3 natural energy drinks that are way healthier than Red Bull

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Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 9.53.04 AMIn the past few years, energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster have become ubiquitous—as both pre-workout boosters and as antidotes to packed schedules that don't allow for enough sleep (especially this time of year). And the canned stimulants are wreaking havoc on the health of those who drink them.

"There's a lot of yucky stuff in them," says CLAY Health Club + Spa's nutritionist Shira Lenchewski, RD. That includes artificial flavors and colorings, excessive levels of caffeine, and tons of excess sugar—not to mention stimulants you've never heard of that have barely been tested.

Of course, the best plan is to get enough sleep and eat well so your body has plenty of fuel on its own. But for days when you really need a pick-me-up, there are now alternatives that use cleaner sources of caffeine, skip additives and sugar, and add natural sources of antioxidants and vitamins. (That's in addition to now super-trendy matcha.)

Just don't start chugging them in place of your usual water because they have an USDA organic seal. "Even though these products are labeled 'natural' or 'organic,' you should still keep an eye on sugar and caffeine levels," Lenchewski cautions.

To help, we asked her to vet a few of the better options out there. Here are three natural energy drinks that are way better than Red Bull. —Lisa Elaine Held

(Photo: Mochimag.com)


Lenchewski loves this product—which comes in shots and powder packets—because it packs its energy boost into just 5–10 calories, without sugar. The jolt comes from green tea and green coffee beans, which have not been roasted, meaning they are richer in chlorogenic acid, a compound that's provides antioxidant protection and can help regulate blood sugar. It's also packed with B vitamins, which help your body convert food into usable energy, she explains. So the protein smoothie you have later may mean more.

(Photo: Eboost)

guayakiGuayaki Yerba Mate

The leaves of the yerba mate plant have been used to brew mate, a social beverage, in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, for a long time, and it turns out the leaves deliver a decent dose of caffeine and antioxidants.  All-organic Guakayi bottles it cold. "This is basically energizing iced tea," Lenchewski says. The company also makes energy shots that contain additional South American superfoods, like acerola cherries and goji berries, which are loaded with vitamin C. Just watch the sugar: choose the unsweetened version if you're going for the bottled tea, and note the 8g of sugar you're downing if you opt for the shot.

(Photo: Guayaki Yerba Mate Energy Shots)

RunaRuna Clean Energy

Similar to yerba mate, indigenous cultures in Ecuador and Colombia traditionally drank guayusa from a gourd as part of an early morning ritual. Runa uses the plant as its key ingredient, and it says the combination of its caffeine and theombrine, a compound also found in dark chocolate, provides balanced energy without a jittery jolt. It's also all organic, but again, you'll have to watch the sugar. Go for the unsweetened versions (0g) rather than the regular bottles, which contain 14g of added sugar.

 (Photo: Facebook/Runa)


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35 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. December 16th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I’ve been searching and searching for some low-calorie and healthy energy drinks. I cant wait to try these. Thanks for finding and posting for everyone.

  2. December 16th, 2013 at 11:44 pm
  3. December 17th, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I do like my Redbull but if I can find a healthier alternative than I’m always willing to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!

  4. December 20th, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Jeff, the whole point is that Redbull, while temporarily energy boosting, is super unhealthy. Make the switch soon!

    Personally I wouldn’t mind trying that eBoost. Love me some green tea!

  5. December 28th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Nice article. We love educating health minded people about the energy benefits of tea! Fit Me Tea offers a blend of guayusa (the base of the delicious Runa tea you’ve got listed) and mint that is a wonderful, energizing alternative to coffee.

    BTW, you’ve got theobromine spelled incorrectly in your Runa description. You’ve spelled it ‘theombrine’.

    If you’d like a free sample of our guayusa blend, contact us at http://www.fitmetea.com and mention this article. We’ll give a sample to the first 5 people who respond.

  6. January 6th, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I love Eboost! It really gives me a steady energy boost

  7. January 15th, 2014 at 12:18 am

    I used to be a pretty big consumer of sugar laden energy drinks a few years back. I still like them but the calories were adding up and adding a few pounds. Guayaki Yerba Mate sounds like a decent product as a shot. One of the advantages that the canned drink genre does provide is that it is enjoyable as a beverage.

  8. February 10th, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for this post. My boys (workout fanatics) have used the Boost but just found 100% natural energy drink called NEON. I did tons of research and it actually has no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors and the caffiene comes from Green Tea!

  9. February 18th, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I love how this article demonstrates that not all energy drinks are created equal. This is EXACTLY why I wrote “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks”. Consumers should know what the most common ingredients do; they should know there are healthier alternatives to the stereotypical energy drink.

  10. March 16th, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I’d like to point out that yerba mate is questionable. Studies have shown that when consumed hot, it is a cancer-causing agent. They say if it’s cold, it’s fine, but I don’t trust it.

  11. March 31st, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Tastes like absolute shit.

  12. Marta
    May 1st, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Yes, great article ! We all know that Redbull is so bad for you. You’re just putting chemicals into your body ! But Red Bull is dominating the energy drink industry by 43% in sales and over $3.4 billion a year. That’s crazy ! How do we educate people to choose healthy alternatives when they think Redbull is ok for you?? It’s like fast food- everyone knows its bad for you but you still do it. We need to make the healthier energy drinks more available for people so they have an option to choose other drinks !! We have a lot of work to do !

  13. May 18th, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Honestly I strongly suggest that anyone on here try a can of verve or any of Vemma’s other products. Just phenomenal

  14. May 18th, 2014 at 3:08 am

    If u wanna check out our products visit http://www.jointhouse.vemma.com

  15. M Le
    May 19th, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Hello everyone. There are healthy alternatives out there and you don’t have to feel guilty for drinking energy drinks if you had a healthy alternative. We have come out with so many new drinks in the last few months, including energy, tea, coffee and juices! Visit my site at http://www.minhle.vemma.com and see all four of our clinical studies! Thank you!

  16. June 19th, 2014 at 11:48 am

    ADVOCARE!!! Good for you and Taste amazing! If you would like to know more or have questions, please let me know or visit my site! http://www.advocare.com/140314917

  17. June 20th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I have found the Awaken Thunder doesn’t substitute taste for health..
    and they can be purchased at an extremely low price through wake up now check it out and thank me later


  18. June 24th, 2014 at 11:48 am

    A:I refuse to spend anything more than .05 cents on a shot of anything. This justifies upping prices all across the board on all liquid consumables.
    B: Are there any general (ie: Orange Juice etc.) juices or combinations thereof (x amount of ozs of coffee, then z amount of ozs of OJ for instance) that can do the same thing at a fraction of the cost?

    Speaking on my own behalf and probably for millions of others, I am priced out of “health foods” and must look for cheap generic alternatives.

    I have ALWAYS felt that “energy drinks” were a complete crock and what few I have tried taste terrible.

  19. Steve
    July 27th, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Absolutely the best healthy energy products out there!Vemma is the company and has their 2 ounces of loaded liquid nutrition in all their products including their energy drink line called verve…physician formulated, clinically tested along with their bode line of products promoted by Chris and Heidi Powell of Extreme Makeover on ABC..Please Please Please..if you are looking for healthy products..Make Sure 3rd party Clinical trials were done! Do not take a companys word for it. Vemma did their homework..You be the judge..Heres to your Health…ProvE3.vemma.com

  20. August 1st, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    hi there i liked your article I’m ceo of arctic chaga co if anyone is truly looking to change their health the best solution I’ve found after searching for decades is arctic chaga mushrooms they grow on birch trees in polar regions we make a tea out of them they have an orac5 rating / antioxidant rating of 2301 compared to blueberries at 24 thats right nearly 100 times stronger than blueberries acai berries at 165 arctic chaga has no caffeine sugar or drugs of any kind nothing in the history of mankind has had these antioxidant levels so for every 100 glasses of blueberries you ingest only one glass of chaga will do the same arcticchaga.com fb we also offer a free service w our in house scientist [email protected] for anyone who wants general information about health free radicals antioxidants DR PEGGYE MARTIN is very much into natural health and can explain much better than anyone thx red brady arctic chaga the healthiest stuff on earth

  21. August 27th, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    My daughters birthday was a tea party with pedicures after so I got little pedicure kits,
    nail polish, tea bags and cute little jewelry for each of the girls.
    The various patch work, camouflage, and western studded, designer and cross buckle are variety
    are pretty much appealing to the women. Practice shifting
    position: Start off by placing the weight on the ball of your feet.

  22. October 8th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Advocare spark contains sucralose. It does not have it on the package list but if you go to website you will find it in the “other ingredients” list. sucralose is why it taste sweet. FDA has moved sucralose from a “safe” food source to “caution” because of its strong links to causing leukemia.

  23. October 31st, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Ms. Eve, We produced a healthier version of energy drink called Madrat Elixr – > We use Stevia mainly and a bit of xylitol. My wife and I researched and found that Stevia and Xylitol are among the best choices of low calorie sugar alternatives. We also included a decent amount of Vitamin C and strong anti oxidants. Feel free to check us out at: http://www.madrat.com

    Cheers to your health!

  24. November 29th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Wow, I just drank two Monsters today and I really woke up!!!! People can be one minute falling asleep and wake up now the next lol, thanks for sharing this article. It’s really interesting, do you prefer Redbull or Monster more?

  25. Katie May
    February 3rd, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Happy to be among the list of healthy alternatives, Q Energy – Drink Healthy is a Quercetin based healthy alternative energy drink made in Vancouver, BC. Like the other solutions mentioned here, it’s low caffeine at 35mg and low sugar at >4g but what really sets it apart is that the leading ingredient, Quercetin not only provides energy but also offers very powerful anti-inflammatory relief.

  26. Wealth Generators
    February 15th, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    A lot of these energy drinks today are not healthy lol… Red Bull once almost put me in the hospital, i couldn’t breath and my chest felt like it was going to come out of my chest if that even makes sense haha… But some energy drinks are good though.

  27. Laura Arango
    February 18th, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I don’t like Red Bull to be honest, it almost put my brother in the hospital.. Organic drinks are more preferable if I was to get a boost of energy, natural is the way to go!

  28. pooja
    February 24th, 2015 at 2:06 am

    which is the best energy drinks

  29. Cammie
    February 26th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    There is so much hype on energy drinks these days that is hard to make a decision on which ones are the healthiest for you. I have been doing some research and have found that most of them have a claim to fame ingredient that makes theirs the best. Example: One will claim that is the yerba mate is the key, or green tea and green coffee, or it has the best B vitamins available, or maybe it’s acai berry or the guayusa, or the quercetin sets their product apart from the rest. I think the best way to search for the healthier energy drink is to start with their “claim to fame”. What the heck is that ingredient and how does it “help you to be healthier”? Also, you have to look at the chemicals that are added, and how the combinations of the ingredients react together.

    Like one person mentioned, yerba mate is great cold, but turns out to be cancer causing when hot. Well if your putting it into your 98-degree body… hello. It’s been common knowledge for years that one of our popular sodas has the same properties as formaldehyde. Cold it’s great, hot it’s not… same thing people. You’re just making it easier on the coroner by starting to preserve yourself early.

    That all being said, yes like most of the people that have posted something on here, I also support a certain Healthy Energy Drink and think it’s amazing. But my message to you is to do a little research see what the ingredients really are and what the company’s “claim to fame” so you can make an informed decision! Pubmed.org seems to have a lot of good information, plus all of their publications come from independent scientific studies, not from someone selling a product.

    Feel free to look up the one I endorse as well. It is called Blu Frog from a company named Limu and their “claim to fame” ingredient for their products is Fucoidan. Research and find the best one for you!

    Happy Drinking,
    Cammie Agour
    [email protected]

  30. August 15th, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    blue sky energy drinks, make 3 of the best energy drinks, on the market
    juiced energy, in an orange can
    sugar free in a white can
    and blue energy in a blue can with lightning bolts…very good energy drinks

  31. September 3rd, 2015 at 10:16 am
  32. September 24th, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Great article, I think anything is better than Redbull hahaha

  33. November 4th, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Advocare’s spark is what helped me kick my habit of red bull over a year and a half ago.5 hours of sustained energy and mental focus with no crash.Many different flavors to choose from.Check the web site out for more info. http://www.advocare.com/140472908/

  34. November 23rd, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve had great luck with VISO energy drinks. When I lived in the Pac NW, I bought at Fred Meyer supermarkets. Now I order them and have shipped because I can’t find them in Chicago. All organic fruit juices, cane sugar or zero-cal versions, and natural caffeine. I’m in no way affiliated with Viso…just love their stuff. http://www.drinkviso.com

  35. November 26th, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I am a Redbull addict and am reaching out for help lol. I drink 4 to 5 cans a day. My blood pressure used to be so low a year ago, that my doctor joked about me not having a heart. My last visit, well hypertension is an issue. I have two weeks to ween myself off. The headaches I can deal with, they are temporary, it’s the taste I love sooooooo much. Please help!!!!

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