1.7% after the ingestion of taurine. Another study involving 10 endurance athletes reported the consumption of a taurine-containing Red Bull increased their physical performance.
To know more about taurine in energy drinks, check out this video:
In brief, consuming taurine through energy drinks can help improve your physical performance in general.
When Is The Best Time To Drink Energy Drinks?
The best time to drink energy drinks is around 30 minutes before you start exercising or doing any intense physical activity. A 2009 study found that the consumption of caffeine would be beneficial to endurance athletes if taken before and/or during exercise in moderation.
After you have your energy drink, you’ll feel more alert after around 10 minutes. But the stronger effects of the energy drink kick in after 15 to 45 minutes of consumption since the caffeine levels in your blood peak around this time.
Best Energy Drink For Endurance Athletes
Who doesn’t recognize Monster’s iconic green-and-black can?
Monster is a well-known American energy drink brand that contains 160mg of caffeine and 54g of sugars.
In terms of caffeine, 160mg is a sufficient amount to keep you going for a few good hours. But Monster’s very high sugar content may give you a sugar crash once the effects of the sugar rush have worn off.
Monster Energy also has 190 calories, which isn’t a big problem if you’re in the bulking phase but if you’re in the cutting phase or on a diet, Monster may not be a smart choice considering that these calories are empty calories.
The price of a single 16 fl.oz can of Monster is around $3, which is quite pricey in my view. Though, if you search through sites like Amazon and eBay, you might find great discounts and deals.
Designed to be a pre-workout, C4 Energy is an energy drink line from Nutrabolt, the company that brought some of American’s well-known pre-workouts brands.
C4 has four different series namely Original, Smart Energy, Ultimate, and Natural Zero.
Each series has different caffeine content, ranging from 120mg to 300mg depending on how much energy you need. This is a huge bonus as you can select your energy drink based on your caffeine tolerance and the intensity of the activity you’ll be doing.
A few other perks about C4 Energy is that all of the product series are zero-calorie and completely sugar-free. Plus, all of them contain lots of B vitamins and amino acids that can help you perform better physically.
C4 Energy ‘Natural Zero’ even has natural ingredients like stevia leaf extract and coffeeberry energy fruit extract.
The price for a 16 fl.oz can of C4 is around $3 depending on the version of the drink and where you purchase it.
In my opinion, that’s a pretty justifiable price since C4 Energy consists of lots of caffeine and ingredients. If you don’t mind spending a few more dollars, I’d say C4 Energy is a good investment.
Guru Energy is a natural and clean energy drink with 100mg of caffeine and plenty of organic ingredients.
In my opinion, 100mg is an ideal amount of caffeine and can give you a boost to help you persevere to the finish line. Plus, its caffeine content is made from plant-based ingredients, namely organic green tea leaf extract and guarana seed extract.
Guru is also packed with plant-based and healthy ingredients like sparkling water, organic cane syrup, and panax ginseng extract, which is more beneficial to your overall health.
The good news here is that Guru Energy is certified vegan-friendly and gluten-free as well.
However, Guru does come with 21g of sugar and 80 calories, which is still within the recommended daily sugar guidelines but the calorie content may be still a lot to some.
An 8.4 fl.oz can of Guru cost around $2 per can, which is quite affordable considering its list of organic ingredients and caffeine. If you’re looking for something a little healthier, Guru is definitely your answer.
REIZE (10 Out Of 10)
Personally, I feel that REIZE is the best energy drink for endurance athletes.
Let me tell you why.
REIZE is a powdered energy drink that comes in lightweight 4g sachets, making it very easy and convenient for you to take anywhere you need an energy boost.
With a sensible 50mg of caffeine, REIZE is also completely sugar-free and has just 11 calories.
REIZE is also filled with a smart blend of ingredients like ginseng, B-group vitamins, and taurine that combine together to supply you with the perfect boost of energy without a dreaded sugar crash.
Plus, REIZE is versatile and customizable. Not only can you adjust the taste and strength of your energy drink with REIZE, but you can also mix REIZE with your favorite beverages like sparkling water and tea.
The best part? REIZE ships straight to your door for only $1 per sachet.
Give REIZE a try, and you might find that it’s the best energy drink to help you push through as an endurance athlete.