Ask the Experts: Is it OK to Have an Energy Drink Before a Workout?

Learn why you should avoid energy drinks before workouts, and what you can do instead to fuel your performance.

Energy Drinks

Q) I need an energy boost before workouts. Should I have an energy drink?

A) Let's be honest: energy drinks are certainly tempting. Their energy-boosting claims make them seem like the perfect solution when you feel a bit sluggish.

An energy drink will give you a jolt of energy. There's no questioning that. But it can create problems for athletes.

Energy drinks are loaded with stimulants and sugars that give you a sense of perceived energy. They are not a legitimate fuel source. Think of it as a quick and powerful jolt of electricity versus a steady current. You may feel more alert and energized initially, but you won't have the fuel for sustained performance.

Once the stimulants wear off, your energy high will crash, leaving you more tired and sluggish than you were in the first place.

To make matters worse, energy drinks are diuretics; they cause you to urinate more frequently. This can increase the risk of dehydration if you don't compensate by drinking more water, especially if you are training outdoors in the heat.

So what's the solution? It's simple. Consume 100 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates before your workout. You won't necessarily feel more energized, but you will have a source of real fuel that will positively impact your performance. Good options include Gatorade Prime Energy Chews, a banana or even a large handful of pretzels.

Buyer beware. Energy drinks claim serious energy-boosting effects, but they aren't a good option for athletes.

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