Since the start of the 21st century, energy drink consumption has gone through a major boom. In fact, sales of energy drinks have been growing at an astonishing rate of around five percent every year since 2013. In 2020, the global market size for energy drinks was $61 billion, and the industry is expected to grow another seven percent by 2025.
Needless to say, energy drinks are pretty popular! That said, if you’re one of the million Americans who enjoy sipping on a cold energy drink from time to time, have you ever wondered what the contents of your beloved beverage might be, aside from large amounts of caffeine? Do you really know what you’re putting into your body?
Unfortunately, many of the popular energy drinks on the market these days are jam-packed with an absurd amount of sugar and way too much caffeine in that 12-ounce can, in addition to questionable fillers, artificial flavors, and potentially harmful dyes.
Luckily, there’s an increasing number of healthy energy drinks that are beginning to emerge with less junk, and yet still provide the energy boost you crave. But how can you tell a healthy energy drink from an unhealthy one? We’ll tell you.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about healthy energy drinks, including which ones are backed by dietitians. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Healthy Energy Drinks: Everything You Need To Know
First things first — what exactly is an energy drink? Simply put, energy drinks are ready-to-drink products that claim to boost energy and mental alertness by combating fatigue; essentially, any beverage that contains a stimulant compound can be considered an energy drink.
There are tons of different brands on the market, and each varies in the ingredients they contain. However, if you flip to the back of any popular energy drink can, chances are you’ll find a combo of the following:
Sugar (read glucose, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) or artificial sweeteners
Artificial coloring (food dyes)
Artificial flavoring agents
In addition, many energy drinks also contain other questionable ingredients like taurine, ginseng, guarana, carnitine, and/or Yohimbe, which are generally marketed as some kind of “special energy blend.”
The problem? When higher doses of caffeine are combined with these “special” ingredients, the subsequent effects can’t always be predicted, which sometimes results in a little extra stimulation of the nervous system, including feelings of anxiety and increased heart rate. In fact, many adverse side effects have been reported, including cardiac arrest - not good!
So, What’s in a Healthy Energy Drink?
Believe it or not, there’s really no standard in the industry for what constitutes something as “healthy,” so many energy drinks with such claims can still pose health risks. That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the ingredients commonly found in energy drinks so that you don’t get fooled by the mesmerizing can of liquid energy claiming to be good for you.
Here’s what to look for:
✓ Caffeine Content
The FDA recommends limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day because in excess, caffeine can cause a wide range of undesirable health effects, such as headaches, insomnia, and heart palpitations, just to name a few. So, when choosing a healthy energy drink, stick with one that has a sensible amount of caffeine, and always keep an eye on the serving size — what you might think has only 200 mg of caffeine, could really have 200 mg of caffeine per serving. That’s 400-600 mg when you drink the entire can (which most people do).
✓ Caffeine Source
In addition to the caffeine content, it’s also wise to check the caffeine source. Synthetic caffeine — which is used in many popular commercial energy drinks — is absorbed into the bloodstream much faster than naturally sourced caffeine. This is why so many individuals experience a quick boost of energy followed by a hard crash. To avoid this, stick with natural sources like caffeine from green tea, which will provide sustained energy throughout the day, without the jitters or the crash.
✓ No Added Sugar
Sure, sugar will definitely lead to quick energy spikes, but seeing as the sweet stuff can be so negatively influential to your health, is it really worth it? We don’t think so. Avoid added sugar whenever possible, and while you’re at it, try to stay away from artificial sweeteners, too. Commonly found in “diet” and “sugar-free” beverages, artificial sweeteners have been linked to many health hazards like affecting metabolism, with some experts suggesting that they may even be more dangerous than consuming real sugar.
2021’s Top Energy Drinks Backed By Dietitians
In the US and many other countries, a dietitian is a board-certified food and nutrition expert. They go through extensive training and are highly educated in the field of nutrition and dietetics (the science of food, nutrition, and their impact on human health).
So, with that in mind, here are the top three energy drinks of 2021 backed by dietitians:
First Choice: Proper Wild
Proper Wild’s Clean All-Day Energy Shots are truly something to get excited about. 100% plant-based (vegans rejoice!) and made with absolutely nothing artificial or any added sugar, it’s easy to see why Proper Wild is a fan favorite among dietitians everywhere. Plus, the caffeine is organically sourced from green tea for long-lasting energy. Proper Wild also contains L-theanine for focus and productivity without the jitters or crash. Oh, and the best part? They taste absolutely amazing. What’s not to love?
Second Choice: Yerba Mate
A traditional South American drink that’s gaining quite a bit of hype, yerba mate has been said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of quality tea, and the joy of chocolate. Naturally high in caffeine and antioxidants, dietitians love this healthy energy drink because it doesn’t contain any questionable or artificial ingredients — it’s just herbal tea.
Third Choice: Coffee
Everyone knows what coffee is. After all, it is the most popular beverage in the world, with more than 400 billion (yes, billion, with a “B”) cups consumed each year. But what you may not know is that a cup of black coffee, meaning no cream, milk, sugar, or flavoring, has been shown to have some incredible health benefits, hence why dietitians say it’s a great choice for those in need of a little pick-me-up. Plus, a black cup of java has no carbs, no calories, and no sugar with a very sensible amount of caffeine (around 80 mg), which is great when you take into account that some of the leading energy drinks contain close to 80 grams of sugar, 200 calories, and over 300 mg of caffeine in a single can — yikes!
So, what’s the best energy drink backed by dietitians, you ask?
Proper Wild’s Clean All-Day Energy Shot takes the top spot.
Here at Proper Wild, we have a passion for providing clean ingredients that are backed by science to work with your body not against it.
Each one of our mouth-watering plant-based energy shots is crafted using organic caffeine from green tea for long-lasting energy and l-theanine for focus and productivity. And unlike other energy drinks on the market, we sweeten our shots with natural fruit juices, adding absolutely no sugar or anything artificial for a clean, smooth taste, without the junk.
Ready to see the difference clean ingredients can make? Check us out today — trust us, you’ll be glad you did!