Days, weeks, and months of training and exercise can be grueling and take its toll on your body and mind. Keeping your energy levels up during games and training sessions is important to score more points and stay competitive. Coffee before a workout is one way to get a caffeine kick. Another popular alternative are energy drinks—but are energy drinks for sports and exercise good or bad?
Ingredients in energy drinks
Firstly, we need to know what goes into energy drinks. Typically, energy drinks contain water, real or artificial fruit juices, caffeine, and sugar—and a lot of it. One can may contain less than 100 to more than 200 mg of caffeine and more than 40 grams of sugar—more than most sodas and coffee drinks.
In addition, many energy drinks contain vitamins, minerals, and natural substances like ginseng, green tea, and guarana. While these may be marketed as healthy or can boost your performance, they do not cancel out the negative effects of high caffeine and sugar.
Are energy drinks for sports and exercise good?
While sugar provides energy and caffeine can help you burn extra calories, there are better sources than energy drinks. Too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance over time and diabetes mellitus. Not to mention, excess sugar and calories leads to unwanted weight gain, which is not ideal if you are looking to stay in top condition.
One drink may not derail your long-term goals and performance, but you may experience a caffeine or sugar crash. If your diet excludes sweets and soft drinks, it would be best to avoid energy drinks. People with type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and sleep disturbances should talk to their doctor before drinking energy drinks.
Better alternatives to energy drinks
Energy drinks should not be mistaken for sports drinks that contain electrolytes. In addition, no amount of caffeine can beat a good night’s sleep. If you are training or exercising and are still looking for an extra boost, here are some alternatives:
- Infused water (lemon and cucumber are popular ingredients)
- Natural fruit juice
- Fresh fruit (watermelon is especially hydrating)
- Sports drinks
- Skim or low-fat milk
As a reminder, always drink water before, during, and after physical activity. Seek medical attention if you experience signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, weakness, dry mouth, or loss of consciousness.
In short, athletes are always looking for the next best thing to up their game. Unfortunately, energy drinks are not the best option out there. Instead, athletes and those with active lifestyles should focus on proper nutrition, hydration, and adequate rest. Discuss with your doctor and dietician for more information.
Learn more about Healthy Eating here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.