Best Energy Drinks For Athletes (Top Choices)

Whether you’re a weightlifter, a cross-fitter, an Olympic gold medalist, a gym rat or simply a newbie wanting to shed a few pounds, you have or have been tempted to try an energy drink.

But you may be wondering, “What’s the best energy drink that will help me with my fitness goals without burning a hole through my wallet?” Well that depends.

Each of us may have different goals, but a lot of energy drink ingredients can benefit everyone, regardless of their fitness level or experience.

Athletes rely on pre-workouts to help maintain their physical performance.

In this article I will be discussing what energy drink brands are best for athletes.

From my research I have found that the best energy drinks for athletes are Adrenaline Shoc, Bang Master Blaster, C4 Energy, Reign and Celsius.

Read on to learn more about the connection between energy drinks and athletic performance, the safety of energy drinks, energy drink ingredients and which energy drink brands will help you in achieving your fitness goals.

Do Energy Drinks Improve Athletic Performance

Not all of them. Some do it better than others because of special ingredients that you may have heard of, like creatine and taurine. But a majority of the energy boosting effects of energy drinks are primarily attributed to caffeine.

Many studies have proven or at least attempted to prove the benefits of energy drinks on athletic performance. Most of them point to caffeine being the primary ingredient responsible for these benefits.

One study showed that when taken a few minutes before exercise, energy drinks increased physical performance, enhanced alertness and improved mood. Another study showed that athletes drink energy drinks for it stimulatory effect in order to enhance their memory, concentration, reaction time.

Energy drinks have also been shown to assist in rapid weightloss.

Are Energy Drinks Safe for Athletes>

There have been many cases of hospitalizations and deaths involving energy drinks. And most of these cases can be attributed to one ingredient: caffeine. This is why I always caution my readers about their caffeine intake.

In 2019, a 26-year-old man was admitted to the ER for chest pain. It wasn’t until he told doctors the truth that they were finally able to pinpoint the culprit. The victim confessed that he drinks between 8-10 cans of Monster and Rockstar every day, which is the equivalent of 4 liters! Luckily he survived.

In another heart attack case, a 28-year-old man was admitted to the ER after experiencing a cardiac arrest after a whole day of motocross racing. Doctors were able to revive him. The medical report concluded that caffeinated energy drinks were to blame.

More than 10% of ER visits are the result of energy drinks.

Some people are not so fortunate to survive an energy drink overdose. A 28 year-old man died after drinking 3 cans of 250-mL energy drink 5 hours before a basketball match. The patient had no history of cardiovascular disease. He did not smoke or drink.

As you can see, athletes are just as susceptible to the devastating effects of caffeine overdose as the next person. So it doesn’t matter how desperate you are for an energy boost, it does not pay to be reckless with your caffeine intake.

Even if you are a seasoned coffee drinker you should never exceed the 400mg daily limit. Children under 18 years old, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions should avoid caffeine at all costs.

Common Pre-Workout Ingredients

To those of you who have never heard of pre-workouts or more precisely pre-workout supplements, they are essentially performance enhancing beverages that boost your workout, accelerate recovery and keep you hydrated during intense physical activity.

Pre-workouts usually come in a sweet, usually fruit-flavored, powder form that dissolves immediately upon contact with water. They are packed full of nutrients, vitamins and stimulants to keep you energized for hours.

Pre-workout supplements are the ideal benchmark for deciding whether an energy drink is good for athletes or not. While athletes can and do use pre-workouts, they are often expensive.

Most energy drinks can’t hold a candle to popular pre-workout supplements, but some of them do come close, and that’s because they tend to share the same ingredients.

Creatine, caffeine, BCAAs and beta-alanine are often recommended before a workout. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements combine many different ingredients for optimal benefits.

Healthline

Caffeine

Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant. It increases alertness and prevents you from feeling tired. It improves your mood, enhances physical performance and helps you burn more fat.

Caffeine is a popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements.

When talking about energy drinks, the topic of caffeine is inevitable. One thing that both pre-workouts and energy drinks have in common is caffeine. It increases power output, which is beneficial for exercises like weight training and sprinting.

Caffeine has a lot of benefits. However, consuming above the recommended dosage of 400mg a day may cause you to experience some unpleasant side effects like heart palpitations, nervousness, agitation, insomnia and anxiety.

Creatine

Creatine is a molecule that is abundantly found in the cells of your body. When taken after intense physical activity, it can help increase muscle size, strength and endurance. Because of this, creatine is one of the most commonly used ingredients in bodybuilding supplements.

If muscle-building is your goal, creatine should be on your wishlist because it helps your body produce more energy in the muscle cells, allowing for more explosive reps and overall better workout performance.

Creatine typically begins with a loading phase of about 20g a day which usually lasts around three days. After this, the maintenance dosage would fall anywhere between 3-5g a day.

BCAAS

Branched-chain amino acids or BCCAs are a protein-based compound comprised of three main elements: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They assist in reducing post-workout muscle soreness, improving running endurance, and preventing mental and physical fatigue.

Contary to popular belief, BCAAs don’t help you gain muscle quicker. You’re actually better off eating whole protein or protein supplements.

Whole proteins work better than supplements for muscle building.

Doses of BCAAs typically fall between 5–20 grams with a ratio of 2:1:1 for leucine, isoleucine and valine. So a can of energy drink needs to contain this particular amount of BCAAs, or something equivalent, in order to be effective.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is a type of amino acid that prevents muscle fatigue by combating the acids that build up in your muscles during intense physical activity. When taken as a supplement, it improves performance during long-term endurance training lasting one to four minutes.

The recommended dosage for beta-alanine is 4–6 grams per day. When taken in access you may experience a side effect that manifests as a persistent tingling sensation on your skin comparable to pins and needles.

Taurine

Taurine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that supports brain and heart health and maintains nerve growth as well. When taken as a supplement, it has been shown to enhance athletic performance.

This compound has been shown to improve muscle strength and contraction as well as reduce muscle fatigue and damage. It can also help protect muscles from oxidative stress and cell damage, and increase fat-burning during exercise.

Taurine needs to be consumed in doses between 500–2,000 mg per day in order to be effective.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes refer to particles in the body that carry a positive or negative electric charge. They are an important part of our health because they maintain and support various biological processes in our body.

Electrolytes are the main ingredient in many sports drinks.

Electrolytes play an important role in our nervous, muscular and osmoregulation systems, keeping nerves healthy, muscles working and our body hydrated. They also help maintain our pH levels, helping keep our blood from becoming too acidic or too alkaline

Electrolytes are created when essential minerals are dissolved in water. These minerals include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, bicarbonate, phosphate and magnesium. Electrolytes an important ingredient in many energy drinks and pre-workouts because they help keep you hydrated.

Other ingredients

It’s important to know that this list is nowhere near exhaustive, so I have complied another list of other common pre-workout ingredients so you can learn about their properties and if they are a good fit for your fitness goals:

Best Energy Drink for Athletes

A good energy drink for athletes should contain supplements, electrolytes, energy boosters, protein, and preferably no sugar. I’ve compiled a list of the best brands that I think you will like (you may have seen these names in other articles on the site).

Energy DrinksCaloriesSugar ContentCaffeine Content
Adrenaline Shoc
(16 fl.oz)
15 calories0g300mg
Game Fuel
(16 fl.oz)
90 calories23g90mg
C4 Energy
(8.4 fl.oz)
110 calories27g80mg
Reign
(16 fl.oz)
10 calories0g150mg
CELSIUS
(12 fl.oz)
10 calories0g200mg

Adrenaline Shoc

Adrenaline Shoc
Adrenaline Shoc

Adrenaline Shoc is a “clean, performance-driven energy drink designed to help you reach your peak”. Regular “A Shoc” is formulated with 300mg plant-based caffeine, ocean mineral electrolytes, 9 essential amino acids, and BCAAs.

The second version, “A Shoc Accelerator” is formulated with 200mg caffeine, along with all the same ingredients as the standard version except with plant-based thermogenics to accelerate your metabolism.

A can of Adrenaline Shoc retails between $24 to $49 for a 12 pack depending on the version and flavor (Cherry Lime, Orange Mango, Island Guava, etc).

Bang Pre-Workout

Bang Master Blaster is a pre-workout energy drink designed to improve your physical performance during exercise and speed recovery. The product is formulated with a proprietary compound known as Super Creatine (creatyl-L-leucine), a super soluble amino acid di-peptide.

The product also contains BCAAs, beta alanine, creatine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous, all nine essential amino acids, citrulline, and caffeine. All these ingredients are supposed to give a good muscle pump, more explosive power, energy, endurance, and strength. It also aids in accelerating muscle growth and recovery.

A 26 fl.oz tub of Bang Master Blaster pre-workout costs $35. The product unfortunately does not come in cans and must be mixed with water other beverages before ingestion.

C4 Energy

C4 Energy is. It is formulated with three proprietary blends: CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, L-Cutrulline, and BetaPower. It also contains other ingredients that promote explosive energy, alertness, and performance. C4 Energy comes in 10 flavors and contains zero sugar, sodium, carbs, and calories.

A 12-16oz can of C4 contains 150-200mg of caffeine respectively. CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine delays fatigue and improves power, while L-Citrulline increases nitric oxide levels. BetaPower Betaine supports hydration and better physical performance and N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine supports cognitive health.

A 12-pack retails at around $30 and comes in a variety of flavors.

Reign

Reign Total Body Fuel is an energy drink catered to sports and fitness enthusiasts. It “helps athletes burn calories, accelerate metabolism, and improve recovery with zero sugar, zero artificial flavors, natural caffeine, and electrolytes”.

Reign is one of the more popular energy drinks favored by athletes and gym goers because it’s the cheapest and easily available in many convenience stores. The BCAAs in the product is what helps with muscle recovery, making it truly a favorite among fitness enthusiasts.

One serving of Reign contains 300mg of caffeine, CoQ10, BCAAs and B vitamins. It comes in a variety of flavors like Cherry Limeade, Carnival Candy, Sour Apple and Razzle Berry.

One can retails at around $2.00.

Celsius

Celsius Energy Drink
A Can of Celsius

Celsius is a thermogenic fitness drink designed to help accelerate fat loss. It does this through a proprietary thermogenic energy blend called MetaPlus which contains taurine, guarana, caffeine, glucuronolactone, ginger, and green tea.

Celsius is more expensive than a lot of brands but because it is a relatively clean product, with no preservatives or artificial flavors it is favored by vegans and health-conscious fitness enthusiasts.

The product contains 200mg of caffeine per serving and is fortified with B vitamins. It contains zero sugar, zero preservatives, zero artificial color or flavors and only 10 calories.

One can typically retails at around $5.50.

Conclusion: What is the Best Energy Drink for Athletes?

Not all energy drinks are created equal. The most basic brands like Red Bull is basically sugar, water and caffeine in a can, with some vitamins and supplements thrown in for good measure. Serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts may want something more.

Luckily, newer brands have formulated a new wave of sports drinks specifically tailored for this demographic. We see so many new energy drinks now that contain powerful supplements that make them more than just a can of glorified sugar water.

Energy drinks for athletes should have all the benefits a traditional pre-workout supplement has to offer. They should be packed with electrolytes, energy boosters, and supplements like creatine and BCAAs to aid in muscle growth and recovery.

Some fancier ones may contain proprietary blends like Bang Master Blaster and Celsius. However, these are just marketing gimmicks designed to make each product stand out. Sometimes the simplest option is best.

But of course, do try these brands out for yourself to see if they’ll help you get one stop closer to the body of your dreams.

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About Adrian Carter

Adrian writes about energy drinks and their ingredients to shine a light on the facts behind the brand names.

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