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Best OTC Energy Drinks (Over-The-Counter Energy)

Best OTC Energy Drinks (Over-The-Counter Energy)

If you’re down with a run-of-the-mill fever or headache, you would just head to the pharmacy or nearby store to get some over-the-counter drugs for your condition.

While these medication are pretty common, have you ever heard of over-the-counter energy drinks?

You may think energy drinks are more harmful than beneficial, but they can actually provide relief to some conditions when consumed properly. Plus, they give you a pretty decent boost and better mental focus to boot.

Thus, in this article, I’ll be answering some questions on energy drinks and caffeine, as well as their benefits for you.

If you’re interested to know the energy drinks you can get over the counter, read on to find out on everything on energy drinks, from the benefits of their ingredients to a list of great recommendations.

Is Caffeine An Over-The-Counter Drug?

Caffeine in a cup.
Caffeine makes pain relievers more effective.

Caffeine by itself is not an over-the-counter drug, but it’s often found in many OTC drugs, especially headache medication.

Now, caffeine is actually a pain reliever, though it’s not very strong, and thus needs to be mixed with other compounds to effectively relieve pain. This is why you’ll find caffeine listed in the ingredients list of some medicines like aspirin and acetaminophen.

Since some medication contains caffeine, it’s important to avoid consuming caffeinated beverages while taking this type of medication, as it could lead to some side effects such as jitteriness and insomnia.

Do Energy Drinks Have Any Health Benefits?

Energy drinks won’t directly contribute many benefits to your health, but the effects from drinking them can greatly help you.

The main ingredients in energy drinks that can affect you are caffeine, sugar, guarana and B vitamins.

While some of these ingredients like B vitamins can somehow benefit your health-wise, the effects on your body aren’t profound enough that it’s best to take supplements instead.

However, since energy drinks contain caffeine, they can supply you with benefits that include an energy boost and better performance.

Studies have reported that energy drinks can enhance exercise performance, especially endurance and power. A 2016 study involving recreational endurance runners found that their performance improved after consuming an energy drink before starting exercise.

Besides, energy drinks can also increase your cognitive performance, particularly in terms of attention, vigilance, attention, mood, and reaction time. A 2017 study involving 24 volunteers reported that the consumption of a Red Bull improved their attention and memory.

All in all, while energy drinks don’t have many health benefits, they can still help keep you awake and enhance your overall performance, especially when you need an extra boost.

In any case, the best way you can have these energy drinks is to drink them in moderation.

Are Energy Drinks Good For Headaches?

A  man having a headache.
Too much caffeine can cause headaches too, so have it in moderate doses.

Caffeine is great for headaches in moderate doses, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine or consume too much, you’ll be riddled with headaches and other adverse effects instead.

If you find yourself experiencing a migraine or headache, taking some caffeine, whether it be in the form of coffee, tea, and more importantly energy drinks, can usually provide you with some relief fast.

Caffeine can help reduce inflammation, which is the main cause of headaches, and bring you relief. That’s the reason caffeine is often found in many headache-relieving medications like aspirin, and it even makes these medicines 40% more effective.

That said, if you have too much caffeine, you’ll get a headache instead, as caffeine narrows the blood vessels in your brain and causes pain when they expand after you stop consuming it.

For reference, the FDA recommends a daily caffeine limit of 400mg for healthy adults. Any more than that, and it might lead to side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rhythm
  • Restlessness and shakiness
  • Insomnia

For more information on the effects of caffeine on your body, check out the video below:

Thus, if you experience a headache or migraine, be sure to consume caffeine in moderation to relieve the symptoms, or else you’ll worsen your condition.

Does Caffeine In Energy Drinks Help With Muscle Pain?

Caffeine can help reduce the pain in sore muscles after exercise.

As caffeine directly impacts your central nervous system and brain, it can apparently affect a system involving the brain and spinal cord, which leads to a reduction in pain.

This is good news, as it means you won’t have to deal with the soreness that comes as an effect of exercising. Plus, since the pain decreases after having some caffeine, you might even be able to continue working out if you feel you haven’t completed your reps yet.

Hence, if you ever feel sore and tired after exercising, have some caffeinated drinks to reduce the pain and provide you with a little boost.

Are Sugar-Free Energy Drinks Better For You?

Cookies spelling out sugar-free.
Sugar-free energy drinks are definitely better for your weight, but not in the long run.

Sugar-free energy drinks are generally better for your physical health, however, they can lead to several negative effects if you consume them consistently.

Sugar-free energy drinks usually replace sugar with artificial or natural sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium. These sweeteners taste quite sweet and are used to improve the taste of food products.

Since these sweeteners don’t contain carbs or calories, these drinks won’t leave a big dent in your overall diet and are quite attractive options if you’re looking for some alternatives to sugary energy drinks.

While you generally can cut down on calories and sugar with sugar-free energy drinks, it’s still likely that you can gain weight from drinking them, at least according to this article.

Apparently, your pancreas still produces insulin when the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners hit your tongue.

As no sugar arrives into your system after drinking sugar-free energy drinks, your body becomes confused and this disrupts your metabolic process, which increases the risk of high blood sugar and larger waist circumference.

Besides, sugar-free energy drinks condition your taste buds to sweetness and make you entitled to eat more. Since sugar-free energy drinks virtually have no calories, you would still hungry after drinking these drinks, leading to late-night cravings and overeating.

That said, it’s completely alright to drink sugar-free energy drinks every now and then, provided you have them in moderation.

Is One Sugar-Free Monster A Day Bad For You?

Drinking one sugar-free Monster Energy per day isn’t bad for you, though it isn’t good for your health in the long run.

A regular 16 fl.oz can of Monster contains 160mg of caffeine, 54g of sugars, and 210 calories. On the other hand, Monster Zero Ultra has the same caffeine content and ingredients as the Original but substitutes sugar with artificial sweeteners.

Now, there are benefits that you can gain from consuming sugar-free drinks, which is that you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary calories and sugar. Plus, sugar-free energy drinks are much better for your physical health in general too.

That said, you must remember that moderation is key. While Monster Zero Ultra doesn’t contain sugar, it still has caffeine, which can lead you to some serious side effects if you don’t control your intake.

Furthermore, though artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved, there are still some concerns regarding their long-term effects on our health.

It’s perfectly fine to have Monster Zero Ultra once in a while but make sure to control your consumption and consume caffeinated beverages within the recommended limit.

Can You Drink Energy Drinks While On Medication?

You should not drink energy drinks while on medication as the ingredients in these beverages can cause some serious side effects.

While caffeine is definitely beneficial for migraines and pain relief, it’s not recommended to have energy drinks with your medication as it could lessen the effectiveness of the medication, or cause potential negative effects.

Certain ingredients in energy drinks like taurine and caffeine could react pretty badly with some medicines, which increases the risk of dizziness, vomiting, fainting, and other potential side effects.

If you’re on medication and you still want to include energy drinks in your diet, you should consult your doctor on whether it’s okay for you to do so first.

Best OTC Energy Drinks

Energy DrinksCaffeine ContentSugar ContentPrice
Red Bull80mg27g$1.50
RUNA Energy150mg0g$1.60
Comparison of the standard values and prices of different energy drink brands.

Red Bull

Red Bull Energy Drink
Red Bull is tasty, but avoid having way too many of this.

Perhaps the most accessible energy drink out there, Red Bull is a classic pick-me-up for any occasion that guarantees an energizing experience without overstimulation.

An 8.4 fl.oz can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine, 27g of sugar, 110 calories, along with a handful of amino acids and vitamins.

While the Original drink is good, Sugarfree Red Bull offers the same caffeine content and benefits without the unnecessary sugar and calories, which is a big bonus if you’re not a fan of sugar.

For an in-depth analysis of what goes into a can of Red Bull, check out my article on the caffeine and ingredients in Red Bull for a further explanation of what they do.


Free from any synthetic stimulants or processed ingredients, TeaRiot is health-focused energy drink with a light brewed tea finish.

A 16 fl.oz can of TeaRiot has 160mg of naturally sourced caffeine, 7g of sugars, 30 calories, with a generous serving of organic ingredients, L-Theanine, and vitamin B12.

What sets TeaRiot apart from other energy drinks is that it’s infused with brewed tea and maple water instead of carbonated water, which makes it a healthy choice for your daily routine.

RUNA Energy

Made with health in mind, RUNA Energy is a natural energy drink packed with organic ingredients for a smoother simulation-based performance.

A single 8.4 fl.oz can of RUNA Energy is completely sugar-free and contains 150mg of natural caffeine made from guayusa, along with plenty of organic ingredients and vitamins.

RUNA also offers a decent selection of fruit-inspired flavors with a crisp and refreshing taste reminiscent of tea. Plus, RUNA has no artificial flavorings and is USDA-certified.

If you’re looking for more energy drinks like RUNA, check out the article I’ve written on all-natural energy drinks for some great recommendations.

REIZE (10 Out Of 10)

A glass of REIZE by the beach.
REIZE would greatly complement your lifestyle.

REIZE is a powdered energy drink that comes in light and convenient 4g sachets, making it easy for you to bring it around without worrying about the extra weight.

REIZE is also packed with a smart blend of beneficial ingredients like taurine, ginseng, and B vitamins that provide you with an energy-boosting effect to keep you going throughout the day.

Plus, REIZE is sugar-free and has only 50mg of caffeine, along with a small amount of 11 calories in each serving. As such, you won’t have to worry about potential side effects like headaches and dizziness.

The best part is that REIZE delivers to your doorstep for only $1 per sachet, which is an amazing value for money.

Give REIZE a try, and you might agree that it’s the best bang-for-your-buck energy drink out there.

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