What Are Energy Products?
First, energy products are, simply put, supplements that increase energy. Sounds simple, right? Of course, there’s more to it than that!
The first thing many people may think of when they think of energizers are probably caffeine based stimulant products. In fact, it’s true these types of products make up a large part of the category. However, there are more products out there than just caffeine pills. As there are different types of energy, there are different types of energy products.
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Let’s Take A Look At Each Category:
Stimulants – Caffeine Based Products
This is naturally occurring caffeine as found in green tea, guarana, kola nut, or yerba mate. These are similar to the caffeine-based thermogenics in terms of the energy effects. However, they do not contain the additional fat-burning ingredients. As is the case with thermogenics, many products are formula-based. This means they contain an energy “complex” of several naturally occurring sources of caffeine and often additions like B vitamins and ginseng. Of course, you can use basic herbal-based natural caffeine products such as guarana. Nonetheless, as always, the formula will give you a bigger bang for your buck because you have more ingredients working for you.
This is a stamina or endurance-enhancing product instead of a central nervous system stimulant. There are eleven versions of ginseng. In most cases they have names that reflect where they grow: Korean ginseng and American ginseng are two examples. Ginseng is an “adaptogen”. This means it can help the body fight fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Furthermore, ginseng has become common in formula based energy products, including energy drinks. It can also be taken by itself and has been a popular stand-alone supplement for decades.
Vitamin B Complex
As a complex, it consists of eight nutrients and helps convert food into energy as well as combating stress. They are often included in typical caffeine-based products and are a major part of stimulant-free energy products. Stim-free products are designed for those people that just can’t take caffeine. As is the case with stim-free thermogenics, the effects aren’t nearly as intense. Still, you can get a degree of energy from these types of products. B-12 is a very common single product for increased energy and is a common choice for those that have a problem with caffeine.
This is, of course, part of the ATP energy system. As an energy supplement, this will increase energy at the cellular level. This is a different type of energy than CNS stimulators. When the average person thinks of energy, they most likely think of a caffeine buzz. They think of just a clear, alert mind-set to get through the day. Cellular energy is not something you feel but more something that translates to an ability to do a greater amount of work. In fact, this refers to your training program and the ability to perform it. This may be a somewhat overlooked aspect of energy as many people don’t think in terms of cellular energy. However, serious bodybuilders do as well as endurance-based athletes.
The body’s primary energy fuel is carbohydrates, in the form of their broken-down state, glycogen. The body stores enough glycogen to meet its energy requirements. This, by the way, is also tied into the basic energy systems of the body, such as the ATP system with creatine (as creatine phosphate). There are several systems the body uses and they all are interrelated. Going back to carbohydrates, endurance athletes need high amounts of carbs to handle the extreme energy needs of their sport. To meet this need, supplements are available in powder, pre-mixed drink or energy bar form. All of these can contain high amounts of carbohydrates. This type of product can also be popular with weight training athletes as well. Often, they will use it either as part of a pre or intra workout drink.
Oxygen Enhancing Products
This is a newer category of products, the purpose of which is to allow increased oxygen at the cellular level. This again ties into the basic energy systems of the body as several of them depend on a sufficient oxygen supply. This is a small, shall I say unproven area but one that deserves research.
These are mostly based around caffeine but also contain “pump” enhancing ingredients. They promote an intense, focused training session with an emphasis on the pump.
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- To provide goal-specific increased energy.
It’s important to understand that there’s more to energy than just a “buzz”. Improved performance will result from a well planned approach that takes advantage of the right choices for the task at hand. This will, in many cases, mean an approach that includes more than one product for increased energy. For example, most bodybuilders insure they have ingested enough carbs from both food and supplements to fill glycogen stores. This in turn allows for a well performed workout in which you are able to hit your set and rep goals.
As well, the bodybuilder will include a pre workout drink for that mental edge, allowing for a more intense, mentally focused workout. This product most likely will include the B vitamins and ginseng along with the caffeine sources. Creatine is a mainstay in most lifters supplement arsenals also, and it’s in many pre-workouts. This means enhanced cellular energy, resulting in the ability to do more work.
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Energy Supplements, Timing and Dosage
As stated above, you must choose according to your goals. Given that, there are many choices available in each category of energy product. As always, you have powders, softgels, tabs, and capsules to choose from. Formula products, of which I am a big fan, will often be the easiest choice as they can cover several energy categories with just one product. Pre-workout powders, for example, will contain caffeine sources as well as ginseng, B vitamins and creatine, and in some cases carbohydrates. You need to properly time carb intake in preparation for a workout. The use of a pre-workout is one aid in this process.
You begin to prepare for your next workout after you finish your last one. Post-workout, you immediately need to begin to replenish what you’ve just burned up. This begins with the post workout shake, which ties into your carb intake. Again, carb supplements can help here. If you fail at this process your body will not have the fuel (energy) it requires for the next workout.
Endurance athletes will depend heavily on carb sources – bars and powders – to help them provide the energy their sport or event requires. Bars should taste good. They should be able to be eaten on the run so to speak, and always taken with water. Powders are simple and quick, your choice should be one with a taste you can tolerate and it needs to mix well. After all, who wants a big, flavored clump at the bottom of their water bottle?
For getting through the day type of energy, there are stimulant-based products such as tablets, capsules, and energy drinks. I advocate the tab or cap over the drinks. You don’t want the extra sugar that’s often a part of these products. The tablet/capsule naturally occurring caffeine approach can provide energy for hours, making your day a little easier. Can’t take the caffeine? Try a good B-12 or Ginseng-based product – not as intense or as long-lasting but good choices for those that avoid stimulants.
Once you’ve researched and chosen your selection of energy products, you should, as always, read each label completely before buying and using.
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