Energy drinks are on the rise and although they are more popular than ever, we were suspicious about what is really going into them. Although some newer options may be better than the Monster drinks we knew, many of the popular energy drinks now considered “healthy” may not be as great as they seem. In this article we share the truth behind these popular energy drinks, and rank them from worst to best!
The "bad" ones
Monster energy drinks have been around forever and they contain 160 mg of caffeine, which comes from a mixture of glucose, taurine, panax ginseng extract, l-carnitine, caffeine, glucuronolactone, inositol, guarana extract, and maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a highly processed sweetener which easily spikes blood sugar.
Bang energy drinks, using caffeine sourced from super creatine, contain 300 mg of caffeine. Along with Monster energy drinks, Bang energy drinks also contain sodium benzoate, which has been linked to abdominal pain and digestive issues, as well as increased reporting of ADHD symptoms in some people. Bang energy drinks also contain phosphoric acid, which has been linked to kidney disease and kidney stones.
All three of these drinks, including NOS high performance energy drinks, contain sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener that can negatively affect your gut and also increase risk of cancer if exposed to high temperatures. Nos also contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors, and includes 160 mg of caffeine.
The "better" ones
Alani Nu has gained a reputation in the last few years within the fitness community to be a “healthier” energy drink. Containing 200 mg of caffeine, which comes from an energy blend of Taurine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, L-Carnitine Tartrate, Glucuronolactone, Inositol, and Guarana Seed Extract, these drinks are not as healthy as they seem. Alani Nu contains some of the same potentially harmful ingredients used in Monster and Bang - sodium benzoate and sucralose.
Celsius is non GMO and contains no perservatives, with 200 mg of caffeine in each can. The ingredients used in these drinks are also very similar to those in Bang and Monster, however these drinks contain less of the harmful ingredients (no sodium benzoate, artificial colors, or high fructose corn syrup) and a few more natural ingredients.
Red Bull energy drinks actually contain no harmful ingredients, and have a caffeine level of 111 mg in each 12 oz can. This energy drink is consistently the #1 selling energy drink in the world, and contains caffeine, taurine, B vitamins, and sugar. While these are not the best ingredients for you, they are better than a lot of ingredients found in different energy drinks.
The "best" ones
Although still not a health food, we were able to find some slightly better options for energy drinks. These organic MATI energy drinks contain 110 mg of caffeine and use brewed guayusa leaves as the caffeine source. They only contain one questionable ingredient - natural flavors. We flag natural flavors because they can be made with 100s of chemicals, making it hard to know what’s actually in them. Although one of the better options, it is still important to be mindful when consuming.
Royal Leaf Original Unsweetened Guayusa
Royal Leaf’s Original Unsweetened energy drunk showcases the natural flavor profile of premium guayusa leaves, freshly brewed to deliver a truly refreshing taste. Guayusa is an Amazonian super leaf that provides a sustained and focused energy, with more caffeine & antioxidants than coffee or tea. This drink contains super clean ingredients and is the best option when looking for an extra boost of energy! Check it out here.
Nooma energy drinks are the best option we found when it comes to natural and organic energy drinks. They contain 120mg of caffeine from organic green coffee bean extract. They contain organic natural flavors, which are slightly more regulated than natural flavors, and are sweetened with stevia, which is one of the better options for artificial sweeteners (relative to sucralose).
We wouldn’t recommend drinking any of these every day, but if you’re looking for a better option for an energy drink, we hope this helps!
Be sure to download the latest version of the Trash Panda app and add these healthy energy drink swaps to your own personalized list - it is free for all users!