10 Best Energy Drinks to Maximize Peak Performance

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The everyday demands on your time, attention, and energy can seem daunting and unending. Even with elaborate productivity frameworks and finely-tuned recovery practices, there are moments when you need an extra boost to make it over the finish line. That's why many athletes like cyclists and lifters utilize energy bars, energy gels, or for a lower-calorie option, energy drinks. However, regular consumption of energy drinks can often have potential negative side effects like headaches, insomnia, and risks to your heart, teeth, and stomach.(1) The majority of these drinks are also high in sugar and artificial substances, have ridiculous amounts of caffeine content, and can get expensive.

So you might be wondering—are there alternatives to these canned energy drinks? Quick drink alternatives where you can get more of the energy-boosting benefits without the long-term side effects and can control the amount of caffeine you're ingesting.

The Best Energy Drinks - Our Top Picks

It can be very overwhelming to sift through all the marketing hype and "proprietary" formulations to find potent energy drinks with clean ingredients. It may feel easier to grab a can of whatever is available. Put that can down; we’ve done the research and waded through several options to provide you with a list of the best energy drinks to maximize your performance.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers are of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming energy drinks, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers. More importantly, fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products we trust and would personally use.

Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink - Xwerks Ignite



  • Caffeine per serving: 150 mg
  • Price: $1.67/serving
  • Flavors: Green apple, orange, blue raspberry, watermelon


Energy drinks can be an incredible boost when taken before an intense workout. It's not just about the energy either. With the right ingredients, a powdered pre-workout energy drink can help put your body in an ideal position for maximum effort and shortened recovery times. If your goal is muscle growth, some formulations contain supplements that aid in preserving muscle tissue and improving muscle synthesis.

We've crowned Xwerks Ignite as the best pre-workout energy drink. Ignite contains many pre-workout standards like caffeine, L-citrulline malate, and beta-alanine for sustainable energy and endurance, and the nootropics rhodiola and DMAE bitartrate for extra focus during tough training sessions.(2) We also can't forget to mention the 35 grams of electrolytes from magnesium lactate.

As for the caffeine content, this formula supplies 150 milligrams, which is just enough to boost your energy without the jittery side effects.

What We Like

  • Mix of energy, focus, and endurance ingredients
  • Has electrolytes to boost muscle function and maintain hydration
  • "Crash-free" and gentler on stomach
  • Zero added sugar and calories

What We Don't Like

  • May not be enough caffeine for some users with a high tolerance
  • Pricey

BUY: Xwerks Ignite

Best Natural Energy Drink - KOS Love You Berry Much



  • Caffeine per serving: Not listed
  • Price: $1.43/serving
  • Flavors: Goji berry popsicle


Natural energy is more about what you leave out than what you put in. That's why when it came to our recommendation, we went with a company built from the ground up to offer natural and sustainable supplement products. KOS Love You Berry Much is a USDA-organic plant-based mixable powder free of gluten, soy, GMO, and dairy. If they stopped there, it would already outpace most of the other products we looked into. However, KOS went the extra mile to ensure their clean energy powder leaves out any preservatives, is vegan-friendly, and is flavored with organic monk fruit powder, natural acai berry flavor powder, and organic Stevia powder.

There is no additional caffeine or stimulants added to this formula; your energy boost comes straight from superfood blends. KOS Love You Berry Much has three different "reds" blends with ingredients like red beetroot, apple, pomegranate, cranberry, raspberry, and goji juice powders. We especially like the "Premium Digestion Support Blend" because it includes energy-producing digestive enzymes, organic ginger root powder, and aloe vera extract. If you're looking for a clean, natural energy drink that won't upset your stomach, KOS Love You Berry Much is an excellent choice.

What We Like

  • Clean and natural energy from superfood ingredients
  • Non-GMO, vegan, gluten and dairy-free
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Flavor has several positive reviews

What We Don't Like

  • Uses proprietary blends
  • Not a calorie-free option (25 calories per scoop)

BUY: KOS Love You Berry Much

Best Energy Drink For Keto - BUBS Naturals MCT Oil Powder



  • Caffeine per serving: Not listed
  • Price: $1.23/serving
  • Flavors: Unflavored


MCT oil powders are very popular right now—especially if you're on the keto (or paleo) diet—because they are fatty acids that can give you a natural energy lift without carbohydrates. They can also easily be stirred into hot and cold beverages without creating a greasy texture or residue. MCT oil is especially useful mixed into coffee to create a "bulletproof" concoction that may help you feel energized and focused for longer. Adding it to your morning coffee also gives you an extra caffeine kick.

At 70 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving, BUBS Naturals MCT Oil Powder is our pick as the best energy drink for keto because it can help provide clean, fast energy without any uncomfortable jitters or crashes. It is also endorsed by several diets, including Whole30, and may help reduce cravings and benefit overall gut health. We recommend the full 30-day supply, but it is also available in a 14-day supply and individual stick packs for energy when on the go.

What We Like

  • Mixes easily into both hot and cold drinks
  • Natural energy source
  • Whole30, Keto, and Paleo diet approved
  • Available in different quantities

What We Don't Like

  • Higher in calories
  • Somewhat pricey

BUY: BUBS Naturals MCT Oil Powder

Best Energy Drink for Focus - Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged



  • Caffeine per serving: 200mg (1 scoop)
  • Price: $1.12/serving
  • Flavors: Blood Razz, Blue Razz, Mango Citrus, Death Wish


Energy drinks can be very effective in optimizing our mental performance as well. Whether extra energy is needed to power through a late-night road trip or prepare for a presentation at work, an energy drink needs an ideal balance of ingredients to give you rock-solid focus and mental clarity. It's less about caffeine and more about the supplemental components that enhance your body's mental capacity.

With "laser-like focus" in the description, Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged is a pre-workout energy drink powder with 200 milligrams of caffeine—from an eye-opening trio of caffeine anhydrous, di caffeine malate, and caffeine citrate—per serving. That's 400 milligrams of caffeine if you opt for the two-scoop serving size, but we (and the brand) recommended that you start small at first with half a scoop to assess your tolerance.

When you're looking for extra focus, especially during an intense workout, easily mix your preferred dosage with 8 to 12 ounces of water, and you're good to go. It also comes in four highly-reviewed flavors.

What We Like

  • High caffeine content for focus and energy
  • Transparent labeling
  • Easy to mix
  • Great flavors
  • Made in the USA

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended for those who are caffeine-averse
  • Uses artificial flavors and sucralose

BUY: Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged

Best Tasting Energy Drink - Gainful Pre-Workout



  • Caffeine per serving: 150mg
  • Price: Varies; starts at $1.86/serving
  • Flavors: Sour watermelon, strawberry lemonade


Gainful Pre-Workout sets itself apart from other pre-workouts and energy drinks because it's completely customizable to fit your goals. Once you take the introductory quiz, you'll be connected with sports nutrition experts to create your own formula with 150 milligrams of caffeine and pre-workout ingredients like BCAAs, beta-alanine, and L-citrulline and choose between their tasty—and well-reviewed—sour watermelon and strawberry lemonade flavors.

"Works great, tastes amazing, and I love not having the caffeine overload that I get with other pre-workout products."
- Jessica L. Verified Buyer (11 May 2023)

Gainful is a subscription-based service, meaning it will be a little more expensive due to the ingredient quality and recurring cost, but you are able to cancel your subscription at any time.

What We Like

  • Taste is rated high among reviewers
  • Fully customizable ingredients for energy and focus
  • High-quality and individually-dosed
  • Science-backed

What We Don't Like

  • Can't add more than 150mg of caffeine
  • Expensive

BUY: Gainful Pre-Workout

Best Powder Energy Drink - Transparent Labs Stim-Booster



  • Caffeine per serving: 100mg
  • Price: $0.67/serving
  • Flavors: Blue raspberry, unflavored


Many experienced users prefer the ability to customize their dosages according to their needs. When it comes to flexibility and budget, an energy powder is going to be the best option. Besides typical considerations, our choice factored in mixability and sweetness. The last thing you want is a mouth full of grit on your final sip. You also don't want your drink to be too sweet because you upped the dosage.

Transparent Labs Stim-Booster is our choice for the best energy drink powder. Reviewers rave about how quickly it dissolves in water after a few shakes. It's not just about the quick energy either; the label is as transparent as it gets, giving you exact amounts of every ingredient used for proper dosing for clean energy. Stim-Booster also has 800 milligrams of nooLVL®, a patented combination of arginine and silicon, for enhanced nitric oxide production and blood flow. It's also affordable at $0.67 per serving, with the option to subscribe and save for an additional 10% off and free shipping.

What We Like

  • Uses organic caffeine sources
  • Pre-workout nitric oxide booster
  • Budget-friendly
  • Subscribe-and-save program
  • Fast mixing and great flavor

What We Don't Like

  • Caffeine amount may be too low for some
  • No flavor variety

BUY: Transparent Labs Stim-Booster

Best Energy Drink to Stay Awake - Xwerks Ignite



  • Caffeine per serving: 150mg
  • Price: $1.67/serving
  • Flavors: Green apple, orange, blue raspberry, watermelon


Now, with this category, we're definitely not suggesting that you pull regular all-nighters; however, if you're new to the night shift, cramming for an exam, or many other scenarios, you may want an energy drink that can keep you awake without the inevitable crash.

We recommend Xwerks Ignite because of its natural and transparent formula featuring caffeine, L-citrulline malate, and beta-alanine for sustained energy and endurance. Ignite also includes the nootropics rhodiola and DMAE bitartrate to help keep your synapses firing while you burn the midnight oil. Lastly, Xwerks Ignite supplies 150 milligrams of caffeine, just enough to help boost your energy levels without the jitters.

What We Like

  • "Crash-free" and gentler on the stomach
  • Mix of energy, focus, and endurance ingredients
  • Has electrolytes to help boost muscle function and hydration
  • Zero added sugar or calories

What We Don't Like

  • May not be enough caffeine for some users with a high tolerance
  • Pricey

BUY: Xwerks Ignite

Best Energy Drink For Running - Kaged Hydra-Charge® Amped



  • Caffeine per serving: 200mg
  • Price: $1/serving
  • Flavors: Watermelon


The majority of runners will not want to carry massive canned energy drinks with them when they're out on the trail or jogging through the city streets. This makes individually-packed energy powders like Kaged Hydra-Charge® Amped desirable and the best energy drink for runners. Just toss one into your running belt and mix it with your water before your run or when you feel your motivation waning.

Kaged Hydra-Charge® Amped has a clean, low-calorie formula for enhanced energy and hydration. As for caffeine, Amped uses 200 milligrams of organic caffeine per serving, sourced from organic green coffee beans (PurCaf®). If that amount feels too high, you can always start with half the packet to gauge your tolerance.

What We Like

  • High caffeine content
  • Individual packets for easy travel
  • Ingredients for hydration and energy
  • Low calorie, organic caffeine, and naturally flavored

What We Don't Like

  • Caffeine amount may be too high for some
  • Only 1 flavor option

BUY: Kaged Hydra-Charge Amped®

Best Low-Calorie Energy Drink - Transparent Labs LEAN



  • Caffeine per serving: 180mg
  • Price: $1.67/serving
  • Flavors: Fruit Punch, Sour Peach, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Cherry Limeade, Sour Grape, Watermelon, Tropical Punch


With zero listed calories, 180 milligrams of organic PuCaf® caffeine, and several standard clinically-dosed pre-workout ingredients like citrulline malate and beta-alanine, Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout is our choice for the best low-calorie energy drink. All 21 active ingredients listed are 100% transparent and don't include the common—but controversial—taurine, a chemical used in the majority of energy drinks.(3) We also like that LEAN has nine fruity flavors to choose from. You're getting more than an energy boost from this product as it also contains an ergogenic training and fat loss formula. So if you're looking for a low-calorie energy drink as part of a weight loss transformation, this may be the best option.

What We Like

  • Higher caffeine content
  • 21 active ingredients
  • Several flavors
  • Vegan-friendly

What We Don't Like

  • May not appeal to those who don't want additional fat loss/ergogenic ingredients
  • Should not exceed more than 1 scoop per day

BUY: Transparent Labs LEAN

Best Zero-Sugar Energy Drink - Cellucor C4® Energy Carbonated



  • Caffeine per serving: 200mg
  • Price: $2.33/can (12-pack)
  • Flavors: Frozen Bombsicle, Arctic Snow Cone, Orange Slice, Cherry Limeade, Midnight Cherry, Purple Frost, Strawberry Watermelon Ice, Tropical Blast


Cellucor C4® is a popular brand that is well-known for its energy drinks that come in several summer popsicle-themed flavors. If you're looking for a sweet-tasting carbonated energy drink with zero sugars and calories, we highly recommend Cellucor C4® Energy Carbonated. It's also highly reviewed for its delicious taste and energy boost. Buying your drinks in a 21-pack rather than a container can be a bit more expensive, but the convenience of a canned drink and the free shipping you'll get when you subscribe and save may make it worth the investment.

What We Like

  • Zero sugar, calories, and sodium
  • Comes in 12-pack
  • Several flavors to choose from
  • Free shipping with subscription

What We Don't Like

  • More expensive than powdered options
  • Caffeine amount may be too high for some

BUY: Cellucor C4® Energy Carbonated

What To Look For When Shopping for Energy Drinks

It's important to point out a few things to ensure you get the most out of whichever energy drink you choose. When it comes to optimal energy management, your body's greatest weapons are a macro-appropriate (balanced proteins, fats, and carbs for your body type), nutrient-dense diet for adequate recovery, quality, and duration. Getting some body movement in there can also help. Many energy drink horror stories result from people who do not have these pillars in place.

Tiredness, foggy thinking, and low energy can indicate a deficiency. Think of these symptoms as the warning lights on the dash of your car. Many people encounter problems when they use energy drinks to override these indicators without doing anything to rectify the root issue. With or without energy drinks, this can result in a cascading effect of bad news for your body. On the flip side, energy drinks amplify and supercharge your body to operate at peak performance when they are partnered with a healthy lifestyle. Think of it as nitrous for your body's finely tuned, gunk-free engine.

Look for Top-Quality Ingredients Backed by Research

It's best to ignore the marketing and carefully inspect the ingredients list instead. Double-check that they are not using harmful artificial sweeteners like aspartame for low-calorie choices. There are countless zero-calorie, naturally-derived sweeteners on the market. As far as quality, making sure the ingredients are sourced well and assembled in a top facility is very important.

Avoid "Proprietary" Blends With Outlandish Marketing Claims

Regarding formulations, try to avoid drinks that tout “proprietary blends.” If their blend were that life-changing, the company would have spent the extra money to get a patent. Most companies use this to hide the fact that they are underdosing ingredients. Most supplements have a minimum threshold to derive their benefits (minimum effective dose). Low-priced energy drinks are one of the greatest offenders of employing this tactic.

Define Your Goals

When do you need an energy drink? Is it before the start of your workout or midway through a grueling series of meetings? Each person has specific needs which will determine which energy drink would be the best for them.

Understanding what you need energy for will ensure you don't consume more than is needed. For example, if you need to stay alert and focused during back-to-back work shifts, you don't need to add an energy drink to enhance athletic performance. When looking for the best energy drink for you, ensure the ingredients align with your goals. This step alone will help you weed out half of the energy drinks on the market.

Gauge Your Caffeine Sensitivity

Optimal levels of caffeine can vary between people. For some, their sweet spot may be a daily allowance of 400mg of caffeine, while others could become jittery at just 100mg. Why is this important? With caffeine, the principle of diminishing returns applies. More does not mean better. In fact, utilizing more than is necessary can create problems in other areas.(4) When looking for the best energy drink, the least amount of caffeine required for maximal efficiency and performance wins.

Testing your sensitivity to caffeine is simple and doesn't require being specific to the exact milligram. Experimenting with different amounts within healthy ranges and documenting your body's response should be sufficient.

Determine How Energy Drinks Will Fit Your Lifestyle

While the right energy drinks are highly effective in helping us operate at peak levels, ensuring the version we choose complements other aspects of your lifestyle is important. If you enjoy drinking a steady stream of coffee or tea throughout the day, you may want to utilize an energy drink lower in caffeine. For athletes that need energy primarily for their workouts, utilizing a pre-workout energy drink would be best.

Why Your Energy Levels Might Be Low

Other than an underlying medical condition—which you should see a doctor for—energy levels can dwindle for multiple reasons, including lack of sleep, stress, and poor dietary habits. You can remedy these situations by upping your fluid intake with water and hydrating fruits, exercising regularly, and consuming a well-balanced diet rich in protein, carbs, and fats.

If sleep is still hard to come by due to stress or high caffeine consumption, try limiting your caffeine intake or only consuming caffeinated beverages and pre-workouts earlier in the day.

You can also use a stimulant-free pre-workout for energy without jeopardizing your sleep, especially if you train in the evening. Lastly, combating high amounts of stress isn't as easy as "stop stressing out," but engaging in exercise or low-impact activities like yoga can work wonders for your stress levels and brain health.

Side Effects of Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are typically high in caffeine which can cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, dehydration, stomach issues, and lack of sleep.(5) Some are also incredibly high in sugar, which could lead to health complications like type 2 diabetes when consumed excessively. As with most things, energy drinks are okay in moderation, but getting your energy from natural sources is preferred.

FAQs About Energy Drinks

What is the Best Energy Drink for Focus?

The best energy drinks for focus rely on a moderate amount of caffeine paired with proven ingredients to enhance mental clarity and productivity. Choosing a product that's low in sugar and calories is important. Extra sugar in the presence of high levels of caffeine can result in what many refer to as a crash shortly after taking it.(6)

How Can I Boost My Energy When Tired?

Nothing can be more frustrating than feeling tired when we need to be alert, energized, and focused. Energy drinks are one of the most effective ways to get an extra boost. However, if you find these drinks becoming less and less effective the more you use them, it could indicate they are being used improperly. Make sure that rather than using energy drinks to fill the gaps and underlying deficiencies, you are using them to enhance your diet and recovery.

  • Make your diet macro-friendly and insulin-friendly. The best way to look at macronutrients is to see them as building blocks and fuel sources for your body to work properly. Consuming the right proportions will give your body more to work with when you are trying to maintain all-day energy. If you experience regular tiredness and are currently trying to lose weight, consider your caloric deficit and determine if it may be too low. Riding a continual energy rollercoaster of highs and lows may be connected to insulin-spiking foods. The constant struggle to maintain proper blood sugar levels may result in feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. Tweaking our diets can go a long way to having that boost of energy when we need it.
  • Prioritize recovery. Things like an earlier bedtime, avoiding stimulants close to sleep, and incorporating mindful meditation or breathing practices may help with energy management throughout the day. Energy drinks are much better at boosting a properly rested and recovered body.

Which Energy Drinks are the Healthiest?

When it comes to the healthiest energy drinks, it's important to ensure ingredients are from organic sources with little to no artificial preservatives or ingredients. Caffeine is a primary ingredient in many of these drinks, so if you have a low tolerance for stimulants, energy drinks may not be the best option for you. You should also be wary of the sugar content on the label, as energy drinks tend to be higher in sugar. That said, there are zero sugar options available.

Our Final Takeaway

Energy drinks can be an excellent resource when you need a little push to help you complete your daily tasks. They also don't just come in cans; we've provided several powdered options with transparent formulas, so you know exactly what you're putting into your system. We hope our list can help you find extra energy, focus, and motivation.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. Alsunni A. A. (2015). Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. International Journal of health sciences, 9(4), 468–474.
  2. Malík, M., & Tlustoš, P. (2022). Nootropics as Cognitive Enhancers: Types, Dosage and Side Effects of Smart Drugs. Nutrients, 14(16), 3367. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14163367
  3. Mayo Clinic (2022, March 24). Taurine is an ingredient in many energy drinks. Is taurine safe? Nutrition and Healthy Eating - Healthy Lifestyle. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/taurine/faq-20058177
  4. Murray A, Traylor J. Caffeine Toxicity. [Updated 2022 Aug 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532910/
  5. National Institutes of Health. (2018). Energy Drinks - Health Information. NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/energy-drinks
  6. Paglia L. (2019). The sweet danger of added sugars. European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 20(2), 89. https://doi.org/10.23804/ejpd.2019.20.02.01

About the Author

David Fang

David Fang

David Fang started his career by studying medicine at the State University of New York. Today, he works as a competitive CrossFit athlete, Olympic lifter, and fitness consultant who knows that the key to peak performance starts with rock-solid mental resilience and psychology. David has worked with coaches and athletes from the University of Louisville and Duke University to aid in building a powerful mind-body connection.

See More from David

David Fang started his career by studying medicine at the State University of New York. Today, he works as a competitive CrossFit athlete, Olympic lifter, and fitness consultant who knows that the key to peak performance starts with rock-solid mental resilience and psychology. David has worked with coaches and athletes from the University of Louisville and Duke University to aid in building a powerful mind-body connection.

See More from David

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