If only energy came in a bottle. Oh wait, it does—technically more like a can or canister, though. And it’s often comprised of a questionable mix of chemicals, flavorings and artificial colors that may have the power to move you but don’t exactly do your body good. The next time you need a lift, skip the pre-workout powders and mega-caffeinated sports drinks. These good, old-fashioned beverages provide a boost, naturally—while also sneaking in some added health benefits.
An 8-oz. cup of green tea contains between 24 and 45 milligrams of caffeine, which can help increase energy and alertness. Green tea is also rich in the amino acid L-theanine, which is known to support mental focus, and antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from the free radical generated by your body during exercise.*
Drink: 3 to 4 cups daily (make it iced for a refreshing pre-workout drink)
Best time to consume: Right before working out
To delay fatigue and increase endurance, try drinking coffee before exercising. One 8-oz. cup contains approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine. Like green tea, coffee is rich in antioxidants, with some studies showing that a serving contains a greater amount of these protective compounds than a typical serving of blueberries, oranges or grape juice.
Drink: Up to 4 cups daily
Best time to consume: 30-60 minutes before working out
Sometimes all it takes is something with tart taste to perk you up! Drinking cherry juice before running a marathon also has been shown to relieve athletes’ aches and pains after the event. This effect is thought to be the result of compounds naturally found in the juice promoting a healthy inflammatory response.*
Drink: 2-½ cups
Best time to consume: Every day for a week leading up to an athletic event, along with the day of the event
Naturally rich in energizing protein, milk also provides nourishing vitamins and minerals to promote muscle recovery and support bone health.
Drink: 2 to 4 cups daily
Best time to consume: Immediately after strength-training
Lemonade with ginger
Like tart cherry juice, lemonade has a zippy flavor that instantly refreshes and energizes with every sip. Stirring in some freshly grated ginger (about half a teaspoon per 8 ounces) additionally may help promote a healthy inflammatory response to ease post-workout muscle soreness and recovery.
Drink: 8 oz. lemonade with ½ tsp. grated ginger
Best time to consume: Post workout daily
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.