Maybe you’re new to energy drinks and you’re interested to learn more about them. Besides providing you with an energy boost when you’re tired, energy drinks can also do a lot more.
This article will discuss what are in energy drinks and how they can help you in your daily life.
If you’d like to skip straight to the best energy drinks for you, just jump ahead to the last section below…
Table of Contents
What can energy drinks do for you?
As their name implies, energy drinks are beverages that not only boost energy levels but improve mental alertness and exercise performance. Energy drinks are one of the most popular dietary supplements that are available almost anywhere.
Energy drinks usually contain stimulants like caffeine and guarana, ingredients that contribute to these beverages’ energy-boosting properties.
They also typically have sugar, amino acids, B vitamins, herbal extracts and sometimes other sweeteners.
These ingredients help you function during days when you feel like you need a little kick to get through the day.
You’ll definitely benefit from the positive effects of energy drinks when they’re consumed wisely.
I’ve previously written about the benefits of energy drinks. I recommend heading over to that post if you want to learn more as I cover things in a lot more detail there.
You can find energy drinks in many sizes and forms. While most energy drinks come in 8.4 fl.oz and 16 fl.oz cans, some energy drink brands come in bottles, tubes and sachets.
The wide variety of energy drinks available are one of the reasons why they’re such great pick-me-ups.
Whatever you’re looking for from an energy drink, whether it’s to help you cognitively or perform better physically, you’ll definitely find something out there that suits your needs.
Regardless, energy drinks must be consumed in moderation to avoid adverse effects.
Ingredients in energy drinks
Energy drinks have a mixture of ingredients that work together to supply you with mental and physical benefits. Here are some of them:
Like coffee and tea, energy drinks also contain caffeine.
Caffeine is the secret ingredient in energy drinks that affects your central nervous system, prevents fatigue and improves wakefulness.
You’ll find different amounts of caffeine in an energy drink depending on the brand. Some brands contain more caffeine than others. When choosing an energy drink, the first thing you should keep an eye out for is the caffeine content.
Depending on your caffeine tolerance, the effects of energy drinks on your body are also varied. Be sure you know how much caffeine you can consume so you don’t experience complications later on.
If you’re uncertain of the limit of caffeine you should have in a day, the FDA recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for adults.
Sugar is another main ingredient you’ll find in many energy drinks. After all, sugar contributes to their delicious and addictive flavors.
While a little sugar is fine, too much of it can result in sugar crashes, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. Long-term effects of excessive sugar consumption can be detrimental to your health.
If you want to know how much sugar you should be having each day, here’s a guide from the American Heart Association:
|Men||36g /150 calories|
|Women||25g /100 calories|
These amounts include sugar from ALL sources, not only energy drinks. In my opinion, it’s better to consume less sugar than the figures above.
Thankfully energy drinks also come with sugar-free alternatives that you can find almost anywhere nowadays.
Sugar-free energy drinks incorporate artificial sweeteners instead of regular sugar. They’re great if you’re diabetic or want to reduce your sugar and calorie intake. Just like your usual energy drinks, they also taste good in addition to having lower amounts of calories.
If you read the nutritional label on energy drinks, you might find some other ingredients listed there. I’ll briefly explain what some of those ingredients are and what they’re for.
You may notice an ingredient called guarana listed among the ingredients of some energy drinks. It originates from a Brazilian plant and is best known for naturally containing caffeine. Guarana has a higher caffeine concentration compared to coffee beans.
Some energy drinks can actually contain more caffeine than the amount specified on the label if they happen to have guarana too. This is because the caffeine content in guarana typically isn’t added to the total caffeine count.
Energy drinks can also have taurine. Taurine is a type of amino acid that’s mostly included in energy drinks for its purported benefits in boosting heart health and enhancing exercise performance.
Aside from that, you can find B vitamins in energy drinks. B vitamins are important for your health and can affect your energy levels, heart health and brain functions. The common types of B vitamins in most energy drinks are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12.
If you want a better idea of the purpose of each of these ingredients, you can check out this article where I’ve covered everything you need to know about energy drink ingredients and how they work.
Are energy drinks vegan-friendly?
There were once rumors that energy drinks contained bull’s semen because taurine was named after a mythical bull, but it has been debunked.
The trace amounts of taurine you get in your energy drinks are mostly synthesized in labs without the use of any animal products.
Do healthy energy drinks exist?
It’s hard to say if healthy energy drinks exist though there are definitely healthier options available. Some energy drinks might be better for you than others, but it’s not recommended to replace water with energy drinks as it could lead to future health risks.
For starters, most energy drinks contain more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Therefore compared to coffee, you’ll most likely experience the effects of caffeine faster, maybe even before you even finish drinking a full can.
Another reason is that energy drinks often have high levels of sugar.
Even in energy drinks that substitute sugar with sweeteners or ‘healthier’ sugar like organic cane sugar, they aren’t exactly good for you in the long run.
Energy drinks also contain other ingredients that haven’t been studied long enough to know their effects on the human body. Frankly, there’s no guarantee that energy drinks are beneficial to your body. But I’ll add that the same goes for pretty much every processed drink out there.
But, it’s NOT WRONG to consume energy drinks if you really like them. Like how some people love sodas and juices, there’s no harm in having an energy drink if you need a quick caffeine fix or if it helps you perform more efficiently.
No matter what, keep in mind that the amount of energy drinks you consume need to have a limit.
Moderation is key.
For a complete guide to the healthiest energy drinks, check out my other article.
Is there such a thing as caffeine tolerance?
Caffeine tolerance does exist. It’s when the effects of caffeine become less pronounced as you become accustomed to them. Caffeine tolerance can be built up when you consume caffeine regularly.
I would know. I have somewhat of a caffeine tolerance myself. However, since I limit my caffeine intake to about 50mg – 100mg per sitting, my caffeine tolerance isn’t as high as many people.
When you’ve built up a resistance to caffeine, you won’t feel as much of the effects of caffeine anymore. An increase in tolerance to caffeine apparently reduces the risk of high blood pressure in those who consume caffeine regularly.
There’s a way to overcome your caffeine tolerance if you want to. It’s simply by decreasing your caffeine consumption or abstaining from caffeine completely.
Do energy drinks really wake you up?
Since energy drinks contain caffeine, you’ll be more awake after drinking them. They’re great for an energy boost which is especially helpful in the morning or during mid-afternoon drowsiness.
Caffeine is fully absorbed into your bloodstream around 45 minutes after consumption. The effects of caffeine are the strongest then. Caffeine has a half-life of around 5 hours, meaning if you’ve consumed 100mg of caffeine, you’ll still have 50mg left after that amount of time.
There’s no doubt caffeine can keep you awake. That’s what happens after drinking coffee, after all.
In one study, 24 young men were given 250mg of caffeine over two days and it was discovered that not only does caffeine improve alertness and vigilance it also increased the time it took to become sleepy.
So, whether you need a good jolt of energy to wake you up or pull an all-nighter, you can have energy drinks to help you stay awake longer. Just make sure not to consume caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime as caffeine can disrupt your sleep quality.
Can energy drinks help me study?
Energy drinks can help you with studying by boosting your mental performance. Consuming energy drinks have been proven to improve brain function.
Another experiment reported that moderate doses of caffeine enhanced mental attention and information processing among their participants.
Energy drinks can also improve your mood. You’ll be able to concentrate longer and learn better during your studying sessions after taking energy drinks.
Plus, energy drinks have caffeine that can help you stay up through the night if you need to review a lot of your study materials.
Is it ok to have energy drinks for workouts?
Energy drinks contain caffeine, taurine and other ingredients that improve your exercise performance. Consuming energy drinks for workouts has been known to enhance endurance and strength.
A 2016 study reported that caffeine boosted the performance of runners during a 5-km run.
Another study found that drinking a can of Red Bull increased upper body muscle endurance and enhanced performance during a bench press exercise. Athletes also consume energy drinks before doing physical activities.
So, if you’re wondering if having an energy drink for exercising purposes is alright, I’d say it’s completely fine to do so. Your performance during your workouts might even improve.
Is it ok to consume caffeine while driving?
Since caffeine can positively affect your concentration, I’d say it’s perfectly okay to consume caffeine while you’re driving. You’ll pay better attention on the road without drifting off to sleep, especially during long monotonous drives.
Caffeine can improve your vigilance and performance while you’re driving.
In a study conducted on 24 volunteers, it was reported that consuming an energy drink reduced the drivers’ sleepiness and improved their driving performance.
However, make sure you don’t consume more than 400mg of caffeine in a day, or else your driving performance could be compromised. You definitely don’t want to experience a sudden energy slump while you’re at the wheel.
To find out which are the best energy drinks for a long drive, have a look at this other article I’ve written on that.
What are the negative effects of energy drinks?
Like most foods and drinks, energy drinks can cause side effects when consumed excessively.
According to Healthline, some of the side effects of energy drinks are:
- Increase in blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Possible damage to your teeth
- Possible increased risk of kidney damage
- Caffeine overdose
Like everything in life, too much of anything is bad for you. Although it is certainly true that energy drinks have sometimes been linked to deaths or other health issues, I should point out that those cases have usually involved consuming a huge amount of energy drinks in a short amount of time, sometimes in combination with other substances.
Drinking a similar amount of water in the same time period might also be fatal for you.
Moderation is key.
Best energy drinks for you
Now that you know more about energy drinks and how they work, here are some energy drink recommendations for you to try…
Monster Energy Drink
|Ingredients per 16 fl.oz can|
Monster is a well-known energy drink brand with a hefty amount of caffeine. Monster is great if you’ve built up a pretty strong tolerance to caffeine.
Monster also has a wide range of flavors that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds.
But I feel that the caffeine content is too much for me. The sugar and calorie content in one can of Monster also exceeds the AHA’s recommended maximum daily sugar intake.
A can of Monster is usually priced around $3, which I feel leans a little towards the expensive side.
XS Energy Drink
|Ingredients in one 8.4 fl.oz can|
XS energy drink contains around 80mg of caffeine, a nice amount if you ask me. XS is also sugar-free and low in calories, which reduces the risk of side effects and health risks.
Plus, XS has many flavors to choose from, including two caffeine-free options.
The only issue I have with XS Energy is that it’s quite pricey, costing around $3 – $4 per drink. XS Energy would cost you a lot over time if you’re drinking it every day.
If you’re keen to find out more about XS energy drink and if it’s good for you, this article is for you.
REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)
|Ingredients in one 5g sachet|
With a sensible amount of caffeine and other great ingredients, it’s no surprise that REIZE is my all-time favorite energy drink.
REIZE is sugar-free and has 50mg of caffeine, meaning that you’ll be spared from any nasty crashes afterward. REIZE also has a smart blend of taurine, B vitamins and ginseng that’ll give you a perfect energy boost that’ll keep you going for longer.
One other thing I like about REIZE is its versatility.
You can mix REIZE with almost any beverage you like including tea, juice and water. You can also control how strong you want the energy drink to be.
Plus, REIZE is actually amazing value for money, costing only around $1 per drink, including shipping fees.
REIZE could win a spot in your heart as your new favorite energy drink as it did mine.
Give REIZE a try and you might find that it’s the best energy drink for you.