Energy drinks and pre-workout supplements are two popular products used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Both provide individuals with increased energy, focus, and strength to give them an aid in pushing past the limits of their physical performance.
But when it comes to choosing between the two, it’s important to understand what each provides and the potential benefits and risks associated with each product. In this blog post, we’ll compare the two, exploring their primary ingredients, effects, and potential side effects.
So firstly, let’s begin with energy drinks.
What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are beverages that contain ingredients such as caffeine, guarana, taurine, B vitamins, sugar, and others. The aims of energy drinks are to increase alertness, concentration and physical performance. Some of the most common brands of energy drinks are Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar.
Although energy drinks were first invented in the late 1960s in Japan by a pharmacist named Taisho Pharmaceutical which created the drink ‘Lipovitan-D’, the craze of energy drinks didn’t really start until the late 1990s when Austrian company ‘Red Bull’ launched in the United States market.
It was a huge hit, particularly among young adults and athletes and since then many, many other energy drinks have been marketed and the industry continues to thrive.
Benefits of energy drinks
So now we understand the purpose energy drinks serve, let’s explore some of their potential benefits:
- Increased energy: since energy drinks contain caffeine, this acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system which can in turn, can help increase energy levels and make the user more alert.
- Improved focus and concentration: again with caffeine in energy drinks, it can also help improve focus and concentration. This is done by blocking the effects of adenosine, which causes drowsiness, whilst also increasing the levels of other neurotransmitters which can help to improve focus and concentration.
- Enhanced physical performance: energy drinks may also enhance physical performance, especially during high-intensity exercise where energy drinks can help to reduce fatigue and increase endurance.
The potential side effects of energy drinks
- Caffeine overdose: consuming too much caffeine can cause symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, headaches, nausea, and jitteriness. You should always check the caffeine content of the energy drink and assess tolerance.
- Dehydration: caffeine has diuretic properties and this, along with other substances in the energy drink can cause dehydration. It is therefore important to ensure you are hydrated sufficiently.
- Insomnia: caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns, which can lead to insomnia. This is especially the case if an energy drink is taken later in the day whereby the caffeine content can still remain in your system.
- Anxiety and restlessness: if large amounts of caffeine are consumed in one sitting in particular, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and restlessness.
- Risk of addiction: consuming energy drinks can lead to physical dependence and addiction. This could be due to overreliance on caffeine and even sugar.
- High sugar content: which brings us onto the sugar content of energy drinks. They can be extremely high in sugar which can raise blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain. Sugar can also lead to tooth decay and diabetes. So although sugar can give you a quick burst of energy, there are risks associated too like causing you to crash, have jitters and dehydration.
Energy drinks also often contain other additives such as artificial sweeteners and colorings, which can have health risks. People who consume too much caffeine can experience headaches, dizziness, and an irregular heartbeat. In extreme cases, energy drink consumption can even lead to death.
When are energy drinks consumed?
Typically, energy drinks are consumed when one is in need of a boost of energy. This can be before starting work tasks, heading to the gym or even playing video games. The effects usually begin within 10-15 minutes after consuming the drink.
Energy drinks are usually fizzy which could make you feel ‘gassy’ if you’ve taken it before starting a workout, therefore it is a good idea to wait longer to begin your workout after consuming.
The cost of energy drinks
The cost of energy drinks can vary widely depending on the type of energy drink, the brand, and size.
Typically speaking, a can of energy drink would usually cost between £1 - £4.
What are pre-workout supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help boost energy levels, improve mental focus and physical performance during exercise. They typically come in powdered form that should be mixed with water, however, tablets and gels are also common.
Pre-workouts contain a blend of ingredients such as caffeine, B vitamins, amino acids, creatine, and other stimulants as well as a variety of ingredients that are crafted to assist in performance such as beta-alanine and citrulline malate.
Some pre-workout supplements also include ingredients that may support muscle growth and recovery.
The dawn of pre-workouts began in the early 1980s with the arrival of the first pre-workout, ‘Ultimate Orange’. However, during this time and up until the late 1990s/ early 2000s, bodybuilders and gymgoers typically relied on caffeine tablets and coffee to get them through their workouts.
So it‘s fair to say that the pre-workout industry was fairly quiet up until the early-mid 2000s, that’s when the industry started to really blossom.
Benefits of pre-workouts
Pre-workout supplements can be beneficial for people who are looking to increase energy levels and overall performance in the gym. In addition to giving you a surge of energy, they can also assist with vasodilation and muscular endurance. Here are some of the benefits of taking a pre-workout supplement.
- Increased energy and focus: pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that can help you stay energized throughout your workout. This can be especially helpful for long, intense workouts, as it helps you stay focused and motivated. Many pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, which can give you an extra kick to get going and finish strong.
- Improved muscle strength and endurance: they usually will include ingredients such as beta-alanine which can improve muscular endurance. A variety of ingredients that are included in pre-workouts can help increase your muscle’s ability to work harder and longer without fatigue, allowing you to maximise your workout.
- Improved recovery: they also contain ingredients that can help your body recover faster after a workout. This can help you get back into the gym sooner and keep your progress going.
- Improved mental performance: a pre-workout with the right ingredients can also help improve your mental performance. Ingredients such as l-tyrosine can help with increasing the mind-muscle connection, allowing you to get more out of your workout.
- Increased muscular pumps: many pre-workouts will contain citrulline malate which is a non-essential amino acid. This contributes to optimising the blood flow and your body converts it into l-arginine and then into nitric oxide. Now nitric oxide is one of the compounds that does make blood vessels expand when you are exercising, in turn creating better blood flow which means a greater pump! Of course, a great pump looks great, but increasing the blood flow to the muscles, means more oxygen and nutrients are actually getting to the muscles.
Potential side effects of pre-workout supplements
The main potential side effect of taking pre-workout supplements is caffeine overdose. As mentioned above, consuming too much caffeine can cause rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, headaches and more. It is advised to assess one’s tolerance to caffeine by starting with a smaller amount and building up if needed.
It is probably not the best idea to use a pre-workout supplement for every single workout due to becoming less sensitive to the stimulants. This means you’d need a greater amount of stimulants to get the same effects, so it is a good idea to cycle your pre-workouts or use them on your big, heavy training days.
However, you can buy pre-workouts that are stimulant free! This means you’d still get the benefits of muscular endurance and vasodilation but without any caffeine or stimulants.
When are pre-workouts consumed?
Pre-workout supplements should be consumed 30-45 minutes before beginning a workout. This allows the body to absorb the supplement and for its ingredients to take effect.
A popular “trend” is dry scooping. We DO NOT recommend ‘dry scooping’ your pre-workout. You could essentially give your body a large amount of caffeine without any water! It gets into your body way too quickly and there’s nothing to dilute it with. You need a significant amount of water to properly dissolve all of the ingredients and for it to properly go into solution.
Cost of pre-workouts
The cost of pre-workout supplements can also vary widely. On average, a single serving of pre-workout powder will cost between £1.00 and £3.00. A container of pre-workout powder will cost anywhere from £15.00 to £40.00, depending on the number of servings inside.
So in conclusion, energy drinks and pre-workout supplements can both be beneficial for improving physical and mental performance. However, it’s important to consider your individual needs and goals when deciding which one is best for you. If you’re looking for a quick energy boost, an energy drink may be the way to go. But if you’re looking for something to help you push yourself further and longer during workouts, a pre-workout supplement may be more appropriate.
Explore our range of leading pre-workout supplements and take your workouts to the next level. At DY Nutrition, we have a range of supreme pre-workouts to choose from, such as:
- Our rather appropriately named ‘Blood & Guts’ pre-workout
- Our extreme NOX Pump
- Our blistering #M6Teen shots
- We’ve even got a stimulant-free pre-workout too!
So #CreateALegacy and check out our range.