A boost of energy is always a bonus, whether you’re starting your day, hitting the gym or just need an afternoon pick-me-up. With pre-workout supplements, a little energy zap can go a long way, giving you what you need to push through more reps, more miles and more weight. But, if sugary, caffeine-loaded energy drinks are your go-to, consider this: you can get that same energy from certain sports drinks, minus the empty calories and plus the added bonus of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Check out these energetic alternatives for a range of occasions:
WAKE AND SHAKE FOR A HEADSTART ON GAINS
For many people, dinner is naturally protein-packed, while breakfast is the meal that often skimps on protein content. Even if you rise and shine with a high-protein food like Greek yogurt or an egg, that still may not be optimal. Kicking off your day with a nutritious lean protein shake will ensure your muscles have the building blocks they need and help you meet your daily protein requirements. Not a morning person? Look for a protein powder or ready-to-drink shake that contains caffeine to pull you out of your early dawn fog and help get you in gear.
CHOOSE YOUR PRE-WORKOUT ENERGY WISELY
Lots of drinks can give you the pre-workout energy you crave, but it often comes at a price. Beverages that give you a boost via sugar pack on empty calories and lead to an abrupt energy crash later on. Instead of taking your body for a roller coaster ride, look for low-calorie energy drinks that contain a moderate amount of caffeine (around 200 milligrams). You may also want to consider sports drinks that contain ingredients that provide benefits like creatine, betaine, beta-alanine or BCAAs. BCAAs help preserve muscle glycogen stores and reduce protein breakdown. Many sports drinks are also enhanced with vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C. Getting the vitamins and minerals you need supports your overall wellness as you take your training to the next level.
REWARD YOUR MUSCLES FOR ALL THEIR HARD WORK
The critical 30 to 60-minute window right after you work out is your body’s prime hour of protein need. Supplying it with protein immediately after a punishing session of lifting helps ensure that your muscles have the nutrients they need to rebuild—which is exactly what needs to happen if you want to see substantial gains. Yes, your body needs protein all day long. But providing it with sufficient amounts at the times it needs it most—like right after you put your muscles through the ringer—can support optimal results. Some of the most popular energy drinks contain as much as 27 grams of sugar, which basically negates a hefty chunk of the blood, sweat and tears you just sacrificed at the gym. So, make sure your post-exercise energy drink is high in protein content, not laden with too much processed sugar. And, if your protein intake needs an especially big lift, you might consider looking for post-workout shakes that contain up to 40 grams of high-quality protein.
HYDRATE LIKE YOU MEAN IT
High-intensity exercise, especially in warmer weather, demands high-intensity hydration. Supplementing your water intake with beverages that contain electrolytes, sodium and potassium can support your body’s rehydration process and help fuel performance. Just be sure to check ingredient labels. Many nutrient-enhanced sports drinks also bring added sugar and calories along for the ride. Efficient rehydration shouldn’t come at the cost of your waistline. The more you exercise, the more water and nutrients your body excretes through sweat. So, aim for drinks that keep you stocked and loaded. They can replenish your supply throughout the day and are a beneficial complement to your routine H2O consumption.