I love soft drinks, especially as a way to balance out a meal that includes starch and protein. They honestly seem like the single best source of energy that is cheaply available. I drink them based on hunger signals. When I feel like I need something substantial, such as some potatoes, a burrito, a sandwich, or pizza, then soda alone won’t help me, but when combined, the sugar seems to make the heavier foods easier to process, especially foods that are higher in protein.
My results with caffeine are mixed. When I’m not feeling well, caffeine sometimes makes me feel worse, but at other times it’s perfect for energy. I keep both caffeinated and non-caffeinated soda for both occasions.
You can think of beer as the soda of the middle ages. It provided easily-digested sugar from the barley malt, and it was bubbly and provided a nice drug boost (though alcohol instead of caffeine). For field workers, it was probably impossible to consume enough calories without adding beer to the diet.
I kind of hate water unless I’m really thirsty, and I’m loath to think of how strict I used to be about drinking it. High carb drinks are the way to go if you want energy for physical activity.