Best Energy Drinks Ranked for 2018 – Top 10 Brands

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Jump Ahead to the Best Energy Drinks

From time to time, we all need a bit of an energy boost to keep us going through the day. Whether that’s a cup of coffee at lunchtime, a quadruple shot espresso at 3pm, or a good energy drink mid-afternoon, we all have our favorite energizing vices we rely on.

What Are Energy Drinks?

While coffee is the most popular by far (54% of Americans drink coffee every day), energy drinks are a close second. These powerful energy boosters generally contain enough caffeine, taurine, guarana, B-vitamins and more to keep you going through your day.

10 or 15 years ago, energy drinks were rarely seen on store shelves. Today, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Energy drink brands offer all types of different flavors and strengths, leaving the energy drink fan with a lot of choices. While you’ve probably tried the most popular drinks; Red Bull, Monster, etc. you may not know about the best energy drinks out there. Today, we’re here to help you learn a little more about energy drinks, and introduce you to the top 10 energy drinks available.

Energy drinks are prepackaged drinks designed to give you an energy boost. Generally, they contain a good amount of caffeine, the same substance that gives coffee its kick, along with a blend of other ingredients. Guarana is also commonly added, as are various B-vitamins, namely B12, as well as common energy boosters like taurine.

Most energy drinks are designed to be a quick and easy way to get a powerful energy boost. They are useful for all sorts of applications: getting through a tough work day, studying for that final, etc. Regardless of your reason for liking energy drinks, it’s always good to look for good energy drinks that don’t contain many potentially unhealthy ingredients.

You’ve surely tried Monster and Redbull, two of the most popular energy drinks out there (and actually some of our top recommendations!), but you may not know that there are TONS of awesome and effective energy drinks available. Keep reading to learn more, or jump down to the bottom of this page to see the top 10 energy drink list.

Benefits of Energy Drinks

The main benefit should be pretty obvious: energy! Energy drinks are designed to give you a helpful boost towards completing your tasks for the day, or maybe just towards staying conscious if you haven’t been sleeping well!

Who Can Benefit From Energy Drinks?

All types of people drink energy beverages: students, laborers, office workers – you name it. Various groups can benefit from these tasty drinks, and it goes beyond the simple “wake me up” effect that many people seek. These are the types of people who can benefit:

  • Students – Spend some time on a college campus, and you’ll see cans of Red Bull everywhere. Energy drinks can help students get through the rigorous demands of a college education by providing not only energy, but also mental focus. Energy drinks are often the first choice of students because they don’t need to be prepared like coffee, so it’s easy to keep them on-hand and accessible when the need arises.
  • Workers – Regardless of your job, there are some days that are just hard to get through. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Maybe you’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Maybe you just don’t like your job (sorry!) Whatever the reason, a strong energy drink can get you back on track and help you get through your work day.
  • Athletes – Athletes burn fuel. Athletes need fuel. Energy drinks are great fuel. Simple as that! Not only do good energy drinks contain caffeine, which by itself can improve athletic performance, they also contain athletic fuel like B12 and taurine. Plus, they have a good amount of carbohydrates, in the form of sugar. Carbs are great for short-term fuel and are very useful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
  • Bodybuilders – Bodybuilders and weightlifters can benefit from energy drinks, and there are even drinks designed specifically with these people in mind. Caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance and help you lift more, as well as providing a metabolism boost. Plus, the fast-absorbing carbs provide great fuel for your workout.
  • “Not morning people” – There are morning people, and then there are… not morning people. If you’re in the later category, you likely need some sort of highly caffeinated liquid before you get up and face the day. Coffee is great, energy drinks are great – take your pick, or hey, have both!

Whether you’re looking for a daily fix or just a quick boost, energy drinks are a great option. For the daily drinker, it’s often best to purchase online to save money. We have a list of top energy drinks below for you to browse!

Are There Any Side Effects?

People often ask, are energy drinks bad for you? The answer is this: no, as long as you don’t abuse them!

Just like coffee, energy drinks can have negative effects if you consume too much, or if you consume them on a regular basis. They can be habit-forming, meaning you can become somewhat addicted to their effects (like coffee). While you won’t go through serious withdrawals like a drug addiction, you may find yourself sluggish or unmotivated on days you don’t have energy drinks.

Other side effects include:

  • Trouble sleeping – try not to consume energy drinks later in the day (read more about caffeine and sleep here)
  • Headaches – some people may experience headaches, often caused by caffeine withdrawal
  • Increased anxiety – for some people, caffeine and energy drinks can cause anxiety
  • Jitters/nervousness – a common side effect of too much caffeine – don’t drink more than 1-2/day
  • Dehydration – caffeine is dehydrating, so be sure to consume adequate water as well
  • High blood pressure – for those who already have high blood pressure, caffeine can further raise blood pressure leading to potential complications
  • Type 2 diabetes – energy drinks are high in sugar, and consuming them long-term can lead to type 2 diabetes

Other side effects may occur as well. If you have heart complications, you should not consume energy drinks. If you are under 18, you should also not drink energy drinks.

The vast majority of these side effects are only experienced when you consume too much. If you’re simply having an energy drink here or there, or even one a day, you probably won’t experience any negative effects. But when you get up in the 2-3+ a day range, that’s when the dangers of energy drinks can become reality.

If you notice side effects, stop consuming that particular energy drink. If you can, try to cut them out completely, or switch to black coffee. Alternatively, try a different energy drink brand and see if that helps.

How to Consume Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are obviously intended for when you need a boost of energy. Whether you’re dragging at work, struggling to stay focused at school, or are just sleepy, an energy drink can provide a quick fix. However, keep in mind that energy drinks are no replacement for actual sleep!

It’s wise to not consume them on an empty stomach, as that can cause stomach upset in some people.

With that being said, it’s important to remember that anything containing high amounts of caffeine should not be taken in the late afternoon or evening, as it can cause trouble sleeping.

Depending on your caffeine tolerance, you’ll likely want to stop consuming caffeinated beverages, including energy drinks, approximately 4-8 hours before going to bed. Caffeine takes quite a while to exit the system, and can cause trouble sleeping if you drink it too late in the day.

Also, while one or two energy drinks shouldn’t be a problem, consuming too much caffeine and/or energy drinks can cause serious side effects. The Mayo Clinic lists up to 400mg of caffeine a day as an upper safe limit – anything beyond that and you may experience negative effects. And since many energy drinks contain 200mg or more, it’s easy to see how quickly you could hit that limit.

Another thing to keep in mind is the potential for side effects if you consume too many energy drinks, or if you become addicted to them. Caffeine addiction is a real thing, and although caffeine itself is not necessarily bad for you, sugary energy drinks can cause problems long-term. We’ll discuss more about the side effects of energy drinks in the next section.

What to Look for in a Good Energy Drink Product

Like most products nowadays, there are a ton of different energy drinks to choose from. Below, we’ll cover the top 10 energy drink choices available today, but before we do that, let’s examine some factors you should consider when choosing an energy drink.

  • Caffeine content – caffeine is generally the main active ingredient in top energy drinks. Caffeine content will vary from product to product, but it’s generally in the 50mg-200mg range. It’s a good idea to check the caffeine amount listed on the product you’re considering, and compare it to your caffeine tolerance. According to CaffeineInformer, the average cup of coffee has approximately 160mg of caffeine in it (although that can vary depending on brewing method), so that’s a good benchmark for your comparisons.
  • Other energizing ingredients – other ingredients are often added to increase energy. These include B vitamins, taurine, guarana, ginseng, etc. Check the label to see whether or not these ingredients are included.
  • Taste – obviously you’ll want to find an effective energy drink that actually tastes good, otherwise you won’t want to drink it! If you’re buying a drink that you’ve never tried before, it’s a good idea to read energy drink reviews to learn how people like the flavor.
  • Brand quality – not all energy drink brands are created equal. It’s important to buy from a reputable, trustworthy company that ensures high quality products. On our list below, we only include products from the best companies.
  • Value – price will always be a factor (unless you’re rich!) While you don’t necessarily want cheap energy drinks, you’ll want to find a brand that meets your needs and fits your budget. In general, expect to pay around $1.50-$2.50 per can when buying in bulk, and around $2-$4 per can when buying a single can at a store.

Now that you know what you should look for in an energy drink, let’s dive right in and explore your options!

Top 10 Energy Drink Products Compared

Heads up, there are affiliate links in this article, so if you buy something, we get a cut of the sale.


1. Red Bull Energy Drink

Red-Bull-Energy-Drink

Red Bull Energy Drink is, quite simply, one of the best energy drinks on the planet. You’ve surely seen the ads, or maybe even tried the product for yourself – after all, Red Bull “Gives You Wings”. Red Bull is a true legend in the energy drink world, packaged in that iconic blue-and-silver can. And with a potent blend of high quality ingredients, including caffeine, taurine, B-vitamins and more, this drink packs a punch

Highlights:

  • The most popular energy drink
  • Sales of $4.5 billion in 2015
  • 80mg caffeine per serving
  • Packed with caffeine, taurine, B-vitamins and more
  • Available in a variety of flavors
  • Great value for money
  • Moderate caffeine content won’t make you jittery
  • Red Bull sponsors tons of extreme sports, giving back to the community

What’s in it: (8.4 fl oz can)

  • Energy blend, consisting of caffeine (80mg), taurine, B-vitamins, sucrose and glucose.

Who makes it: Red Bull is made by Red Bull GmbH, an Austrian-based beverage manufacturer. Best known for their signature Red Bull product, this company was founded in 1987 and has since grown into one of the largest beverage conglomerates on the planet. With 2015 sales of $4.5 billion, Red Bull is by far the best selling energy drink – and for good reason!

Bottom line: It’s the best selling by far, and for good reason – people love its delicious flavor and potent energizing effects. Plus, we love the fact that Red Bull sponsors a ton of events, extreme sports, musicians and more – giving back to the community in a fun way.

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2. Monster Energy Drink

Monster-Energy-Drink

Monster Energy Drink is one of the most popular energy drinks on the market. Featuring an energy blend of glucose, panax ginseng, taurine, caffeine, L-carnitine, and more, this ultra-popular beverage is affordable, accessible, and tasty. And offering a 160mg dose of caffeine, this drink offers a good balance of taste and energy.

Highlights:

  • One of the most popular energy drinks out there
  • 160mg caffeine per serving
  • Energy blend including taurine, ginseng, glucose, L-carnitine, guarana and more
  • Delicious flavor
  • Great value for money
  • Monster Energy supports many artists, athletes and more
  • The legendary MONSTER!

What’s in it: (16 fl oz can)

  • Energy blend consisting of caffeine (160mg), ginseng, taurine, glucose, L-carnitine, guarana and more.

Who makes it: Monster Energy Drink is made by Monster Beverage, a large scale drink manufacturer based in the US. First introduced in 2002, Monster has now grown into a massive company and a worldwide success. Today, they not only produce a wide variety of delicious beverages, but they also give back to the community by supporting extreme sports like BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding and much more.

Bottom line: Overall, if you’re looking for a strong energy drink from a great company, look no further than Monster Energy Drink. Although they offer a wide variety of flavors and variations, we always prefer the original Monster flavor. Plus, we love that Monster gives back to their community in so many ways, sponsoring athletes and financing various extreme sporting events. Without a doubt, Monster is one of the best energy drinks out there.

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3. Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink

Rockstar-Zero-Carb-Energy-Drink

Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink is a low-calorie and zero carb version of the popular Rockstar energy drink. Containing zero sugar and zero carbs, this potent energy drink is enhanced with a herbal blend of guarana, ginseng, ginkgo, and milk thistle – plus a large dose of caffeine to kick start your day!

Highlights:

  • Zero carb, zero sugar
  • 240mg caffeine per can
  • Blend of guarana, ginseng, ginkgo and other energy-boosting herbs
  • No carbs, 10 calories
  • High caffeine content
  • The legendary Rockstar brand!

What’s in it: (16 fl oz can):

  • Caffeine (240mg), provides a strong boost of energy.
  • Energy blend, consisting of taurine, green tea extractives, L-carnitine, and yerba mate extract.
  • Vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12.

Who makes it: Rockstar Zero Carb is made by Rockstar Energy, a huge company specializing in energy drinks. Today, more than 20 flavors and varieties of Rockstar are made and distributed in over 30 countries. As one of the most popular energy drink brands, Rockstar continues to excel producing high quality, accessible and affordable products.

Bottom line: Overall, if you’re looking for a solid energy drink, this is a good choice. At zero carbs, zero sugar and 10 calories per serving, it’s hard to beat Rockstar Zero Carb. The 240mg dose of caffeine is a bit on the high end, so be cautious if you don’t have a caffeine tolerance.  This drink is a bit on the expensive side, but well worth it if you’re looking for an energy drink that fits in with your diet.

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4. Zipfizz Energy Drink

Zipfizz-Energy-Drink

Zipfizz Energy Drink is a good energy drink containing electrolytes, B-vitamins and more. It’s also a good sports drink, as it provides a good way to rehydrate after exercise. It contains around 100mg caffeine per serving, which is on the low side.

Highlights:

  • Powdered drink mix – just mix with water
  • 100mg caffeine
  • Electrolytes for hydration
  • Antioxidants and vitamins
  • Green tea extract
  • B12 included
  • Only 10 calories per serving
  • Zero sugar
  • Provides 4-6 hours of energy
  • Low caffeine formula
  • Tasty flavors

What’s in it: (11g tube – mix with water)

  • 205mg Botanical Antioxidant Blend, consisting of green tea leaf extract, green coffee bean extract, grape seed extract, caffeine (100mg), and more. This blend contains 100mg caffeine (about as much as a shot of espresso) and powerful antioxidants.
  • Vitamins C, E, B6, B12 and more.
  • Electrolytes, including potassium, sodium and calcium.

Who makes it: Zipfizz is made by a company of the same name. Founded in 2003, Zipfizz set off to develop a healthy and simple energy drink formula. Today, Zipfizz is one of the most popular electrolyte drinks, and is available worldwide both in-store and online.

Bottom line: With zero sugar and only 10 calories, this drink should fit in with any diet, and help provide energy for your day. It comes as a powdered drink mix, which can be a good thing but can also be inconvenient for on-the-go use.

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5. VPX Redline Xtreme RTD (Ready-to-drink Energy Drink)

VPX-Redline-Xtreme-RTD

VPX Redline Xtreme RTD is a strong energy drink designed for athletes and sports enthusiasts. This extremely potent product is designed to increase your energy levels. In addition to the standard energy-boosting ingredients, Redline Xtreme also includes BCAAs.

Highlights:

  • Designed for athletes
  • Very powerful
  • Concentrated – 4 oz serving size
  • Contains caffeine, yerba mate and green tea extract
  • Contains BCAAs and electrolytes
  • A high quality sports drink
  • 2 servings per bottle

What’s in it: One serving (½ of an 8 oz bottle) contains:

  • 726mg proprietary blend, consisting of caffeine (158mg), BCAAs (beta-alanine, L-leucine, L-valine, L-isoleucine), tyrosine, green tea extract and much more. This blend contains enough caffeine to get you going, plus BCAAs.
  • Electrolyte matrix, consisting of calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Who makes it: This product is made by VPX, also known as Redline Sports Nutrition and Performance Beverages. Founded in 1993, VPX has been consistent in their goal of creating high-grade, effective sports supplements. VPX uses industry-leading practices to deliver high quality, science-backed products at reasonable prices.

Bottom line: Overall, if you’re looking for a top energy drink that doubles as a sports drink, this is a great choice. With all the energy-boosting ingredients you need, along with the BCAAs and electrolytes your muscles crave, Redline Extreme RTD gives you a powerful boost all in a single concentrated dose. It’s a great product for athletes, but if you’re only looking for a plain energy drink, use one of our top recommendations.

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6. Starbucks Refreshers

Starbucks-Refreshers

Starbucks Refreshers are good energy drinks that uses natural caffeine from green coffee extract. Available in 3 fruit flavors, these drinks offer natural caffeine and are 25% juice. With less sugar and more natural ingredients, it’s a solid product.

Highlights:

  • Natural caffeine from green coffee extract
  • 25% fruit juice
  • Added panax ginseng
  • 90 calories per serving
  • Available in 3 tasty flavors
  • Moderate caffeine content
  • Affordable

What’s in it: (12 fl oz can)

  • 50mg caffeine, from green coffee extract – although this is fairly low on the caffeine scale. It’s equivalent to about half a cup of coffee.
  • 50mg panax ginseng
  • B-vitamins

Who makes it: Starbucks Refreshers are made by Starbucks, the largest coffee company in the world. If you live in a city, chances are you’re within walking distance of a Starbucks. While they started as a small coffee shop in Seattle, they are now worldwide and have branched out into other business ventures, like manufacturing these Starbucks Refreshers.

Bottom line: Overall, if you’re looking for a light, low-caffeine energy drink that’s tasty and refreshing, Starbucks Refreshers are a good choice. With only 50mg of caffeine, they’re definitely on the low end, so if you have a caffeine tolerance these might not be very effective for you. !

7. Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy

Living-Essentials-5-Hour-Energy

Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy is an innovative energy drink that’s really more of an energy “shot”. You’ve surely seen these in stores, and perhaps even seem TV commercials. These 2-oz bottles are downed in a single gulp, and contain enough caffeine, vitamins and nutrients to keep you going for, well – 5 hours!

Highlights:

  • Only 2 ounces – easy to drink on-the-go
  • 200mg caffeine
  • Taurine, glucuronic acid, tyrosine & more
  • Zero sugar
  • Only 4 calories
  • B-vitamins
  • Very convenient

What’s in it: (2 fl oz bottle)

  • 1870mg Energy Blend, consisting of taurine, glucuronic acid, malic acid, L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine (200mg) and citicoline.
  • Niacin, B6, B12 and folic acid.

Who makes it: 5-Hour Energy is made by Living Essentials, a Michigan based manufacturer of health products and energy drinks. Living Essentials was really the first company to come out with a “micro” energy drink like 5-Hour Energy, and they’ve done very well since then. Today, they’re a huge company, still focused on producing high quality products.

Bottom line: Overall, 5-Hour Energy is a great product, and is especially good for people who don’t particularly like the taste of energy drinks, and are simply after the energy boost. With all the standard ingredients packed neatly into a two-oz bottle, it’s easy to down a 5-hour energy and get on with your day. Plus, they don’t need to be refrigerated.

8. CytoSport Fast Twitch RTD

CytoSport-Fast-Twitch-RTD

CyToSport Fast Twitch RTD is a powerful energy drink designed for weightlifters. Packed with caffeine and taurine and boosted with nitric oxide-boosting betain anhydrous, L-citrulline and L-arginine, this is a potent all-in-one energy drink.

Highlights:

  • Designed for athletes and weightlifters
  • 200mg caffeine
  • Taurine & glucuronolactone
  • Sugar free
  • Less than 1g carbs

What’s in it: (16.9 fl oz bottle)

  • 7g Energy Amplifying Matrix, consisting of caffeine (200mg), taurine and glucuronolactone.
  • 4g Power Nitric Oxide Matrix, consisting of betaine anhydrous, glycocyamine, L-citrulline and L-arginine.
  • Vitamins C, E, B6, B12, Folic acid and sodium.

Who makes it: This product is made by CytoSport, a large manufacturer of workout supplements and health products. Best known for their MuscleMilk product line, CytoSport is a leader in the industry, and for good reason. Founded in 1998, CytoSport is dedicated to producing innovative, effective and affordable supplements for their customers.

Bottom line: Overall, if you’re looking for an energy drink for weighlifting, this is a good choice. By combining the ingredients of a standard energy drink with those of a nitric oxide supplement, CytoSport has made a great product for those who enjoy spending time at the gym. The only downside is it’s only available in two flavors, but at least they’re tasty flavors!

9. Xyience Xenergy Drink

Xyience-Xenergy-Drink

Xyience Xenergy Drink is a powerful energy drink offering a strong energy boost with zero calories and zero sugar. Available in a variety of tasty flavors, Xyience offers 176mg of caffeine per serving, enough to get your day going or keep you focused through the day’s tasks. Xenergy is now the official energy drink of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

Highlights:

  • 176mg caffeine per serving
  • Zero calories
  • Zero carbs
  • Zero sugar
  • The official energy drink of the UFC
  • Taurine, guarana, panax ginseng and more

What’s in it: (16 fl oz can)

  • 7g proprietary blend, consisting of taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine (176mg), guarana extract, panax ginseng and more.

Who makes it: This product is made by Xyience, a Texas-based manufacturer of energy drinks and other health products. They offer the Xyience Xenergy line, which includes many flavors and varieties of this popular beverage. They also have a supplement division, which makes effective health supplements for athletes and everyday people alike.

Bottom line: Overall, Xyience Xenergy is a good energy drink from a good company. It’s a bit on the expensive side, so if you’re looking for cheap energy drinks, look elsewhere. With that being said, it’s a great product offering a hefty dose of energy-boosting ingredients, all with no sugar, no carbs and no calories!

10. SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy Drink

SAMBAZON-Organic-Amazon-Energy-Drink

SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy drink is a good energy drink made with acai berry, natural caffeine, guarana and more. Made with real fruit juice, this all-organic formula is, vegan, and gluten free. With a moderate caffeine level equivalent to around two shots of espresso, this drink provides a great way to help boost your energy levels.

Highlights:

  • Organic formula
  • All natural, gluten free, vegan
  • Made with real fruit juice
  • 80mg caffeine per serving
  • Caffeine from yerba mate, green tea and guarana
  • Uses real fruit juice
  • Includes acai berry

What’s in it: (12 fl oz can)

  • Caffeine (80mg) from natural sources, including green tea extract, guarana and yerba mate. This is a fairly low amount of caffeine, equivalent to about 1 cup of weak coffee.
  • Organic acai berry juice. Acai berry is hailed as a superfruit, providing powerful antioxidant properties.

Who makes it: SAMBAZON Organic Amazon Energy Drink is made by SAMBAZON, a large manufacturer of health foods and drinks. This company mostly focuses on the use of acai berry, a natural superfood found in the Amazon. Today, this California-based company is large and successful, and now distributes their products worldwide.

Bottom line: Overall, this is a complete energy drink with a relatively low level of caffeine. For those looking for a more natural option, this is a good choice. With that being said, keep in mind that the low caffeine content may not be sufficient for those with a caffeine habit.

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