These days, not all energy drinks are the waist-widening beverages that deliver a case of the jitters and make your heart pound. A new crop of energizing sips are sparkling waters with natural fruit flavors or tea-based beverages fueled with B vitamins and brain-boosting adaptogens, like L-theanine. They’re also canned sans added sugars and zero artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. Some use cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices for color and extra nutrients.
But how can you ensure that what you’re drinking is going to give you the boost you need? To help you find the healthiest energy drinks on the market, we tapped Mike Roussell, PhD, nutrition expert and author of The MetaShred Diet: Your 28-Day Rapid Fat-Loss Plan. Simple. Effective. Amazing. When shopping the aisles for an energy drink, Roussell says to look for one that “Ideally has zero [sugar], but definitely less than 10 grams per 8-ounce serving. If you’re going higher than that, I would only use it prior to exercise.”
When it comes to energy drinks fortified with vitamins and antioxidants, Roussell says they’re not going to make much of a difference in giving you energy. However, B vitamins are essential for converting food into energy. “B vitamins are put in a lot of energy drinks because they are needed for our body to break down and use the energy found in the foods we eat. But more B vitamins doesn’t make your body do this better and it isn’t something that you can feel,” Roussell explains.
Some energy drinks also infuse certain antioxidants, minerals, and adaptogens to reduce muscle soreness, improve cognitive function, and promote calm. But Roussell reminds us that the benefits of these health boosters are limited. “Most energy drinks are underdosed and contain levels of ingredients that are so low, you won’t benefit from their effect,” he says.
In terms of how much caffeine you can enjoy daily, it’s best to limit your intake to no more than 400 milligrams. “Everyone should be cognizant of the amount of caffeine that they’re consuming as everyone has a different level of sensitivity to it,” Roussell says. So to help eliminate the guesswork at the grocery, we rounded up the healthiest energy drinks on the market to help you tackle every task on your to-do list and then some.
Courtesy of MatchaBar
When you need a 3 p.m. pick-me-up, MatchaBar’s Hustle has a delicious blend of ceremonial grade matcha, green tea extract, and lemon and lime extracts. At 120 milligrams of caffeine—that’s more than what’s in a cup of coffee—you’ll feel buzzed to get through every meeting, email, and assignment for the rest of your day. And if you’re worried about feeling jittery, the L-theanine in the green tea extract has a soothing effect to keep you calm and focused.
$35.99 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of Bai Bubbles
If you combine your seltzer obsession with your love for fruit juice, you get Bai’s sparkling energy drinks. Taste-tempting flavors include black cherry, blood orange, grapefruit, blackberry lime, pineapple, watermelon lime, and coconut lime. One can serves up 45 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of one cup of green tea) with just 1 gram of sugar and 5 calories. It’s so refreshing that it also makes a great mixer for low-sugar cocktails.
$19.92 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of Hiball Energy
Hiball’s sparkling energy waters have only six ingredients: carbonated water, natural flavor, caffeine, ginseng, guarana extract, and B vitamins. Yes, there’s absolutely no sugar. And at zero calories and just one gram of carbs, keto diet followers will be able to enjoy this fizzy drink guilt-free, too. The bubbly bev is also fortified with B vitamins to help reduce fatigue and weakness.
$28.84 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of Celsius Live Fit
Guarana seed extract from the Amazon rainforest is the main source of caffeine in Celsius Naturals’ energy drinks. Ginger root spices things up by revving up your metabolism and supporting thermogenesis—the process in which your body produces heat—so your body burns more fat and calories. The sparkling drink also has chromium, which will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep cravings at bay.
$34.75 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of Zevia
Whether you need a boost to power you through your spin class or a little lift to help you get through a major deadline at work, Zevia’s natural energy drink boasts 120 milligrams of caffeine. With zero calories and sugar, there’s no better way to get the kick you need. It comes with refreshing flavors such as Grapefruit, Raspberry Lime, Mango Ginger, and Kola—for those who want to wean off of their soda addiction.
$19.99 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of RUNA
Brewed with organic guayusa tea—a tea that’s traditionally drunk during the early morning hours in Ecuador—RUNA’s energy drinks pack up to 150 milligrams of caffeine in one 12-ounce can. And thanks to the organic pear juice concentrate, you get a hint of fruity sweetness without the blood-sugar-spiking white stuff. Choose from unsweetened Mint Strawberry, Watermelon, Lime, Blood Orange, Pineapple, Mango, Berry, and Pomegranate.
$29.88 per 12-pack on Amazon
Courtesy of BluePrint
Yerba mate and lion’s mane mushroom—an adaptogen that specifically targets cognitive function—team up in this stress-busting energy drink. A touch of maple syrup, lime juice, and vanilla extract infuse this power-pumping tea with bold flavor. At 45 calories, 8 grams of sugar, and 75 milligrams of caffeine per bottle, Blue Print’s Mindful Ma-tay will lift you out of the afternoon funk.
$34.50 per 12-pack on Taldepot.com
Courtesy of V8
While V8 is best known for its vegetable juice, this energy drink delivers 80 milligrams of caffeine and a slew of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, iron, and B vitamins. Green tea extract is the natural caffeine source while its reconstituted vegetable juice blend, which has the juices from sweet potatoes, purple carrots, and carrots, provide a dose of vitamins and minerals. Try ’em out in Peach Mango, Orange Pineapple, Diet Strawberry Lemonade and Diet Cranberry Raspberry.
What sets Tea Riot apart from the other energy drinks on this list is the addition of cold-pressed juices. Whether you choose the Turmeric Shine or the Greens Lift, you’re getting fresh-brewed tea with a side of vegetable and fruit juices, including kale, spinach, ginger, and carrot. Tea riot has about 50 to 75 milligrams of caffeine—the equivalent of what’s in a shot of espresso. From black pekoe and white peony to sencha green tea to hibiscus flower and matcha, these energizing sips also infuse a dose of health-boosting polyphenols.
Courtesy of Clean Cause
With only 20 calories per can and 4 grams of sugar, Clean Cause’s sparkling energy waters supply caffeine from green coffee bean extract with a hint of sweetness from organic fruit juice and natural flavors. And what’s even better is that with each can purchased, 50 percent of profits support individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction—a cause close to Clean Cause’s founder Wes Hurt.
$36.96 per 12-pack on Amazon
You’re more productive when you’re calm and focused and not jittery. Just Chill’s secret: L-theanine, the amino acid in green tea, that’s been proven to help reduce stress and promote relaxation. L-theanine is also known as a nootropic that helps enhance cognitive function and concentration.
Just Chill’s beverages also have B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium infused to help ease anxiousness and relieve muscle tension. Because a can has 17 grams of sugar, we recommend enjoying this drink sparingly or splitting it with a friend.
$24.50 per 12-pack on Amazon