If you’re planning to go mountain biking, you’ll need plenty of training, the right equipment (like getting a good mountain bike), and tons of energy.
What’s one of the best sources of energy out there?
Energy drinks of course!
There’s plenty of evidence too showing that energy drinks are beneficial in improving physical and mental performance.
Energize yourself with an energy drink before your next mountain bike ride and you’ll be pushing through rough terrain like a champ.
So, if you’re curious to know how energy drinks can help you as a mountain biker, this article is for you.
Let’s get into it…
Table of Contents
Criteria to consider when buying energy drinks
- Caffeine content
- Sugar content
Caffeine is what gives energy drinks their name, and its main purpose is to act as an energy booster. When consumed in moderate quantities, caffeine can provide your body and mind with loads of great benefits.
But excessive consumption can lead to some nasty side effects like increased heart rate, frequent urination, and stomach problems.
To be safe, make sure to consume only up to 400mg of caffeine daily. According to the FDA, this amount is considered harmless for most adults.
However, if you experience negative effects like heart palpitations or feelings of anxiousness, you need to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
If you want to perform well during your mountain biking, it’s best to avoid a potential caffeine overdose.
Another important criteria to look out for is the sugar content in energy drinks. It’s true that sugar can supply your body with energy, but the effects only last for a short period of time.
After that, your energy levels will dip immensely and you’ll start to feel drowsy and sluggish. Most people call this ‘a sugar crash’.
You definitely don’t want that to happen during the middle of your mountain biking.
The majority of energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar, which can be harmful to you if you plan to drink one or two cans of energy drinks during your ride.
Here are some brands of the best energy drinks with less sugar.
If you want to plan out the amounts of sugar you should consume, you can follow the AHA’s recommended maximum daily sugar intake for adults.
Here’s a simplified guide for you:
|Gender||Recommended daily intake|
|Men||150 calories / 36g|
|Women||100 calories / 25g|
Fortunately, we have sugar-free alternatives that are also low in calories available almost everywhere these days.
However, sugar-free energy drinks contain artificial sweeteners to replace sugar.
Even though these sweeteners are FDA-approved and considered safe for consumption, it’s best not to overconsume them.
If you’re like me, you probably love a great deal so long as whatever you’re buying is still good quality. Nowadays, it’s not that hard to find amazing bargains for energy drinks that don’t compromise effectiveness or quality.
Many of these good-value deals are available if you know where to find them.
For me, my favorite energy drink, REIZE, is only around $1 and I still get to enjoy a beneficial dose of caffeine with a smart blend of taurine, ginseng and B vitamins.
If you’re curious about REIZE, don’t worry as more will come on that later.
Can energy drinks improve endurance for mountain biking?
Energy drinks can help enhance your endurance, allowing you to get through your ride with enough energy. After all, energy drinks contain caffeine, an ingredient that can give your body an energy boost and improve physical performance.
Stamina is important as your ride could last anywhere from two hours to all day depending on the terrain. You’ll want enough energy to ride effectively for a long period of time.
A study performed on 15 trained athletes showed that having an energy drink could improve cycling time-trial performance by 3% in comparison to using a placebo.
Consuming energy drinks can help to maintain your stamina whether you’re going up hills or down rocky grounds.
Furthermore, caffeine has glycogen sparing properties. Glycogen is essential fuel for your muscles. When you engage in heavy or high-intensity exercises, your muscles will use the stored glycogen in your body to help you carry out those exercises.
You can replenish glycogen by consuming carbohydrates. If you don’t, your body will start eating away at your muscles for energy and your muscles could get damaged in the process.
Consuming caffeine apparently increases your body’s ability to break down fat, which means that your body will depend on fat as energy instead.
Your muscle glycogen will not be depleted as quickly, and you can continue to bike longer before fatigue sets in.
One study conducted on 15 adults found that energy drinks improved upper body muscle endurance after consumption.
To get the most benefits out of energy drinks, you should consume them at least an hour before starting your mountain biking. That’s because peak caffeine absorption into your bloodstream takes around 30 – 60 minutes. You’ll start to feel the ‘stronger’ effects of caffeine at that time before the effects slowly begin to fade away over time.
As to how long caffeine stays in your system, caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours. This means that after 5 hours, you’ll have half of the amount of caffeine you consumed.
This isn’t a reason for you to drink large amounts of caffeine to enhance your stamina though. You always need to consume caffeine in moderation.
Other than energy drinks, you can also maintain your stamina by consuming other liquids like sports drinks, energy gels and plain water.
Can caffeine help increase strength for mountain biking?
Caffeine is known to have ergogenic effects on physical performance, including strength and power. A 2006 study showed that caffeine could increase upper body endurance and strength.
Strength is another critical quality you need to have when you’re going mountain biking as the ride can take a toll on your body.
In fact, having a strong upper body, especially in your core muscles, helps in bike handling and prevents injuries from accidents.
It won’t only be your legs doing all the work as you navigate through challenging terrain, your hands and arms will also be put through a ton of strain as you control your bike and ride for a long time.
It isn’t surprising that your body ends up with many injuries, particularly muscle soreness. Some of the common injuries you might experience from mountain biking are skin abrasions, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome (pain in your wrists), joint pain and broken collarbones.
Consuming caffeine could decrease the risk of such injuries from happening and reduces symptoms of tiredness, allowing you to ride harder and longer over challenging terrain.
A 2010 review discovered that the consumption of caffeine could enhance muscle leg power by 7%.
Another review comparing past studies on the effects of caffeine on strength proved that caffeine was beneficial in providing small to medium increases in muscle strength and power.
Even though the improvements aren’t tremendous, small boosts in your biking performance can have a huge impact on the end result.
Make sure to stick to no more than 400mg of caffeine during your ride, as recommended by the FDA. Moderate doses of caffeine are great for your physical performance, but too much can disrupt your momentum.
Can energy drinks help with mental concentration?
Energy drinks can improve brain functions and increase mental focus. Drinking energy drinks during your ride can help keep you focused throughout your ride.
Besides physical endurance and strength, mountain biking also requires tremendous mental concentration. You often need to maintain your focus and attention while biking through a narrow track with many challenges along the way.
Plus, you also need to stay awake and alert throughout your mountain biking ride to maintain momentum.
One of the benefits of energy drinks is increasing cognitive abilities.
A 2004 paper showed that energy drinks could reduce mental fatigue and the risk of cognitive performance deterioration during mentally-demanding tasks.
But energy drinks aren’t the only way to keep your head in the game for many hours.
Consuming energy-boosting foods like bananas and jelly beans as nutrition for your brain can also improve your mental performance and help to keep you focused during your ride.
Can I drink sports drinks while mountain biking?
Sports drinks are beneficial in rehydrating your body and replenishing your glycogen stores during strenuous exercise. Thus, it’s completely alright to drink sports drinks while mountain biking.
When you sweat, your body loses water and electrolytes. Sport drinks are mainly made up of water, carbs and electrolytes, which make them great for preventing dehydration, maintaining electrolyte balance and supplying your body with fuel.
Similar to energy drinks, sports drinks are great alternatives in providing your body with energy and decreasing muscle breakdown by refilling your muscle glycogen supplies while you ride.
In fact, sports drinks seem to have the most impact on prolonged exercises.
What other drinks can you drink for mountain biking?
Cherry juice has plenty of great benefits, including increasing metabolism and improving your immune system.
Since cherry juice is rich in potassium, it can help you with your recovery after exercise. It might also be beneficial for endurance exercises.
A 2019 review found that tart cherry, whether in juice or powdered form, enhanced endurance performance due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
It’s an undeniable fact that water is extremely important to our bodies and plays a role in many crucial bodily functions.
Water is great for maintaining endurance and energy as it helps to replace what you lost through your sweat, decreases the risk of dehydration and help your muscles to keep up with the strenuous exercises you’re doing.
Yerba mate tea can also help maintain your performance during your ride.
Yerba mate contains plenty of antioxidants and nutrients, which are beneficial for your health. Since yerba mate contains caffeine, it can increase your energy levels and improve your mental focus and alertness.
Yerba mate seems to have a moderate caffeine content of 85mg and isn’t known to cause many adverse side effects like other caffeinated drinks, like coffee.
What to eat while mountain biking?
There are many light snacks that are rich in carbs that you can consume during your rides. It’s recommended to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour of riding to decrease fatigue and maintain performance.
Some foods you can eat along your mountain biking adventure are:
- Sports bars
- Fruit cake
- Savoury muffins
- Jam sandwiches
- Baked potatoes
- Cheese and crackers
Best energy drinks for mountain biking
Bing Energy contains 120mg of caffeine and 9g of sugar, along with natural flavors and colors including cherry and grape juice.
In my opinion, the caffeine content in Bing is a touch on the high side. Whether you experience side effects or not, will depend on your tolerance.
Bing energy drink has very little sugar in it, thus you won’t have to worry too much about sugar crashes afterward.
The downside is that one can of Bing costs around $4 to $5 for a single can, which is very expensive in my opinion.
The perks of Zipfizz aren’t limited to the brand’s wide selection of flavors. What’s more, is that a tube of Zipfizz contains a nice 100mg of caffeine and is completely sugar-free.
A tube of Zipfizz costs around $2, the prices may vary slightly depending on where you buy it and how much you want to buy. Again, not the most affordable option, but certainly cheaper than Bing.
If you’d like learn more about Zipfizz and whether it’s good for you, feel free to check out this article I’ve written where I cover everything you need to know.
REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)
REIZE is my number one drink when it comes to staying energized. Even though REIZE only has a sensible 50mg of caffeine, it’s enough to help me stay awake and mentally focused throughout the day with minimal risks of side effects.
You can also have have a few drinks of REIZE during your mountain biking rides to maintain your performance without worrying about maxing out your daily caffeine or sugar limits.
REIZE is rich in taurine, ginseng, and B vitamins, which are all healthy for your body and can be beneficial in enhancing endurance and strength during a long day of mountain biking.
Plus, REIZE is sugar-free so definitely no sugar crashes.
The best part is that REIZE only costs around $1 per drink, including shipping right to your door.
That’s amazing value for money.
Give REIZE a try and you might find that it’s the perfect energy-boosting partner for your next day out mountain biking.