Is Rockstar Energy a Good Pre-Workout? (Ingredients Explained)

A lot of people need a little energy booster before they start a difficult task. For some, they have to start their days with strong coffee before they can keep their eyes open.

Similarly, a lot of people turn to pre-workouts to get the most out of their gym sessions or home workouts.

Pre-workout drinks are the ideal choice if it’s performance you’re looking for, but for any number of reasons (costs, convenience) you may not be able to grab one when you need it.

In that case, you might be wondering about some alternatives.

Is Rockstar Energy a good pre-workout? What are the pros and cons of using Rockstar as a pre-workout?

Photo by Mike Mozart/Flickr

Here’s the lowdown: Rockstar energy drinks can work as a pre-workout, but it lacks many of the supplements found in many popular pre-workouts (C4, for example). It’s also likely to lead to a crash after about an hour due to the caffeine and taurine used in the beverage. Plus, it can cause bloating and discomfort due to its carbonation.

However, in a pinch, Rockstar is available at almost any convenience store for just a couple of bucks — so it’s a decent pre-workout alternative if you need one every once in a while.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients!

What’s the Difference Between Energy Drinks and Pre-Workouts?

The difference between the two types of beverages is simple.

Energy drinks promise to give you an energy boost that’ll help get you through the next hour to couple of hours.

Pre-workouts also give you an energy boost, but they’re designed to help improve your athletic performance, too.

Both types of beverages use caffeine as their main ingredient to provide you with energy, but it’s the other ingredients that you need to look at when determining whether or not something would make a good pre-workout.

Energy drinks are usually full of sugar unless you specifically choose a zero sugar variety. Sugary energy drinks, and even some zero sugar ones, are designed to give you an instant energy boost that often fades as quickly as it comes. 

Pre-workouts give you the boost slower to help you keep up stamina throughout your workout, and even throughout the rest of your day. Their formula promotes a slow release of energy so you don’t find yourself spiking and crashing.

Many pre-workouts contain supplements (vitamins, small amounts of creatine, BCAAs, and more) to help with recovery and strength boosting, too, which is optimal for somebody about to hit the gym.

So, though the two types of drinks are similar in theory, their execution is what sets them apart.

You should always check the labels of any drink you’re considering buying to see what kind of ingredients they have. The ingredients determine how the beverage will work.

What Do Studies Say About Rockstar As a Pre-Workout?

First thing’s first, you should know that a pre-workout is never necessary before you go into the gym.

Some people find it preferable to drink one, but studies show the impact on performance is negligible.

When you take a group of people using a pre-workout in a group of people not using one, there’s very little difference between their performances.

Performance in both groups improves with each set of exercises they do, likely because the workout itself is giving them an energy boost and getting their bodies warmed up for more.

As for energy drinks, you’ll find most of the benefits come from the caffeine rather than the other ingredients.

Caffeine is a physical and neural stimulant.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition found it can improve your concentration and cognitive function in day-to-day life, but the benefits also apply when you’re engaging in sports.

It can also boost muscular endurance and strength across various exercises such as sprinting, throwing, aerobics, and jumping.

However, how caffeine affects each individual is highly varied. Discover Magazine did a deep dive on why it impacts everybody so differently. 

Because everybody has a different reaction to the substance, it may be the reason that studies have such negligible results when comparing groups taking a pre-workout to groups who haven’t taken one.

Some studies even show caffeine can worsen a athlete’s performance, so it’s clear the impact of caffeine is never the exact same from person to person.

However, one thing is true of all people: high doses of caffeine can lead to negative side effects such as shaking, anxiety, and dehydration, all of which are detrimental to a work out.

Basically, all of the studies combined show you should tread carefully when using caffeine-based energy drinks as pre-workouts in general.

Evaluate how caffeine works for you before you make energy drinks a regular part of your workout routine.

Rockstar vs Pre-Workout Drinks Ingredients Explained

So, we know the main reason Rockstar gives you energy is the caffeine in it, but what about the other ingredients? 

Certain energy drinks have ingredients that will negatively impact your workout and leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable after consuming them.

Is Rockstar one of those?

Let’s ignore the ingredients included for flavor, appearance, preservation, and texture. We’ll only examine the ingredients with a performance/energy-based purpose:

  • Taurine—Nervous system depressant and brain stimulator
  • 160mg Caffeine—Stimulates the brain and nervous system
  • Glucuronolactone—Increases stamina, physical performance, and boosts mood
  • Inositol—Balances chemicals in the body to decrease panic and depression
  • L-Carnitine—Speeds up the burning of fatty acids to produce energy
  • Guarana Seed Extract—Reduces fatigue, boosts energy, and improves cognitive function
  • Niacinamide—A form of vitamin B3, which helps turn food into energy
  • D-Calcium Pantothenate—A form of vitamin B5, a vitamin with effects irrelevant to energy/workouts
  • Milk Thistle Extract—Has antioxidant properties
  • Panax—Strengthens the immune system to lower risk of disease and stress
  • Ginseng Root Extract—Improves memory and increases stamina
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride—Prevents vitamin B6 deficiency
  • Riboflavin—A form of vitamin B2, which helps energy production, increases break down of fats, and helps with the growth of cells
  • Cyanocobalamin—Helps prevent vitamin B12 deficiency

So, as you can see there’s quite a focus on different ways to boost energy production naturally within the body. This is no different from the majority of energy drinks you’ll find in the supermarket or convenience store.

B vitamins, caffeine, and taurine typically give you the quick energy boost you need when you’re feeling tired, but unlike actual pre-workout drinks, it won’t last.

After an hour or so, you’ll feel the come down — hard.

Actual pre-workout beverages usually contain ingredients that will help increase your blood flow, aid in muscle recovery after the workout, delay fatigue, and keep your energy boost lasting longer without the sudden crash.

Even basic pre-workouts will usually have ingredients like:

  • Beta-Alanine
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Branched-Chain Amino Acids
  • Citrulline Malate
  • Creatine
  • L-Theanine

These are not present in Rockstar and play a significant role in how you’ll feel in (and after) the gym.

Wrapping up and Verdict

The verdict on Rockstar as a pre-workout drink? It’s up to the individual.

Theoretically, you could use Rockstar if you plan on working out for an hour and don’t mind a crash after, but an actual pre-workout will liekly be better.

Plus, it’s a carbonated drink that contains citric acids, so you might find yourself with some abdominal discomfort and bloating after drinking it, which a workout will only make worse.

Rockstar is one of the better energy drinks. There aren’t too many sugars in it, and the amount of caffeine it contains isn’t overly excessive. That makes it a decent pre-workout alternative that’s easily and cheaply available from almost any store.

Still, it most likely shouldn’t be your go-to drink before a workout.

Beverages designed as pre-workouts are be better for you and will keep you feeling better during and after working out.

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Hope this helps!