Best Energy Drinks For Alertness (Perk Me Up!)

If you’re feeling tired and you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, you might want to reach for a sip of your favorite energy drink. Not only will it give you a much needed perk, it might also help you focus better on your latest project. 

In this post, I’ll be taking a look at which are the best energy drinks to rely on when you need to increase your alertness. Stick around because there might be something in here that might help you.

What Causes A Lack Of Alertness?

There are many reasons that may cause you to have trouble staying alert. 

Here are some common factors:

  • Extreme tiredness or lack of sleep
  • High or low blood sugar
  • Heat stroke

How Can An Energy Drink Help Me Stay Alert?

There are a lot of ways energy drinks can help with your alertness. Mainly, it’s got to do with improving your energy levels since, you know, the “energy” word in its name isn’t there without good reason. 

Energy drinks are also known to help improve your concentration and memory which is great when you’re pulling an all-nighter just before an exam or when you’re rushing to meet a work deadline.

Better concentration and memory basically equates to an increase in alertness, and this all means that you’ll be able to perform better at your task. 

Let’s talk about the few typical scenarios where you could benefit from an energy drink to enhance your alertness.

Studies

It is really common for most students to pull all-nighters every so often. Cramming before an exam is one reason for doing so. 

Another would be when you’ve got an assignment or project due and you’re trying to get a lot done in a very short span of time in order to meet the required submission date. 

These are pretty stressful circumstances and you might find yourself struggling to maintain your focus.

Energy drinks will certainly be of help here.

I’ve got another article about the best energy drinks for students so you might want to check that out to familiarise yourself with the options you have out there at your disposal. 

Work

There’s really no end to work, and sometimes it gets to you when you have one too many late nights because of a need to work overtime. 

In general, we can end up facing some pretty nasty side effects from a lack of sleep.

Although energy drinks are no substitute for a good night’s rest, they do help when we need a boost on short notice. For the most part, it’s the good old caffeine in them that help revive us at our most needy moments. 

Hop on over to my post on best energy drinks for work if you need more detailed advice on what is most helpful for a work situation. 

Sports

Besides the obvious need to be in shape, excelling in sports requires you to have sharp physical and mental coordination. 

This is especially important for professional athletes, but anyone who wants to keep up a regular fitness regime will sometimes face a slump and need something to help with their performance too. 

That’s where energy drinks come in. 

I’ve got another two articles that are relevant here (one on the best energy drink for sports and another on the best energy drink for athletes) so do have a look and see if you can gain some wisdom from there to help you.

What Ingredient In An Energy Drink Will Help You Stay Alert?

It’s the caffeine in your energy drinks that’s responsible for increasing your alertness and physical performance too. 

You can get caffeine from lots of different sources, but it’s most often taken from the cacao tree. 

Caffeine is a common ingredient in energy drinks and this is because it is known to have positive effects on the neurons in your brain. It doesn’t, however, make you smarter nor affect the speed in which you are able to learn things.

What Should I Look For When Choosing An Energy Drink?

In essence, there are three things you should look out for when choosing an energy drink for yourself: 

  • Caffeine content
  • Sugar content
  • Price

Caffeine Content

We concluded above that caffeine is useful for enhancing your alertness and concentration span. 

However, if you drink too much caffeine, it can actually be bad for you too.

As a point of reference, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you only consume up to 400mg of caffeine each day.

Studies have shown that if you drink anything more than that, you’d be putting yourself at risk of developing cardiovascular problems, facing issues with calcium balance and experiencing negative changes in your behavior.

So when selecting an energy drink for yourself, you’d need to pay attention to the caffeine content in each serving. Think about how many drinks you’d like to have in one sitting and how often you’ll be having them. 

Not only that, if you already have existing health issues or if you have very low caffeine tolerance, you’d need to take these factors into account when deciding whether a particular brand of energy drink is suitable for you. 

Whatever you decide, always make sure you keep to the recommended daily limit for caffeine as advised by the FDA and you should be fine.

Sugar Content

Studies have shown that sugar consumption improves athletic performance and enhances concentration. 

But although sugar may give you an energy boost right from the get-go, you’ll find yourself even more unfocused and easily distracted than before after 20 minutes or so.

In fact, consuming too much sugar might actually cause you memory issues and give you more problems than before.

So, in my opinion, I think it’s better for you to pick those energy drinks that are without sugar in them.

Price

When reviewing energy drink prices, you’ll want to look out for a brand that’s reasonably priced yet not compromising on taste and nutrition.

There are some really great energy drinks out there, but they might be too expensive and not really worth the money you’ll need to spend on them.

On the other hand, there are those which are cheap, but have an extremely bitter taste or leave you with a bad aftertaste.

So you’ll need to strike a balance here. 

Needless to say, of course, that you’ll need to factor in your personal budget constraints too, if any.

When’s The Best Time For An Energy Drink?

This is a really good question and one that I felt was extremely important to include in this post. 

This is because having your energy drink at the wrong time of the day may actually make you feel worse rather than better.

Studies about the effects of caffeine on the human body have shown that the best time for an energy drink is around mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

This is because it’s likely you may face an energy crisis during that point in the day. Hence, taking an energy drink at these times will certainly help you. 

By the way, I really wouldn’t recommend having energy drinks at night, unless you need to stay up to study or you’re working a night shift.

You can find out which energy drinks won’t give you a sugar crash in this other article that I wrote.

Best Energy Drinks for Alertness

XS Energy Drink

Two cans of XS energy drink.
XS energy drink has a relatively low caffeine content.

XS energy drink has a relatively short list of ingredients which are mostly good for you:

  • 10 calories
  • 80mg of caffeine
  • 35mg of sodium
  • 35mg of potassium
  • 100% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin B3
  • 300% of the DV of vitamin B6
  • 100% of the DV of vitamin B5
  • 4900% of the DV of vitamin B12

The drink also has trace amounts of:

  • Carbonated water
  • Taurine
  • L-Glutamine
  • Citric acid
  • Natural flavors
  • Acesulfame potassium (sweetener)
  • Potassium sorbet (preservative)
  • Salt
  • Sucralose (sweetener)
  • Calcium d-Pantothenate
  • Niacinamide
  • Herbal blend
  • Purple carrot extract (for color)
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride
  • Riboflavin (for color)
  • Cyanocobalamin

Caffeine

XS energy drink is actually great for boosting your alertness. Both caffeine and sugar are included in reasonable amounts in this energy drink.

XS has only 80mg of caffeine. I feel that this is an ideal quantity for an energy drink to have per serving. The amount of caffeine that you’re getting here should be sufficient to keep you alert while avoiding the consequences of a caffeine overdose. 

In fact, you could actually drink up to five cans of XS before you would reach the FDA’s recommended daily caffeine limit of 400mg.

Sugar

Here’s some great news: XS is completely sugar-free.

So besides having a reasonable caffeine intake, you’ll also avoid experiencing a sugar crash.

XS relies on sugar substitutes, acesulfame potassium (also known as ace-K) and sucralose to sweeten its flavor.

Price

XS energy drink isn’t very cheap as it costs about $3 to $4 per can. 

But on the bright side, you’re getting an ideal dose of caffeine and you get to enjoy an energy boost without having to worry about your sugar consumption. 

So if you can afford it, go for a can of XS since it tastes great and will help you maintain the level of alertness you need to get your task list done and dusted.

Zipfizz

A tube of Zipfizz orange flavor beside a glass of the ready-made Zipfizz drink.
Zipfizz is sold in little tubes which you can easily keep in your bag or pocket.

Zipfizz is a great energy drink option because it’s a pretty nifty size that’s convenient for carrying around.

To prepare this energy drink, you just need to pour the Zipfizz powder into any cup or bottle containing water, juice or any beverage of your choice. 

In terms of ingredients, Zipfizz contains:

  • 20 calories
  • 2g of carbohydrates
  • 100mg of caffeine 
  • 500mg of vitamin C
  • 15 IU of vitamin E
  • 2150 IU of vitamin A
  • 500mg of vitamin C
  • 0.75mg of thiamine
  • 0.85mg of riboflavin
  • 10mg of niacin
  • 1mg of vitamin B6
  • 200mcg of folate
  • 2500mg of vitamin B12
  • 5mg of pantothenic acid
  • 60mg of calcium
  • 100mg of magnesium
  • 7.5mg of zinc
  • 35mcg of selenium
  • 0.25mg of copper
  • 950mg of potassium
  • 75mg of sodium
  • 60mcg of chromium
  • 1mg of manganese
  • Grape seed extract
  • Green tea extract 
  • Guarana

Caffeine

Zipfizz has 100mg of caffeine in each serving. 

Personally, my preference is to have between 50mg to 100mg of caffeine in each energy drink serving I take. Zipfizz falls within this range although its caffeine content sits at the higher end of this scale. 

With such a significant amount of caffeine content inside Zipfizz, it will definitely boost your alertness whenever you drink it. 

Another advantage of drinking Zipfizz is that the caffeine in this product is derived from natural sources like green tea and guarana.

Sugar

Similar to XS, Zipfizz is also sugar-free so it’s perfect for you if you want to enjoy the perks of an energy drink yet avoid a sugar crash afterward.

Zipfizz gets its sweet taste from sucralose, an artificial sweetener.

Price

ZIpfizz is cheaper than XS. It costs about $2.25 per serving (sold in tubes), but I personally feel that it’s worthwhile, considering how pleasant the taste of Zipfizz is.

Celsius

Celsius energy drink cans lined up in a row, each with a different flavor.
Celsius offers a higher dose of caffeine per can compared to the other brands I suggested.

Celsius’ caffeine content is on the higher side, and it is sold in both powder as well as ready-to-drink cans. This time around, let’s just talk about the canned version.

In terms of ingredients, Celsius contains:

  • 10 calories per can
  • 200mg of caffeine
  • 60mg of vitamin C
  • 1.7mg of riboflavin
  • 20mg of niacinamide
  • 2mg of pyridoxine hydrochloride
  • 6mcg of cyanocobalamin
  • 300mcg of Biotin
  • 10mg of D-pantothenate 
  • 50mcg of chromium
  • 1.81g of Metaplus Proprietary Blend (see below)
  • Carbonated filtered water
  • Citric acid
  • Fruit and vegetable juice
  • Sucralose
  • Natural flavor

The Celsius Metaplus proprietary blend (1.81g in total) contains:

  • 200mg of caffeine
  • Taurine 
  • Guarana extract 
  • Glucuronolactone
  • Ginger extract 
  • Green tea leaf extract (“standardized” to 15% EGCG)

The quantities of taurine, guarana extract, glucuronolactone and ginger extract are not specified in the product information provided to us.

Caffeine

With 200mg of caffeine, Celsius is definitely the energy drink with the highest amount of caffeine in this list.

I really wouldn’t recommend drinking too much of Celsius because it may have an adverse effect on you.

I feel that it would work better if you drank it over the course of the day so you could keep your alertness up over the span of many hours.

Sugar

Celsius is also sugar-free.

So you can definitely avoid a sugar-crash here, while getting a solid caffeine fix. 
Celsius also depends on the non-nutritive sweetener, sucralose to flavor its drinks. In some varieties, you might also see erythritol and stevia leaf extract being used too.

Price

Celsius has a pretty reasonable price.

It costs about $2.25 for a 12 fl.oz can which is not bad, I think. 

One way of looking at it is that you’re paying the same price that you would have spent for Zipfizz, but you’re getting more caffeine in your drink with Celsius. 

Unlike Zipfizz, you don’t have to worry about mixing your drink because you can just drink it straight from the can.

REIZE

Give REIZE a go whenever you need to stay alert.

I recommend that you try out drinking REIZE to improve your alertness. Not only is it tasty and has a great blend of ingredients (ginseng, taurine and B vitamins too), it’s great value for money. 

Caffeine

REIZE ranks the lowest in terms of its caffeine content in comparison to the other energy drinks I’ve recommended for alertness in this post. 

With only 50mg of caffeine in each 4g sachet, this powdered energy drink will certainly ensure that you remain alert, but with minimal risk to your health.

What’s great about having each sachet contain such a low caffeine content is that you can have the flexibility of enjoying a lighter drink on some days, yet you can also mix a stronger drink for yourself at other times by simply adding more than one sachet to your beverage. 

In fact, you can actually safely drink up to about eight cups of REIZE before you hit the maximum daily limit for caffeine, which is 400mg.

Sugar

Just like all the other energy drinks in this list, REIZE contains no sugar. However, it still maintains a pleasantly sweet flavor, thanks to artificial sweeteners, ace-K and aspartame

Price

In terms of its price, REIZE is the cheapest option amongst the brands I’ve listed here as it costs only $1 per serving (sold in sachets).

Now that’s a great value for money if you’d asked me. 

This $1 fee is also inclusive of free shipping so it’s a really hassle-free experience for you to enjoy REIZE no matter where you are.

Give REIZE a try today and see for yourself how good it really is.

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Marty Spargo

I started my own energy drink brand in 2014 and am passionate about educating people about energy drinks so that they can properly understand the ingredients, benefits and risks without being influenced by the marketing messages put out by some brands. You can read my full bio here.

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