Best Energy Drinks with Less Sugar (Researched)

Sugar, it’s present in just about any food product you can get off the shelf and is especially prevalent in canned drinks such as sodas and, our usual topic of discussion, energy drinks.

It’s a common fact that we really shouldn’t be having as much sugar as we do because too much sugar can lead to a whole host of problems later down the line.

So, in an effort to keep energy drink enthusiasts on the healthier side, I’m going to tell you what to look for in picking out some great energy drinks with less sugar content.

Stick with me to find out some of the best energy drinks with less sugar.

Let’s get started…

How Do Energy Drinks Work?

Although the other ingredients present in energy drinks may play a substantial secondary role as well, energy drinks work mainly through the absorption of sugar and caffeine,

However, I should mention that not all energy drinks contain sugar. There are plenty of sugar-free options available these days.

Sugar is broken down into glucose, giving the cells in your body the energy they need.

Caffeine, on the other hand, helps you stay focused and awake by binding with the adenosine receptors in your brain, which makes you feel less tired.

All of this is pretty complicated, but the video down below should explain it a lot better, so take a look if you’re interested in learning a bit more about it.

Of course, the other ingredients in energy drinks, such as taurine, guarana extract, and B-Vitamins play a role as well, but they mostly serve to enhance the effects of the two main ingredients.

What To Look For In an Energy Drink With Less Sugar?

If you’re in search of an energy drink with less sugar, the best way to start is by looking at the back of the can to examine the nutrition label.

Nutrition label of a Celsius Energy Drink Can.
You can learn a lot from the back of a can.

There’s a lot of information on the back of an energy drink can, stating everything—from caloric content to the levels of vitamins present in the drink. Amongst all that, there are some key ingredients you should take special note of:

Sugar

Sugar grains with a sugar heart on a table
Sweet, sweet sugar.

Sugar is one of the main ingredients in many energy drinks, which contributes to its pleasant taste and slightly addictive properties.

Basically, what sugar does is that they provide your cells with a quick source of carbohydrates to form energy with, hence why there is the word ‘energy’ in energy drinks.

However, most mainstream energy drinks contain a lot of sugar, up to 50 to 60g for your standard 16 fl.oz can, which is up to 11 to 12 tablespoonsful of sugar for comparison.

For context, the AHA recommends that the maximum daily added sugar limit for adult men and women should be no more than 36g and 25g respectively.

Too much sugar in the diet can lead to a whole host of problems, such as:

  • Greater risk of depression
  • Poor dental health
  • Acne
  • Aging skin
  • Diabetes
  • Greater risk of heart diseases

Adding to that, while you would speed through the initial few hours after an energy drink with increased focus and awareness, the surge in blood sugar is always followed by a sudden drop, leading to a sugar crash.

Now, this isn’t to say you can’t ever have sugary energy drinks. If you’re on the final stretches of a project, that extra sugar boost might just be what you need.

However, I would still strongly advise you against drinking sugary energy drinks every day.

Knowing all this, you should probably aim for energy drinks that are within half the recommended daily limit, or better, opt for entirely sugar-free options instead.

This way, you can get the energy-boosting benefits all without worry of the dreaded crash.

Caffeine

Green tea powder in a bowl along with green tea cups and spoons full of green tea.
Green tea, yet another source of caffeine.

Caffeine is the other big player in energy drinks, helping in keeping you awake and aware. It definitely works for coffee drinkers, so the experience should be roughly the same no matter where you get your caffeine from.

Most energy drinks contain some amount of caffeine, ranging from 50mg to 300mg per serving. For context, the caffeine content in coffee can reach anywhere from 95mg to over 500mg.

That’s actually something great about energy drinks compared to coffee. Energy drinks contain a standardized dose, so you can keep track of how much caffeine you’re getting – unlike coffee.

That said, note that the FDA recommends a daily caffeine limit of 400mg. So if you have any more than that, you might experience side effects such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety

Of course, if you start to experience these effects even before you reach the limit, you might want to put down the can anyways. Everyone’s caffeine metabolism is different, so be aware of how much you can handle.

Personally, I prefer a caffeine content of between 50 to 100mg per serving as I find that it gives me the boost I need without the negative side effects or feeling over-caffeinated, which is perfect.

Other Ingredients

Apart from sugar and caffeine, there are plenty of other ingredients so I’m going to run through a few to get you acquainted with them.

Taurine is one of the more well-known energy drink ingredients. It’s essentially an amino acid that can possibly improve heart health and exercise performance.

While not every energy drink contains taurine, it is quite common.

Besides that, Taurine is also able to decrease the side effects of energy drinks by reducing the cardiovascular effects of caffeine. It also doesn’t seem to cause major side effects, so don’t worry too much about it.

The next most common energy drink ingredients are the B-Group Vitamins, which generally comprises of vitamins such as B3, B6, and B12.

These vitamins contribute to a variety of positive functions within the body, from helping the body release energy to the formation of red blood cells. A more detailed look at B-Vitamins can be found here.

For more information on energy drink ingredients, I would suggest taking a look at an article I’ve written previously where I’ve detailed absolutely everything you should know about the ingredients of energy drinks.

How Do I Avoid a Sugar Crash?

Generally, a sugar crash is caused by a rapid increase and then decrease in blood sugar levels in the body. You can avoid this by drinking low sugar or sugar-free energy drinks.

While high sugar energy drinks are often associated with the inevitable sugar crash, you might be able to reduce the effects if you take the drink at at a slower pace.

Still, the best way to avoid a sugar crash is to simply avoid sugary energy drinks entirely (there are sugar-free energy drinks available), or have energy drinks with less sugar in them.

The former solution removes the main cause of the problem entirely, while the latter allows your body to adjust to the sugar better, not raising and lowering your blood sugar so drastically.

For a more in-depth look at sugar crash and the best energy drinks to avoid it, I’ve written an article on the subject so do check it out if you’re interested.

Are Sugar-Free Energy Drinks Better?

While Sugar-free energy drinks come without the sugar and extra calories, it’s often replaced with zero-calorie sweeteners such as Sucralose and Acesulfame K, which doesn’t necessarily make them better.

However, in my opinion, yes sugar-free energy drinks are better than energy drinks that are packed full of sugar.

Back of a Reign can focusing on the sucralose.
Sucralose isn’t sugar, but is it really better?

Sugar-free energy drinks are admittedly a lot better than their sugary counterparts, due to the lack of sugar (of course) and the vastly reduced calories.

Fair warning though, that just because there’s no sugar in the drink doesn’t mean it’s perfectly healthy either. Some sugar-free beverages such as Bang or Reign come with very high caffeine content which can be potentially troublesome.

Plus, most sugar-free energy drinks still taste just as sweet often due to the addition of artificial sweeteners.

While sweeteners such as sucralose have been approved by officials, there’s still a lot we don’t know about them, so it would be advisable for you to be mindful of having too much.

In any case, as a rule of thumb, be sure to check the ingredients of any can of energy drink before drinking it so you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Can I Drink Energy Drinks If I’m Diabetic?

Contrary to popular belief, diabetics can have energy drinks as long as they are aware of their overall diet and overall carbohydrate intake.

You’ll also be pleased to know that artificial sweeteners don’t cause a rise in blood sugar levels, so most sugar-free energy drinks are certainly still on the table.

Do note, however, that you should still avoid energy drinks middling or high in sugar, as they can increase your blood sugar to a dangerous level.

The ADA has a helpful website informing you what to look for on a nutrition label if you’re diabetic, which would serve as a good starting point for selecting your choice of energy drink.

If you’re looking for more information, check out the article I’ve written on the best energy drinks for diabetics.

The Best Energy Drink With Less Sugar

While there are many energy drinks with less sugar on the market, here are some to get you started.

Energy DrinkAmountSugar (g)Caffeine (mg)Calories
Guru (Original)/
Guru Lite (sugar-free)
8.4 fl.oz21
0
98
100
80
10
Celsius Energy Drink12 fl.oz020010
MatchaBar’s Hustle series12 fl.oz0 to 412010 to 40
REIZE Energy Drink4g sachet05011
An overview of the best energy drinks with less sugar.

Guru/Guru Lite

Front and back of a Guru energy drink can
Front and back of a Guru can.

Guru is one of the healthier energy drinks on the market, having 80 calories and 98mg of caffeine derived from green tea and guarana extract.

The sugar content is also at 21g per 8.4 fl.oz can, which is still below the AHA recommended daily limit. Plus, the ingredients of Guru are certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO and are derived from vegan ingredients.

While the Original version might seem good, Guru Lite, their sugar-free option, with a slightly higher caffeine content of 100mg, has only 10 calories, no artificial sweeteners, and all the same benefits.

Celsius Energy Drink

five cans of Celsius energy drink side by side
Celsius is sugar-free, with 200mg of caffeine per can.

Celsius is also another good choice if you’re looking to mix up your usual energy drink with something less sugary, as it contains no sugar at all.

Each 12 fl.oz can of Celsius contains 10 calories, 200mg of caffeine, and a bunch of beneficial ingredients including Vitamin C, which is not often found in most energy drinks.

Best of all, they come in a variety flavors to suit your taste, most of them of the fruity variety, ranging from grapes to watermelon and everything in between.

Want to learn more about this Celsius? I’ve written all about it in an article discussing Celsius’ caffeine and ingredients right here.

MatchaBar’s Hustle series

MatchaBar’s Hustle series of energy drinks is one of the healthiest energy drinks on the market, with calories ranging from 10 to 40 calories and a sugar content between 0 to 4g.

Each 12 fl.oz can of MatchaBar’s Hustle has 120mg of caffeine, which is derived from entirely plant-based sources, has little to no chance of giving you the post energy drink jitters due to the low sugar content.

It’s also vegan-friendly, non-GMO and gluten-free, perfect for energy drink enthusiasts looking for something invigorating yet healthy.

REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)

Glass of REIZE Energy Drink on the beach.
Delicious and sugar-free.

The best energy drink with less sugar is, of course my personal favorite, REIZE Energy Drink.

REIZE is a powdered energy drink that comes in a 4g sachet. Each sachet contains a very sensible 50mg of caffeine, is sugar-free with only 11 calories per serving.

REIZE also contains many beneficial ingredients such as taurine, ginseng, and B-group vitamins. This smart mix helps to give you the energy boost you need without the dreaded crash afterward.

Best of all, you can get REIZE shipped right to you door for only about $1 per drink.

Try REIZE today, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is definitely the best energy drink with less sugar than some of the leading brands.

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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