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Do Energy Drinks Help Running?

Yes. Their high caffeine content is known to provide a massive boost of energy, especially if consumed within an hour of heading out for a run. That being said, you’ll always be better off with an electrolyte-based sports drink as opposed to a Red Bull.

If you are partial to an energy drink, though, you’ll find that other ingredients featured like taurine are also good at helping you to concentrate harder. It may well help your performance by giving you a little push, but it’s not necessarily the best idea.

Although they might help in the case of running at a higher intensity for shorter distances like sprinters, it’s actually less likely to help a long-distance runner because once you start to crash from the sugar and caffeine, that’s the run over!

Likewise, there are some very serious downsides to consuming a lot of energy drinks, even if you’re having a big run afterward. Your body can actually become weaker because of exposure to high levels of undiluted caffeine.

It is advised that you stick to something like Powerade, Gatorade or similar sports drinks aimed at athletes, as these will focus more on replenishing the nutrients your body has lost in sweating, as well as helping you stay nice and hydrated.

Can I drink Red Bull before running?

You can, but it might not necessarily be the best choice! If you’re a short distance runner, the best time to have a Red Bull would be between forty minutes and an hour before you want to head out for your run, in order to feel the maximum benefit.

If you’re somebody who prefers to run with less intensity for longer, then honestly Red Bull probably isn’t for you. Although it might help initially, it will only contribute to an inevitable crash when your body has processed the sugar and caffeine.

Find that Red Bull pre-run works for you? That’s absolutely fine, and though many people might have something to say about it, it shouldn’t have any adverse effects unless you’re consuming a large amount of the drink in a short amount of time.

However, you ought to make sure that you’re still replacing the nutrients your body loses after your run is finished, whether that’s by eating a healthy meal or drinking an electrolyte-based drink that can replace them all for you.

Does Red Bull increase stamina?

Yes! Because of their huge claims (no, not that it gives you wings, rather that it reinvigorates your energy levels) there have actually been several scientific studies conducted in order to test the claims of the manufacturers.

According to one such study, ‘The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood’ conducted in 2001,’ Red Bull ‘significantly improved aerobic endurance and anaerobic performance on cycle ergometers.’

The characteristics that were considered to be positive effects of drinking Red Bull included ‘choice reaction time, concentration and memory, which reflected increased subjective alertness.’ From that, you can gather your stamina is sure to be boosted!

Results of the study concluded that such ‘consistent and wide ranging improvements in performance are interpreted as reflecting the effects of the combination of ingredients.’ In layman’s terms: drinking a Red Bull does increase stamina!

There have even been studies conducted on runners specifically; in this instance, 18 experienced runners aged between 18-31 were asked to complete an initial evaluation which involved running on a treadmill until they were exhausted.

A few days later, the participants returned and were randomly assigned to a group. One half was given a Red Bull, the others received a placebo drink without caffeine, and everybody ran for 5km on a treadmill. This was repeated in reverse a week later.

The results of this found that there was a ‘significant reduction’ in the time it took a recreational runner to finish a 5km run - this equates to at least thirty seconds shaved off their best time!

However, it’s important to note that just because the study had positive results, it doesn’t necessarily mean Red Bull is a savior for runners - there’s no way to determine what was responsible for a boost, or what combination of ingredients, if any, caused it.

Plus, this is for a short 5km run, and does not test Red Bull’s impact on a long-distance runner, or even running outside, given that the experiment was conducted using indoor treadmills for the sake of reliability and quality control.

Which energy drink is best for running?

There are several energy drinks marketed towards runners! That being said, you don’t necessarily have to spring for an overpriced beverage when you could create the same effect with things you have in your cupboards at home.

For instance, Beet It beetroot juice is not necessarily marketed as a running aid, but thanks to the huge amount of nitrate in beets, converted to nitric acid by our bodies, it has a huge effect on the function of our muscles and cardiovascular system.

Put simply? A couple of swigs of beetroot juice is just as good for increasing your stamina or speed as a marketed energy drink. Likewise, coffee can also offer a huge boost to your run, thanks to its high concentration of caffeine.

However, even if you’re a coffee drinker then definitely proceed with caution! The combination of a hot cup of joe (or an iced espresso, if you prefer) and the jolts of running could have you headed for the toilet, and not in a victorious way.

When it comes to prepackaged, canned energy drinks, then NUUN Active is very popular amongst runners for its huge electrolyte content. Red Bull is also popular because of its combination of caffeine, taurine and sugar, but don’t have too much!

You can also get powder sticks or tubs that allow you to add a scoop to your regular old bottle of water and instantly boost its hydrating abilities to double, sometimes even triple the usual amount. Do some research and find out which sounds best!


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