Engaging in the outdoor activities—or any rigorous activity, for that matter—takes a toll on our bodies in numerous ways. Straining our muscles while running or biking helps keep us fit and toned, long hikes help improve our respiration and endurance, and doing what we love has great positive influences on our mental health, as well. We expend a lot of energy and lose nutrients while we perform such activities, though, and we need to replenish them properly. One way to do so is with energy drinks, and today I’ll help you figure out how to choose the best energy drink for your needs by breaking down what they do and how they do it so well.

Most of the energy drinks on the market today consist of a blend of electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They’re designed to quench thirst, of course, but also provide energy to your muscles, ease soreness and fatigue, and replenish valuable electrolytes.

There are basic minimum requirements that an energy drink should meet to be considered a worthwhile investment and reliable source of nutrients. For instance, the calories of any good one should fall between 50-150 per serving. As far as carbohydrates go, the more offered the better, since carbs will be your main source of energy. A good energy drink will also have a decent amount of sodium and potassium—major components of electrolytes—which help muscle function and hydration. The more you sweat, the more you’ll need your sodium and potassium replenished.

There are hundreds of different types of energy drinks available, and everyone has their own favorite brand to take with them, but some of the best and most replenishing brands include Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Propel (made by Gatorade), and SoBe Life Water. I personally go with Gatorade because it’s not too sweet (I’m not a fan of too much sweetness) and it’s usually on sale at most convenience stores (2 for $3, most of the time).

While energy drinks do a great job of replenishing lost nutrients, you should still try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Water has always been one of, if not the, most vital components of our existence, so staying hydrated with water, on top of energy drinks, is crucial. Hopefully, the tips outlined above will help you know what to look for in your energy drinks the next time you need to stock up. Stay conscious of what your body needs, first and foremost, choose your favorite flavor, and enjoy!

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