Best workout energy drink – Before or during your workout?
Does it feel like one of those days where you're just too tired to hit the gym?
Maybe you're feeling like you just don't have the energy to get through one more set of bench presses. Well, you're not alone.
All of us struggle with that occasionally. Juggling responsibilities at home and work is no easy task and can sometimes leave you feeling tired and sluggish. That's not exactly how you want to feel before hitting the gym.
The most common solution? Take a nap, get more rest, eat a balanced meal, stretch a little and blah blah blah.
So, is there anything else you can do to get more energy?
Yes, there is!
They're a quick solution to get an extra lift (pun intended!), and they might just be the best workout partner you could ask for in the gym.
Before or during workouts - When to drink energy drinks?
If you're planning on using energy drinks for your workout, it's best to drink them 45 minutes before a workout.
Within a few minutes of taking the first sip, you might start to feel a little buzz. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you've reached your point of maximum energy just yet.
In fact, it takes about 45 minutes after drinking an energy drink to reach peak energy boost level. That's when the caffeine boost is at its highest.
Is It Safe to Drink An Energy Drink While Working Out?
For me, I think that one can of energy drink during a workout is safe for most healthy people. There have been studies that show that energy drinks can indeed aid in exercise performance.
It’s not healthy per se, but in moderation, energy drinks are generally safe to consume during workouts.
The main reasons NOT to consume energy drinks during a workout are:
- It takes around 45 minutes to reach the peak boost level, and
- Many energy drinks are quite fizzy, which isn't particularly great for your stomach during exercise.
Luckily, there are some great options that are more customizable in terms of how fizzy they are.
More on that below...
How Many Energy Drink Can I Drink In a Day
How many energy drinks you can drink in a day depends on which brand you're talking about, how much caffeine and other ingredients it contains.
According to the FDA, the maximum recommended a daily dosage of caffeine is at 400mg, so consuming any amount lower than that should be OK.
Of course, always read the label on the energy drink that you're considering using and if in doubt, talk to your doctor.
However, you do still want to take some precautions when it comes to consuming energy drinks, as too much of them can cause serious health issues.
Generally, I think it's okay to consume 2 energy drinks in a day provided they are low in caffeine and sugar. There are certainly plenty of popular energy drinks on the market that contains TONS of caffeine and scary amounts of sugar.
Do your homework before deciding what you want to put in your body.
How do you know which energy drink is best for your workout?
For gym-goers, there are a few key criteria you should look for in an energy drink:
It's what keeps you awake and alert during those intense workout sessions.
Energy drinks that contain caffeine around 50-100mg of caffeine are perfect in my opinion.
Caffeine content that's more than 100mg might give you a huge energy boost, but it may cause you to be unable to concentrate and will likely lead to a crash in energy levels once the high wears off.
However, that's not always the case. In my experience, the energy boost that I get from various products is less-well correlated with the amount of caffeine than I suspected it to be.
I've tried caffeine pills and other energy drinks that are high in caffeine and felt little change in my energy levels, and other times a moderate amount of caffeine in combination with the right kinds of supporting ingredients can give a much better boost than I expected them to be.
Another reason to be cautious of some of the strongest energy drinks and supplements is that they may cause some side effects if you overdo it on the caffeine intake. Dizziness, nausea, hot flushes and worse are not things that you want to have to deal with in the middle of a workout.
But that itself is depending on your own physiological makeup. Some people have better tolerance towards caffeine thus such levels don't really affect them that much.
For those of you who are trying to get a shredded body of your own, that much sugar won't do you any good.
Sugar is also something that you should keep a close eye on.
Many energy drinks are known to contain high levels of sugar. As we all know, sugar is really bad for your health and is just detrimental to your fitness goals.
Energy drinks that have high sugar content are bad for another reason too. They often cause a sugar crash around 1-2 hours after drinking them, which certainly isn't ideal if it strikes mid-way through your workout.
Some energy drinks are high in calories.
Depending on your fitness goals, this might be good or bad.
If you're trying to lose some weight, you should probably stay away from energy drinks that are high in calories.
You don't want to be consuming unnecessary calories and fail to meet your daily macro targets. It can set you back in your fitness goals if you do that too many times.
However, if you're in a bulking phase due, extra calories may be a good thing. In this situation, I would still advise you to investigate where those calories are coming from.
You'll usually find that energy drinks that are high in calories are also very high in sugar.
Again, do your own research and decide what's best for your training goals.
The price of the energy drink is also very important (at least it is to me!).
It's always better to spend less and get more. Money doesn't grow on trees after all.
That in itself doesn't mean that we are actively seeking lower quality products. On the contrary, it just means that we don't like to get ripped off and we want to get the best value for our energy-seeking buck.
With that intro out of the way, introducing...
The best energy drinks for workouts (in no particular order)
RockstarCaffeine content: 160mg
Price: around $2 per 16 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: 31g
Overall, a single can of Rockstar is definitely going to give you the big boost in energy that you’re looking for to get you through your workout.
However, for me, 160mg of caffeine is just too much.
It's also quite expensive in comparison to other great energy drinks, and obviously, spending less is definitely preferable to spending more.
The sugar and calorie content is also pretty high which I also don't love.
If you’re in your cutting phase Rockstar could do some damage to your fitness progress. Perhaps ask a trusted training buddy or personal trainer what they think, but this isn't my go-to daily energy training partner.
Caffeine content: 160mg
Price: around $3 per 16 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: 54g
Monster sure does keep you awake and give you the energy boost you need. However, like Rockstar, the caffeine content is higher than what I think is optimal for a workout boost.
If your body can withstand it, by all means, go ahead and take it, but if you’re like me, consuming that much caffeine at one go will cause headaches which in turn lowers your productivity in the gym.
Price wise it’s also not all that affordable, and definitely not something I would consider drinking every day. Maybe once in a while, it would be fine, but $3 per day* really does add up quite quickly.
* That's over $1,000 per year if you have one every day!
The high sugar and calorie content in Monster is the deal breaker for me, 54 grams of sugar is not something I want in my body at any time - especially not right before a workout.
Caffeine content: 80mg
Price: around $2 per 8.4 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: 27g
Overall, I think that Red Bull is good as a pre-workout drink. Due to its lower caffeine content, you won't experience any unwanted side effects after drinking it.
It's cheaper than the others already mentioned above, but there are a lot of more affordable alternatives out there.
Its sugar and calorie content is also lower than the two brands mentioned above, but that's mainly because a can of Red Bull is approximately half the size of a can of Rockstar or Monster. When compared on a "per fluid ounce" scale, the sugar content is almost identical.
Red Bull also have their own line of organic cola, but it didn't give me enough of an energy boost to recommend it as a workout boosting beverage in this list.
I definitely don't recommend it as an everyday drink if you're trying to lose a few pounds (because of the sugar), however, every now and again, Red Bull might be a good option for a workout energy boost.
Interestingly, in the early days, Red Bull was not permitted in France for 12 years because of health concerns.
To learn more about the difference between Red Bull and Monster, check out my other article on that topic.
Caffeine content: 200mg
Price: around $2.25 per 16 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: Sugar free
Overall, Celsius contains too much caffeine to my liking. Price wise it’s slightly cheaper than some of the energy drinks out there, but far from the cheapest.
The best part of Celsius is that it’s sugar-free, hence for those of you who are in your cutting phase, it’s definitely a decent option for you.
The calorie content is also low, thus you don't need to worry about it affecting your daily macros (it’s only 10 calories per drink).
Check out my Celsius energy drink review for more info about the drink.
Caffeine content: 300mg
Price: around $2.20 per 16 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: 0g
Overall, as a casual gym rat, I think 300mg of caffeine in one can of Bang Energy is just too much.
The daily recommended maximum dosage for caffeine is 400mg a day for an average healthy adult. A single can of Bang puts you within striking distance of that limit.
Price wise, Bang is about the middle of the road in terms of energy drinks. There are plenty of more expensive options, but also plenty of more affordable alternatives too.
In my opinion, Bang energy drink is probably best for hardcore heavy lifters.
It's worth noting that Bang has been involved in several lawsuits over allegedly false and misleading advertising about their products. I cover this in a lot more detail in a previous article on the topic of whether Bang is good for you which you might want to check out.
Caffeine content: 80mg
Price: around $3.30 per 8.4 fl.oz can
Sugar levels: 0g
The caffeine content in a regular can of XS energy is about right and it delivers a gentle energy boost to get in the groove for a workout.
It also contains only 10 calories and 0g of sugar which is a plus.
The only downsides to XS are the price. At $3.30 per can its absurdly expensive. I don't know about you, but I would rather not blast through $100 per month if it only buys me one little can a day.
For that reason alone, XS energy drink isn't my top choice in this list.
Mountain Dew AMP Game Fuel
Caffeine content: 91mg
Price: around $2 per can
Sugar levels: 30g
AMP Game Fuel was originally created for gamers and endurance athletes, and it's one of the most popular energy drinks on the market.
I think it's pretty good as a pre-workout drink for the gym because it contains a good level of caffeine without overdoing it.
In terms of price, it's nothing special - about the middle of the pack.
The sugar and calorie content isn't ideal for many gym-goers though. Personally, I prefer to avoid sugar at all costs and even when I am hunting calories, I don't usually want to get them in my energy drink.
But, from time to time, this definitely does the trick.
Caffeine content: 50mg
Price: around $1 per drink, including shipping
Sugar levels: Sugar-free
In my opinion, REIZE energy is by far the best energy drink for workouts because of the great energy boost it gives you. The combination of 50mg of caffeine together with taurine, ginseng and b vitamins gives a long lasting energy boost, without any crash.
At around $1 per drink delivered right to your door, it's the most affordable energy drink on this list, affordable enough to be used as a daily pre-workout drink.
The best part?
It's sugar-free and contains only 11 calories per drink.
So for all the bodybuilders and those trying to lose a few pounds, REIZE is absolutely great. You don't need to worry about consuming too many unnecessary calories and ruin your daily macros.
Another thing I love about REIZE is that it's completely customizable because it is a powder. You can mix it with any liquid you like. If you prefer fizz, just mix it with a fizzy soda, if you want to avoid too much carbonation before hitting the gym you can mix it with still water and it won't upset your stomach.
Overall, REIZE is definitely a great pick-me-up energy drink for your pre-workout.
At around $1 per drink, REIZE is by far the most affordable energy drink on this list of best energy drinks for a gym workout.
Give it a try today and you might just find that REIZE gives you just what you need to get the most out of your workouts.