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You can’t walk in a grocery store, supplement store, or gas station without seeing a cooler or rack full of various energy drinks. They have become the go-to source for a quick beverage to have before a workout, work day, or simply as a pick me up, but which energy drink is the best and how do you choose?
If you want these drinks to be as effective as possible, then you should take some time to look at what is on the can before you consume what is in it. Dietitian Susan Lopez, RD, suggests that finding the right energy drink can make a big difference in how well it works for you.
“Making sure that you’re putting quality stuff in your body is important,” she explains. Lopez, who is affiliated with the military-tested energy drink brand Echelon, suggests which ingredients are going to be the most effective to have in the beverage you choose.
“Caffeine, that’s definitely a performance enhancer,” Lopez explained. She recommends having 3mg of caffeine for every kilogram of your bodyweight. Other ingredients she feels positively about are magnesium and potassium.
“Those can help with cramping, and they can help with vasodilation,” she said. “That’s also what citrulline and arginine can be used for too.”
While Lopez advocates for ingredients such as those, she feels that you should investigate more than what type of ingredients they say is in the energy drink. Amounts matter as well.
“I’m very distrustful of labels when they use things like the words ‘blend’ or ‘matrix,’ and they don’t list out their ingredients,” Lopez said. “So, usually if you’re looking at a blend or matrix type situation, it’s usually going to be that there’s not enough of that item in there to actually be effective.”
Another major point of contention with energy drinks is the sugar content. There have been numerous people that have suggested sugar is bad for you. Lopez presented a different point of view on this matter.
“It has been demonized, and what I tell my athletes is sugar isn’t a bad thing. When it breaks down in the body is actually used to fuel energy production in the body, right? So, we’re talking about ATP, or adenosine triphosphate,” she stated. “This is the spark plug for your body.”
In the end, Lopez feels that learning more about what you put in your body will help you make better decisions so you can reap the benefits that energy drinks can provide.
“Truthfully, unless you take the time to educate yourself about ingredients or you’ve built your career or gotten your education around nutrition, you’re just not going to know what you don’t know, and companies are going to take advantage of you.”