While fewer things are better than a tall glass of water when working out, you might be looking for an energy boost to help you keep going and improving your athletic performance. Check out some of the best energy drinks for athletes so that you can find the best one for you.
Whether you’re doing your daily workout at the gym, intensive training for a marathon, or just started doing CrossFit; it’s essential to have enough energy to keep going during the most challenging parts of your workout.
While water can keep you adequately hydrated, which is important for your health and safety while working out, it doesn’t do much for giving you a boost of energy. We will discuss some of the basics of energy drinks and help you find the best energy drink for you.
How Do Energy Drinks Differ From Sports Drinks?
With so many drinks marketed towards athletic performance, it can be challenging to know the difference between a sports drink or an energy drink. A sports drink is designed to keep you hydrated while you sweat. The carbohydrates in sports drinks also help to provide energy and delay fatigue as you workout.
One of the most significant differences between sports drinks and energy drinks is that a sports drink is loaded with electrolytes and minerals (like sodium, chloride, and potassium) which are often lost through sweat; sports drinks replenish you. Depending on the energy drink you choose, there may be some of the same ingredients that are found in a sports drink.
An energy drink typically contains a high amount of carbohydrates, and it also contains caffeine (usually 72 to 260 mg of caffeine). Many energy drinks, designed for athletic performance, may also include the following ingredients:
- Taurine: Similar to an amino acid and may help fight fatigue
- Ginkgo biloba: May help prevent mental decline
- Ginseng: Might help with energy and alertness
- Guarana: A stimulant and is often known as “herbal caffeine”
It’s important to note that if you are training professionally, you need to make sure that consuming energy drinks with any of these ingredients is okay. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) bans caffeine in the form of guarana; some organizations have different rules about stimulants, caffeine, and energy drinks.
Are Energy Drinks The Right Choice For You?
The use of energy drinks for athletic performance has mixed reviews, but it’s entirely up to you if you want to consume energy drinks. If you’re planning on taking a leisurely walk, with your dog, around the block you probably don’t need or benefit from consuming energy drinks.
If you are spending hours at the gym lifting weights or are planning on training for a triathlon, an energy drink is most likely best suited for you. Before you chug down a can of the best energy drink prior to a workout, there are a few things to consider.
Get To Know The Ingredients
Like any drink, food, or supplement you consume to help you improve your athletic performance it’s important to get to know the ingredients in your energy drink and if they can benefit you (or have side effects).
While we’ve already mentioned that it’s essential to make sure the ingredients in your energy drink aren’t banned by organizations, you should do a little research especially if you take any medications.
Not only are ingredients like ginseng, guarana, and taurine common in energy drinks, but you might see added ingredients like Vitamin B12, Yohimbe, and Phenylalanine.
Side Effects Are Possible
The best energy drink may give you just the boost you need to push yourself a little further, but it’s important to recognize that you can have too much of a good thing. Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate, disturb your sleep, make you dehydrated, and make you feel anxious.
You may also experience restlessness and digestive issues. In addition to an energy crash, due to too much caffeine, the high sugar content in some energy drinks may be bad for your teeth and put you at a greater risk for osteoporosis.
Top 5 Energy Drinks For Athletes
Now that we’ve given you some things to think about before consuming an energy drink let’s help you find the best energy drink for you. We’ve done the research, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best-rated energy drinks on the market, specifically targeted for athletic performance.
A Note About Our Rating System
As you browse our list, you will notice out top choice is rated at five out of five stars. Given the number of energy drinks on the market, you might be wondering how we narrow down our choices.
We read several online reviews and consumer testimonials. Weighing the good and the bad feedback, we make a well-informed and unbiased decision about the drink. We take a look at the background of the manufacturer and take a close look at the ingredient list.
We will tell you everything you need to know about an energy drink, so you can confidently decide if it’s the best choice for you. What about our recommendations that have a less than five-star rating? Don’t worry; they are still great products; we don’t recommend anything that we wouldn’t try ourselves.
Ready for the best energy drinks? Let’s take a closer look at our 5 top picks.
- Powerful antioxidants from Acai Berry and Acerola Cherry.
- Natural caffeine from Yerba Mate, Green Tea and Guarana.
- Same caffeine as 2.5 shots of organic espresso.
Sambazon Amazon Energy Drink has the same caffeine as two shots of espresso, and the natural caffeine comes from Yerba mate, green tea, and guarana. This energy drink is available in two flavors and as a low-calorie drink.
Each 12-ounce can contains 120 calories, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 9 percent juice. Organic ingredients include sparkling water, cane syrup, organic and fair trade acai juice, acerola juice, green tea extract, yerba mate extract, and guarana extract.
Although Sambazon doesn’t say how many milligrams of caffeine is in their energy drink, we can assume that it’s about 128 mg, which is the average amount for a double shot of espresso (even though the caffeine content in espresso may vary).
A majority of users like the organic and all-natural ingredients. A few users say that the drink gives them a two to three hour “pick me up” and others say they like the taste over other competitors.
Users who don’t like the energy drink mostly complain about the taste and didn’t feel like provided enough energy.
Our overall rating is 5 out of 5
- THE CLEANEST LABEL. THE SIMPLEST INGREDIENTS. - Guayusa (the tea of the Amazon), Fruit Juice, and Carbonated Water....
- PLANT POWERED - Naturally caffeinated by Guayusa. Best known as the tea of the Amazon, Guayusa is packed with L-Theanine...
- FOCUSED ENERGY - No spike, no crash, no jitters. Guayusa’s powerful blend of natural caffeine, Theobromine,...
MATI is an all-natural energy drink that contains between 40 to 90 calories, depending on the flavor you choose. Each 12-ounce can contains 115 mg of naturally brewed caffeine from guayusa leaves, natural juice, and carbonated water’ there is no added sugar in this energy drink. The MATI energy drink also contains antioxidants and theobromine.
The guayusa plant, also known by its Amazonian nickname, “The Night Watchman,” is best known for its ability to provide long-term energy. According to the manufacturer, MATI energy drink is ideal for a pre or post workout drink and at any other time of the day.
Users of this energy drink like the taste, the lack of “energy crash,” and how gentle it is on the stomach. Most users experienced a boost of energy that lasted a few hours, which was enough to help them get through a workout.
Most of the users who gave MATI energy drink poor feedback didn’t like that taste and thought it was a waste of money (because of the flavor).
Our overall rating is 4.5 out of 5
- All Natural Hemp Energy drink - Omega-3s - Organic Energy, No jitters and no crash!
Canna Hemp Energy Drink is an all-natural energy drink that varies between 40 and 160 calories depending on the flavor you drink. Each 12-ounce can contains 120 mg of caffeine, and according to the manufacturer, people with sensitivity to caffeine should not drink more than two cans a day.
The main ingredients in Canna Hemp Energy Drink include hemp seed extract, taurine, caffeine, B Vitamins, carbonated water, and cane sugar. If you are worried about whether or not Canna Hemp will get you “high,” it won’t; it doesn’t contain THC. If you’re wondering if it’s legal, it is, but don’t forget to check with your sports organization or association as it does contain taurine.
Canna Hemp is designed to improve alertness and energy throughout the day without the annoying jitters that are often a side effect of energy drinks.
Like similar all-natural energy drinks, many users were happy with the results and liked the taste, but others complained about the taste and didn’t think it provided much energy.
Our overall rating is 4 out of 5
- Contains about as much caffeine as a cup of premium coffee
- Clear, refreshing, and sparkling blend of natural citrus flavors
- Designed with ingredients like ginseng to help promote clarity and focus
UPTIME Premium Energy Drink comes in 12-oz aluminum bottles with a resealable cap. Each bottle contains approximately the same amount of caffeine as a 12 oz cup of coffee, in this case, it contains 142 mg of caffeine.
UPTIME is available in three different flavors, and a sugar-free version is also available. The manufacturer says that there is 484 mg of active ingredients that provide a boost of energy. The UPTIME “Power Base” includes a 178 mg blend of taurine, angelica root extract, Panax ginseng extract, ginkgo biloba extract, bee pollen extract, gotu kola extract, and coenzyme Q10.
Other ingredients include carbonated water, cane sugar, and natural flavors.
A majority of users liked the taste of the drink and found the results to be expected when it came to having energy. Many users had little to no side effects (such as jitters) with UPTIME than energy drinks from competitors. Users who didn’t like UPTIME complained about the taste.
Our overall rating is 4 out 5
- DARK DOG ORGANIC VARIETY PACK contains 4 different flavors: Original, Blood Orange, 50 calories and Coconut Water....
- USDA Certified Organic / Non-GMO verified / Powerful antioxidants / Gluten Free / Sodium free / Natural caffeine / Free...
- 100% of the recommended Daily Value of Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and C.
Dark Dog Energy Drink contains USDA Certified Organic ingredients and natural caffeine. Each 12-ounce can contains 114 mg of caffeine that is derived from organic caffeine like guarana, yerba mate, green tea, and coffee beans.
Dark Dog is available in a variety of flavors and is 50 calories per can. The energy drink contains 100 percent of Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Niacin, and Folic Acid.
Other organic ingredients include coconut sugar, lemon juice concentrate, rosehip extract, ginger extract, mursalski tea extract, and carbonated water. The manufacturer recommends consuming no more than two cans of the energy drink a day.
Users who like the Dark Dog energy drink were happy with the organic ingredients, taste, and most said they didn’t have an energy crash or feel jittery. The users who didn’t like the drink complain about the taste, and some thought it tasted like vitamins and gave them digestive issues.
Our overall rating is 4 out 5
A Few Reminders About Energy Drinks
While there are plenty of energy drinks on the market with all-natural and organic ingredients there many more that are not and you’ll have to read the label closely before consuming.
Keep in mind that even though some caffeine in the energy drinks derive from green tea or coffee, there is likely to be taurine or guarana. If you are unable to use any ingredient due to rules of a sports organization (or your own sensitivities to ingredients), make sure that the energy drink you choose is safe (and legal) to drink.
Energy drinks are kind of notorious for having an unusual taste profile. As you can see in our review of energy drinks, each drink had mixed reviews when it came to taste. The only way that you’ll really know how an energy drink tastes (and if you like it) is to try it. While you might end up wasting money, you might eventually find one that you love.
Energy drinks are not recommended for children, women who are pregnant, or people with sensitivity to caffeine. Most energy drink manufacturers recommend only drinking one or two drinks a day; for best results and minimal side effects, follow the recommendations.
When you consume energy drinks before, during, or after a workout, don’t use it as a substitute for water or even a sports drink. Energy drinks are not designed to hydrate and replenish the same way that water and some sports drinks do.
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