Since the research showing that a cup of coffee or caffeine pills taken before a workout can boost performance, using one of those about an hour before working out has a become a ritual with many athletes. Recently, the focus has switched to energy drinks. It the change a beneficial one? Do energy drinks offer the same results? Let’s look at the benefits of caffeine first.
How caffeine or caffeine pills can help a workout.
It takes about 90-100 minutes for caffeine to be absorbed and the blood levels to peak. Caffeine affects the entire body, including the muscles and the brain. It can improve focus and reduce tiredness, while also triggering hormones for the fight or flight response, such as epinephrine. That increases performance, too. It increases fat burning and also aids in the release of feel good hormones. It can trigger the part of the brain that signals muscle to activate, increases heat production and can enhance the endurance performance by sparing the glycogen stored in the muscles.
Will an energy drink provide the same benefits?
Unlike coffee or even caffeine pills, the ingredients in energy drinks vary greatly. While caffeinated energy drinks can give you that caffeine boost, improve cognitive functioning and enhance muscle strength, it contains synthetically produced caffeine, rather than a natural source. The caffeine in energy drinks can be high and can cause issues during and after exercise. If you go with an energy drink, make it one with a natural source of caffeine.
What’s wrong with synthetic caffeine?
There’s a difference in the type of caffeine used, whether it’s in caffeine pills or in the energy drink. Caffeine from natural sources take longer to work, but also last longer. If the caffeine is produced in a lab, rather than extracted from the brewing process, you’ll have a quicker reaction, but it won’t last as long and you’ll find yourself crashing quickly.
- Instead of using caffeine pills or energy drinks, consider using coffee or even green tea. The caffeine in green tea metabolizes differently, doesn’t give an immediate rush, but does provide a more sustained energy level.
- Make sure you have plenty of water while you workout if you use either energy drinks or caffeine pills. Caffeine acts like a diuretic, so you’ll void more and have more potential for dehydration.
- If caffeine or coffee gives you the jitters, don’t go to energy drinks, but choose green tea instead. The sugar and caffeine in the energy drink will probably produce the same results, but the green tea contains L-Theanine that prevents the shakes.
- If you decide to choose an energy drink, check the label for additives. Many contain sugar, while others contain ingredients that sound like they came from a chem lab. Neither of the two are good for you.
For more information, contact us today at 180 Fitness