Smartphone, smart keys, smart cards – you wouldn’t leave home without them (assuming you leave home at all these days). We live in a world of next-generation products designed to help us live more efficiently and achieve our goals more effectively. Why shouldn’t that extend to what we put into our bodies before we exercise? When trying to decide between an energy drink or a pre-workout formulation, it’s important to know which is the smartest option. Is Pre-Workout the Same as Energy Drinks? let’s find out
What is the difference between energy drinks and pre-workouts?
The main difference between energy drinks and pre-workout supplements is their goals. Energy drinks are designed to give you a quick pick-me-up, while pre-workout is specifically designed to make your workout more effective.
“In general, both products will energize, but pre-workout [formulas] are more endurance-focused and increase time to fatigue,” says Katie Webb, an ACE-certified fitness instructor in New York City.
Pre-workout formulas, Webb adds, don’t just focus on the stimulation provided by caffeine.
“For example, ingredients like beetroot are used in pre-workout powders to support muscle endurance because they’re high in nitrates (blood vessel dilators), which help blood flow more easily throughout the body,” she says . “Cognitive ingredients like L-theanine (found in green tea) are also often included to help increase focus.”
Which ones should I use before exercising?
The answer to this question is like choosing a pair of sneakers to wear outside the home. A pair of slippers are a convenient way to get from point A to point B. But if you’re going for a five-mile run, you’ll get better support from a pair of running shoes.
It makes sense that if you’re working out you might want to consume the drink that’s tailor-made for working out, but let’s look at some specifics.
What are the advantages of pre-workouts over energy drinks?
Pre-workout drinks are specifically designed to maximize your workout.
For example, Beachbody Performance Energize includes:*
- Beta-Alanine, which helps delay muscle burn and reduce fatigue.
- Low-dose caffeine to improve reaction time and concentration.
- Quercetin to improve endurance and delay muscle fatigue caused by exercise.
When taken as directed, Energize Pre-Workout contains “about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Senior Director of Fitness and Nutrition Content at Beachbody. “Caffeine is one of the few well-researched performance-enhancing aids, but you don’t need it in high doses.”*
Another benefit of pre-workout formulations is their versatility — many are designed to be taken alone (mixed in a glass of water) or added to your favorite smoothie recipes. If you’re looking for yummy inspiration, try this pre-workout gummy bear recipe with Beachbody Performance Energize.
The only concern of energy drinks is to cheer you up.
To that end, they may contain significantly more caffeine and sugar, which focus on energy — not muscle response — as well as artificial colors and other chemicals.
Can you use energy drinks for workouts?
You can, but they may not be as effective.
The difference between a pre-workout and an energy drink is that a good pre-workout should have some nutritional value, meaning it contains extra nutrients designed to fuel the workout, says Robert Herbst, a 19-timer Powerlifting Champion and Official of the Rio Olympics. “It shouldn’t just rely on caffeine.”
According to the FDA, 400 mg of caffeine is a safe daily limit for healthy adults. That equates to about four to five cups of coffee.
Many energy drinks contain significantly more caffeine in addition to sugar, meaning they can give you a quick boost of energy but can then cause you to crash. Many pre-workouts are formulated to avoid that crash and contain ingredients to help you get the most out of your workout.
“An energy drink usually just has caffeine and maybe sugar,” adds Herbst. “Some have B-complex vitamins, although those alone are basically useless without a meal. The key with both is that if they contain caffeine, you need to keep track of your total caffeine exposure for the day since you may have caffeine from other sources.”
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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