A $3-billion-a-year business, energy drinks claim to provide a quick hit of both mental and physical energy along with a good dose of vitamins. We decided to see which energy drinks delivered on their promise.
Most energy drinks have about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, or two to three times a can of soda.
In addition to caffeine, the trendy ingredient found in Red Bull is taurine an amino acid (one of the building blocks of protein), which is a natural compound found in bull testicles. The taurine ingredient in energy drinks is now made synthetically.
Other ingredients include some vitamins, a carbohydrate called glucuronolactone and a whole lot of sugar.
Energy drinks are a diuretic, so you’ll go to the bathroom more often. This dehydrates you and can throw other things off balance, such as your sodium and potassium levels.
If you’re looking to hydrate before or during a workout, stick with a sports drink (e.g. Gatorade) that contains electrolytes.
Some people are cautioned against consuming energy drinks, including diabetics, pregnant women, children and people sensitive to caffeine. Read the label to be sure.
A food scientist analyzed our energy drinks and concluded that regardless of ingredients, the extra zip claim is really just the caffeine and sugar at work in your body.
Mixing alcohol with your favourite energy drink can cause you to become even more dehydrated and hinder your body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol, making for a much worse hangover!
Don’t drink excessive amounts of energy drinks. Red Bull, for example, says to limit intake to 500 ml, or two cans, per day.
We conducted a blind taste test to find the leader of four different energy drinks:
- Red Bull: $2.99 per 250 ml
- SoBe Adrenaline Rush: $1.99 per 250 ml
- Monster Energy: $2.99 per 473 ml
- Guru: $2.49 per 250 ml
Our specific tests and results include:
- SoBe wasn’t as acidic as the others and had a refreshing, tropical fruity taste.
- Guru was the top pick of one of our testers for taste and the extra caffeine hit; it was a close second with the rest of us.
- Most were surprised to discover we weren’t all that impressed with the taste of Red Bull compared to other drinks.
Each of the drinks measured about 80 mg of caffeine; about the same as an average cup of coffee. Guru tipped the scales at 125 mg.
We didn’t find any real difference in energy boost for any of the drinks compared to a cup of coffee.
Red Bull left a few of us a little jittery with a crash at the end, with the exception of the same tester who enjoyed the taste – he also noticed a pleasant energy rush.
OUR TOP PICK
None of the drinks gave us a real energy boost. We preferred the taste of Sobe over the rest, but we’ll definitely try and find energy elsewhere!
Thanks to Our Experts
- Ali Chernoff, Nutritionist
- Massimo Marcone, Food Scientist