Rachel Binkley is a registered dietitian who helps individuals develop healthy habits that fit into their lifestyle. She recommends adequate intakes of all micronutrients to help prevent deficiency as well as chronic conditions that may arise. You can keep up with her recipes, lifestyle, and more on Instagram or her blog, S'more Satisfaction.
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With a market full of options, we're here to help you know what to look for. Here's our buying guide on how to choose the best healthy energy drink for your needs.
Certain ingredients are known to boost energy levels, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Here's a breakdown of the ingredients to look for and how much of them you need.
It's been estimated that you'll reach 400 milligrams of caffeine by drinking two commercial brand energy drinks, so try not to exceed that amount for your own well-being.
In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks also employ other ingredients like amino acids and vitamins to enhance energy and benefit health.
An increasingly common ingredient is taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that has been shown to boost mental performance when combined with caffeine. However, while taurine is naturally occurring in meat foods like fish, it's usually synthesized for the sake of energy drinks.
Still, taurine has many claims to a healthier lifestyle, including the fact that it reduces the risk of heart failure and diabetes. So long as you keep your taurine consumption under 3,000 milligrams a day, you can certainly benefit from having it in your energy drink.
Vitamin C is also a popular addition to healthy energy drinks. It's an antioxidant and immune system booster. Vitamin D, yet another common ingredient, can help improve your mood and mental performance.
While healthy energy drinks do contain vitamins, we don't recommend relying on them for your nutrition needs. Please look to whole foods as your main source of essential vitamins.
Although some micronutrients included in energy drinks can be beneficial, they should not be the reason behind choosing to drink one. Unfortunately, sometimes these nutrients have more to do with marketing.
Vitamin C can absolutely support your immune system, though. If you are deficient in vitamin D, it may be beneficial to consume a supplement. These are all topics to discuss with a physician or dietitian.
This energy, however, is very short-lived and will inevitably lead to a crash. Worse, there's a lot of solid research showing that too much sugar leads to an increased risk of health issues like diabetes, fatty liver, and tooth decay.
But you don’t want to be adding too many artificial sweeteners to your diet either, so stick to natural sugars in your energy drinks. A good rule of thumb is to look for a drink with less than 10 grams of sugar per eight ounces.
The energy you're getting from energy drinks is not the same as the energy that is provided with a well-balanced meal. With food sources, you can incorporate fiber or protein to help slow digestion.
When energy drinks are high in sugar, it will lead to a blood sugar spike. This can be more concerning depending on chronic health concerns. There's no doubt that caffeine and sugar will give you energy. The question is, are you looking for quick or sustainable energy? That will depend on your plans and lifestyle.
Commercial energy drinks use synthesized caffeine made from urea and chloroacetic acid. While synthetic caffeine is structurally similar to the caffeine found in plants like tea or coffee, there's one dramatic difference: your body absorbs it much faster. This leads to jitters, post-caffeine crashes, and even an upset stomach on occasion.
Healthy energy drinks use natural caffeine sources like green tea and yerba mate, coffee beans, and the guarana seed. Some of these are denser in caffeine than others; guarana is even more potent than coffee! So long as you check the caffeine levels on your drink's label, you should be able to get the boost you need without overdoing it.
It goes without saying, but you'll also want to steer clear of artificial colors and synthesized flavorings in your search for a healthy energy drink. There are plenty of natural flavors that taste just as sweet, and no one really needs their drink to be electric green.
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Organic Citrus Energy Drink
Our Top Choice - An All-Natural Drink With a Smooth, Bright Finish
Raspberry Acai Green Tea Live Fit
Best for a Massive Caffeine Boost
Peach Mango +Energy
Best for Lovers of V8 Juice
Raspberry Lime Zero Calorie Energy Drink
Best for a Fully Sugar-Free Energy Boost
Organic Amazon Energy
Best Healthy Energy Drink With Fair Sourcing
Grapefruit Sparkling Energy Water
Best for a Mild Caffeine Boost and Light, Sparkling Flavor
Mati Sparkling Organic Energy Drink
Best Low Ingredient Healthy Energy Drink
Sugar-Free Mental-Physical Energy Supplement
Best for an Evenly-Timed Kick and Good Container Design
This energy drink gets its caffeine and sweetness from entirely natural sources. On top of being organic, it is also certified vegan and non-GMO, so you know that you’re only getting the good stuff. Guru's energy drink comes in a light, sweet flavor as well as a more intense matcha variety.
A few people who bought Guru's Organic Energy Drink reported it has a bit of a sour aftertaste that they weren't too fond of. This was only a complaint listed for the Lite flavor, however.
For the most part, reviewers were thrilled to have a Guru energy drink that didn't come with a crash afterward. Many said that the matcha flavored style was particularly tasty, adding that it was a smooth beverage to drink. It gave them the energy boost they needed.
Formulated to be used as a pre-workout drink, Celsius' energy drink packs a huge punch with 200 milligrams of caffeine per can. It comes in an array of wild flavors complete with non-carbonated options.
A few who purchased Celsius energy drinks on Amazon warn that there are lots of scams out there, so you may want to purchase your energy drink from the company's site directly. Others who tried the non-carbonated versions of this drink warn that they taste a bit metallic.
Most people who drink Celsius energy drinks rave about how potent the kick is without creating any shakes or post-boost crashes. They say that the fruit flavors especially are light, tasty, and refreshing. Those who drink Celsius before a workout report that it gives them just the right amount of pep to their step and keeps them focused on their exercise.
V8's healthy energy drink contains all the benefits of its veggie and fruit products. It sources real carrots, potatoes, apples, and oranges to bring you an energy drink brimming with essential vitamins and amino acids. The caffeine is sourced from black and green teas, promising a steady, no-jitters energy boost.
Some who drank V8's energy drink have complained that the addition of sucralose, or Splenda, gives the drinks a chemical aftertaste. While this does cut out the need for added sugars, we recommend trying a different product if you don't like Splenda.
Most people who bought V8's energy drink rave about the balanced flavor. They say that despite the brand this energy drink doesn't have the vegetable taste that other V8 juices do. Rather, many are thrilled with the how sweetly this healthy beverage goes down and how well it gives them an energy boost. If you like V8 and need a caffeine kick, this might be for you!
Zevia's zero-calorie energy drink is perfect if you want a clean, no-nonsense caffeine kick in your day. Sweetened with stevia leaf, this drink is flavorful without the added sugar rush. The caffeine added is organically sourced, and Zevia guarantees a vegan and kosher-friendly experience with their energy drink.
While most people can’t differentiate the taste of stevia from sweeteners from other sources, reviewers have mentioned that the sweetness from stevia is quite strong in this drink.
However, a few reviewers were happy they could drink this on a keto diet and others say Zevia tastes great and is good as a healthy alternative to soda. Others were happy with the caffeine amount, saying it was just the boost they needed without going overboard.
Some who drank this energy drink found the aftertaste of the erythritol to be unpleasant. If you aren't a fan of low-calorie sweeteners, this may not be the product for you.
Still, most who tried Sambazon's organic energy drink were thrilled to have a healthy and ethical alternative for their energy kick. They said the acai flavor especially had a pleasant tang that contrasted with the sweetness. Others reported that the caffeine kick was even stronger than their morning coffee!
Hiball Energy's energy drink is the perfect light energy boost for sparkling water lovers. Naturally flavored with fruits, this carbonated drink uses guarana and ginseng as an organic caffeine source.
Some people who were seeking a heavier caffeine boost found Hiball's beverages to be lacking in energy. Others complained that the taste was a bit too light for their preferences. Still, a few reported they mix it with other juices if they don't prefer the mild flavoring.
However, most reviewers rave about the clean, refreshing flavor of these energy drinks. They found it gave them a perfect, moderate caffeine kick without any crashing or jitters. They add that the milder amount of caffeine makes this a great choice if you need energy later in the day.
Mati is guaranteed by the Clean Label Project to have a byproduct-free factory environment. This healthy energy drink uses guayusa tea for its caffeine boost, but beyond that only has organic fruit juice and sparkling water on its ingredient list. If you're looking for something simple yet effective, Mati's energy drink might be for you!
Recently, Mati has changed its original formula for a more organic alternative. Some who enjoyed this energy drink brand up until now complain that newer isn't always better, saying that the new formula lacks a strong caffeine kick and leaves a bit of an aftertaste.
Most who tried this energy drink, however, found its boost to be effective enough without irritating their stomachs or causing shakiness. They add that while the flavor of Mati's Organic Energy Drink is milder than other brands, it's enjoyable enough for the caffeine kick it delivers. Many found that the new formula's taste was unique, but grew on them after a short time.
While Uptime's energy supplement does contain some preservatives and synthesized ingredients, it's still fairly healthy with its low sugar content and natural caffeine sources of ginseng and other plants. Uptime's energy drink is packaged in a re-closable aluminum bottle, which means you can stick it back in the fridge for later if you want to.
One or two customers had an allergic reaction to the root extract found in this energy drink. If you have sensitivities to root-type foods such as ginger or ginseng, this may not be a good product for you. A few other reviewers complained that the bottle, while a unique idea, is difficult to open.
Most who drank Uptime's energy supplement were pleased by the balanced and gradual energy boost they got from it. Those who drank the sugar-free supplement happily reported it had no aftertaste. A few added that it helped them focus on difficult work more than other brands of energy drinks have.
Celsius is low in sugar and moderate in caffeine. The variety of flavors is a bonus. One of these energy drinks contains about 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is similar to two cups of coffee. It doesn't overwhelm you with different additives, yet can give you the boost you need.
In addition to commenting on our buying guide, Rachel also took the time to answer a couple of commonly-asked questions about energy drinks.
Rachel says, "When it comes to energy drinks, I wouldn't drink them unless you have plans ahead of you. The morning is good if you have a busy day scheduled. It can work in the afternoon as well; however, I wouldn't go later than 3:00 PM.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, it might be a good idea to avoid caffeine after noon. The last thing you want is for an energy drink to prevent you from getting quality sleep."
"Energy drinks can be harmful if they are not consumed in moderation," Rachel explains. "For individuals with cardiovascular disease, these can cause problems with any amount. Energy drinks can be very high in caffeine, which can easily affect heart rate and blood pressure.
The other concern is sugar or sugar additives. Individuals who react negatively to either in large amounts should use caution. If you get into the habit of drinking energy drinks regularly, it may be a good idea to take a step back and consider other strategies."
Hopefully, you aren't living solely off of energy drinks! Here are some other great picks to keep you hydrated.
No. 1: Guru｜Organic Citrus Energy Drink
No. 2: Celsius｜Raspberry Acai Green Tea Live Fit
No. 3: V8 Plus｜Peach Mango +Energy
No. 4: Zevia｜Raspberry Lime Zero Calorie Energy Drink
No. 5: Sambazon｜Organic Amazon Energy
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