For many of us, it can be difficult to get through the day without an energy boost at some point. Whether it is a cup (or two) of coffee in the morning, a large sugary caffeine-filled soda at lunch, or an energy drink or quadruple-shot espresso in the afternoon, we all have that go-to caffeine source we rely on every day.
Coffee is by far the most popular choice when it comes to needing a burst of energy, but over the past decade, energy drinks have become a close second, and it has turned into multi-billion dollar industry. Unlike ten years ago, today you can easily find energy drinks with different types of flavors and strengths, plus varying blends of ingredients.
If you are a fan of energy drinks, this leaves you with a lot of choices, and you might not be familiar with the best options out there on the market. So, to help you decide which is the best energy drink for you, here are the 11 most popular brands of energy drinks — and what it is that makes them stand out.
What Are Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks are prepackaged drinks loaded with caffeine that are designed to quickly give you a boost of energy. Other common ingredients include Guarana, various B-vitamins like B12, and taurine (a common energy booster).
Chances are you have tried at least one of the two most popular drinks on the market — Red Bull and Monster — and they top our list. But, there are many other options out there that you should consider giving a try and start expanding your horizons.
1. Red Bull
The original energy drink to hit the American market, Red Bull is always a good choice. An 8-ounce can contains 80mg of caffeine — which is a moderate amount that won’t make you jittery — and it comes in multiple varieties. Options include sugar-free and zero, and the flavor choices are endless. You can go for the original flavor, or try everything from blueberry to grapefruit.
According to a 2001 study published in Amino Acids, Red Bull not only affected the physical energy of the volunteers, but it also helped improved mental capacity, like concentration and memory.
The second-highest selling brand on the market, Monster energy drinks feature an energy blend of glucose, taurine, caffeine, and Panax ginseng. At 16 ounces, their cans are double the size of Red Bull’s original can, and monster also has double the caffeine, 160 mg.
With Monster, you get a lot for your money. It is affordable and easy to find, plus it comes in a variety of delicious flavors, like Assault (red) and Khaos (orange). There is also a low-carb, low-sugar version that still has a sweet flavor while giving you a big energy kick.
Like Monster, the original Rockstar flavor comes in a larger 16 ounce can and also has 160 mg of caffeine per serving. But Rockstar Punched comes in a 24-ounce can, and it has a whopping 360 mg of caffeine. The original is also loaded with over 67 grams of sugar, but they also offer the popular Zero Carb version which keeps the high caffeine amounts but cuts out the carbs and sugar, meaning it only has 10 calories.
Rockstar doesn’t have as many flavor options as Red Bull or Monster, but they do have a few that you can find, like pina colada, lime freeze, and cucumber lime.
Nos energy drinks come in 16 and 24-ounce cans and are popular with car and racing enthusiasts because it was named after a brand of nitrous oxide. The 16-ounce cans have 160 mg of caffeine, and the original version has a passion fruit flavor that also comes in a resealable 22-ounce bottle (and has 220 mg of caffeine).
There is also Nos Zero, a sugar-free version, that does not have high fructose corn syrup like the original. Other flavors include Cherried Out, GT Grape, and Charged Citrus.
This no sugar, no carb, no calorie energy drink is one of the more expensive options on this list, but it has zero empty calories. The official energy drink of the UFC, Xyience is powerful — with 176 mg of caffeine per 16 ounce serving — and it comes in flavors like cherry lime, mango guava, fruit punch, and frostberry blast.
There are no artificial colors or flavors, and Xyience will stimulate your metabolism, elevate your performance, and enhance mental concentration.
Unlike other energy drinks that are often a lot like soda, BANG is a “workout” type of energy drink marketed as a fat loss aid, as well as an energy stimulator. If you are trying to increase the intensity of your workouts and lower your body fat percentage, BANG might be exactly what you are looking for.
BANG has 300 mg of caffeine per can, plus it contains creatine, B vitamins, and BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), but according to reviews there is no crash after using this product, and the company says that is because they don’t use sugar.
Flavors include Blue Razz, Lemon Drop, Champagne, and Power Punch.
Owned by PepsiCo, Amp started out as an extension of their Mountain Dew brand, and a 16-ounce can has 142 mg of caffeine. There are three “functional” flavors — Amp Energy Boost, Amp Energy Focus, and Amp Energy Active.
The original Amp Energy Boost has 220 calories in a 16-ounce can, plus 58 g of carbs and 58 g of sugar. So, if you are watching your calorie intake, this might not be the best option. And, the organic version, which comes in 12-ounce cans, has 200 calories, 49g of carbs, and 49 g of sugar.
An energy drink that is also a pre-workout drink, Celsius has 200 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce can, but no sugar, no preservatives, and only 10 calories. It is also loaded with Vitamins C, B6, and B12, and scientific studies found that it has thermogenic properties. This means it will increase your metabolism and help you burn body fat.
Celsius comes in a variety of flavors, including sparkling orange, sparkling grape, and sparkling watermelon.
Amazon’s Choice for energy drinks, Zevia has zero calories and zero sugar and is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. With 120 mg of caffeine, Zevia has bold flavors and is naturally sweetened with stevia leaf. Their bold flavors include mango/ginger, raspberry/lime, grapefruit, and kola.
If you are looking for something to replace soda, but will also give you energy, this could be the perfect choice.
10. V8 Energy
With 8-ounce cans that feature 80mg of caffeine from natural green tea, V8 Energy also has its trademark serving of fruits and veggies without the sugar or artificial colors and flavors. Each can has 50 calories, and while it may not pack the punch of other energy drinks, it is definitely a more healthy option.
Some of the flavors available include vegetable juice, strawberry banana, peach mango, and black cherry.
11. Mountain Dew Kickstart
This one walks the line between soda and energy drink — and PepsiCo calls it an enhanced soft drink — but we included Mountain Dew Kickstart because it is extremely popular, and does have a generous amount of caffeine in it. But compared to energy drinks, the caffeine amount is definitely on the low side — 92 mg in a 16-ounce can.
It is “healthier” than Mountain Dew, with only 80 calories per serving, and it contains fruit juice and artificial flavors. Some of the flavors available include Orange Citrus and Midnight Grape.
Energy drinks are a great way to give you a boost if you are dragging at work or need to stay focused at school. But, be careful with caffeine because it can cause trouble sleeping, and it can also be very addictive.
400mg of caffeine a day is the safe limit, and if you consume more than that, you could experience side effects like headaches, jitters, and dehydration.
But, whether or not you are looking for a simple energy boost or to increase the intensity of your workouts, one of the energy drinks on this list will work for you.