But, when exactly do energy drinks kick in, and how long beforehand do you need to drink them?
Quick answer: It takes 10 minutes for the caffeine in an energy drink to enter your bloodstream after drinking an energy drink. Then, it takes between 20 to 45 minutes to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream, at which time you will experience the maximum effects.
Stick around to explore more about the mechanics of energy drinks, from what factors influence the effectiveness of energy drinks to how long energy drinks stay in your body.
Let’s get started…
Do Energy Drinks Really Work?
Energy drinks do work because they contain caffeine, which is a stimulant and gives you a boost in energy.
Though energy drinks can contain a number of ingredients such as B vitamins, amino acids, and herbal extracts, the extra boost of energy mainly comes from caffeine. If you remove the caffeine from an energy drink, you’ll find that it won’t work as efficiently.
Caffeine works by hindering the effects of adenosine receptors, brain chemicals that are responsible for sleep.
When this process happens, it causes your brain to release a ‘fight-or-flight’ response, which in turn releases adrenaline. At the same time, caffeine also leads to the release of dopamine from the brain, a chemical that’s responsible for how we feel pleasure.
So, with all these chemical responses happening inside, you’ll feel the effects physically as well. This explains why you feel more energized after drinking caffeinated beverages including energy drinks.
Of course, making you less drowsy and sluggish is only one of caffeine’s benefits. Caffeine helps improve your physical performance too.
A 2015 study reported that the accuracy and overall performance of a group of female volleyball players improved after the ingestion of an energy drink. Another study found that the endurance performance of twelve trained cyclists increased after the consumption of a caffeinated energy drink.
Caffeine is also beneficial in improving cognitive functions. A 2016 study reported that caffeine could enhance alertness, attention, vigilance, and reaction time.
So, circling back to the main question, energy drinks really do work because they supply you with a boost of energy that increases wakefulness and improves both physical and mental performance.
How Quickly Do Energy Drinks Work?
Energy drinks begin to work after around 10 minutes, but it may take up to 30 minutes to really begin to notice the effects. Peak energy boost will occur between 30 and 60 minutes after drinking an energy drink, after which time the effects will begin to slowly wear off.
The main reason that you experience a boost after drinking an energy drink is due to the caffeine content. Sure, other ingredients play a role too, especially sugar, but without caffeine energy drinks just wouldn’t be the same.
Caffeine absorption usually peaks around 45 minutes after consuming caffeine, but certain factors can affect your caffeine metabolism and the precise time that you experience peak absorption may vary slightly.
What Is The Best Time To Drink An Energy Drink?
The best time to drink an energy drink is 30-60 minutes before wanting an energy boost. The most important energy-boosting ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine, and it takes about 45 minutes for caffeine to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream.
You can expect the effects of an energy drink to be at its peak around 30-60 minutes after consumption. After that time the energy boost that you experience will gradually wear off and you may even experience a crash, particularly if you drank a sugary energy drink.
Caffeine has a half-life of about 5-6 hours. As a result, you should definitely NOT drink energy drinks within about 6 hours of planning to sleep. Otherwise, you may find that you have difficulty sleeping.
How Long Do Energy Drinks Stay In Your System?
Caffeine, which is the main energy-boosting ingredient in energy drinks will stay in your system for about 10-12 hours before it’s completely eliminated from your body.
While there are many ingredients in energy drinks like sugar, B vitamins, herbal extracts, and amino acids, the primary ingredient in energy drinks responsible for giving you a feeling of extra energy is caffeine.
Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, which means that the amount of caffeine you consumed will be reduced by half after about five hours.
Energy drinks contain a varying quantity of caffeine – from as little as 50mg to 300mg or more– depending on the brand. Since the caffeine content of each brand of energy drink is different, the caffeine present in these energy drinks can remain in your system for a different amount of time.
However, there are factors that might influence how long caffeine can remain in your system, which are:
The older you are, the easier it is for your body to eliminate caffeine out of your system, peaking at adulthood.
Your personal attributes can also impact how quickly caffeine is metabolized by your body. For example, if you’re tall and heavy, you can likely break down caffeine faster compared to someone who’s small and light.
Though, this also depends on the amount of caffeine you’ve consumed.
Some people are simply born with genes that allow them to break down caffeine easily. They can tolerate caffeine better and don’t feel the side effects too strongly.
On the other hand, if you’re born with slow caffeine metabolism, you probably also have a caffeine sensitivity, which is a condition where you experience the side effects of caffeine, even in low doses.
The presence of food in your system can affect the elimination of caffeine. For instance, if you’re on an empty stomach, you’ll metabolize caffeine faster because there’s nothing impeding this process.
Basically, the process of absorption and elimination of caffeine can be delayed due to the time it takes to break down your recent food intake.
A caffeine tolerance occurs after the effects of caffeine decrease due to consistent consumption of caffeinated beverages and foods. Once your body has gotten used to all that caffeine, it won’t stay in your system for a long time since your body is used to and can effectively eliminate it.
How Long Does It Take For A Can Of Red Bull To Kick In?
Depending on how fast you drink your Red Bull, the caffeine levels in your bloodstream will peak between 20 to 45 minutes after consumption. Your alertness and concentration will improve during this time.
After about 30 to 50 minutes, the absorption of caffeine into your bloodstream is complete and the effects of Red Bull will be at their highest. At the same time, your liver sends a response by absorbing more sugar into your bloodstream.
The effects of the caffeine start to gradually wear off after about an hour and you might experience a sugar crash around this time too. You’ll also feel more sluggish and sleepy as your energy levels decrease.
How Long Does It Take Monster To Kick In?
It takes about 10 minutes to start to notice the effects of Monster and you will feel the peak effects between 30 to 60 minutes after consumption.
Just like Red Bull (and all other energy drinks for that matter), the caffeine in Monster is usually fully absorbed into your bloodstream after about 45 minutes.
There’s nothing particularly special about Monster or Red Bull that causes them to reach peak energy boost about 30-60 minutes after drinking them. The same is true for all energy drinks.
After the boost peaks, the energy lift that you experience will begin to slowly wear off. Because Monster contains a lot of sugar, there is a very real chance that you may experience a sugar crash about 2 hours after drinking Monster, which will likely leave you feeling more lethargic than before you started.
If you want to learn about exactly how Red Bull and Monster differ, check out this article I wrote that covers all of the important points.
Or, if you want to find some alternative energy drinks that won’t lead to a sugar crash, check out this article on the best energy drinks without sugar.
Side Effects Of Energy Drinks
Most of the side effects of energy drinks come from excessive caffeine and sugar content that some brands have.
- Restlessness and shakiness
- Rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
For sugar, the AHA has laid out these guidelines for both men and women:
- Tooth decay
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Aging skin
Long term excessive consumption of energy drinks also isn’t beneficial for your health. Regularly drinking too many energy drinks, especially those with high caffeine and sugar levels may lead to health-related issues such as:
- Weight gain
- Fatigue and sugar crashes
- Increased heart rate
- Caffeine addiction
- Dehydration and weakness
- Poor dental health
- Respiratory problems
- Caffeine overdose
Therefore, it’s really important that you consume energy drinks in moderation.
Does Drinking Water Help Alleviate The Effects Of Caffeine?
Water can help decrease the effects of caffeine in a short period of time. Since caffeine can sometimes make you feel dehydrated, dehydration can aggravate the effects of caffeine, so it’s best to drink water to rehydrate.
Caffeine is a diuretic and leads to frequent urination, which could affect your hydration status if you don’t regularly drink enough water.
If you get dehydrated, you may experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, rapid heartbeat, low energy levels and irritability. These symptoms are pretty similar to the side effects of caffeine.
Make sure to compensate by drinking enough water throughout the day and the side effects should subside. Aside from drinking water, there are other ways to reduce the effects of caffeine:
- Stop consuming any sources of caffeine immediately
- Wait it out
- Get some light exercise
- Practice deep breathing
- Eat fiber-rich food
Is An Occasional Energy Drink Bad?
An occasional energy drink for an emergency energy boost or to help you combat the afternoon slump isn’t bad at all. In fact, it could help you to perform better for a few hours.
Provided that you stay within the daily caffeine and sugar limits, having energy drinks occasionally isn’t going to negatively impact your health. Energy drinks can be very beneficial when you consume them wisely.
If you consume energy drinks to give you a boost for your workouts, that’s completely fine too. Practising a balanced diet and having an active lifestyle will help a lot in decreasing the possibility of negative health effects in the future, especially if energy drinks are a daily part of your life.
To conclude, moderation is key. As long as you consume energy drinks in moderation, you’ll be fine.
How Long After Drinking An Energy Drink Do You Crash?
You can expect to experience a sugar crash about 1-2 hours after drinking a sugary energy drink. For sugar-free energy drinks, you probably won’t experience any crash and will just gradually go back to feeling the way you did before drinking them.
There are many popular energy drinks that contain a lot of sugar. I won’t call any particular brands out here, but just have a bit of a dig around and read the ingredients labels and you’ll see what I mean.
Similarly, there are many popular brands that don’t contain any sugar.
In my opinion, sugar-free energy drinks are better, not just because they are better for your health, but also because you can avoid the dreaded sugar-crash after drinking them.
I think that any energy drink that leaves you in a sluggish heap 2 hours after drinking it isn’t worth drinking at all.
I find that with a lot of sugar-free energy drinks I actually don’t experience any crashes, I simply gently come back down to my baseline energy levels from before having the energy drink, which is ideal.
Energy Drink Recommendations
There are many good choices when it comes to energy drinks. Here’s a quick list to help you get started:
- Red Bull
- 5 Hour Energy
- 3D Energy
- C4 Energy
- Full Throttle
- Bing Energy
- XS Energy
- Game Fuel
Powdered energy drinks are great alternatives too since they’re more affordable and convenient:
REIZE (10 Out Of 10)
You might have second thoughts about energy drinks with high levels of sugar and caffeine. How about one that is a bit more sensible and tastes great?
Let me introduce you to REIZE.
REIZE is an awesome powdered energy drink that comes in convenient 4g sachets.
With a sensible 50mg of caffeine, REIZE is sugar-free and has just 11 calories per serving.
Plus, REIZE has a smart blend of beneficial ingredients like taurine, ginseng, and B vitamins that work together to provide you with the perfect energy boost without the crash afterward.
REIZE is versatile and can be customized to your taste and preferences. You can also mix REIZE with almost any other beverages too like juice, sparkling water and soda.
The best part?
REIZE ships straight to your door for only about $1 per drink.
That’s great value for money.
Give REIZE a try and I’m sure you’ll soon agree that REIZE is the smarter choice.