If there is one drink that causes a lot of controversy, it’s the energy drink. People use it as a pick-me-up during long hours at work, during tiresome study sessions, and also during workout sessions. Technically, energy drinks should help workouts, right? Well, unfortunately, the answer is more complicated.
Manufacturers of these drinks claim that they give energy through the high amounts of caffeine and other “special” ingredients such as taurine and ginseng. The fact is that it is only the caffeine and sugar in these drinks that provide that quick and temporary boost of energy; the other ingredients are not scientifically proven in any way to help give drinkers more energy, except maybe in much higher quantities than you’ll find in energy drunks.
The main ingredient in energy drinks that really does anything is the sugar. Anything you take in is going to be used by your body for energy. The problem is, the sugar in energy drinks is simple sugar. When it’s not all used up, it’ll be stored by your body as fat. And you’ll also get that infamous “crash” when the sugar effect wears off. Not great for your weight loss efforts!
While caffeine does make you feel temporarily more alert, it also has one drawback: it’s a diuretic. Most people know this by experience, because many of us often feel like peeing after having one too many cups of coffee. Energy drinks are also diuretics, and diuretics often cause dehydration, which is an exerciser’s worst enemy. Your body needs to be hydrated during workouts, and energy drinks do more damage to your hydration levels than good.
Not only that, the caffeine from energy drinks can severely mess up your sleep cycle, and everyone knows that good quality sleep is necessary when trying to get fit and healthy. And, as with sugar, you will eventually get that energy crash from taking too much caffeine.
So Should You Use Energy Drinks?
There’s a lot of hype surrounding energy drinks, and most of it is down to smart marketing. Even if you genuinely burn off the extra calories you consume through these drinks, they are often full of unhealthy ingredients.
So what’s a workout enthusiast to do to perform better during sessions? The answer is simple. Your best friend is still water, which you should be drinking enough not only during workouts, but all through the day. If you are engaging in a particular tough workout session that lasts more than 45 minutes, then you can consider drinking a sports drink (try to find ones that don’t have too much sugar!) to help fuel your workout and keep your electrolytes in balance. Also, your overall diet and habits outside your workout sessions will determine how well you perform in your workouts. Don’t smoke, drink too much alcohol, or do illicit drugs, and eat a well-balanced clean diet that contains mostly unprocessed healthy foods. As for energy drinks, it may be best to keep them out of your diet altogether!