Best Energy Drink for Exercise (for a great workout)

Running up and down steps is good exercise

From running on a treadmill to playing sport or hitting the gym, exercise is great for staying fit and healthy.

Without it, you might be unhealthy and sickly.

However, with exercise comes the need for energy. Lots of energy.

In the quest for more and more energy, you might stumble across energy drinks and wonder if they can help improve the quality of your exercise activities.

Energy drinks can be great for exercise, but with so many energy drinks on the market, how are you supposed to figure out which one is best?

Don’t stress, you’re in the right place.

Let’s dive in and have a closer look at energy drinks for exercise and then I’ll suggest a few brands that you might want to have a closer look at.

Let’s get started…

What should you drink when exercising?

Man in gray tank top holding dumbells.
When exercising there are many different drinks to choose from.

When exercising it’s important to stay hydrated. With the amount of sweat that you lose each time you exercise, it’s important to make sure you’re replacing lost fluids.

Once you’re sure that you’re properly hydrated you can start to think about what type of exercise you’re going to be doing, what time of the day you’re doing it, the intensity that you’ll be exercising at and decide if other drinks might be worth having, in addition to sufficient water.

For instance, if you want a boost of energy and improved cognitive function for your exercise, an energy drink might be a very good idea.

I suggest planning your consumption so that you consume your energy drink about 45 minutes before you exercise.

The reason for that is that it takes about 45 minutes for the caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks to be fully diluted into your bloodstream.

That’s when you’ll feel the maximum effect from it, before the effects begin to slowly wear off over the coming hours.

If you are going to be exercising for longer periods of time such as a gym session or a long jog, you might want to try having an energy drink too.

But hey, I love energy drinks, so maybe I’m biased!

But seriously, energy drinks are proven to significantly improve physical and mental performance – which is great for being able to exercise at your best.

Not to mention that other ingredients in energy drinks, such as Taurine, will help with fatigue and muscle recovery too.

Do energy drinks help exercise?

Yes, energy drinks can certainly help exercise if used appropriately.

By appropriate, I mean that you drink the right amount of the right drink at the right time and don’t overdo it.

This study found that energy drinks had a positive effect on perception of exertion, reported muscle leg pain and feeling ready to increase the intensity in cyclists.

That’s great news for you if you’re thinking about adding energy drinks to your exercise routine.

However, it’s not all good news. Too many energy drinks can be dangerous and not all energy drinks are the same.

Some contain crazy amounts of caffeine, sugar or other ingredients. You definitely need to read the label to understand what you’re putting into your body.

Is it good to drink Red Bull before exercising?

Whether consuming Red Bull before exercising is a good idea varies from person to person.

It’s going to depend on what exercise you’re doing, when you’re exercising and whether you have any health conditions.

What I mean by this is that if you come back after a long day at work and need to work out but you are so tired you can’t bring yourself to do it, then Red Bull might help you boost your energy to get your workout done.

I’ve tried it and found that Red Bull is very helpful for me, and I actually had a very productive workout after having some.

However, there are some risks to having Red Bull daily. Be sure to check out my other article for all the info on that.

Fortunately, we don’t need to speculate about whether Red Bull is good for exercise. We can turn to scientific studies, of which there have been at least a few that are directly relevant to this topic.

In this study published in the Human Kinetics Journal, athletes who drank Red Bull had significantly increased upper body muscle endurance than those who drank the placebo.

Pretty cool, huh?

However, another study found that drinking Red Bull did not alter sprint performance in women.

At least it didn’t harm sprint performance I guess.

There was also this study on how sugar-free Red Bull affected the run time-to-exhaustion of young adults. The study found that the Red Bull had no influence to the young adults’ run times.

So, that’s another study that found no change in performance, but one that did find some benefit for exercise.

I interpret these results to mean that energy drinks (including Red Bull) are unlikely to hurt your sporting or athletic performances, but they might give you an edge over your competition in some cases.

What other drinks can you drink when exercising?

There are many other drinks that you can try when exercising besides energy drinks.

These drinks include:

Green Juices and Smoothies

A great alternative to caffeinated drinks is a fresh smoothie or a green juice.

Fresh smoothies and green juices are great because they taste great, are refreshing and provide you with a lot of vitamins.

Green juices can be made with kale, spinach, and parsley which are a great source of healthy vitamins to keep your body running.

Smoothies taste amazing and can also be very nutritious.

They also help your metabolism run at its peak which is great because your metabolism is what helps you burn energy and fat when you’re exercising.

Not to mention both green juices and smoothies are refreshing and cool for a drink after exercise.

Water

Believe it or not, the best source of hydration is plain, simple water.

Around 60% of an adult body is water, and our bodies need water to perform basic daily functions.

Without water, we can die from dehydration and no, drinking 8 energy drinks a day is not a substitute for drinking 8 cups of water.

I would say water is the best alternative to an energy drink, though if you’re getting sick of drinking plain water I’d spice it up a little with fruit slices.

Green Tea

A pot of green tea.
Green tea is great for a refreshing drink and I personally like it hot.

This came as a shock to me when I first found out. Green tea is amazing for calming the nerves and for a cold day out. I’d never imagined it’d be a great alternative for energy as well.

But it’s true, green tea contains caffeine, albeit a smaller amount than both coffee and energy drinks and there are studies that show that green tea improves mental health and helps with physical relaxation.

In fact, I would say that it’s alright if you drink green tea before, after or even during a workout. It can help in so many ways.

And not to mention that you can drink more of it since the caffeine content is much less than any energy drink or coffee.

What should you look for in an energy drink?

There are 4 things you should look for in any energy drink because they will help keep you healthy and happy.

  • Caffeine content
  • Sugar content
  • Price
  • What time of the day you exercise

Caffeine Content

As far as caffeine goes, it can be good or bad for you depending on how much you drink.

Some people naturally have a higher tolerance for caffeine and as such can drink more.

However, it’s possible you have a lower tolerance to caffeine, especially if you’re not used to drinking it every day.

It’s best to control your caffeine intake and try not to drink too much in one sitting if you’re not used to it.

Personally, I would suggest drinking between 50mg to 100mg of caffeine per serve. I find that to be the perfect amount.

Any more than about 100mg of caffeine sometimes leaves me unable to concentrate or feeling a bit hot-flushed.

The FDA recommends a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day.

So even if you like to drink a lot of caffeine, try not to go over the recommended safe amount.

Sugar Content

A picture of sugar.
Sugar is bad for your health. Too bad it tastes great.

Sugar is one of the energy-boosting ingredients in many energy drinks. It’s good for giving you a quick burst of energy, but it does have a downside.

Too much sugar can lead to a sugar crash and long term health risks.

There are many energy drinks that are completely sugar-free, but still taste really good. So it’s not always a case of having to sacrifice flavor to avoid the sugar.

If you do insist on having sugar, the AHA has a guide on just how much sugar you can safely consume each day:

GenderMaximum daily intake
Men150kcal / 37.5g / 9 tsp
Women100kcal / 25g / 6 tsp

Price

Different energy drinks cost different amounts. But are the more expensive brands better than the more-affordable brands?

Sometimes, the most popular and priciest energy drink may not be the best energy drink to invest in because it may not suit your needs.

Similarly, choosing a more affordable energy drink doesn’t always mean sacrificing quality.

But it all comes down to how much your budget allows you to spend on energy drinks and what kind of energy drinks you prefer.

But hey, I think we can agree that getting a great deal feels nice.

Personally, I love REIZE since it’s super affordable and is a great exercise buddy too.

But more on that a little later…

What time of the day do you exercise

A man jogging.
The time of the day of which you choose to exercise can be so crucial to the type of energy drink you need.

Personally, I feel like the time of the day which you choose to exercise can help determine what kind of energy drinks to drink.

This is because you’ll need different amounts of energy depending on when you choose to exercise.

If you choose to exercise early in the morning, an energy drink should be able to give you more energy for you to carry through the rest of the day.

But, if you’re exercising at night, then you should choose something lighter because you are most likely going to shower and relax after exercising and then sleep at a reasonable hour.

You don’t want to have so much caffeine in your body that you’re unable to sleep after.

Best energy drink for exercise

In no particular order, here are some good choices for exercise. Check them all out and see which one works best for you.

Red Bull

Red Bull is great for exercise even though it contains sugar. It has just the right amount of caffeine and you might be able to burn a lot of the sugar as an instant energy source if you’re doing some high-intensity exercise.

Each regular 8.4 fl.oz can contains:

  • 110 calories
  • 28g carbohydrates
  • 27g sugars 
  • 80mg of caffeine
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Pantothenic Acid

It’s a great energy drink for exercise and the most popular energy drink in the world.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between Red Bull and Monster, check out my other article where I detail all of the differences.

Bang Energy Drink

Bang energy drinks flavors.
Bang energy drink has a lot of caffeine.

Bang Energy Drink is by far the most heavy-handed on this list and there is a perfectly good reason for it.

It contains:

  • 300mg caffeine (that’s a crazy amount in my opinion)
  • 0 calories
  • 0g total fat
  • 0mg cholesterol 
  • 40mg sodium
  • 85mg potassium
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g protein
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6 
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B12 

With the whopping 300mg of caffeine, that’s 75% of your maximum daily caffeine intake in a single can.

I would only recommend Bang if you’re doing heavy exercise early in the day, have a high tolerance to caffeine, feel like you need a huge boost of energy and aren’t too concerned about whether or not you will be able to think straight after drinking it.

If that’s the case then by all means, drink Bang. But otherwise, only drink it if you are going to be doing a really long exercise in the morning.

Check out this article on where to get Bang near you.

Celsius

Celsius Energy Drink is heavier in terms of caffeine content than Red Bull, but it’s sugar-free.

Ingredients wise, Celsius Energy Drink contains:

  • 10 calories per can
  • 60mg of Vitamin C
  • 1.7mg of Riboflavin
  • 20mg of Niacinamide
  • 2mg of Pyridoxine hydrochloride
  • 6mcg of Cyanocobalamin
  • 300mcg of Biotin
  • 10mg of D-pantothenate
  • 50mcg of Chromium
  • 1.81g of “Metaplus Proprietary Blend” (which includes 200mg of caffeine and 1.61g of other ingredients)

Based off the caffeine content, I would suggest drinking Celsius Energy Drink for your morning exercise.

Throughout the day, your body will have a chance to fully utilize all that caffeine for helping you focus and by night, you can sleep easy.

Celsius Energy Drink also contains no sugar which is great for avoiding sugar crashes and fatigue.

If you’re still not convinced, you can check out my review on the drink to see if Celsius is suitable for you.

REIZE (10 out of 10)

A photo of REIZE Energy Drink
REIZE Energy Drink is my favorite when I’m exercising.

REIZE is great for exercising no matter what time of day it is.

This is because REIZE contains 50mg of caffeine and is absolutely sugar-free!

That’s a good amount of caffeine and it’s so little that it won’t really keep you up after your workout, but it’s also just enough that if you drink it in the morning, you will have plenty of energy to start your day on the right foot.

REIZE also has a great mix of caffeine, ginseng, taurine, and B vitamins to ensure you have a perfect energy boost, with no crash.

And it’s powdered so it’s convenient to carry around and just plop a sachet into your water bottle when you’re out exercising.

And the really good news?

REIZE costs only around $1 per drink including shipping right to your door.

It’s a quality energy drink for an affordable price, now tell me that’s not a win win!

Give REIZE a shot and it might soon become your favorite energy drink for exercise too.

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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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