Best Energy Drinks for Revitalization Reviewed
What is the best energy drink? Coffee has been the long-reigning champion of preferred fuel for humans for quite some time now. The downside to coffee, however, is that it delivers you your much-needed caffeine with very few nutrients, and in its pure form it tastes like mud! If you want to get your body moving for your next treadmill workout, a good energy drink will not only give you that jolt you need, but it can also deliver some much-needed vitamins and nutrients, and they generally taste really good!
Plus, they are easy to take with you on the go and pack into a bag if you know that you are in for a really long day. In this guide, you will find some of our very favorite picks for energy drinks that will have you conquering your day without being weighed down.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 5 hrs of research
No added sugar
Under 60 calories
Top Rated Energy Drinks
1. V8+ Natural Energy Drink
No added sugar
Under 60 calories
This is our very favorite energy drink because it is a powerhouse of all of the fruits and vegetables you would expect to get from V8 energy drink, but it also give you a jolt of power that is derived from natural ingredients that is going to offer a steady stream of focus that will get you through your long morning without crashing.
The caffeine content in this option clocks in at about 80 mg, which is is pretty average for these types of beverages, and about 15mg under your standard cup of coffee. The caffeine is derived from green tea, which is going to give you the added benefits of antioxidants and fat-burning properties.
If you assume that this is going to taste like tomato juice- you are very wrong. From what we have read from previous users, the taste of this blends it light and tart, with just a little bit of natural added sweetness (without all of the sugar). Another thing that users liked about this option is that it is not carbonated so it is easy on the stomach.
If you want something that uses all-natural ingredients that are non GMO to give you that early morning burst of power, while still getting a good dose of vitamins and minerals that your body craves to operate at its peak function from office work to powerlifting, this is going to be your best option in our opinion.
Only 50 calories
105 mg caffeine
Flavor is too mild
If you are a little sensitive to caffeine, this option from RUNA is going to be one of your best options, because all of the ingredients are organic and derived from natural sources- even the caffeine! Instead of giving you the standard jolt, this energy drink is going to lend you serious focus throughout the morning that will feel good, and you won’t have to contend with the classic crash around lunch time.
As we mentioned earlier, the ingredients in this can are 100 percent natural and derived from natural sources (instead of synthetic ingredients crafted in a lab). Guayusa is the main source of caffeine found in this formula. This leaf is only found in the Amazon, and actually offers more caffeine than the humble coffee bean. One can has a whopping 105 mg of caffeine, which is about 10 more mg than your standard cup of coffee.
This option is offered in unique flavors that include sweetened berry, zero sugar blood orange, and lime. From what we have read from previous users, the tastes is incredibly mild, and tastes more like sparkling flavored water (similar to LaCroix). This means that it is going to feel incredibly light in your stomach without weighing you down with an excess of sugar.
For those that want something that is going to be incredibly light and easy to take in the morning or out on the trails with only 50 calories per serving, this option from RUNA is going to be one of your better choices.
Not very flavorful
What users really like about this option from ASPIRE is that it is perfect for those looking to lose weight by cutting out the often unnecessary calories found in their beverages. The ingredients found in this can are derived from healthy and natural sources that will provide you with focus with no risk of crashing.
This can packs a powerful dose of vitamins B and C which is going to help bolster your immune system while also giving you superior focus. It packs 80 mg of caffeine, which is comparable to your standard cup of coffee. This dose is derived from green tea extract, which has been claimed to help burn fat and improve overall well-being. Plus, one can has no calories!
Users will have the option to select from three unique flavors that include mango lemonade, cranberry, apple and acai, and raspberry and acai, and they are all lightly carbonated. According to previous users, this has a light and sweet taste that some have compared to the sweetness of Red Bull zero sugar. Plus, it isn’t going to leave a terrible aftertaste.
If you are looking to cut down on your calories, but cannot bring yourself to drink black coffee, this is a great way to get a good dose of morning motivation without the empty calories.
0 calorie options
12 ounce bottle
Difficult to open
Many of the previous options that we have seen come in small 8 ounce cans that can consumed before you even put on your shoes to leave the house in the morning. This 12 ounce can from UPTIME is a little bit bigger than most, and it still offers users a great source of caffeine without any calories. Plus, we just love the sleek and simple design of this can!
Ingredients such as ginseng and ginkgo biloba are powerhouse ingredients when it comes to promoting brain focus and clarity, and the standard 80 mg of caffeine is going to give you a little kick without making you feel jittery.
Users will have the option to select from two citrus options- cane sugar (that comes in a matte black can), and sugar free (that comes in a white can). From what we have read from previous users, the taste of this is incredibly light and goes down easy. The one thing that we noticed some users discuss is that it has a little bit of a bitter taste to it, but no claims that it is heavy or overly sweet.
We liked this option because it has a very powerhouse brain ingredients that you don’t often see in other brands, and it provides users with a calorie free source of power that isn’t going to knock you off of your diet. This is a perfect option for those that are working on their feet all day long for sustain energy.
5. Monster Energy Ultra Sunrise
24 ounce can
150 mg caffeine
Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a huge can that you can drink on the for the duration of the morning. This 24 ounce option is a ‘monster’ of a can, and it packs a good deal of sweetness and caffeine while adding in some vitamins that are going to help you stay focused.
The caffeine content in one can clocks in at about 150 mg, which is almost the same as two cups of coffee. That may seem like a lot, but when you consider that this can is 24 ounces and likely something you will be sipping on all morning, it isn’t going to hit you like a freight train. It also provides you with an impressive 100 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, B3, B6, and B12 for enhanced focus, mood, and immune health.
What we love most about the Ultra Sunrise is that it isn’t overly sweet like a can of orange soda. It is full on carbonated like your standard can of soda, but it isn’t going to have that sticky and lingering sugar aftertaste because it is sugar free. Plus, if you like that taste of the Ultra Sunrise, there is a myriad of other flavors to select from in this line.
If you are having a little bit of difficulty getting your engine started in the morning, this caffeine jolt is going to be one of your best solutions to get out the door and on your way without weighing you down with a heavy sugary aftertaste, or even any calories!
What we liked about this option from Sambazon is that it is packed with a lot of natural ingredients that is going to give you a punch like 2 shots of espresso, but the all natural ingredients are going to help you stay focused at that boring monthly meeting and alert without the dreaded crash.
Inside this 12 ounce can is caffeine that is derived from an organic blend of guarana, yerba mate, and green tea. This blend has all of the power of two shots of espresso, but it is also going to give you enhanced focus. Plus, you can feel good about what you are putting into your body because it is made from organic, non GMO ingredients that come straight from the Amazon.
One word that we saw used to describe the taste of this option quite a few times was the word ‘clean’. It has a light and refreshing taste that isn’t going to leave much of an after tastes, and it isn’t going to be sickening sweet. The pomegranate berry acai is unique to many of the other options out there, and the light carbonation isn’t going to feel heavy in your stomach.
With 40 calories per can, this is going to be able to deliver a lot of the good stuff with a very minimal impact on your diet. We liked that the flavor is so light that it can be the perfect addition to a healthy morning smoothie to add a little pep to your step.
7. Hour Energy
Packed with vitamins
It wouldn’t be a complete list if we didn’t include the classic 5 Hour Energy! This unique option is great because it is incredibly versatile, and insanely effective. You can opt to down it in one shot like a champ, or you can blend it into your favorite smoothies or soda for a little extra kick in the pants. Plus, the bottle is so small that you can easily toss one (or five) into your pack.
5 Hour Energy isn’t joking around with the vitamins that they put into their products. One tiny little bottle packs 8,333 percent of your daily dose of vitamin B 12, so if you don’t feel more focused with this product, you might be braindead. It also provides 2,000 percent of your daily dose of vitamin B6, and 100 percent of your daily folic acid needs (which aids in the production of new cells in your body).
As far as taste is concerned, it’s not great. Users typically opt to down it in one go, and chase it with something like a sip of soda. Considering how many vitamins are packed into one small bottle, you can probably guess that it tastes like drinking a vitamin. There are, however, some users that find the sweet taste to be quite nice.
If you are looking for something that is going to take you from lounging on the couch to shingling your roof in 30 seconds, this is going to be one of your best options if you can overlook the slightly unpleasant taste.
8. Bing Beverage Company
Flax seed extract
120 mg caffeine
Artificial cherry taste
If you are looking for something that is packed with good vitamins to keep you healthy and strong, but also want something that has just a little bit more caffeine than your standard cup of coffee, this option from Bing Beverage Company is going to be an excellent choice.
One thing that we noticed about this formula is that it includes flax seed extract- which is something that you don’t find in many of the other options out there. Flax seed is great because it promotes a healthy digestive tract, while also working to lower blood pressure, and bad cholesterol. ONe 12 ounce can also comes packed with a whopping 120 mg of caffeine, which is about 25 mg more than your standard cup of coffee.
As you could probably guess from the the name the the label, this option only comes in a cherry flavor. From what we have read from previous users, the cherry flavor is light and tart without being overly sweet (which makes sense since this option only has 40 calories in a 12 ounce can).
What we liked about this option from Bing Beverage Company is that it has helpful ingredients that you won’t find in many other formulas, it offers a tad more caffeine than most, and it has a light and refreshing taste without being sickly sweet.
Uses cane sugar
Rich in vitamins
MOONSHOT is just a little bit different from some of the other options we have seen out there on the market. It packs quite a punch in it’s 12 ounce bottle, and it isn’t going to pull any punches when it comes to its higher calorie content. This sweet alternative is not for those on a strict diet!
One can is going to be able to provide you with an impressive 300 percent of your daily recommended dose of Niacin, vitamin B 12, and vitamin B6. The caffeine content is also about 20 mg more than you would find in a standard cup of coffee (which is about 95 mg). One can clocks in at 170 calories, which is farm more than most that we have seen under 100, but it is worth noting that the sugar used in this can is cane sugar.
Sure, it might lose some points because it is high in calories, but it may make up for that in the taste department. According to what we have read from previous users, this is one of the best tasting options we have seen out there on the market. It has a tart cherry flavor that isn’t going to leave a chemical aftertaste.
If you aren’t looking to cut back on calories, this is going to be one of your better options. While it is packed with all of the things that you will need to get your day started off on the right foot, it also is one of the best tasting options out there on the market.
Proprietary vitamin blend
Strong sucralose flavor
If you are looking for something that is calorie free to help you keep your diet in check, this option from CELSIUS may actually help you burn some additional calories. The ingredients in this formula actually claim that they are going to speed up your metabolism so that you can burn fat more easily. Plus, if there was a place called Caffeine Town, this option from CELSIUS would be it’s mayor!
One 12 ounce can offers users an impressive 200 mg of caffeine, which is just shy of being the same amount as over 2 cups of coffee. It’s proprietary fat-fighting formula includes ingredients such as green tea with EGCG, ginger, and guarana seed. It is also packed with important vitamins such as vitamin C, B6, B12, and calcium.
Users have described the lightly carbonated texture to be similar to a 2 liter soda that has been open for a few days, and they find that it is sweet without being overly sweet. It is offered in flavors that include orange, peach mango green tea, and raspberry acai.
If you are looking for something to take before hitting the gym as a pre-workout, or just to replace your coffee in the morning for a jolt of power, this is going to be a great option.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The tricky thing here is that there are a few established brands that seem to dominate the marketplace, while lesser known options that are made from some pretty impressive ingredients go unnoticed.
Checking labels to read what is inside was our number one goal when selecting the best products, but some of the big names like 5 Hour Energy and Monster live in the front of the lineup for a good reason. When looking for a product that is going to be work for you, the bigger brands may not always be the best option. These companies are trying to market to a much wider audience, so they pack their formulas with ingredients that are going to work for everyone. That isn’t a bad thing, but it may not be ideal for your very specific needs. If you are looking for something that will, for instance, bolster your metabolism to help you shed some extra pounds for the summer, the product offered from Celsius is going to be a better option for your needs over Monster. When we were compiling our list, we made sure to select products that were going to work for everyone’s specific needs, and not just a general audience. Buying from household names will guarantee that the product is going to taste good and give you a jolt, but smaller companies tend to offer you more unique ingredients- such as flax seed oil- that you many not find anywhere else. Our biggest piece of advice that we can give you is to look at the back of the can before you look at the front!
If you are looking for a little jolt that is going to keep you awake at an 8 AM meeting, or you need to find the drive to climb up onto the roof to clear out the gutters, we made sure to select caffeine levels for everyone’s needs.
One of the biggest questions that people ask when trying to find the best option for them is how it compares to a cup of coffee. Some products will give you a direct comparison to how to slacks up against your standard cup of coffee, and others only tell you how many milligrams are in each can. We have broken down the different levels so that you can get a better understanding of exactly what you are putting inside of your body.
Mild options: The milder options typically have between 0-80 milligrams. We know what you are thinking- how can 0 milligrams of caffeine possibly wake me up in the morning? For that, you must look closer at the label. While it may not have any caffeine listed in the ingredients, it offers other substances that are going to help wake you up sans the possible jitters. Ingredients such as ginseng provide users with a natural source of focus and clarity. While it isn’t going to give you the same rush as pounding a shot of espresso, the effects are going to be a little more mild. This is the perfect pairing for someone that is a little sensitive to caffeine, but still needs a little help waking up in the morning. Plus, you aren’t going to have the same type of crash that you would later morning after your coffee wears off!
Moderate options: Moderate options measure to be between 80-120 milligrams per serving. To put this into perspective- your standard cup of coffee clocks in at about 95 milligrams. Therefore, an 80 milligram option (which we found to be the most common) is going to give you just a little bit less than a cup of coffee. This may seem less than ideal, but keep in mind that it is more than likely packed with other vitamins and minerals that will keep you awake. Those that measure to be about 120 milligrams are going to be slightly higher than your standard cup of coffee. But let’s face it- who can stop at just one cup of coffee in the morning?
Intense options: You had one too many margaritas at dinner, and now you are faced with a morning of meetings and office chit chat. In those instances, you are probably going to reach for something pretty intense. Sure, you could fill up a bucket with a full pot of coffee, but that it going to take forever to drink! Some of the more intense options clock in at 120-200 milligrams per serving, with the addition of vitamins and minerals to really kick it into gear. This is the equivalent of around 2 cups of coffee, and it is typically delivered in cans that are 12-24 ounces.
To ensure that you are performing at your peak, you first need to look at exactly what you are putting into your body.
We spent quite some time combing over the fine print in may ingredient and nutritional labels to ensure that each product that we selected for our list was packed with things that you could actually pronounce. We were drawn to products that had labels that promoted cane sugar, non GMO, and vegan options. Below, we go into a little more detail on why selecting these types of products can be important to your health and overall well being.
Cane sugar: In a perfect world, we would be able to ditch the sugar altogether. In a perfect world, brussel sprouts would taste like jelly beans and quinoa would taste like bacon. However, we do not live in a perfect world, and sometimes you just want to treat yourself with a little sugar. For products that did add sugar to their formula, we tried to stick to those that only used cane sugar instead of granulated sugar or syrups. So, why is cane sugar so much better? The simple answer to this is that it is minimally processed. The more you tinker with your food, the worse it is for you. Take the humble potato for example. Raw and untouched, it isn’t all that bad for you. Cut that same potato up and fry it in a pan- and suddenly it is considered to be terribly unhealthy. The same principles apply to sugar. Cane sugar is ideal because it still has traces of the plant in which is was derived, so it is going to be less sweet and have a lot of the nutrients and minerals still intact.
Non GMO: It’s something that you see a lot, but do you know what it really means? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Food. It is a little controversial, because some people feel that it is perfectly fine practice, while others feel that it has deeper environmental and health implications. While we here are far from scientists, we are still drawn to non GMO because we like to keep things simple!
Vegan: For some, vegan products are a must, and we like the idea of consuming beverages that don’t involve the use of animal products. When it comes to these types of beverages, there really is no reason for using any dairy or meat products, so this was a label that we were more than happy to find on most of these brands.
We know, we know- you already know how to consume beverages, but we wanted to ensure that we selected products that were going to be just a little more versatile.
During our research, we discovered that there were far more types and styles that your standard carbonated soda-substitute. If you are expecting a beverage that is going to have the same consistency as your basic soda, you are in for a surprise! We have categorized the different types and suggestions on what you can do to really switch up your tired old coffee routine!
Non-carbonated: Many of the healthier options out there on the market don’t bother with the bubbles. V8+ is a great example of this. Bubbles have a tendency to upset stomachs in some, especially so early in the morning. These options are going to be your best ingredient if you want to whip up an incredibly healthy morning smoothie that you can take with you to work, or take before your early morning workout to get you a little boost with your fruit and veggies. 5 Hour Energy is another great non carbonated option that is going to turn your basic morning smoothie into something that is really going to get your moving.
Lightly carbonated: If you worry about bubbles so early in the morning, but you like the idea- this is going to be your best bet. We have read from many users that lightly carbonated options remind them of an open 2 liter of soda that is approaching day 2. The bubbles are going to be small, but it will still be something that is going to taste light and refreshing.
Carbonated: Products such as Monster are going to provide you full on carbonation that ranks right up there with your favorite soda. These options are not going to be the best for morning smoothies because of the high carbonation, but they are light and refreshing enough to drink on their own.
When we talk about materials, we aren’t talking about what is on the outside of the can, but rather what it inside of the can.
We wanted to ensure that we selected ingredients that were going to work well not only for your busy lifestyle, but also that is going to help promote a sense of wellbeing overall, and that could potentially be a beneficial pre-workout drink before heading to the treadmills at the gym. There were a few big standouts in the ingredients department that we made sure that we included in almost all of the beverages that we selected.
Vitamin B6: Why is this one of the most important vitamins in these beverages? It is because this vitamin is brain food. This ingredient is going to be one of the key components in keeping in starting your day off as sharp as a tack. Plus, in some studies it has been shown to possibly improve your mood and reduce the symptoms of depression.
Vitamin B12: This is another great inclusion, because this is a vitamin that your body cannot produce on it’s own- it is derived generally from food sources, but in this case it is found in your beverages. Just like B6, it has been noted to improve your mood, and can lessen the symptoms of depression. Plus, it is going to help bolster the neutrons in your brain which is going to help keep your memory sharp and your brain focused.
Vitamin C: This is a vitamin that needs no formal introduction. Due to the fact this this essential vitamin can only be found in the foods that you eat (and is not produced by your body), it means that you are going to want to get your hands on it whenever you can. It is packed with antioxidants that are going the help your body be well equipped to fight of chronic illnesses and infections that are trying to break through your defenses. Some lesser known benefits about this vitamin include reducing memory loss, as well as lowering your blood pressure.
Ginseng: This is another one of those ingredients that is going to play well off of vitamins B6, B12, and C, because it also helps to improve your general brain function. However, it has a few other benefits that you aren’t going to find in your basic vitamins. This ingredient is going to provide you with more general get up and go without the use of old fashioned caffeine. Users often find that the added boost of power is a little longer lasting than caffeine, and it doesn’t cause users to crash as hard. If you have your eye on a specific drink that doesn’t quite have the high levels of caffeine that you would like, it’s important that you don’t count it out if you find that it has ginseng!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Energy drinks are notoriously filled with sugar. If you're trying to avoid sugar as a whole, then you should probably skip the added sweetness these beverages can pack!
Did you know that Red Bull was originally made in Thailand? It was a way for truck drivers to keep from falling asleep behind the wheel.
Other Factors to Consider
Ensuring that you get all of the right nutrients in the food that you eat can sometimes be difficult, and by skipping out of lean proteins and veggies, you are robbing your brain of the much-needed vitamins that it needs to stay sharp and focused. We love that these products are going to help you get that caffeine jolt that you crave, but they are also packed with the vitamins and minerals that your brain needs to function.
Before you take the plunge on a specific brand, take into consideration what you want to get out of these products. If you are looking to cut down on the caffeine, there is a product out there with low to no grams of caffeine. If you are a caffeine junkie and can’t get enough, there are also some options that pack quite the punch.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How much caffeine is in a single can?
The answer to the question relies upon the brand that you choose. From our research, we found the standard caffeine count of most cans measures to be about 80 mg for a 12-ounce bottle. This is just slightly lower than your standard cup of coffee that clocks in at around 95 milligrams.
If you want something that really packs a punch, there are brands out there that have the caffeine content of over 2 cups of coffee (or 200 milligrams of caffeine), so you can get all of the rush without drinking that bitter and brown mud!
q: Are they safe?
Experts claim that the average adult can safely consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine per day- which is far more than one can offers. So, why have they come under fire as being unsafe over recent years? The answer to this question lies with very specific brands that make claims that just aren’t true. There is no beverage that is going to make you smarter or faster, and there is no over the counter formula that will possibly cure any diseases. The purpose of these beverages are simply to give you a little boost and to possibly replace your morning cup of coffee. If you drink them like you would coffee, they are going to be perfectly safe and there is no need to worry.
q: Are they a good pre-workout beverage?
Absolutely! These are going to make a really fantastic beverage to take to the gym to give you a little extra boost. In fact, in most of the more expensive pre-workout mixes have a bit of caffeine in them to get you motivated. Plus, it is going to be a better alternative than coffee as they typically have vitamins and minerals.
Drinking coffee before engaging in any workout is going to give you a little bit of pep, but the oils that are found in the coffee bean jumpstart your digestive system as well, so it may not be a great thing to drink right before jumping into a 45-minute spin class!
q: Is it going to make me jittery?
No matter what the source that you get your caffeine, there is always going to be a chance that it is going to make you jittery. This side effect can be compounded if you drink it on an empty stomach, if you drink a high dose too fast, or you simply drink more than your body is accustomed.
A good way to avoid the jitters altogether is opt for a lower dosage of about 80 mg or below, and get a good meal in beforehand. One option is to drop the caffeine altogether! Formulas like that from 5 Hour Energy use high doses of brain powered vitamins and minerals to give your brain a natural boost without the jitters and without the crash.
q: Do they have very many calories?
For the most part, these products don’t pack on the calories as you would expect. If you find a product that sounds like it is right up your alley, but it has a calorie count that you just aren’t comfortable with- there is always always a sugar-free alternative offered. From what we have discovered is that many of the light options often have a calorie count of around 40-60.
We find these options to be ideal because they aren’t going to be overly sweet, and they also don’t use a like of aspartame or sucralose. So, on the low end of the scale are brands that clock in at around 0-60 calories, and on the higher end- like that from MOONSHOT- have a calorie count that is up to 170 calories (which is the equivalent to your standard can of soda).
q: How effective are caffeine free options?
As humans, we have this preconceived notion that the only thing that is going to give us that patented jolt in the morning is caffeine. However, have you ever had a day where you felt that your brain was just firing on all cylinders and you were able to masterfully tackle every problem that would spring up?
That higher level of focus probably wasn’t due to the Venti latte that you had in the morning, but rather the nutrient-rich food that you added to your diet. Brain powered vitamins such as B6 and B12 are called essential vitamins because your brain needs them to function, but your brain isn’t able to make them on their own.
The only way your brain is going to get them is from foods such as poultry, whole grains, eggs, vegetables, and fish. If your diet has been lacking a bit, or you just haven’t had the time to focus on nutrition, the products that have high amounts of these essential vitamins are going to help your brain function at its highest capacity, sans the caffeine.