Best Energy Drinks

Updated August 2021
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best energy drinks

We all have those drowsy days when getting through that next meeting seems impossible. If you’re really dragging, and coffee won’t do the trick, an energy drink is often the best option.

However, there’s a wide variety of energy drinks on the market, and they’re not all created equal. If you want a drink that provides a boost but won’t send you crashing later, you should choose an energy drink that contains the right amount of caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients to help you get through the day.

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For the most refreshing taste, chill your energy drink before you drink it.

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are formulated to deliver a boost of energy when you need it most. In most drinks, this is the result of two main ingredients: caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that increases alertness, reaction time, and concentration. Sugar gives you a quick burst of energy by raising your blood sugar level.

In addition to caffeine and sugar, energy drinks usually contain other ingredients like ephedrine, taurine, ginseng, and guarana that are meant to increase your wakefulness and endurance.

Benefits of energy drinks

Let’s take a look at several key reasons why energy drinks are so popular.

  • Energy boost: The most obvious benefit from an energy drink is that it makes you feel more awake and alert. This is particularly helpful if you haven’t had much sleep and need to go to work or school. Energy drinks are also helpful if you need an energy boost for a specific project, such as studying for an exam or finishing a presentation.

  • Specific amount of caffeine: The amount of caffeine in coffee and tea can vary from type to type, so you can never be sure how much you’re getting. With an energy drink, the caffeine amount is printed right on the packaging, which allows you to limit your intake if necessary.

  • Fast acting: Energy drinks are typically consumed cold, which makes it easier to drink them quickly. Coffee and tea, on the other hand, are usually hot, so you have to sip them, which means it takes more time for the caffeine to work its way through your system.

  • Convenient: An energy drink doesn’t require brewing or heating, so it’s often more convenient than coffee or tea.

  • Variety of flavors: If you’re not a fan of the taste of coffee, energy drinks are an ideal alternative because they come in a wide range of flavors, making it easy to find an option that you like.

  • Includes supplements: Most energy drinks contain supplements like B vitamins to help boost your energy levels.

Features to consider

Caffeine content

While caffeine is the main ingredient in most energy drinks, you want to be sure it’s a healthy amount because too much caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and agitated. Experts recommend ingesting no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Avoid any energy drinks that don’t disclose their caffeine content on the label. Look for drinks that contain no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounces.

Sugar content

Sugar is another key ingredient in energy drinks, but too much sugar in your diet can lead to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. To make sure that an energy drink is as healthy as possible, look for options with no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Other ingredients

Energy drinks aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so it’s important to understand the other ingredients and supplements that are commonly found in them. Some of the most common energy drink ingredients include:

  • Ginseng: Ginseng is an herb that is thought to boost energy. However, studies show that it can actually decrease your endurance during exercise. It also lowers blood sugar, so ginseng shouldn’t be consumed if you’re on diabetes medication.

  • Guarana: Guarana comes from the seeds of the South American guarana plant. It contains twice the caffeine as coffee.

  • Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid that supposedly speeds up your metabolism and increases athletic performance. You shouldn’t consume more than 3,000 milligrams per day, though.

  • Carnitine: Carnitine is an amino acid that can boost fat-burning and endurance. You shouldn’t consume more than three grams per day, or you may develop an upset stomach or, in more serious cases, seizures.

  • Green tea extract: Green tea extract delivers a minimal amount of caffeine. It also contains antioxidants that fight cancer.

  • Green coffee extract: Green coffee extract delivers caffeine without the coffee flavor.

  • B vitamins: B vitamins, including B6, B12, niacin, and folic acid, can help boost energy. They are water-soluble, though, so they don’t stay in your system long.

  • Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba is derived from the leaves of the Chinese ginkgo tree. It is thought to help boost memory and ward off mental fatigue.


Many people don’t think about the calories that are in the beverages they drink, but a sugar-laden energy drink can pack plenty of calories. Check out the calories in any formula that you’re considering, and stick to those that have 150 calories or less.


When they first hit the market, energy drinks had a reputation for a pretty unpleasant, medicinal taste. These days energy drinks are available in a wide range of flavors, so it’s easy to find one that appeals to you. Some common flavors include berry, orange, lemon-lime, citrus, and tropical punch. Try a few to see which flavor is your favorite.


Most energy drinks come in cans or bottles that contain eight to 16 ounces. However, some energy drinks are smaller in size, containing two ounces or less. These concentrated formulas are meant to be consumed in a few gulps, like a shot, to provide energy as quickly as possible.

Energy drink prices

Energy drink prices vary based on the size of the cans or bottles and the number of cans or bottles in a pack.

A single 16-ounce energy drink usually costs between $1 and $5. Smaller, two-ounce energy drink shots usually run from $2 to $6.

A 12-pack of 16-ounce energy drinks usually costs between $10 and $28. A 24-pack of 16-ounce energy drinks usually runs from $20 to $40.

A 12-pack of two-ounce energy drink shots usually costs between $12 and $30. A 24-pack of two-ounce energy drink shots usually runs from $28 to $53.

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Travelers can benefit from energy drinks if they’re flying to a different time zone.


Q. Are energy drinks safe to drink?

A. If you consume energy drinks in moderation, they are usually safe to drink. Try to limit yourself to just one per day. It’s important to keep an energy drink’s caffeine content in mind, and avoid consuming more than 400 milligrams a day if you’re an adult and 100 milligrams a day if you’re a teenager. However, if you have a health condition like high blood pressure or heart disease, you should consult with your doctor before consuming energy drinks.

Q. How long does it take to feel the effects of an energy drink?

A. It depends on how much caffeine the energy drink contains, how much you weigh, and what other foods and beverages you’ve recently consumed. However, it usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes for caffeine to reach peak levels in your bloodstream, so that’s when most people start to feel the energy boost.

Q. Are energy drinks effective for rehydrating during sports or exercise?

A. Unlike sports drinks, energy drinks are not formulated for rehydrating athletes during or after workouts. In fact, because they usually contain large amounts of caffeine, energy drinks are more likely to dehydrate you. If you want to rehydrate after a workout, choose a sports drink that contains electrolytes or just a bottle of water.

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