The use of highly caffeinated energy drinks before and during exercise has become increasingly popular over the years, but energy drinks don’t always mix well with physical activity…
While the Caffeine and Taurine commonly found in these drinks might improve your performance when it comes to endurance exercise, these drinks can’t replace sports drinks when it comes to replacing lost electrolytes -- but what about healthier energy drinks?
Energy Drinks And Athletes
Energy beverages are arguably the most popular Caffeine products among young adults and athletes and the global energy drink market continues to grow. In 2018, energy drink sales reached a value of $53.01 billion and are expected to reach $86.01 billion by 2026.
In the world of sports competition, energy beverages have become popular. Afterall, who doesn’t love a healthy dose of Caffeine? It’s one of the most easily accessible stimulants, and industry regulations are few and far between when it comes to energy drinks. These drinks are advertised as a way to improve sports performance, but do they really live up to the hype, and what exactly are their effects on performance?
Around 75% of people in the U.S. drink at least one cup of coffee per day. However, the average number consumed per day is nearly 3 cups, which totals just under seventy gallons of coffee per year.
The average amount of Caffeine in a plain old cup o’Joe is 80-100 mg, but at least people know that when they drink coffee, they're getting just that. The ingredients list isn’t always as clear with energy drinks - which is especially concerning when you consider that 40-70% of athletes consume them.
Energy drinks combine Caffeine with other (sometimes questionable) ingredients to boost energy. The typical energy beverage is around 12 ounces and contains between 72mg and 150mg of Caffeine. Larger cans can have up to 400mg of Caffeine, and energy shots can contain around the same amount.
But energy beverages are also loaded with other ingredients, some of which don’t mix too well with medications, and some of which are actually on banned substance lists in many sports.
Some of the most common ingredients found in energy drinks include:
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
Studies show that Caffeine can improve focus and memory, but other common ingredients added to popular energy drinks (such as guarana, for example) can actually increase the effects of Caffeine drastically - and too much of anything is never a good thing.
Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system to reduce drowsiness and fatigue. Studies suggest that the right amount of Caffeine before physical activity may improve endurance and muscular strength. However, while this stimulant can help in more ways than one, it needs to be taken in moderation as too much can cause ill effects during and after exercising.
In addition, one of the lesser-known facts about this common stimulant is that there are many sources of Caffeine. Some of the sources are natural and plant-based, while others are synthetically produced in a lab.
Artificial Caffeine is the most popular Caffeine source in soft drinks and energy drinks. It's quickly absorbed into the body, giving you the energy you crave much faster than that of naturally sourced Caffeine. However, it's important to keep in mind that synthetic Caffeine will also lead to a much quicker (and often harsher) crash.
Caffeine from green tea, on the other hand, is naturally-sourced and contains natural antioxidants. Naturally-sourced Caffeine is also absorbed much slower by your body. As a result, you won't experience the immediate Caffeine rush that you would with artificial Caffeine. Instead, your Caffeine will release slowly over time, giving you more sustained energy throughout your day.
If you’re looking to lean on an energy drink for a performance boost, avoid synthetic Caffeine and stick with naturally-occurring Caffeine instead.
Sugar in Energy Drinks
Sugar is right behind Caffeine as the most common ingredient found in energy beverages. A sugar rush adds to the Caffeine buzz you’ll get from guzzling down an energy drink, but will it hinder or help your workout?
On top of sugar already being a less than ideal addition to any active and healthy lifestyle, excessively sugary beverages are known to cause dehydration. With no added electrolytes in most energy drinks, this sugar will only work against you.
Artificial sweeteners are no good, either. They have been shown to alter gut bacteria, causing immune system dysfunction and chronic inflammation—both of which are not good for sports performance. When choosing an energy drink, be sure to stay away from beverages made with added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
So, can healthier energy drinks boost sports performance? The answer is: yes and no.
Energy drinks that are loaded with synthetic Caffeine, sugar, and artificial ingredients will not boost sports performance. In fact, these types of energy drinks may do more harm than good and can hinder an athlete's ability to perform.
On the other hand, just because most energy drinks have a bad rep doesn't mean that they are all bad. Clean energy drinks like these 100% plant-based shots from Proper Wild contain zero grams of added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and can help to boost sports performance.
Proper Wild's Clean All Day Energy Shots contain organic Caffeine from green tea to provide clean, long-lasting energy. They also contain 15x more L-Theanine than a cup of green tea for long-lasting focus to power you through your workout, without the jitters or crash.
Give one of these powerful plant-based energy shots a try for yourself and see for yourself how they can help support your performance by fueling your body with clean energy!