Energy drinks, the next best revitalizing beverage known to mankind since the discovery of coffee.
They have the refreshing carbonation of an ice cold soda and they’re loaded with vitamins and natural extracts to help unleash your mind’s optimal mental focus and cognitive abilities (like a nootropic).
Energy drinks might not have the best reputation, likely due to the perception that they are all high in sugar and contain unhealthy ingredients.
However, many leading energy drink brands are finding unique ways to make their energy drinks healthier with limited to no sugar and by using simple, natural ingredients.
So what’s the best healthy energy drink that’s legal to buy online?
1- VPX Bang
“Potent Brain and Body Fuel” – that’s exactly what VPX is all about with Bang, and they’re shaking up the energy drink industry one champagne flavored “super creatine” drink at a time.
Harnessing the energizing effects of creatine, Bang is one of the most potent and pure energy drinks the industry has ever seen.
Combining caffeine with creatine, CoQ10’s, and BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids), the unique energizing blend is on its own level.
Each can of Bang contains a whopping 300 mg serving of caffeine – more than Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Amp, Full Throttle, and just about all the other leading energy drink brands out there.
But get this – it doesn’t have any sugar. 0 calories and 0 sugars.
That’s right, Bang is sweetened with sucralose, making it a top choice for energy drinkers who like to limit their sugar consumption.
Champagne is my ultimate flavor of choice, but Bang comes in a few different flavors (not all are available on Amazon): Blue Razz, Lemon Drop, Starfruit, Black Cherry Vanilla, and Cotton Candy, just to name a few.
2- RUNA Clean Energy Drink
RUNA is a unique energy drink that harnesses the energizing properties of the guayusa leaf.
Used by tribes in the Amazon to make herbal energizing tea concoctions, the guayusa leaf contains natural caffeine balanced with polyphenol antioxidants for sustained energy and focus without the crash.
How does RUNA source this energizing plant grown in the rain forest? Here’s what the company has to say:
“RUNA’s commitment to ethical and environmental standards goes above and beyond our certifications. We source exclusively from indigenous farming families that grow guayusa in sustainable, biodiverse forest gardens. Together we’re pioneering a new way to do business in the Amazon.”
This energy drink is 100% organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, Gluten-free, Paleo, Kosher, and Vegan. No sugar, no stevia, and no artificial sweeteners used.
3- Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
Optimum Nutrition is the giant supplement company behind this Amino Energy drink.
Only 15 calories per 16 oz bottle makes this particular energy drink popular for the health conscious. Some people like taking Amino Energy before the gym as a pre-workout supplement.
Each bottle also contains 5 grams of free form amino acids and 100 mg of caffeine for a easy-going, smooth blend that limits the jitters without limiting your energy levels.
The Optimum Nutrition company offers this blend in a powder form, but many prefer the convenient, already mixed bottles for on-the-go energy solutions.
Premixed bottles come in these delicious flavors: Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Orange Blast, Strawberry Cooler, and Watermelon Wave.
4- GURU Organic Energy
GURU is an organic energy drink company founded in 1999.
Containing just 100 mg of caffeine from green tea and guarana extract, this isn’t the most potent energy drink on the market, but it’s one of the cleaner ones as far as natural energy goes.
There are absolutely no preservatives, no taurine, no artificial caffeine, and no artificial flavors or sweeteners used in GURU drinks.
Here are the official ingredients used in GURU Energy:
Sparkling water, organic cane syrup, organic white grape juice concentrate, natural flavors, apple acid, citric acid, organic green tea leaf extract, organic guarana seed extract, organic echinacea flower extract, and organic panax ginseng root extract.
This energy drink is certified USDA Organic, Vegan, Non-GMO & Gluten-Free.
5- Sheckter’s Organic Energy
This organic energy drink combines organic pomegranate, elderberry, and lemon juice in sparkling spring water for a delicious blend sweetened with a touch of raw cane sugar.
Each can contains 80 mg of caffeine from natural sources like organic guarana, green tea, ginseng, and raw coffee bean extract.
This products was a Gold Winner at the UK’s Prestigious Great Taste Awards, so it’s one of the better tasting organic energy drinks on the market.
USDA Organic, Informed Choice certified, GMO project verified, and Vegetarian Society approved.
What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are beverages that contain a large amount of caffeine along with other ingredients that claim to provide the user with an energy boost.
These ingredients can include Vitamin B, Guarana, Ginseng, and Taurine just to name a few. The term “energy drink” was invented by drink manufacturers. This means they are not recognized by the Food and Drug Administration or the USDA as a reliable way to improve your energy level .
There is not much evidence out there that shows whether or not energy drinks actually provide you with better physical performance. The amount of caffeine will have about the same effect as a cup or two of coffee for most individuals.
However, there are some people who rely on these drinks to give them the extra push they need to get through their workout sessions or push through the afternoon wall. Energy drinks that contain added nutrients and vitamins could supplement if your diet is lacking in some areas.
How do energy drinks work?
The majority of energy that you receive when you consume a typical energy drink usually comes from two main ingredients – sugar and caffeine.
The average drink can contain anywhere from 50-300 milligrams of caffeine. Your average 12 oz. soda contains anywhere from 18 to 48 mg. of caffeine.
So what makes healthy energy drinks different from sodas and sports drinks? They contain ingredients that are actually useful to the body.
Here are a few of the ingredients that are found in many energy drinks available on the market today . These ingredients can help improve energy, increase clarity and focus:
A decongestant that is used for the temporary relief of shortness of breath, wheezing or chest tightness due to asthma. Ephedrine is added to energy drinks because it can be used as a stimulant that effects the central nervous system. It is often seen in weight loss products, however there have been concerns about the damaging effects ephedrine can have on the heart.
This is a natural amino acid that is produced by the body. It can help to regulate your heart beat and ease muscle contractions. Experts are unsure about all the effects that taurine has on the body, however studies have shown that it can be used as an antioxidant (like camu camu), and could even have a sedative effect (like chamomile) .
Ginseng is a natural root (like maca) that is harvested for its medicinal purposes. It is believed to help reduce stress levels and provide users with a quick burst of energy. The Chinese have used ginseng in teas and medicine for thousands of years.
This is a natural stimulant that is derived from a shrub which can be found in the countries of Brazil and Venezuela. Guarana contains caffeine as well as theophylline and theobromine which are also similar to caffeine .
This is an amino acid that can help speed up your metabolism level. It helps to move fatty acids from the blood into the mitochondria located in our cells. This allows fatty acids to be used for energy, and helps you to burn away fat while you exercise.
This is an organic acid that supplies energy for contracting the muscles. It is often found in protein powders and strength training supplements. It helps muscle cells produce more energy and supports the various functions of the muscles .
This is a Vitamin B complex that helps to relay messages within our body’s cells. Insitol is not a vitamin itself, that’s because our bodies can synthesize it. This pseudovitamin can be found naturally in plants and animals.
This ingredient comes from the seeds of the ginkgo biloba tree and is believed to enhance our memory. Ginkgo Biloba is also used to increase concentration, relieve anxiety and depression, help improve libido (commonly found in natural test boosters), treat migraine headaches, and fight the symptoms of PMS (similar to fish oil).
What are the benefits of energy drinks?
Energy drinks are easy to consume and come in various flavors that are similar to soft drinks. They can be purchased anywhere and are also available in diet varieties.
While the verdict is still out on how much energy they can provide, most people are able to get a quick boost from these drinks similar to their morning cup of coffee. If your diet lacks in various nutrients such as B-Vitamins, you can find energy drinks that are filled with these useful ingredients.
Energy drinks are available in large serving sizes as well as small ‘shot style’ doses to help you stay refreshed and get you through the work day. While they can be helpful if you need to stay awake on very little sleep, they shouldn’t be relied upon on a daily basis as your primary source of energy.
What are the side effects of energy drinks?
Most people do not suffer from serious side effects after consuming one energy drink. Usually if someone has an adverse effect, it is because they have had more than their recommended amount, or had an energy drink on an empty stomach.
Some of the most common side effects that people experience from energy drinks include:
- Heart Palpitations
- Tremors and Shaking
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Chest Pain
- Tingling or Numbing of the Skin
- Respiratory Issues
Most individuals who consume energy drinks on occasion never experience any type of side effect. If you do have one of more of these symptoms after only consuming one energy drink and you are otherwise in good health, you may want to consider other natural energy boosters.
When consumed in moderation, most individuals will not have any reactions from drinking energy drinks.
However, there have been some long-term effects that could result from drinking them too frequently. These long-term issues are not fully understood and haven’t been researched well enough to provide concise details as of yet.
How do you take an energy drink?
It all depends on the ingredients that each energy drink contains. Most contain high amounts of caffeine, so it is important to pay close attention to the label.
If you choose a sugar-free variety, you are limiting the amount of sugar you consume, which is a good thing, but you still need to watch your caffeine intake.
Healthy adults should limit themselves to having at maximum, two energy drinks in a single day to prevent harmful caffeine overdoses.
Using them sparingly as a quick pick-me-up, however, is generally safe and likely won’t cause any long-term issues.
It’s recommended that you don’t drink an energy drink before or during physical activity such as an extreme workout or while playing sports. Some athletes may like this boost of energy and think that it will help them perform better on the field. But a fast surge of caffeine and sugar could do damage to your heart.
Those who have pre-existing heart conditions should especially be aware of this issue and limit their amount of energy drinks.
One of the biggest risks when it comes to energy drinks is consuming too many, too quickly. They are considered dangerous for children and teens if they are consumed irresponsibly. To be safe, it is best to restrict energy drinks from children and teens.
You should never mix energy drinks with alcohol. Some people have claimed that mixing these drinks with beer or liquor can help to counteract the effects of alcohol. However, the truth is that it only causes you to be less aware of how many energy drinks or how much alcohol you are consuming. And that can have a serious effect on your health.
Always make an informed decision when it comes to choosing an energy drink. Choose a beverage only after reading all the ingredients and nutritional information on the label.
You should also keep track of the amount of caffeine you drink each day and the other active ingredients that could work as a stimulant. A healthy adult should consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine each day .
Energy drinks can provide you with a quick boost of energy any time you need it. They are a good alternative to coffee and many contain healthy ingredients that can improve focus and memory.
When used in moderation, energy drinks are perfectly safe for healthy adults to consume. But be sure to not drink them before or during strenuous activities, or mix an energy drink with alcohol.
Ready to see what an energy drink can do for you? Check out the rankings at the top of the page for the top 5 healthy energy drinks on the market.