You can't walk into a grocery store, supplement store, or gas station without seeing a cooler or a shelf full of various energy drinks. They've become the go-to source for a quick drink to drink before a workout, at work or just as a pick-me-up, but which energy drink is the best and how do you choose one?
If you want these drinks to be as effective as possible, then you should take some time to see what's on the can before consuming what's inside. Nutritionist 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 in your body," she explains. Lopez suggests which ingredients are most effective in your chosen drink.
"Caffeine, it's definitely a performance enhancer," Lopez explained. She recommends consuming 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Other ingredients she is positive about are magnesium and potassium.
"These can help with spasms, and they can help with vasodilation," she said. "Citrulline and arginine can also be used for this."
While Lopez champions such ingredients, she thinks you should investigate more than just what type of ingredients are in the energy drink. Amounts also play a role.
"I'm very suspicious of labels when they say things like 'blend' or 'matrix' and don't list their ingredients," Lopez said. "So when you look at a blend or matrix situation, it's usually like there's not enough of that element to actually be effective."
Another major bone of contention with energy drinks is the sugar content. There have been numerous people who have suggested that sugar is bad for you. Lopez presented a different point of view on the matter.
"It's been demonized, and what I tell my athletes is that sugar isn't a bad thing. When it's broken down in the body, it's actually used to power energy production in the body, right? So we're talking about ATP or adenosine triphosphate," she explained. "This is the spark plug for your body."
Finally. Lopez believes that learning more about what you're putting into your body will help you make better choices so you can reap the benefits that energy drinks can offer.
"Honestly, if you don't take the time to learn about ingredients, or have built your career, or educated yourself in nutrition, you simply won't know what you don't know, and companies will benefit from it."