Most of us lead busy lives where we’re constantly on the go, working a full-time job (sometimes even two), coming home to a family, and still trying to fit that workout in somewhere amongst housework, grocery shopping, and seeing friends and family.

Go go go is what we do, and sometimes it can be incredibly draining on our body's battery.

Proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management are all essential for maintaining optimal performance—even with a low battery—but sometimes an energy supplement can also be really helpful.

While not a replacement for good lifestyle habits, they’re great for boosting the efficiency of your body and powering you through even the toughest days.

Whether you pulled an all-nighter or just need a mid-day pick-me-up to get you through your training session, we’re breaking down the benefits of energy supplements—what they are, the best energy-boosting ingredients, and our top picks for products.

What Are Energy Pills?

Energy pills are pretty self-explanatory. They’re a class of supplements designed to boost and sustain energy levels to power you through even the most exhausting days.

Whereas some people opt for coffee when they need a pick-me-up, energy pills generally contain a blend of ingredients that provide more energy for longer, with or without the accompanying crash afterward.

With some energy pills, you’ll also get ingredients that work alongside caffeine (or the chosen stimulant) to enhance focus, attention, and memory. However, many of these products are a temporary solution for boosting energy and end up leaving you more exhausted than before due to megadoses of caffeine.

But if you can find a natural energy booster that offers both boosters and balancers, you’re gold. They’ll skyrocket your energy naturally without the dreaded crash and exhaustion afterward.

The 7 Best Energy-Boosting Ingredients

Caffeine

When it comes to an energy kick, caffeine generally takes the crown.

It’s one of the most widely consumed stimulants worldwide that offers a powerful boost to central nervous system function for increased alertness, attention, focus, drive, and energy.

Caffeine is such a powerful natural energy booster because it works as an adenosine-antagonist. Adenosine, a molecule present in the brain that induces drowsiness, looks structurally similar to caffeine. As such, caffeine can easily bind to adenosine receptors in the brain and inhibit its actions.

Many of the alerting effects of caffeine are attributed to the action of methylxanthine on serotonin neurons, which induces dose-dependent locomotor activity 1. Methylxanthine also influences learning, memory, performance, and coordination, along with arousal, vigilance, and fatigue.

Although caffeine offers a natural energy boost, megadoses can interfere with nervous system function and cause dependence. Especially when taken without ingredients that balance the effects of caffeine, it can cause long-term issues.

In the short-term, people can experience withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, nervousness, headache, and tachycardia (increased heart rate) 2. The half-life of caffeine can also range anywhere from 2 to 7 hours with variation between people, so opting for a moderate and more controlled dose may produce more favorable results for energy levels 3.

CoQ10

Every cell in the body is equipped with organelles called mitochondria. They are the energy factories of cells and function to produce energy in the form of ATP.

For mitochondria to perform optimally, they require specific nutrients, one of which is Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short. It’s a naturally occurring quinone that’s found in the highest levels in organs with high rates of metabolism, including the heart, kidneys, and liver where it functions as an energy transfer molecule 4.

The primary action of CoQ10 is as a cofactor in the electron-transport chain; the ETC is a series of redox reactions involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and because nearly all cellular functions depend on an adequate supply of ATP, CoQ10 is essential for the health of all human tissues and organs.

In addition to that, CoQ10 is also one of the most important lipid antioxidants that serve to prevent the generation of free radicals and subsequent modifications of proteins, lipids, and DNA.

A deficiency of CoQ10 not only allows for increased concentrations of free radicals, but it leads to dysfunction of the respiratory chain due to insufficient production of highly energetic compounds, which subsequently decreases the efficiency of cells 4.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

Acetyl-L-carnitine isn’t a supplement you hear much about, but it’s a powerful addition to anyone’s supplement toolbox due to its ability to support weight loss and boost brain function. ALCAR is a naturally occurring amino acid produced by the body that supports energy production.

You’ve likely heard about carnitine before - it plays an important role in burning fat for energy and shuttling fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane for conversion into energy 5

Carnitine's role in fat metabolism influences virtually all energy metabolism in the cell, which means it can be linked to glucose metabolism, insulin, and the associated diseases that develop from dysfunctional energy metabolism.

Inside cells, enzymes can readily convert carnitine to acetyl-carnitine and back based on the metabolic needs of the cell 5. As such, acetyl-carnitine and carnitine are essentially interchangeable, but for one thing.

The major advantage of supplementing acetyl-carnitine over carnitine is that acetyl-carnitine is more easily absorbed from the gut and more readily able to cross the blood-brain barrier, giving it the advantage for fat-burning and energy-boosting.

There’s also evidence to suggest that carnitine or acetyl-carnitine may be beneficial for improving glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, serum lipids, and cognitive function, as well as offering protection against oxidative damage.

Magnesium

We usually hear about magnesium for muscle relaxation, but when you need a little energy boost, it could offer some great benefits.

Magnesium is found primarily within cells where it acts as a counter ion for energy-rich ATP and nuclear acids 6. It also serves as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, making it critical for stabilizing enzymes, including many ATP-generating reactions 7.

Because ATP is required for glucose utilization, synthesis of fats, proteins, nucleic acids and coenzymes, muscle contraction, methyl group transfer, and more, a deficiency of magnesium can be a major hindrance to several functions and can interfere with energy production.

What’s more, magnesium is also required for maintaining the conformation of nucleic acids and for the structural function of proteins and mitochondria (remember, the energy powerhouses of our cells).

B vitamins

Of all the vitamins, the B vitamins play a major role in energy production.

They are a group of eight water-soluble vitamins that perform essential, closely interrelated roles in cellular functioning, and act as co-enzymes in numerous catabolic and anabolic enzymatic reactions 8.

Except for folate (B9), all the B vitamins are involved in at least one, sometimes many, steps of the energy-production system within the cell 8. An adequate supply of all B vitamins is critical to a healthy energy-production system - a deficiency of any one of them is rate-limiting, resulting in potentially severe metabolic and health consequences.

R-Lipoic Acid

Most people have probably never heard of lipoic acid before and it’s making its way to the top as a powerful energy-boosting supplement.

R-Lipoic acid is an organosulfur compound derived from caprylic acid that is the most effective form of alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful and incredibly versatile antioxidant known for its ability to protect the brain and nerve cells from free radical damage and heavy metals that can result in cognitive and neurodegenerative diseases.

It serves as a cofactor for four enzyme complexes exclusively located in mitochondria and is essential for energy production and the regulation of carbohydrate and protein metabolism 10.

L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid naturally produced in the body that offers up some pretty great benefits for your brain, focus, stress management, and more.

It serves as the foundation for several key neurotransmitters involved in mood, motivation, muscle recovery, focus, and drive; we’re talking about dopamine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine), and adrenaline (epinephrine) 11.

When the body is under stress, these brain chemicals start to become depleted, which means you may start to hit either a mental or physical roadblock.

However, tyrosine supplementation helps replenish these neurotransmitters before the bank runs out, thereby helping you stay sharper for longer 12.

L-Theanine

We all love a good cup of coffee for an afternoon pick me u,p but the side effects that come with caffeine consumption can be enough to turn some people off completely.

However, combining caffeine with L-theanine may help to promote all the benefits caffeine has to offer with none of the side effects.

L-theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea and some mushrooms have been shown to promote non-drowsy relaxation. When combined with caffeine, these may improve memory and reaction time, as well as decrease tiredness and mental fatigue 13, 14.

Essentially, adding L-theanine to your stack can give you the energy-boosting benefits of caffeine with none of the downsides 15.

The Best Energy-Boosting Duo

Performance Lab Caffeine+

If you’re looking for stimulation without the side effects of typical stimulant supplements, Performance Lab Caffeine+ has you covered. It’s ultramodern stimulation designed for precision and performance, providing you with cleaner, healthier, more relaxed energy with no side effects.

Traditional stimulant supplements megadose caffeine that results in short-term jitters and long-range exhaustion. Not to mention they’re often loaded with synthetic colors, flavors, and preservatives that can be disastrous for long-term health.

But with Performance Lab® Caffeine+, you’re getting smarter, cleaner stimulation with Natural Caffeine 50 mg + Suntheanine® 100 mg to deliver greater dosing precision, fewer side effects, and superior performance-tuned stimulation.

What’s more, Caffeine Plus' ultramodern design also helps restore caffeine-depleted brain chemicals with Ajipure® L-Tyrosine + NutriGenesis® B-Complex to support healthy recovery from all caffeine-driven activities.

Key features:

  • NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex
  • 500mcg Riboflavin+
  • 50mcg Vitamin B6+
  • 167mcg Folate
  • 2mcg Vitamin B12+
  • 50mg Natural Caffeine
  • 100mg Suntheanine® L-Theanine
  • 250mg Ajipure® L-Tyrosine

Benefits:

  • Caffeine enhanced for superior nootropic, athletic and thermogenic performance
  • Increases alpha brainwaves to balance caffeine energy with relaxation, creativity, and clarity
  • Helps reduce jitters, crashes, and other negative effects of caffeine overstimulation
  • Promotes alert, revitalized performance during multitasking, stress, and fatigue
  • Replenishes caffeine-depleted brain chemicals for daily use with less burnout
  • Promotes balanced physiological responses to caffeine-induced stress
Get the best price on Performance Lab Caffeine+ here

Performance Lab Energy

Looking for the same energy a cup of coffee can bring you but can’t get down with the stimulants? Performance Lab Energy is designed to supercharge daily performance with stim-free vitality.

Unlike typical stimulant supplements that offer a heavy hit of caffeine to boost fast and crash hard, Performance Lab® Energy works without caffeine for a smarter, cleaner, and healthier energy boost.

Featuring MicroActive® Q10, BioPerine®, BioPQQ®, and Bio-Enhanced® nutrition technology, Energy optimizes cells’ mitochondria for a surge of natural vitality in both body and mind.

And unlike energy pills loaded with synthetic additives, Energy is clean. It’s free of caffeine, crashes, and other nasty ingredients that interfere with energy production and leave you exhausted.

Key features:

  • 60mg NutriGenesis® Magnesium
  • 500mg Acetyl L-Carnitine
  • 100mg Microencapsulated Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid
  • 100mg MicroActive® Q10
  • 10mg BioPQQ®
  • 2.5mg BioPerine® Black Pepper Extract

Benefits:

  • Stim-free booster promotes energy production in cells’ mitochondria
  • Helps exercise results by maintaining energy in muscle and metabolizing energy in fat
  • Enhances vitality by helping to multiply, protect, and charge up mitochondria
  • Supports efficient metabolic performance in nearly every cell in the body
  • Stimulant-free energy for those who prefer to avoid or limit caffeine intake
Get the best price on Performance Lab Energy here

Final Thoughts

Getting through busy and exhausting days can be a challenge and while reaching for an energy drink may be enticing, the side effects they cause are less than appealing. That’s where Performance Lab Caffeine+ and Performance Lab Energy excel.

They provide a major energy boost for better performance without the side effects of traditional stimulants. It’s a win-win situation that’ll keep you powered through the biggest challenges.

References

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  2. JR Hoffman. Caffeine and Energy Drinks. Strength Cond J. 2010; 32(1):15-20.
  3. JL Temple, C Bernard, SE Lipshultz, JD Czachor, JA Westphal, MA Mestre. The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:80.
  4. R Saini. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467.
  5. SD Mendelson. Nutritional Supplements and Metabolic Syndrome. In Metabolic Syndrom and Psychiatric Illness. 2008; 141-186.
  6. W Jahnen-Dechent, M Ketteler. Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney J. 2012;5(Suppl 1):i3-i14.
  7. JK Aikawa. Magnesium. West J Med. 1980;133(4):333-334.
  8. DO Kennedy. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68.
  9. AL Tardy, E Pouteau, D Marquez, C Yilmaz, A Scholey. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):228.
  10. L Packer, E Cadenas. Lipoic acid: energy metabolism and redox regulation of transcription and cell signaling. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2011;48(1):26-32.
  11. JD Fernstrom. Can nutrient supplements modify brain function? Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(6 Suppl):1669S-75S.
  12. BJ Jongkees, B Hommel, S Kühn, LS Colzato. Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands--A review. J Psychiatr Res. 2015;70:50-57.
  13. Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(2):113-122. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.09.008
  14. CN Kahathuduwa, TL Dassanayake, AMT Amarakoon, VS Weerasinghe. Acute effects of theanine, caffeine and theanine-caffeine combination on attention. Nutr Neurosci. 2017;20(6):369-377.
  15. GE Giles, CR Mahoney, TT Brunyé, HA Taylor, RB Kanarek. Caffeine and theanine exert opposite effects on attention under emotional arousal. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2017;95(1):93-100.