There’s been a lot said about exercising-related drinks. Some see them as a fad, a fitness statement accessory, a product of good marketing when just a simple bottle of water will do. However, over the last decade, the research behind energy drinks, sports drinks, recovery drinks, has shown that they can play a vital role in a person’s workout routine. But what exactly are those benefits? When is it best to drink them? In this article, we will look through the benefits of energy drinks, the different types, and also how recovery drinks do their bit in helping people make the necessary gains.

Energy Drink Benefits

Benefits before exercise

They’re great during your exercise routine, but energy drinks can also help get you in the right mindset.

Improves your mood. Feeling weary and unmotivated to exercise? Many energy drinks are packed with Vitamin B, which are known to regulate mood, and might be just the thing to get you out, working out.

Comes in zero-calorie options. For those taking energy drinks with a view to helping with exercise, the last thing you want is to have to work off the calories that are in the drink itself. So, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can enjoy calorie-free certain energy drinks, such as aptonia, without having to work off it after.

Can improve brain function. Multiple studies show that energy drinks can improve measures of brain functions such as concentration, memory, and reaction time, and can also reduce mental fatigue. Some believe that this is purely down to the inclusion of caffeine, whereas others believe it is the combination of caffeine and sugar.

Energy Drink Benefits

Benefits before exercise

They’re great during your exercise routine, but energy drinks can also help get you in the right mindset.

Improves your mood. Feeling weary and unmotivated to exercise? Many energy drinks are packed with Vitamin B, which are known to regulate mood, and might be just the thing to get you out, working out.

Comes in zero-calorie options. For those taking energy drinks with a view to helping with exercise, the last thing you want is to have to work off the calories that are in the drink itself. So, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can enjoy calorie-free certain energy drinks, such as aptonia, without having to work off it after.

Can improve brain function. Multiple studies show that energy drinks can improve measures of brain functions such as concentration, memory, and reaction time, and can also reduce mental fatigue. Some believe that this is purely down to the inclusion of caffeine, whereas others believe it is the combination of caffeine and sugar.

What are the benefits of energy drinks during exercise?

Instead of directly boosting your health, the tangible benefits of energy drinks will help improve your performance during exercise.

Provides an energy boost! It may sound incredibly obvious, but if there’s one thing that energy drinks are great for, it’s making you feel energetic, alert, awake, and (potentially) productive. Although this is a major benefit to sportspeople, it’s good to not overdo it, as it can leave you feeling jittery or even ill.

A fast, moderated amount of caffeine. Unlike coffee, tea, or other drinks, you won’t need to worry about exactly how much caffeine is in the drink, as it comes in a standardised amount. You’ll also be able to drink it without waiting for it to cool down, giving you a quicker consumption that means it’ll ultimately get into the bloodstream faster.

Energy Drink Benefits After Exercise

Helps with post workout replenishment of electrolytes. Energy drinks have more science behind their pre or mid-workout use. While only really advised for high-intensity cardiovascular training, energy drinks can give a well-needed boost taken an hour before exercise. They also are advised for every hour of exercise completed during long-distance activity. It’s commonly known that during exercise the body dehydrates through sweating. Many energy drinks contain salts including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium. Alongside the replenishment of glycogen stores through simple or complex carbohydrates, which are great after exercise.

Post-workout, a Recovery Drink may be a better way to go. But we will come back to them in a bit.

What does an energy drink contain?

In the mood for specifics? Here are some of the helpful healthy ingredients of energy drinks:

  • Vitamin B is known to improve mood and can also help fight cancer and heart disease
  • B12, which can help keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy. Also helps regulate the nervous system, and plays its part in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  • Riboflavin treats muscle cramps and blood disorders.
  • B6: boosts cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as the immune function.
  • Niacin can relieve arthritis pain and lower blood lipids.

Pantothenic Acid aiding allergies, and skin disorders, stress, and anxiety

Types of Energy Drink (and when to take them)

Isotonic: The most common type of energy drink, isotonic sports drinks are the go-to for long-distance athletes such as those competing in triathlons. Replicating the sodium, sugar, and electrolyte concentrations in the human body, electrolytes lost through sweating are quickly replaced for optimal hydration and performance. They contain around 5-8 grams of carbohydrate per 100 milliliters of fluid.

Hypotonic: Designed for hotter weather, hypotonic sports drinks implement a more dilute sugar, sodium, and electrolyte mixture for hotter weather conditions. The dilution means fewer particles than those found in human body fluid, resulting in faster rehydration, but these may need to be paired with other carbohydrate sources to maintain optimal levels.

Hypertonic: Designed for longer races, hypertonic drinks contain a larger concentration of sugar, sodium, and electrolytes for longer periods of exercise, though are more frequently used as a post-workout recovery drink.

How to take Energy Drinks

As with gels and bars, you want to be taking in 20-40 grams of carbohydrate pre-workout, that is, before you begin to compete, 30-60 gram of carbohydrate per hour of exercise, on the go, and 20-30 grams of carbohydrate after completing your activity. You can take in up to one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, per hour, though moving past 70 grams may begin to cause you problems with digestion.

Ultimately you will have to assess the length of the race, the weather conditions, and your bodyweight when deciding which drinks work best for you. Experiment during training sessions to see what works best to optimise your performance - you don’t want to try out a new schematic on race day and end up off your best.


Differences between Energy Drinks and Recovery Drinks

Recovery drinks (often also known as protein shakes) as anyone who drinks one will attest, are a very different beast to energy drinks.The term recovery drink covers a wide spectrum of products, from protein shakes, to electrolyte sports drinks, to a glass of chocolate milk after your activity. A drink that helps your recovery during or after a workout is a recovery drink. Let’s run through some of the most common types of recovery drink, and why and when to use them:

Protein shakes are protein-heavy and thicker, generally, dairy-based shakes which contain high levels of protein for post-workout muscle repair. Increasingly, protein is also available from non-dairy, vegan-friendly sources.

Protein shakes have a longer consumption window following a workout to achieve their maximum benefits - up to an hour. That said, both energy drinks and protein shakes can be used before and during workouts depending on the desired effect.

When To Take A Recovery Drink

Protein supplements are generally advised in a 20-30 gram dosage following exercise. However, some avid gym goers swear by protein shakes taken directly before, or even during their workout. Energy drinks have more science behind their pre or mid-workout use. While only really advised for high-intensity cardiovascular training, energy drinks can give a well-needed boost taken an hour before exercise. They also are advised for every hour of exercise completed during long-distance activity.

So, recovery drinks can depend on whether you are seeking a pre-workout boost to your upcoming workout, a mid-workout top-up, or post-workout recovery.

  • For pre-workout seek out an energy drink with 20-40 grams of carbohydrates.
  • For a mid-endurance top up, try to consume an energy drink containing 30-60 grams of carbs for every hour of exercise.

Post-workout, this is where the protein shake should definitely come into play. Knock back a shake containing 20-30 grams of protein for the win.

Is chocolate milk a recovery drink?

Chocolate milk may be the silent hero of the recovery drink game. A 2017 study on workout recovery analysed chocolate milk’s impact on performance and recovery markers. The study found chocolate milk had similar or even superior results when compared with placebo or electrolyte drink.

That said, it’s not always viable to keep a carton of chocolate milk in your sports bag on the go, particularly as it needs to be refrigerated. While chocolate milk can be a great alternative if you can wait to get home, for the serious endurance athletes among you, an electrolyte fix might be best found in a sports drink.