Science Says: Energy Drinks Really Do Work

There is no doubt that caffeine plays a role in increasing performance, but just how much does it really help? Recent research looked at different dosages and the scientifically measured benefits.

Energy drinks have become widely used throughout sports to help enhance performance. There is no doubt that caffeine plays a role in increasing performance, but just how much does it really help? A recent study in Spain used two doses of a specific energy drink that had caffeine and tested the results of its effects on the muscles during both upper body and lower body load tests.1

Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that is found in various fruits, leaves, and seeds, and acts like a stimulant drug.2 Caffeine is available in powder or pill form, but the most popular way of supplementing has been through energy drinks.3

The study performed in Spain randomly gave participants different doses of a commercially sold energy drink that had caffeine, or a placebo that contained no caffeine. The results showed that a dose of 1mg of caffeine/kg of bodyweight did not display any significant effects on muscle performance. However, a dose of 3mg of caffeine/kg displayed increased performance in both the squat and bench press significantly.4

A prior study that was done showed that supplementing varying doses of caffeine displayed similar results. A dose of 1mg/kg of bodyweight even had good results. The smaller dose improved alertness, reaction time, and even performance in aerobic and anaerobic tests. Two servings or 2mg of caffeine/kg of bodyweight reduced the time to complete a cycling time trial. The highest dose in that study, 3mg of caffeine/kg of bodyweight increased jump height, sprint velocity, and running distance.5

While energy drinks have been proven to increase performance, those benefits do not always come without side effects. Side effects can come in the form of increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, and muscle soreness. Recent studies also revealed that as the doses of caffeine from the energy drink were increased, so were the side effects.6 Energy drinks can be a beneficial tool, but people should test their tolerance beforehand, and ensure that they are healthy enough to use this supplement.