In the past, energy drinks used to be a fancy liquid that only the rich could afford (either that or my father used to lie about their price). Today, they are as ubiquitous and widely-used as any other beverage, such as milk or water, especially for gym regulars. Why? Because they give you the required “pump” for a heavy and complete workout every time. Open any gym rat’s bag, and you’ll surely find an energy drink there, and for good reasons too.

Now, as beneficial as they may be, energy drinks aren’t as effective as they should be unless you follow certain rules while consuming them. That’s right; you can get even more pump out of your favorite energy drink if you drink it at the right time and following specific guidelines.

Do not worry, as you won’t have to skim through countless Google searches to find these rules, as we got them right here for you. So, read on.

What Are Energy Drinks Made of?

Energy drinks are made of several ingredients, but the most significant (and famous) of them is caffeine, a stimulant that you can find in coffee, tea, and other energy beverages. The average energy drink can contains around 80 milligrams of this stimulant, which is the same dose you find in an espresso shot.

How does caffeine work?

Caffeine molecules bind with sleep-inducing adenosine receptors, which turn on a “fight or flight” state in your brain. Once that happens, the neural system signals an adrenaline rush throughout the body, which dilates blood vessels and air passages to increase the oxygen supply to the brain. So, to sum it up, you get an increased alertness thanks to the oxygen supply and improved muscle endurance thanks to the boosted blood flow throughout the body.

Not only that, but the brain also releases dopamine, endorphins, and norepinephrine, all of which are known to increase one’s energy.

Having read all that, you’re probably thinking “If energy drinks are so great, why isn’t everybody using them?”. While energy beverages look perfect on paper, some people swear that they don’t have a single effect on them.

If you’re one to enjoy an extreme training session, you’re probably looking for an effective pre-workout, and the above statement may put you off when it comes to energy drinks.

Well, as we mentioned above, it’s all about following some simple guidelines while supercharging your pre-workout with your favorite energy drink. Do that with any of our energy beverages, and you’re bound to get a training session worth your gains.

So, here goes the tips for energy drink consumption.

Choose the Right Timing

As with any pre-workout, you can’t get the most out of the provided pump unless you pick the right timing for consumption. You can’t just chug your Red Bull five or four hours before hitting the gym and expect to see results. The same goes for gulping down your Monster energy drink just before touching the iron. The body needs time to ensure proper metabolism of the different ingredients, but should you use it too soon before going out, the energy may be wasted somewhere else.

Enough of the odd talking, what’s the right time for me to consume my energy drink?

You really want to get going with your workout, don’t you? According to several studies done on the matter, caffeine ingested in powder or capsule kicks in after 30 to 45 minutes of consumption, which may vary depending on the dosage. Basically, the more caffeine you consume, the faster it peaks. Don’t jump on your fridge consuming can after can though, as a big caffeine dose can do more harm than good and wreak havoc on your body.

So, to keep it short and sweet, it’s safe to say that consuming your caffeine or energy drink an hour before hitting the gym is the best option. Go get ‘em champ!

Take a Look at the Ingredients

Although caffeine is the mainstream ingredients of energy drinks, there’s actually more to it. Besides caffeine, sugar, and electrolytes, energy drinks can also contain other components such as taurine.

Far cry much? Not really.

Taurine is an antioxidant amino acid that’s ubiquitous in the body, but with an increased concentration in the muscles and nerve tissue. It intervenes in several functions, such as regulating muscle contractions, water retention, energy levels, and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Not only that, but it’s also similar to creatine, meaning that it can stimulate hypertrophy by inducing water retention in your muscles. Cool, huh?

Citrulline Malate is another supplement to consider. Although it isn’t included in energy drinks, it’s a good idea to add it to your pre-workout as it has been proven to boost energy levels during short high-intensity activities. A 2010 study that was done on 41 men concluded that CM could be of great help during resistance exercise as it increases maximum power and grip strength.

Set Your Goals and Consider Your Size

When it comes to pre-workout supplements, including energy drinks, getting the most out of your consumption depends on your current size and end game. According to several sources, getting to peak performance in anaerobic exercise requires a dose of 3 to 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body mass. In other words, if you weight 80 kg, you need 240 to 480 milligrams of caffeine to give your best performance.

Now, determining how many cans of energy drinks you need depends on your goal.

If you’re preparing for a serious training session, you can go with over-the-counter energy drinks as they usually contain around 160 milligrams of caffeine.

If you’re only looking for an increase in alertness during your training session, any commercial energy drink will do as they contain around 80 milligrams of caffeine.

Whatever you choose, make sure to play it safe and go with the option that better suits your body.

It’s an Energy Drink, Not a Meal

Although consuming energy drinks alone before a workout may seem appealing, they actually aren’t as effective that way. Energy drinks, just like any other supplement, are meant to aid your performance. In other words, you cannot rely on an energy drink alone before a workout. What you should do instead is combine such a beverage with carbs and proteins as that will increase protein synthesis and therefore gains.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t under no condition turn your pre-workout meal into a feast, as that’s a shortcut to failure during your training session. Instead, opt for 6 grams of essential amino acids or 20 grams of high-quality protein along with about 35 grams of carbs. That way, not only will you get a good pump, but you’ll ensure that you’re getting the most out of your exercises.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, your guide to getting the best pre-workout out of your energy drink. Ready to pump your next workout? Here are the best energy drink options to consider:

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