8 Best Energy Drinks 2022 – Dietitians’ Low Sugar Choice

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The real secret to improving stamina and energy over the long term is quality sleep, optimal hydration (with good old H2O) and a balanced diet. But many turn to caffeine and energy drinks for a quick boost. For most, moderate consumption — that is, a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine per day, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration — should suffice. But most energy drinks are also loaded with food coloring, additives, and exorbitant amounts of added sugar.

If you’re looking for a healthier option, experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Nutrition Lab have compiled an energy drink list of some of the better choices that focus on low added sugar and prioritize natural sources of caffeine (as opposed to synthetic caffeine). Our experts say it’s important to check the caffeine content on the label to avoid more than 200 mg of caffeine per drink (the equivalent of two cups of coffee), especially if you consume other drinks and caffeinated foods throughout the day. Options fortified with B vitamins can provide an extra natural boost.

Our top picks:

You can read more about how we rate energy drinks in our lab, as well as the difference between natural and synthetic caffeine and who should avoid energy drinks, at the end of this guide.

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1

Best Stevia Energy Drink

zero calorie energy drink

Zevia, known for its tasty stevia-based soda alternatives, has brought its same sugar-free mentality to the energy drink space. This non-GMO project-verified choice contains zero grams of sugar and offers 120 mg of organic caffeine per can. Each tropical flavor is refreshing and the sweetness comes from organic stevia leaf extract. With no artificial colors or preservatives, this health-conscious pick is one of our top picks.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 0 calories, 0g total fat, 0mg sodium, 0g total carbs, 0g sugar, 0g protein, 120mg caffeine

2

Best energy drink tablets

Energy

Our pros love the convenience of Nuun Energy, which are Dissolvable drink tablets that deliver a potent blend of organic green tea, ginseng, B vitamins and electrolytes for a quick energy boost. With 80mg of caffeine and 20mg of adaptogens, these tablets provide fast-acting, sustained energy and focus. Flavors include Berry Blast, Tropical Punch, Ginger Lime Zing, and Watermelon Burst.

Nutritional values ​​(1 tablet): 15 calories, 4g total carbs, 2g total sugars, 2g added sugars, 100mg sodium, 80mg caffeine

3

Best organic energy drink

Amazon Energy Drink

This antioxidant-rich energy drink has just under 40 calories and 6 grams of sugar, but contains 140% of your daily vitamin C needs. Our nutrition experts love the nourishing combination of acai berry and pomegranate and that choice is USDA Organic. The 120 mg of caffeine comes from green tea and yerba mate sources.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 35 calories, 0g total fat, 5mg sodium, 17g total carbs, 6g total sugars, 6g added sugars, 1g protein, 120mg caffeine

4

Best energy drink for concentration

FOCUSAID Clean Energy

This refreshing choice comes with a dose of energizing B vitamins. The 10o mg boost of natural caffeine comes from green tea and yerba mate. The certified gluten-free option is also certified vegan and low in calories. Without sucralose, this popular choice uses organic agave nectar and organic stevia leaf extract for perfect sweetness.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 40 calories, 9g total carbs, 7g total sugars, 7g added sugars, 0g protein, 100mg caffeine

5

Best energy drink for workouts

Zero Sugar Health Warrior Energy Drink

Created by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, this energy drink with 160mg of caffeine from all-natural sources like green tea extract comes in a variety of tasty flavors. The completely sugar-free choice is only 15 calories and contains 250 mg of branched-chain amino acids. One can also meet 100% of your daily vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 needs.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 15 calories, 0g total fat, 200mg sodium, 3g total carbs, 0g total sugars, 0g added sugars, 0g protein, 160mg caffeine

6

Best tasting energy drink

Rowdy energy drink

rowdy brags 160 mg of caffeine from green tea per can and comes in a variety of unique flavors like Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Cherry Lemonade and more. The sugar-free offering uses allulose, erythritol, monk fruit and stevia for sweetness. Plus, you’ll find L-theanine, vitamin C, and a variety of other electrolytes and minerals in every box.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 5 calories, 0g total fat, 50mg sodium, 2g total carbohydrate, 0g total sugars, 9g erythritol, 0g protein, 160mg caffeine

seven

Best Low Calorie Energy Drink

Essential energy drink

This popular brand offers a variety of energy drinks, from still to sparkling, and also offers take-out packages. Celsius’ standard essential energy drink is just 10 calories and free of high fructose corn syrup and aspartame. Our nutrition experts appreciate that it contains no preservatives or artificial colors. Flavors include Raspberry Acai, Peach Mango Green Tea and more.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 10 calories, 0g total fat, 2g total carbs, 0g total sugars, 0g protein, 200mg caffeine

8

Best energy drink without sugar

Energy drink without sugar

You’ll find a hefty 200mg of caffeine in every can of Alani Nu for just 15 calories. Our dietitians love that it has 0 grams of sugar and is fortified with a variety of B vitamins, including biotin. The sugar-free product gets a dose of sweetness from erythritol and comes in unique flavors like Cosmic Stardust and Electric Tye Dye.

Nutrition facts (1 box): 15 calories, 0g total fat, 6g total carbs, 0g total sugars, 0g added sugars, 0g protein, 200mg caffeine

Who should avoid energy drinks?

First of all, energy drinks are not recommended for children and teens and should be avoided according to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Caffeine-sensitive adults should also avoid the consumption of energy drinks.

Since large doses of caffeine can make heart problems worse, people with a known history of heart disease should avoid energy drinks. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also limit their consumption of energy drinks.

What is the difference between natural and synthetic caffeine?

Natural and synthetic versions of caffeine are chemically almost identical. The natural variety is found in the leaves and seeds of many plants and appears in coffee, tea and chocolate. Some companies add caffeine from coffee or cocoa beans or mate leaves to their products.

The synthetic type is made in a lab or pharmaceutical plant and is often added to drinks like sodas and energy drinks to enhance the stimulant effects. There’s nothing wrong with either version of caffeine itself, but generally products containing synthetic caffeine contain lots of other additives and sugar.

How we tested energy drinks

Our dietitians have evaluated dozens of energy drinks, focusing on added sugar content, ingredient lists and caffeine sources. We selected choices with fewer added sugars and prioritized options with natural sources of caffeine as opposed to synthetic caffeine. Our pros say to limit consumption to no more than one can per day. Try to limit the number of added sugars to 8 grams (the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar) per can and do not mix energy drinks with alcohol.

In the end, energy drinks only provide a temporary burst of energy. Instead, our experts recommend prioritizing a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and regular physical activity to optimize long-term energy levels.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

As Deputy Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Nutrition Laboratory for the past two years, Stefani Sassos manages all nutritional content, product testing and evaluation. She keeps up to date with the latest research to provide evidence-based reporting on all things food and nutrition, and she also performs large-scale testing and analysis for products ranging from protein bars to supplements. She has a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University and has been a registered dietitian for six years, working in the clinical setting prior to Good Housekeeping and earning advanced degrees and board certifications in nutrition. Stefani also has expertise in the fitness industry for 10 years as a cycling instructor and NASM certified personal trainer. She oversees all fitness content for Good Housekeeping.

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