You can’t walk into a grocery store, supplement store, or gas station without seeing a cooler or a rack full of various energy drinks. They’ve become the go-to source for a quick drink to grab before a workout, a day at work, or just to lift my spirits, but which energy drink is the best and how do I choose?
If you want these drinks to be as effective as possible, you should take the time to look at what’s on the can before consuming what’s inside. Registered Dietitian Susan Lopez, RD, suggests that finding the right energy drink can make a big difference in how well it works for you.
“It’s important to make sure you’re putting quality stuff into your body,” she explains. Lopez, who is affiliated with the army tested energy drink brand Echelonsuggests which ingredients will be most effective to have in the drink you choose.
“Caffeine is definitely a performance enhancer,” Lopez explained. She recommends having 3mg of caffeine for every kilogram of your body weight. Other ingredients she feels positively about are magnesium and potassium.
“These can help relieve cramps and they can help with vasodilation,” she said. “That’s also why citrulline and arginine can be used.”
Although Lopez advocates ingredients like these, she feels you should investigate more than just what kind of ingredients they say are in the energy drink. Amounts matter too.
“I’m very suspicious of labels when they use words like ‘blend’ or ‘matrix’, and don’t list their ingredients,” Lopez said. “So generally if you’re looking at a mix or matrix type situation, there’s usually not going to be enough of that element to be really effective.”
Another major point of contention with energy drinks is the sugar content. Many people have suggested that sugar is bad for your health. Lopez presented a different perspective on this issue.
“He was demonized, and what I tell my athletes is that sugar is not a bad thing. When it breaks down in the body, it is actually used to fuel energy production in the body, right? So we are talking about ATP or adenosine triphosphate,” she said. “It’s your body’s spark plug.”
Ultimately, Lopez believes that knowing more about what you’re putting in your body will help you make better decisions so you can reap the benefits that energy drinks can bring.
“Really, unless you take the time to learn about the ingredients or have built your career or got your education around nutrition, you’re just not going to know what you don’t know, and the companies are going to take advantage of you.”