The 10 best energy drinks 2020

Since their introduction, energy drinks have taken the market by storm. If you don’t like coffee or don’t want the sugar content of a soda, they are a good alternative. 

The best energy drinks offer multiple flavors, taste good, and contain other energy and focus ingredients, making them much more than just a cup of coffee. 

Use them pre-workout, or at the start of a long day, or anytime you need a mental boost. 

In this guide we will look at the best energy drinks the market has to offer. 

Let’s dive in!

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Quick Answer – The Best Energy Drinks

  1. Monster Energy Zero Ultra – Best Overall
  2. 5-hour ENERGY Shot – Best Portable Energy Drink
  3. Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix – Best Healthy Energy Drink
  4. VPX Bang RTD – Best Energy Drink For Bodybuilders
  5. Kitu Super Espresso – Best Coffee-Based Energy Drink
  6. VPX Redline Xtreme – Best Thermogenic Energy Drink
  7. CELSIUS Sparkling – Best Sparkling Energy Drink
  8. Rockstar Sugar-Free Energy Drink – Best For Beginners
  9. Red Bull Energy Drink – Best For Women
  10. VPX Redline NOO-Fusion – Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink

Reviews – The Best Energy Drinks

1. Monster Energy Zero Ultra – Best Overall

Monster Energy Zero Ultra solves one of the biggest problems with energy drinks: sugar. 

Zero Ultra contains just 10 calories and zero sugar. 

There are quite a few flavors, but if you don’t like the typical “cough syrup” taste of many Monster drinks, you will like Zero Ultra. It tastes very similar to Fresca, a citrus-flavored, popular soft drink. 

Like many energy drinks, Zero Ultra contains B vitamins, and of course the Monster Energy Blend: ginseng, taurine, carnitine, and caffeine (140mg). 

The downsides to this product are the use of artificial ingredients and high sodium content. 

Still, everything else about Monster Energy Zero Ultra makes it the best overall energy drink.

PROS

  • Zero Sugar
  • Refreshing Taste
  • Natural Energy Ingredients

CONS

  • Uses Artificial Ingredients
  • High Sodium Content

 

 

2. 5-hour ENERGY Shot – Best Portable Energy Drink

5-hour ENERGY Shot is the original 1oz single-shot energy drink. 

It contains B vitamins and the 5-hour energy blend, which consists of caffeine, taurine, glucuronic acid, malic acid, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and citicoline. 

There’s as much caffeine as a normal cup of coffee (200mg), the extra strength version ups the caffeine to 230mg. 

The other ingredients in this blend are natural and promote focus as well as cellular energy. It works quickly and provides energy for up to 5 hours. 

This drink is sugar-free but does contain artificial ingredients. 

5-hour ENERGY Shots are portable and do not need refrigeration. Add in the small, easy to carry size, and 5-hour Energy is the best portable energy drink.

PROS

  • Portable, Take It Anywhere
  • Drink In Seconds – Acts Quickly
  • Lasts For 5 Hours

CONS

  • Contains Artificial Ingredients

 

3. Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix – Best Healthy Energy Drink

Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix is a little different than the other drinks in this guide. 

It’s a powder, and there are single-serving tubes that you add to 16-20oz water. 

It provides hydration, and 2 servings a day provides a complete multivitamin/mineral profile that supplies 100% of your daily requirements. 

It’s sugar-free, supplies up to 6 hours of energy, and there’s no crash. 

There is an antioxidant blend and 100mg of caffeine from caffeine anhydrous and guarana. 

Zipfizz is portable, great before a workout, or a busy day. 

The exceptional nutrient profile of Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink makes it the healthiest energy drink.

PROS 

  • Healthy Alternative To Regular Energy Drinks
  • Sugar-Free
  • Portable Powdered Mix 

CONS

  • May Not Be Enough Caffeine For Some Users

4. VPX Bang RTD – Best Energy Drink For Bodybuilders

VPX Bang RTD is sugar-free and calorie-free with just 40 mg of sodium per can. It contains B vitamins, CoQ10, BCAAs, EAAs, and creatine.

There’s 300mg of caffeine, making Bang one of the strongest energy drinks, yet there’s no crash. This is a good caffeine content for bodybuilders before a workout. 

Bang has over 20 flavors and is designed to taste good, rather than taste like cough syrup. 

The downside is that it contains artificial ingredients. 

Still, the combination of high caffeine, BCAAs, EAAs, and patented Super Creatine make VPX Bang the best energy drink for bodybuilders.

PROS

  • Over 20 Flavors
  • 300mg Caffeine Per Serving
  • Contains Super Creatine, BCAAs, EAAs

CONS

  • May Be Too Strong For some Users

 

5. Kitu Super Espresso – Best Coffee-Based Energy Drink

Kitu Super Espresso contains 180mg of caffeine, 3g of MCT’s and 5g of whey protein per serving. 

There’s no sugar, less than 1g of carbs, and it’s naturally sweetened.

It’s free of lactose, free of gluten, and it’s non-GMO. 

Super Espresso is a good choice for athletes and anyone that leads a busy lifestyle. It’s also a good choice for keto-dieters and followers of other low carb diets. 

This product offers a different approach than other coffee RTDs. The lack of sugar combined with protein, MCT’s, and a high caffeine content make Kitu Super Espresso the best coffee-based energy drink.

PROS

  • Contains Whey Protein & MCTs
  • Caffeine Equivalent Of 3 Espresso Shots
  • Zero Sugar

CONS

  • May Be Too Pricey For Some Users

 

6. VPX Redline Xtreme – Best Thermogenic Energy Drink

VPX Redline Xtreme contains zero calories, electrolytes, and a blend of 300 mg caffeine. There’s also focus ingredients, and thermogenic ingredients. 

Redline Xtreme will increase energy, support exercise endurance, and stimulate fat loss. 

One drawback is that Redline contains artificial ingredients. Still, there’s no crash despite the caffeine content. 

Redline Xtreme is a good choice for athletes, fitness-minded individuals, and anyone that is exercising for fat loss. That makes VPX Redline Xtreme the best thermogenic energy drink.

 

PRO

  • 300mg Caffeine
  • Helps Burn Fat
  • Zero Calories – Zero Sugar

CONS

  • Expensive

 

7. CELSIUS Sparkling – Best Sparkling Energy Drink

CELSIUS Sparkling Energy Drink contains zero sugar and 1g of total carbs. 

There’s also a good assortment of B vitamins, a blend of caffeine anhydrous and guarana. 

The caffeine content is 200mg, and it is part of their MetaPlus prop blend that also includes taurine, gluconolactone, ginger, and green tea. 

The downside is that it’s a prop blend, so besides caffeine, there’s no way of knowing what the individual doses are. 

The other drawback is that this product uses artificial sweeteners. Still, they use natural flavors and colors. 

CELSIUS Sparkling is designed for active lifestyles, whether you exercise frequently or spend long days on the job or at school. 

The features of CELSIUS Sparkling make it the best sparkling energy drink.

PROS

  • 200mg Caffeine
  • Zero Sugar
  • Natural Flavors & Coloring

CONS

  • Contains Sucralose

 

8. Rockstar Sugar-Free Energy Drink – Best For Beginners

Rockstar makes quite a few versions of its popular energy drink. This version is sugar-free and carb-free. 

The energy blend consists of caffeine, guarana, B-vitamins, taurine, ginseng, and milk thistle. There’s 160mg of total caffeine per serving. 

The downside of this product is that it’s hard to find a nutrient facts panel. You can find a listing of the energy blend ingredients, but a complete nutrient facts panel is not easily available on Amazon or the Rockstar website. This is something that should be front and center so users can see what they are getting. 

Despite this, the energy blend is solid and provides a good amount of caffeine without being overwhelming. 

There’s also no sugar, a good thing, but there may be artificial sweeteners. 

If you’re new to energy drinks, you want a popular choice that’s sugar-free with a reasonable amount of caffeine. Also, Rockstar won’t cause jitters or a crash. 

These benefits make Rockstar Sugar Free the best energy drink for beginners.

PROS

  • 160mg Of Caffeine
  • Zero Sugar
  • No Crash Or Jitters

CONS

  • It’s Hard To Find A Nutrient Facts Panel On Amazon Or The Rockstar Website

 

9. Red Bull Energy Drink – Best For Women

Red Bull is the one that started it all. It has an energy blend consisting of caffeine (80mg), taurine, and B vitamins. 

There’s also 27g sugar in the original version, and no obvious nutrient facts panel posted on their website or Amazon. 

The sugar content is certainly less than other energy drinks and less than a can of soda. 

That’s still a lot of sugar, but there are also two sugar-free options. 

The modest caffeine dose combined with a simple energy blend is a good choice for female users who do not want high amounts of stimulants. 

The fact that Red Bull also has sugar/carb-free versions makes it the best energy drink for women.

PROS

  • 80 mg Caffeine – Good For Users Looking For Modest Stimulants
  • Available in Sugar & Carb-Free Versions
  • Simple Energy Blend

CONS

  • Some Users May Not Like The Taste
  • Hard To Find A Nutrient Facts Panel On Amazon Or Their Website

 

10. VPX Redline NOO-Fusion – Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink

VPX Redline NOO-Fusion is billed as their “next generation” of energy drinks. 

This product features a unique combination of ingredients: 300mg caffeine, a full 2.5g of betaine, and 250mg of patented Cognizin citicoline. There’s also theanine and the patented Super Creatine. 

This drink is meant to increase energy, focus, and improve exercise endurance. 

There are zero calories, only 80 mg of sodium, and natural flavors. 

The only ingredient downside is sucralose. 

Betaine increases power and strength and acts as a cell volumizer. In this case, it will work well with the Super Creatine. Also, citicoline, caffeine, and theanine work together to increase energy and elevate focus. These benefits can translate to a good pre-workout drink. 

The features of VPX Redline NOO-Fusion make it the best energy drink to use pre-workout.

PROS

  • Good Energy, Focus & Performance Blend
  • Zero Calories, Zero Sugar
  • Low Sodium, Natural Flavors

CONS

  • Contains Sucralose

Buying Guide – How to choose the best energy drink?

What Are Energy Drinks?

Energy drinks are designed to provide a burst of energy whenever you need it. With the original energy drinks, this was because of caffeine and sugar. 

Caffeine is a popular central nervous system stimulant that increases energy, alertness, focus, and performance. It is believed to have thermogenic benefits as well.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that gives you a quick burst of energy by raising your blood sugar level. It needs to be noted that most companies now make sugar-free and calorie-free versions of their drinks. 

Along with caffeine, most energy drinks include a blend of natural energizers such as guarana, or ginseng. They also often add taurine and high amounts of B vitamins, which are natural energizers.

What To Look For In A Energy Drink

Caffeine Content

As noted above, caffeine is the primary energy ingredient in most energy drinks. Most companies use caffeine anhydrous, which is caffeine with all the moisture removed. In theory, this makes it more concentrated. The amount of caffeine can range from 80mg to 300mg, depending on the drink. You’ll want to make sure you can handle the amount before you make your choice. 

Too much caffeine can cause jitters and can lead to a crash, although many formulas include ingredients that help offset these effects. Experts suggest an upper limit of no more than 400mg caffeine per day from all sources. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid any energy drinks that use a prop blend that doesn’t list the caffeine content. Most brands will disclose the caffeine content even if they use a prop blend that hides the dose of everything else. It’s a good idea to limit caffeine to no more than 300 mg caffeine per can.

Sugar Content

This is another primary ingredient in many versions of energy drinks. However, the negative health effects of too much sugar are well known. 

While it’s a good thing that several of these energy drinks have less sugar than a soda, they still have a lot of sugar. Add to that the fact that many users drink several of these a day, and your sugar intake is out of hand. 

The best thing you can do is choose a drink with zero sugar. Most of the drinks on this list are sugar-free. 

If it’s a quality product, there’s no reason for high amounts of sugar. 

Other Ingredients

Energy drinks are not FDA-regulated. This means you should understand what the other ingredients in these drinks are. Some of the commonly used ingredients include:

  • Ginseng – This is an herb that has a long history of use in various cultures and is believed to increase energy and stamina. There are 11 different types of ginseng, while each one supports energy, they all have exclusive benefits. (1)
  • Guarana – This is a South American herb that contains 22% caffeine, which is double the amount that’s in coffee. It also contains other stimulants and antioxidants. Many energy drinks use a blend of caffeine sources, but guarana and caffeine anhydrous are the most common. (2)
  • Green Coffee Extract – This ingredient is simply unroasted coffee beans. They contain caffeine and antioxidants. (3)
  • Green Tea Extract – This ingredient contains a small amount of caffeine and it’s a potent antioxidant. (4)
  • Ginkgo Biloba – This herbal extract is believed to improve memory and focus, but research is inconclusive. (5)
  • Taurine – Taurine is a type of amino acid that has numerous benefits, among them cognitive enhancement. It’s also an osmolyte, so it pulls water into the muscle cells. This means that if you are an athlete, you will experience improved pumps. It also means that anyone, athlete or otherwise, will stay hydrated. (6)
  • Carnitine – This amino acid helps transport stored fat to be burned as energy. It also has fat loss benefits but research is inconclusive. (7)
  • B vitamins – The B-complex vitamins are water-soluble and therefore, must be taken daily. They help relieve stress and convert food into cellular energy. (8)

Calories

Many of the energy drinks in this guide contain low to no calories. However, many of the non-sugar free versions can contain quite a few calories per can. 

Users should choose a drink that fits their nutritional program. 

If you’re on a low carb diet, you’ll want a sugar-free and probably calorie-free drink. 

On the other hand, if you’re not overly concerned about calories, you’re free to choose whichever energy drink you want. 

Flavor

When energy drinks were new, they were known to taste like cough syrup. Some of the original versions still do. 

Taste and flavor choices have come a long way and many energy drinks taste really good. With a wide range of flavors, you should have no trouble finding one you enjoy drinking. 

Size

The typical energy drink comes in a can or bottle and usually contains 16oz. Some are 8oz, and others are a 1oz shot. 

The size you want is up to you but it’s nice to have the option of a small, easy to carry shot-sized energy drink that you can take anywhere.

How To Use Energy Drinks

Read all label directions and take the drink as directed. Make sure you are monitoring your total caffeine intake for the day. 

If you have never used one, start with a product that has a low dose of caffeine. If you feel any adverse effects, stop use, and contact your doctor. 

Energy drinks can be used for multiple reasons. You can use some of them as a pre-workout, or simply as a good way to start your day. This is especially true if you don’t like the taste of coffee. 

An energy drink can help you get through a long day at school, work, or whatever obligation you have. The best ones provide additional benefits such as vitamins, and there are a few healthy choices on our list that provide electrolytes and antioxidants. 

Conclusion

Energy drinks come in all sizes and flavors, with a range of caffeine that fits the preferences of almost any user. 

If you want the best overall, Monster Energy Zero Ultra is the energy drink for you. It tastes refreshingly good, has zero calories, and has a good blend of energy and focus ingredients. 

If you want the healthiest possible choice, Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix is the way to go. It has a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and electrolytes. There’s also a reasonable dose of caffeine (100mg). 

If coffee is your preference but you want it energy drink-style, Kitu Super Espresso is the way to go. Instead of a sugar-overloaded mocha or latte, Super Espresso provides 5g of whey protein and MCT’s with zero sugar. 

There’s an energy drink that fits your goals the most, use this guide to find the right one for you. 

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262982
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512008484
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318611#how-does-it-work
  4. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/green-tea
  5. https://examine.com/supplements/ginkgo-biloba/
  6. https://www.botanical-online.com/en/natural-medicine/characteristics-properties-taurine#Taurine_as_osmolyte
  7. https://examine.com/supplements/l-carnitine/
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_vitamins
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