Energy supplements have become increasingly popular because everybody wants more energy. The pace of life keeps increasing, and people are having a hard time keeping up! But do energy supplements actually work? The answer is that some will, and others won’t—but you have to know what you’re looking for. In order to find the right product for you, you need to know what kind of energy boost you’re looking for. Are you an athlete looking for more stamina? Or are you the average person simply trying to make it through the day without falling asleep at your desk? There are three basic categories for energy supplements: stimulants that increase the metabolism, substances that affect how the cells derive energy from nutrients, and calories—the basic fuel the body needs to work.

If you’re feeling groggy after a meal, you might want a stimulant. One of the most powerful stimulants is caffeine. Many energy drinks have multiple ingredients, but the main energy enhancer is the caffeine. Evidence has shown that caffeine can temporarily improve mental focus and help fend off exhaustion.

A lot of energy supplements are derived from nutrients, fats and amino acids that are naturally in our bodies, or that we get from food. If you eat a well-balanced diet, you probably will not need to take any supplements. So if you are not medically deficient in substances like B vitamins and creatine, there is no evidence to support that taking more of these will enhance your energy.

Most people have a negative view of calories, but they really are the measurement of the energy potential in the food we eat. Calories, usually in the form of carbohydrates (sugars), which our body easily breaks down, are absorbed as energy. They are commonly found in energy drinks and energy bars. In addition, they typically are high-glycemic index carbohydrates which quickly enter the bloodstream and spike blood glucose. This creates a reactive insulin surge which will give you more energy, but in the long term, can cause inflammation and pain, and other negative side effects. The boost fades pretty quickly and you’re likely to feel tired when it wears off. If you are looking for long-term energy boosting, relying on high-calorie energy drinks or foods is not a good option, particularly if you don’t exercise much because calories you don’t burn will be stored as fat.

The easiest way to boost your energy is by simple lifestyle changes. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Try to get seven to eight hours each night; and 20 or 30 minute naps during the day can also help you feel more energized. Exercise regularly. Studies show that people who exercise have less fatigue and more energy. Eat a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid high-glycemic index carbohydrates and eat a reasonable amount of good fats.

They are not quick fixes, but they are the only guaranteed ways to help. And taking an energy boosting supplement can be a great addition to feeling energized throughout the day.