From time to time, we all need a bit of an energy boost to keep us going through the day.
Whether that’s a cup of coffee at lunchtime or a good energy drink mid-afternoon, we all have our favorite energizing vices we rely on.
In order to help you find a good product, we’ve researched & compared the best energy drinks on the market right now.
Top 10 Energy Drinks Compared
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1. Red Bull Energy Drink
Red Bull Energy Drink is, quite simply, the most popular energy drink on the planet. You’ve surely seen the ads, or maybe even tried the product for yourself – after all, Red Bull “Gives You Wings”. Red Bull is a true legend in the energy drink world, packaged in that iconic blue-and-silver can. And with a potent blend of high-quality ingredients, including caffeine, taurine, B-vitamins, and more, this drink packs a punch
- The most popular energy drink
- 6.3 Billion cans sold in 2017
- 80mg caffeine per serving
- Packed with caffeine, taurine, B-vitamins, and more
- Available in a variety of flavors
- Great value for money
- Moderate caffeine content won’t make you jittery
- Red Bull sponsors tons of extreme sports, giving back to the community
What’s in it: (8.4 fl oz can)
- Energy blend, consisting of caffeine (80mg), taurine, B-vitamins, sucrose, and glucose.
Who makes it: Red Bull is made by Red Bull GmbH, an Austrian-based beverage manufacturer. Best known for their signature Red Bull product, this company was founded in 1987 and has since grown into one of the largest beverage conglomerates on the planet. With 2015 sales of $4.5 billion, Red Bull is by far the best-selling energy drink – and for good reason!
Bottom line: It’s the best-selling energy drink by far, and for good reason – people love its delicious flavor and potent energizing effects. Plus, we love the fact that Red Bull sponsors a ton of events, extreme sports, musicians, and more – giving back to the community in a fun way.
2. Monster Energy Drink
If Redbull is the most popular, then Monster Energy Drink is probably the second most popular energy drink. Featuring an energy blend of glucose, Panax ginseng, taurine, caffeine, L-carnitine, and more, this ultra-popular beverage is affordable, accessible, and tasty. And offering a 160mg dose of caffeine, this drink offers a good balance of taste and energy.
- One of the most popular energy drinks out there
- 160mg caffeine per serving
- Energy blend including taurine, ginseng, glucose, L-carnitine, guarana, and more
- Delicious flavor
- Great value for money
- Monster Energy supports many artists, athletes, and more
- The legendary MONSTER!
What’s in it: (16 fl oz can)
- Energy blend consisting of caffeine (160mg), ginseng, taurine, glucose, L-carnitine, guarana, and more.
Who makes it: Monster Energy Drink is made by Monster Beverage, a large-scale drink manufacturer based in the US. First introduced in 2002, Monster has now grown into a massive company and a worldwide success. Today, they not only produce a wide variety of delicious beverages, but they also give back to the community by supporting extreme sports like BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding, and much more.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a strong energy drink from a great company, look no further than Monster Energy Drink. Although they offer a wide variety of flavors and variations, we always prefer the original Monster flavor. Plus, we love that Monster gives back to their community in so many ways, sponsoring athletes and financing various extreme sporting events.
3. Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink
Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink is a low-calorie and zero-carb version of the popular Rockstar energy drink. Containing zero sugar and zero carbs, this potent energy drink is enhanced with a herbal blend of guarana, ginseng, ginkgo, and milk thistle – plus a large dose of caffeine to kick start your day.
- Zero carbs, zero sugar
- 240mg caffeine per can
- Blend of guarana, ginseng, ginkgo, and other energy-boosting herbs
- No carbs, 10 calories
- High caffeine content
- The legendary Rockstar brand!
What’s in it: (16 fl oz can):
- Caffeine (240mg), provides a strong boost of energy.
- Energy blend, consisting of taurine, green tea extractives, L-carnitine, and yerba mate extract.
- Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12.
Who makes it: Rockstar Zero Carb is made by Rockstar Energy, a huge company specializing in energy drinks. Today, more than 20 flavors and varieties of Rockstar are made and distributed in over 30 countries. As one of the most popular energy drink brands, Rockstar continues to excel in producing high-quality, accessible, and affordable products.
Bottom line: At zero carbs, zero sugar, and 10 calories per serving, it’s hard to beat Rockstar Zero Carb. The 240mg dose of caffeine is a bit on the high end, so be cautious if you don’t have a caffeine tolerance. This drink is a bit on the expensive side, but well worth it if you’re looking for an energy drink that fits in with your diet.
4. Zipfizz Energy Drink
Zipfizz Energy Drink is a good energy drink containing electrolytes, B-vitamins, and more. It’s also a good overall electrolytes sports drink, as it provides you a way to re-hydrate after exercise. It contains around 100mg caffeine per serving, which is on the low side for caffeine-tolerant people.
- Powdered drink mix – just mix with water
- 100mg caffeine
- Electrolytes for hydration
- Antioxidants and vitamins
- Green tea extract
- B12 included
- Only 10 calories per serving
- Zero sugar
- Provides 4-6 hours of energy
- Low caffeine formula
- Tasty flavors
What’s in it: (11g tube – mix with water)
- 205mg Botanical Antioxidant Blend, consisting of green tea leaf extract, green coffee bean extract, grape seed extract, caffeine (100mg), and more. This blend contains 100mg caffeine (about as much as a shot of espresso) and powerful antioxidants.
- Vitamins C, E, B6, B12, and more.
- Electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Who makes it: Zipfizz is made by a company of the same name. Founded in 2003, Zipfizz set off to develop a healthy and simple energy drink formula. Today, Zipfizz is one of the most popular electrolyte drinks and is available worldwide both in-store and online.
Bottom line: With zero sugar and only 10 calories, this drink should fit in with any diet, and help provide energy for your day. It comes as a powdered drink mix, which can be a good thing but can also be inconvenient for on-the-go use.
5. VPX Redline Xtreme RTD (Ready-to-drink Energy Drink)
VPX Redline Xtreme RTD is meant for athletes and sports enthusiasts. In addition to the standard energy-boosting ingredients, Redline Xtreme also includes BCAAs.
- Designed for athletes
- Very powerful
- Concentrated – 4 oz serving size
- Contains caffeine, yerba mate and green tea extract
- Contains BCAAs and electrolytes
- A high-quality sports drink
- 2 servings per bottle
What’s in it: One serving (½ of an 8 oz bottle) contains:
- 350 mg proprietary blend, consisting of caffeine (158mg), BCAAs (beta-alanine, L-leucine, L-valine, L-isoleucine), tyrosine, green tea extract, and much more. This blend contains enough caffeine to get you going, plus BCAAs.
- Electrolyte matrix, consisting of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Who makes it: This product is made by VPX, also known as Redline Sports Nutrition and Performance Beverages. Founded in 1993, VPX has been consistent in its goal of creating high-grade, effective sports supplements. VPX uses industry-leading practices to deliver high-quality, science-backed products at reasonable prices.
Bottom line: With all the energy-boosting ingredients you need, along with the electrolytes and BCAAs your muscles crave, Redline Extreme RTD gives you a powerful boost all in a single concentrated dose. It’s a great product for athletes, but if you’re only looking for a plain energy drink, one of our other recommendations might be better.
6. Starbucks Refreshers
Starbucks Refreshers are a good choice that uses natural caffeine from green coffee extract. Available in 3 fruit flavors, these drinks offer natural caffeine and are 25% juice. With less sugar and more natural ingredients, it’s a solid product.
- Natural caffeine from green coffee extract
- 25% fruit juice
- Added Panax ginseng
- 90 calories per serving
- Available in 3 tasty flavors
- Moderate caffeine content
What’s in it: (12 fl oz can)
- 50mg caffeine, from green coffee extract – although this is fairly low on the caffeine scale. It’s equivalent to about half a cup of coffee.
- 50mg Panax ginseng
Who makes it: Starbucks Refreshers are made by Starbucks, the largest coffee company in the world. If you live in a city, chances are you’re within walking distance of a Starbucks. While they started as a small coffee shop in Seattle, they are now worldwide and have branched out into other business ventures, like manufacturing these Starbucks Refreshers.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a light, low-caffeine energy drink that’s tasty and refreshing, Starbucks Refreshers are a good choice. With only 50mg of caffeine, they’re definitely on the low end, so if you have a caffeine tolerance these might not be very effective for you.
7. Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy
Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy is an innovative energy drink that’s really more of an energy “shot”. You’ve surely seen these in stores, and perhaps even seen TV commercials. These 2-oz bottles are downed in a single gulp, and contain enough caffeine, vitamins, and nutrients to keep you going for, well – 5 hours!
- Only 2 ounces – easy to drink on-the-go
- 200mg caffeine
- Taurine, glucuronic acid, tyrosine & more
- Zero sugar
- Only 4 calories
- Very convenient
What’s in it: (2 fl oz bottle)
- 1870mg Energy Blend, consisting of taurine, glucuronic acid, malic acid, L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine (200mg), and citicoline.
- Niacin, B6, B12 and folic acid.
Who makes it: 5-Hour Energy is made by Living Essentials, a Michigan-based manufacturer of health products and energy drinks. Living Essentials was really the first company to come out with a “micro” energy drink like 5-Hour Energy, and they’ve done very well since then. Today, they’re a huge company, still focused on producing high-quality products.
Bottom line: 5-Hour Energy is a great product, and is especially good for people who don’t particularly like the taste of energy drinks, and are simply after the energy boost. With all the standard ingredients packed neatly into a two-oz bottle, it’s easy to down 5-hour energy and gets on with your day. Plus, they don’t need to be refrigerated.
8. CytoSport Fast Twitch RTD
CyToSport Fast Twitch RTD is a powerful energy booster designed for weightlifters. Packed with caffeine, taurine, and nitric oxide-boosting betaine anhydrous, L-citrulline, and L-arginine, this is a potent all-in-one energy drink.
- Designed for athletes and weightlifters
- 200mg caffeine
- Taurine & glucuronolactone
- Less than 1g carbs
What’s in it: (16.9 fl oz bottle)
- 7g Energy Amplifying Matrix, consisting of caffeine (200mg), taurine, and glucuronolactone.
- 4g Power Nitric Oxide Matrix, consisting of betaine anhydrous, glycocyamine, L-citrulline, and L-arginine.
- Vitamins C, E, B6, B12, Folic acid, and sodium.
Who makes it: This product is made by CytoSport, a large manufacturer of workout supplements and health products. Best known for its MuscleMilk product line, CytoSport is a leader in the industry, and for good reason. Founded in 1998, CytoSport is dedicated to producing innovative, effective, and affordable supplements for its customers.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for an energy drink for weightlifting, this is a good choice. By combining the ingredients of a standard energy drink with those of a good nitric oxide supplement, CytoSport has made a great product for those who enjoy spending time at the gym. The only downside is it’s only available in two flavors, but at least they’re tasty flavors.
9. Xyience Xenergy Drink
Xyience Xenergy Drink offers a strong energy boost with zero calories and zero sugar. Available in a variety of tasty flavors, Xyience offers 176mg of caffeine per serving, enough to get your day going or keep you focused through the day’s tasks. Xenergy is now the official energy drink of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
- 176mg caffeine per serving
- Zero calories
- Zero carbs
- Zero sugar
- The official energy drink of the UFC
- Taurine, guarana, panax ginseng and more
What’s in it: (16 fl oz can)
- 7g proprietary blend, consisting of taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine (176mg), guarana extract, Panax ginseng, and more.
Who makes it: This product is made by Xyience, a Texas-based manufacturer of energy drinks and other health products. They offer the Xyience Xenergy line, which includes many flavors and varieties of this popular beverage. They also have a supplement division, which makes effective health supplements for athletes and everyday people alike.
Bottom line: It’s a bit on the expensive side, so if you’re looking for a cheap energy drink, look elsewhere. With that being said, it’s a great product offering a hefty dose of energy-boosting ingredients, all with no sugar, no carbs, and no calories.
10. SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy Drink
SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy drink is made with acai berry, natural caffeine, guarana, and more. Made with real fruit juice, this all-organic formula is vegan and gluten-free. With a moderate caffeine level equivalent to around two shots of espresso, this drink provides a great way to help boost your energy levels.
- Organic formula
- All-natural, gluten-free, vegan
- Made with real fruit juice
- 80mg caffeine per serving
- Caffeine from yerba mate, green tea, and guarana
- Uses real fruit juice
- Includes acai berry
What’s in it: (12 fl oz can)
- Caffeine (80mg) from natural sources, including green tea extract, guarana, and yerba mate. This is a fairly low amount of caffeine, equivalent to about 1 cup of weak coffee.
- Organic acai berry juice. Acai berry is hailed as a superfruit, providing powerful antioxidant properties.
Who makes it: SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy Drink is made by SAMBAZON, a large manufacturer of health foods and drinks. This company mostly focuses on the use of acai berry, a natural superfood found in the Amazon. Today, this California-based company is large and successful, and now distributes its products worldwide.
Bottom line: This is a complete energy drink with a relatively low level of caffeine. For those looking for a more natural option, this is a good choice. With that being said, keep in mind that the low caffeine content may not be sufficient for those with a caffeine habit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Energy Drinks
What Are Energy Drinks?
While coffee is the most popular by far (54% of Americans drink coffee every day), energy drinks are a close second (1).
These powerful energy boosters generally contain enough caffeine, taurine, guarana, B-vitamins, and more to keep you going through your day.
10 or 15 years ago, energy drinks were rarely seen on store shelves. Today, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.
Energy drinks are prepackaged drinks designed to give you an energy boost.
Generally, they contain a good amount of caffeine, the same substance that gives coffee its kick, along with a blend of other ingredients.
Guarana is also commonly added, as are various B-vitamins, namely B12, as well as common energy boosters like taurine.
Most energy drinks are designed to be a quick and easy way to get a large energy boost. They are useful for all sorts of applications: getting through a tough workday, studying for that final, etc.
Regardless of your reason for liking energy drinks, it’s always good to look for good energy drinks that don’t contain many potentially unhealthy ingredients.
What Are the Benefits of Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks are a popular beverage mostly used to improve focus and ward off fatigue. Some people use them as an alternative to coffee.
These are some of the main uses of energy drinks:
As the name suggests, energy drinks are designed to give you energy.
Many energy drink users report feeling more awake, energized, and focused after consuming an energy drink.
Most of these effects can be attributed to the drinks’ caffeine content, which typically ranges from 70 to 200+mg per serving (2).
Caffeine is well documented in its ability to increase energy levels and ward off fatigue (3). It is thought to increase perceived energy by blocking adenosine from binding to receptors in your brain, helping you feel more alert and focused (4).
For comparison, a cup of coffee contains anywhere from 75 to 200+mg (5), as well, so the caffeine content of energy drinks is fairly similar to black coffee. Caffeine can also come in the form of a pill and the best caffeine pills usually contain about 200 mg of caffeine themselves.
Some athletes and weightlifters choose to consume energy drinks shortly before a workout.
This is not surprising, as caffeine is considered one of the most effective pre-workout supplements you can take (6). Other ingredients included in energy drinks, such as taurine, may also benefit exercise performance.
It may also help reduce muscle soreness and muscle damage during and after intense workouts (9, 10). Taurine is a particularly beneficial ingredient of energy drinks, with a whole host of potential benefits (11).
Many energy drinks claim to provide a “healthy” source of energy. Others claim that B-vitamin blends will help energize you naturally, while some even avoid the use of caffeine and stick to herbal and vitamin-based energy sources.
These claims are largely unfounded.
In reality, the main energy boost from energy drinks comes from caffeine.
The B vitamins (mostly B12) are marketed as boosting energy, but these claims are dubious.
B vitamins can have an effect on energy, as they assist with the body’s converting of food into glucose, our primary energy source (12). However, most people get enough B vitamins from their diet.
There is no evidence to suggest that healthy individuals without a deficiency get any energizing benefit from taking additional B vitamins (13). In other words, vitamin B12 is only beneficial for energy if you are deficient in the nutrient.
Also, keep in mind that most energy drinks are far from healthy. Most are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients.
For the most part, you can get similar benefits from a cup of coffee, without all the added sugar and carbohydrates.
Whether you’re looking for a daily fix or just a quick boost, energy drinks are a great option.
For the daily drinker, it’s often best to purchase online to save money.
Who Can Benefit From Energy Drinks?
Various groups can benefit from these tasty energy drinks, and it goes beyond the simple “wake me up” effect that many people seek.
- Students – Spend some time on a college campus, and you’ll see cans of Red Bull everywhere. Energy drinks can help students get through the rigorous demands of a college education by providing not only energy but also mental focus, much like the best nootropic supplements are marketed to do. Energy drinks are often the first choice of students because they don’t need to be prepared like coffee, so it’s easy to keep them on-hand and accessible when the need arises.
- Workers – Regardless of your job, there are some days that are just hard to get through. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Maybe you’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Maybe you just don’t like your job (sorry!) Whatever the reason, an energy drink can get you back on track and help you get through your workday.
- Athletes – Athletes burn fuel. Athletes need fuel. Energy drinks are great fuel. Simple as that! Not only do energy drinks contain caffeine, which by itself can help improve athletic performance, they also contain athletic fuel like B12 and taurine. Plus, they have a good amount of carbohydrates, in the form of sugar. Carbs are great for short-term fuel and are very useful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
- Bodybuilders – Bodybuilders and weightlifters can benefit from energy drinks, and there are even drinks designed specifically with these people in mind. Caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance and help you lift more, as well as providing a metabolism boost. Plus, the fast-absorbing carbs provide great fuel for your workout.
- “Not morning people” – There are morning people, and then there are… not morning people. If you’re in the latter category, you likely need some sort of highly caffeinated liquid before you get up and face the day.
Are There Any Side Effects of Energy Drinks?
People often ask, are energy drinks bad for you?
The answer is this: no, ONLY as long as you don’t abuse them!
Just like coffee, energy drinks can have negative effects if you consume too much, or if you consume them on a regular basis.
They can be habit-forming, meaning you can become somewhat addicted to their effects (like coffee).
While you won’t go through serious withdrawals like drug addiction, you may find yourself sluggish or unmotivated on days you don’t have energy drinks.
Other side effects include:
- Trouble sleeping – try not to consume energy drinks later in the day.
- Headaches – some people may experience headaches, often caused by caffeine withdrawal
- Increased anxiety – for some people, caffeine and energy drinks can cause anxiety
- Jitters/nervousness – a common side effect of too much caffeine – don’t drink more than 1-2/day
- Dehydration – caffeine is dehydrating, so be sure to consume adequate water as well
- High blood pressure – for those who already have high blood pressure, caffeine can further raise blood pressure leading to potential complications
- Type 2 diabetes – energy drinks are high in sugar, and consuming them long-term can lead to type 2 diabetes
Other side effects may occur as well. If you have heart complications, you should not consume energy drinks. If you are under 18, you should also not drink energy drinks.
If you notice side effects, stop consuming that particular energy drink. If you can, try to cut them out completely, or switch to black coffee.
How Do I Consume an Energy Drink?
Energy drinks are obviously intended for when you need a boost of energy.
Whether you’re dragging at work, struggling to stay focused at school, or are just sleepy, an energy drink can provide a quick fix.
However, keep in mind that energy drinks are no replacement for actual sleep!
It’s wise to not consume them on an empty stomach, as that can cause stomach upset in some people.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that anything containing high amounts of caffeine should not be taken in the late afternoon or evening, as it can cause trouble sleeping.
Depending on your caffeine tolerance, you’ll likely want to stop consuming caffeinated beverages, including energy drinks, approximately 4-8 hours before going to bed.
Caffeine takes quite a while to exit the system and can cause trouble sleeping if you drink it too late in the day.
Also, while one or two energy drinks shouldn’t be a problem, consuming too much caffeine and/or energy drinks can cause serious side effects.
The Mayo Clinic lists up to 400mg of caffeine a day as an upper safe limit – anything beyond that and you may experience negative effects (14).
And since many energy drinks contain 200mg or more, it’s easy to see how quickly you could hit that limit.
How Do I Pick a Good Energy Drink?
Like most products nowadays, there are a ton of different energy drinks to choose from. Here are some factors you should consider when choosing an energy drink.
- Caffeine content – caffeine is generally the main active ingredient in energy drinks. The caffeine content will vary from product to product, but it’s generally in the 50mg-200mg range. It’s a good idea to check the caffeine amount listed on the product you’re considering, and compare it to your caffeine tolerance. According to CaffeineInformer, the average cup of coffee has approximately 160mg of caffeine in it (although that can vary depending on the brewing method), so that’s a good benchmark for your comparisons (15).
- Other energizing ingredients – other ingredients are often added to increase energy. These include B vitamins, taurine, guarana, ginseng, etc. Check the label to see whether or not these ingredients are included.
- Taste – obviously you’ll want to find an energy drink that actually tastes good, otherwise, you won’t want to drink it! If you’re buying a drink that you’ve never tried before, it’s a good idea to read user reviews to learn how people like the flavor.
- Brand quality – not all energy drink brands are created equal. It’s important to buy from a reputable, trustworthy company that ensures high-quality products. On our list above, we only include products from the best companies.
- Value – price will always be a factor (unless you’re rich!) While you don’t necessarily want cheap energy drinks, you’ll want to find a brand that meets your needs and fits your budget. In general, expect to pay around $1.50-$2.50 per can when buying in bulk, and around $2-$4 per can when buying a single can at a store.
Contents of this Article
- Top 10 Energy Drinks Compared
- 1. Red Bull Energy Drink
- 2. Monster Energy Drink
- 3. Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink
- 4. Zipfizz Energy Drink
- 5. VPX Redline Xtreme RTD (Ready-to-drink Energy Drink)
- 6. Starbucks Refreshers
- 7. Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy
- 8. CytoSport Fast Twitch RTD
- 9. Xyience Xenergy Drink
- 10. SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy Drink
- Frequently Asked Questions About Energy Drinks