To say it was difficult getting good grades in high school while balancing competitive sports, family obligations etc. feels as silly as admitting I cried over a difficult physics exam. Now I laugh at my previous concept of “difficult” with the context of college, grad school, and adulthood. But balancing everything in high school was hard, and I was in high school during the early 2000s, before energy drinks and Starbucks took over the world. Then energy drinks came along, and I balanced two jobs while I was a full-time student in college, then two different jobs while I was in grad school. Caffeine changed my life in more ways than one, and I’ve been studying the science behind energy drinks since the day I declared myself a biochemistry major back in 2003. Read more
Here at GreenEyedGuide.com, my goal is to share the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, caffeine goes head to head against Alpha-GPC in a battle of jitters and performance metrics. Which do you think is going to win?
This article is Open Access (hurray!) but, because it’s a poster presentation, it’s only two-pages long (aww….). Still, let’s dissect the details, shall we? Read more
The following is a guest post submitted by Robert Everett and edited by GreenEyedGuide. Robert brings up some good points about the advantages and disadvantages of using energy drinks or “brain drinks” like Nawgan and DaVinci for memory and brain function.
Do you have an important exam tomorrow and have to get ready for it? Or you have a big project for work or your college class? In these situations, you want to push your brain to its limits and get your work done as quickly as possible! But what can you do if you are feeling exhausted and spaced out?
Each of us has our own personal secret for how to focus and stay awake. However, there is one solution gaining popularity – using energy drinks to stimulate the brain!
How do energy drinks help our brains?
Red Bull has been around in the US since 1997, but long before then, people have used caffeine to stay alert and to help them focus. Caffeine, as well as energy drinks that are marketed as “think drinks” or “brain drinks”, seem like an excellent way to increase effectiveness at work/school or wake up after a sleepless night. But are these drinks actually good for your health? Let’s look at a few pros and cons.
- There are so many different kinds of energy drinks available these days, someone can find a drink in accordance with their needs and preferences. For example:
- Some energy drinks have less caffeine than others;
- Some energy drinks are sugar-free while others have sugar from sources like agave or honey;
- Some energy drinks have high doses of vitamins while other have no vitamins;
- Some energy drinks have stereotypical energy drink ingredients like taurine, carnitine, and guarana, but other energy drinks have just caffeine from green tea and a few vitamins;
- Energy drinks like Nawgan and DaVinci contain citicoline, which has been proven to improve cognitive function
- Some energy drinks can be resealed, which allows you to drink it whenever and wherever you want (home, work, dance floor, car). This choice is not always possible with coffee or tea since you usually have to drink it right away
- Healthy adults can only have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine to avoid health issues;
- Some energy drinks contain more sugar than the Daily Added Sugar Limit recommended by the American Heart Association: 9 teaspoons/36 grams for men and 6 teaspoons/25 grams for women
- Some energy drinks contain caffeine amounts very close to the 400 mg caffeine/day limit; other energy drinks contain multiple servings per container, which makes it more likely that the person consuming that drink will have more than a safe amount of caffeine
- Some energy drinks are sold online and might be manufactured by people who do not follow Good Manufacturing Practices (even if they say they do)
- The vitamins contained in energy drinks are no replacement for a proper meal or vitamins from real food; an energy drink is not the same a multi-vitamin
As you can understand, there are two sides of the same coin. Do you need such drinks at your 20’s? Some people are against such boosting drinks while others need and like having them in their everyday lives, and thus, we can say that the decision is absolutely individual.
What Are The Top Energy Drinks For Memory And Brain?
So what is the best drink for brain function? It is hard to give an exact answer to this question because, as was mentioned earlier, each person has different needs and preferences. But here are the top three energy drinks that are worth your attention and can help you identify your favorite one!
- DaVinci – the creators of this beverage claim that it inspires, boosts energy, and is absolutely healthy, but is this true? The beverage contains a unique blend of useful elements and vitamins, including such components as magnesium, citicoline, and L-tyrosine with vitamins B6, B12, and D3. The key reason why this beverage is useful for your brain is its content. Namely, its main component – citicoline, which contains a unique and interesting mix of cytidine and choline. Why is it a rare mix? In fact, cytidine, unlike choline, which can be found in many products, is a rare component despite the fact that it has a significant impact on your brain. Thus, such mix activates the functioning of your brain, caffeine is boosting energy, and eventually, you get increased effectiveness for performing numerous tasks.
- Nawgan Alertness Beverage – citicoline is the key component of this drink as well. The use of it, we had already discussed earlier, but there are a few things that also contribute to utilization and effectiveness of this beverage. Firstly, it is low in sodium, does not contain sugar or carbohydrates. It also provides your body with the necessary vitamins, including the vitamin B6, B12, and E, which means that it is not only free of calories but is also useful for your body!
- 5-Hour Energy – this energy shot is also free or calories, sugar, and net carbs. What makes it useful? It contains folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6, sodium, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone, citicoline, tyrosine N-Acetyl L-, L-phenylalanine, and caffeine. These active and useful elements, together influence your brain and memory, making their functioning more effective!
Author’s Bio: Robert Everett is a skilled and talented med writer, currently employed at a paper writing service – https://au.edubirdie.com/assignment-writing-help. As an academic writer, Robert better than anyone else knows what it means to work with tight deadlines and stay awake two or more nights in a row. Such intensive schedule is not a rare thing in the modern world. Not only writers, but many other workers from various establishments experience the same issues, and of course, the same also applies to the modern students. Due to the specifics of his work, Robert has to consume various energy shots almost every day, and now he shares some useful information on this topic with us!
- How Energy Drinks Will Help You Concentrate During FInal Exams – Guest Post
- BroBible on Energy Drinks: All the Facts They Got Wrong – GreenEyedGuide
- Energy Drinks and Exams – How They Can Help and How to Use Them Safely – GreenEyedGuide
For last week’s Book Excerpt, we reviewed the role of carnitine in the body and how it helps the body’s powerhouse, the Mighty Mitochondria. This week we ask, “How much carnitine is too much?”
With a well-balanced diet, a healthy human body makes enough carnitine to meet demand.
Carnitine supplements have been used in clinical trials for age-related cognitive decline, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. These studies use carnitine in GRAMS and many energy drinks contain carnitine in MILLIGRAMS.
The body is pretty effective at getting rid of excess carnitine so consuming too much shouldn’t be a big concern… unless you have an empty stomach. Taruine, carnitine, and B-vitamins can irritate an empty stomach, leading to nausea, light-headedness, and other stomach pains.
- Get your copy of MY BOOK: “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”
- HELP ME TURN MY BOOK INTO AN AUDIO BOOK – SUPPORT ME ON PATREON
We’ve reviewed pre-workout supplements before on GreenEyedGuide, but in this guest post, Klemen Bobnar briefly reviews the science behind the ingredients commonly used in pre-workouts.
Some days, you are just bursting with energy, ready to take on the world and crush your workout.
Other times, dragging yourself out of bed demands all the willpower you can muster.
Life isn’t ideal and too much work, studying, or stress can leave you with the desire to switch the squat rack for the couch.
Luckily, there is a solution for those drowsy days: pre-workout supplements.
What is pre-workout?
Pre-workout supplements, or pre-workout for short, are a group of products meant to be taken an hour or less before your workout to enhance your energy, improve your strength, and generally make your workout more awesome.
They do that with a carefully chosen combination of ingredients, which can be broken down into two categories: stimulants and other performance enhancers. The stimulant in the majority of them is caffeine, while other ingredients include creatine, beta-alanine, L-arginine, niacin, protein, and many others (don’t worry if you don’t know some of them, they will be covered in detail in the next section). Every formula is different in the attempt to find the best possible combination.
However, that means that there are a lot of options when it comes to picking one product, which can get confusing. Let’s take a look at these ingredients and try to make your decision easier.
Common ingredients and how they work
These are the most common (and proven useful) ingredients in pre-workout mixes.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world. Who doesn’t like to start their day with coffee? Just like a cup of coffee in the morning, caffeine in pre-workout is there to give you the extra kick and reduce fatigue and drowsiness.
Besides that, caffeine is a proper performance enhancer: it improves performance in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, while showing documented benefits to both endurance and power output. It also improves reaction time and motor coordination. Since you will build a tolerance with regular use, try to only use it when you really need it. Try to stay under 200 milligrams per serving and 400 milligrams per day.
Creatine can increase maximum power (like in sprinting) and performance in high-intensity bouts of lifting with rest times (like lifting in a rep range between 3 and 15) by 5-15%. When going closer to your one rep maximum, the increase drops down to 1-5%.
A 5 to 15 percent increase is really a no-brainer for anyone lifting weights with the goal of building weight. It is considered safe, as long as you stick to the recommended dose of 3-5 grams per day and don’t have preexisting kidney or liver conditions (if that is the case, consult your doctor before taking anything!). However, many supplements contain levels above the recommended dosage. Always check the label!
Beta-alanine delays muscle fatigue, allowing us to do more work before the “burn” sets in (as much as 20%). Supplementation was found to increase exercise performance, reduce neuromuscular fatigue and appears to be safe in healthy adults (dosage!), with the only known side effect being harmless tingling. A standard dose ranges from 2-5 grams but doses 0.8-1 gram are small enough to avoid the tingling sensation (paresthesia).
L-arginine is added to pre-workout supplements to increase blood muscle volume, meaning you get a better “pump”. Three out of five studies reported immediate improvements and only four out of eight showed an increase in performance with regular use.
As of now, it is too soon to recommend L-arginine as an effective supplement when it comes to improving performance, but it does give you more vascularity during your workout, and hey, since the health risk is minimal, go for it if it helps you be more consistent in the gym.
Related Post by GreenEyedGuide: Did You Know Citrulline (watermelon extract) increases L-arginine levels?
Betaine is one of the less known ingredients of pre-workout supplements. However, it is a useful one. A study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported an increase in total volume that people were able to do on the 10 set bench press after 14 days of taking it. The increase was 6.5%, which is big enough difference to think about use.
Protein is one of the essential components of food and the building block of muscle. We all know that we have to eat a certain amount every day to build muscle. Since eating enough can be hard, especially for taller people, supplements are used to bring protein intake up (since you can drink more calories than you can eat). That is why it is added to some pre-workout formulas, but you could also have it post-workout separately, or just get enough of it in your diet. Hint: the timing of it doesn’t make that big of a difference.
Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks and it performs many functions. In the case of pre-workout supplementation, a 2014 study found increased strength levels, decreased muscle soreness and oxidative damage, but not decreased inflammatory response after taurine supplementation.
Related Post by GreenEyedGuide: Taurine the Taxi – Book Excerpt of the Week
Tyrosine is a precursor to both norepinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals that (if we simplify) regulate mood and behavior. It improves cognitive function
and may provide benefits to people in demanding situational conditions.
Studies on whether or not it can be used as an exercise enhancer are of conflicting opinion. In any case, whatever benefits that are there to be had are cognitive benefits, which makes this supplement interesting to people who do longer bouts of exercise, especially endurance athletes.
Carbohydrates, Electrolytes, and Vitamins
If you workouts tend to take longer than an hour, you might benefit from replenishing some of the things you lost, namely the above three. For longer workouts, carbohydrates help sustain energy levels. They are included in many pre-workout drinks, but a bag of jelly beans or dry raisins works just as well. With electrolytes, they again become more important when the workout is longer. It also depends on how much you sweat during your workout, as some people don’t sweat much during strength training, but much more when doing cardio.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So with supplements. In most cases, a healthy person can take all of the above with no risk to health.
However, if you have any pre-existing conditions, especially liver or kidneys, consult with a doctor (preferably one who is used to working with athletes).
It goes without saying that any kind of vomiting, cramps, excessive sweating, chest pain or anxiety are not normal reactions and that you should stop taking whatever caused the reaction.
Labels and “Proprietary Blend”
A label that says “proprietary blend” should make you run for the hills, as it means that the company isn’t willing to share how much of a certain ingredient they put into their product. Often, these doses can exceed the safe recommendations, which increases the health risk.
In other words, use at your own risk.
See “Confessions of a Shady Supplement Supplier” – related Post by GreenEyedGuide
A short-term solution to a long-term problem
Using pre-workout is not a permanent solution. It is a useful tool for the times when you are overslept and overworked. It is not to be used every time you go to the gym. You will build up a tolerance, which will require you to take a larger dose every time to maintain the same effects.
Before you consider taking pre-workout, consider how much of these guidelines you are following:
- Get 8 hours of sleep per night
- Drink enough water
- Eat high-quality foods and avoid processed foods
- Eat lots of vegetables of all colors
- Get enough sunlight
But I won’t lecture you about that too much. As a busy student juggling exams, business, freelancing and other activities, I get that “just getting more sleep” often simply isn’t an option. However, you can’t expect to make good gains in the long run on low sleep, a bad diet and little to no water.
To supplement or not?
It has to be said that a sound diet and science-backed exercise program come before adding anything else. Just like you can’t outrun a bad diet, you can’t out-supplement it. No matter how strong your pre-workout is, it is not a permanent solution.
Still, pre-workout ingredients are very useful if you want to get the most out of your gym time. You could take each one separately, or make your own blend to your own taste and needs, but buying a premade one is much more convenient (I’m guessing you don’t have time to make your own pre-workout if you are underslept).
Since taking a pre-workout increases muscular endurance and power output, decreases feelings of fatigue and increases alertness, and has no serious side effects for healthy people, I would recommend them just as anything else – in moderation. We know that consistency in the gym is king, and on a day when you just can’t find the motivation to get a workout in, grab a pre-workout and enjoy the jolt of energy.
About the author
Klemen Bobnar is a freelance health & fitness copy- and ghostwriter. He is a content contributor at Kickasshomegym.com and loves to talk training, nutrition and mental game.