There is a huge debate raging that you’ve likely seen on the news, in online magazines and even on TV.
Are energy drinks safe?
Are energy drinks good for you?
And if yes, what is the healthiest energy drink on the market today?
So, in this article we will answer the above questions as well as covering the other major energy drink questions that are the most frequently asked online such as.
What are the healthiest energy drinks with and without caffeine?
What are the healthiest energy drinks for sports, for studying and for hydration?
Then we will even give you a few energy drink recipes so that you can easily make your own.
Also, we will even give you the recipe for what we believe to be the healthiest energy drink on the planet.
So, be sure to read until the end as well because we’ll give you a couple of variations on the best, healthiest energy drinks that you can make right at home for likely less than a dollar per serving.
We will also tell you where to get the healthiest one that you can order online, in cased you don’t want to make your own.
Before we can announce the healthiest drink for energy, we really have to define what an energy drink truly is.
What Is An Energy Drink?
They can be broadly classified into 4 main categories.
A). Those that contain some form of stimulant such as caffeine.
B) Energy drinks that don’t contain a stimulant.
C). Energy drinks that are used specifically for sports performance.
D). Energy drinks that are used to enhance mental function, as in those for studying for an exam etc.
Let’s take a brief look into each, their purpose, the typical ingredients they will contain and the results they will normally have for most people.
Energy Drinks That Contain Caffeine
These drinks may or may not say they contain caffeine on the label.
How could this be?
Well, they are allowed to contain other substances, usually herbs, that contain caffeine and you’re supposed to know if those ingredients do or not themselves contain caffeine.
The most ethical will list the milligrams of caffeine in total contained in the entire serving on the bottle somewhere, preferably in the ingredients panel.
This brings up a warning that we’d like to inform you of; the ingredients including caffeine are listed per serving.
Many times, what appears to be a single serving can or bottle many contain 2 or more servings.
Watch out for this or you may find your heart racing and you left wondering why.
The Usual Suspects
One of the typical herbs you’ll see on the label that contains a pretty high concentration of caffeine is Guarana.
Guarana is a plant named after the Guarani tribe that are indigenous to the Amazon jungle.
These people have used the seeds of the plant to brew drinks for various purposes such as, hunting energy, clairvoyance into the spirit worlds and more.
Black tea or Green tea. While there are a few debates as to whether tea really contains caffeine or theine, either way they include them for their stimulant properties.
The Misunderstood Herb
Many people presume that Ginseng contains caffeine when it really doesn’t.
Ginseng contains ginsenosides its active compounds.
Ginsenosides are a novel compound that no matter the sub genus all contain 30 carbon atoms in an unusual and very distinct circular pattern.
It’s thought that this atom arrangement is what gives Ginseng its near magical properties such as being able to not only help provide energy but a whole host of benefits such as being antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidation, and even adding in the inhibition of cell apoptosis.
The Results Energy Drinks With Caffeine Will Normally Have For Most People
Those that consume them will have a huge boost in what they perceive as energy, however, this is not real energy at all, at least not the way your body views it.
These drinks provide large and sometimes even toxic doses of stimulants.
These stimulants are so powerful that energy drinks caused 20,783 emergency room visits in 2011 and the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) classifies them as dangerous.
Even more than that, they actually defeat their stated purpose.
It’s just a natural law of both physics and organic chemistry; what goes up, must come down.
Whenever you stimulate yourself you have a natural downside when the stimulation wears off.
When you really jack yourself up on an energy drink with harsh stimulants in it, the crash is going to be that much harder as well.
So, there is no net energy gain.
You end up feeling several times worse than you did before you consumed it and now your central nervous system has also likely experienced damage that will take some to recover from as well.
Energy Drinks That Don’t Contain Stimulants Such As Caffeine
Typically, these will be better for you.
However, most of them rely on sugars to up your energy levels and this has a huge set of negative consequences that you need to be aware of.
Sugars also hide in the name of corn syrup, corn syrup solids, glucose, dextrose and commercially manufactured fructose.
Yes, the fructose found in fruits is perfectly fine for normal healthy humans. In fact, fruits are one of the preferred fruits for human health.
The thing is that; the fructose that they make commercially is not the same as you’d find in fruits.
It’s been manufactured in such a way as to resemble the fructose found in fruits, but it’s altered, and your body doesn’t recognize it and so has no idea what to do with it.
This is why some people can have harsh blood sugar swings from ingesting it and be baffled as to why, thinking that it’s from fruit, so it must be ok.
Sugars in liquid form such as energy drinks enter the blood stream very quickly and cause huge spikes in insulin.
This causes your body to shuttle the sugars out of the blood stream much faster than normal which results in that crash you feel a few hours later.
This rapid shuttling also strips the blood of vital nutrients which it then will attempt to take from other bodily tissues to normalize the blood.
This lowers their availability for usage thereby causing temporary deficiencies in these nutrients until they can be replenished over time.
What Else Do These Energy Drinks Contain?
Usually they will contain ingredients such as:
Ginseng – one of the world’s most famous herbs, it has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years for hundreds of purposes.
Glucuronolactone – a substance that is claimed to provide energy to the body by detoxifying it of harmful substances.
This would in theory free up the body to use the energy it was using for cleanup for other purposes.
Taurine – an amino acid that has shown promise in improving exercise performance.
Ginkgo Biloba – a fantastic herb that helps vasodilate the blood vessels of the cerebral cortex. This opens up better blood flow to the brain allowing better nutrient delivery and better waste and toxin removal.
L-Carnitine – an amino acid that helps shuttle fat to and through the cell wall to the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) to be used as fuel.
The above ingredients will have an overall effect on you, and you will feel more energized.
However, you may wish to consider a superior energy drink that we will outline for you a little later in this article.
Energy Drinks For Sports Performance
The beverage drink mixes in this category are usually going to have a blend of carbohydrate and electrolytes to help replenish those lost during exercise.
They may also have other ingredients such as the ones listed in the other sections like Taurine, L – Carnitine and others.
The challenge with these drinks is that they will have a large number of calories in a liquid form usually in the form of Maltodextrin, Fructose, Sucrose and Dextrose.
All of which elevate your blood sugars too rapidly and cause major insulin spikes.
These spikes cause the havoc that we discussed earlier along with insulin doing another of its intended functions – storing fat.
Yes, insulin is a storage hormone.
So, all those extra sugary calories from the drink get converted into fat.
This is one reason that people who work out quite a bit and drink these drinks can never seem to understand why they can’t get lean.
Energy Drinks To Enhance Mental Function
The drinks in this category are usually going to contain a mild stimulant and then ingredients that perk up mental acuity.
You can read the label and find those without the stimulants, and you’ll be much better off that way.
Generally, these will include ingredients like.
Glutamine – the only amino acid the body allows to readily pass the blood brain barrier. It then collects ammonia and because of this transforms into Glutamic acid which then exits the brain.
This process is thought to be the only mechanism the brain has to rid itself of ammonia which is incredibly toxic to it.
Ginkgo Biloba – we discussed this earlier. It’s a top ingredient for mental clarity drinks.
B Vitamins – especially B-12 in that it’s known as the energy vitamin. B-12 and B-6 are both used in co-enzymatic processes which the body uses to create or regulate internal energy.
Having ample supplies in your diet can make a really noticeable impact on your cognitive functioning.
There can be other ingredients of course. However, these are going to be the staples that most companies will use.
Sports Energy Drinks For Hydration
This is a truly unique category because for a drink to be successful in this category it doesn’t have to give you energy in the way that you might think.
Yes, most of the companies will put in Guarana which they shouldn’t. Stimulants and working out should not really go together.
There is far too much potential risk and not much to be gained.
The drinks in this category really need to focus on osmolality.
Osmolality is the ability to get the carbohydrate, electrolyte and water in the correct ratios so that the body preferentially loads the cells with water instead of pushing into subcutaneous storage (water held under the skin).
By doing this correctly they can dramatically enhance sports performance especially during endurance activities.
Your body is mostly water, you need it for the cells to function properly. If your cells aren’t doing their jobs, your muscles can not do theirs.
You’ve likely heard of ATP Adenosine Tri Phosphate. It’s literally the key to cellular energy. Without it you’re never going to perform anywhere near your best because you literally won’t even be able to move.
That’s how important it is.
ATP function is reliant on proper cellular hydration. Without water ATP cannot process… Period.
So, when choosing a sports energy drink be sure to investigate the company, see how much research they have to support the claim that their beverage hydrates properly.
After discussing these main categories it’s time to tell you what the healthiest energy drink is.
The thing is, we are going to have to tell you about 3 energy drinks that you can use for different purposes.
They are all three the best.
That may sound odd, but as we get into this, you’ll see exactly what we mean.
What Is The Healthiest Energy Drink?
Here are the top 3 that made the list. Each are completely different from one and other, but they are all 3 the best at what they do.
They are listed randomly not in order of rankings.
1. Homemade Apple Energy. This is our name for it. We checked TESS the Government trademark offices and found nothing. We don’t sell this and so have nothing to gain.
This is something you can make at home for just a few cents.
To begin, all ingredients should be organic, and the water should be purified and should not contain chlorine.
Mix organic apple juice concentrate or fresh squeezed apple juice with the following ingredients.
The reason it needs to be concentrate or fresh is that if it’s already reconstituted from concentrate you have no idea of the water quality that was used.
When you reconstitute it, you control the water quality.
Mix your apple juice with enough per serving listed on the label of Concentrace (product name) mineral drops.
Then add in 1/16th of a teaspoon per serving of Dead Sea rock salt.
This drink has a very high osmolality production factor, it provides the electrolytes that you need and tastes better than any flavored sports drink by far.
If you need to use this for studying, just add in about a gram of Glutamine per serving and you’ll have a great study energy drink as well.
2. Kombucha. You can buy Kombucha in the stores premade or you can actually brew it at home as well.
Home brewing it is really very easy. There are several recipes for doing so online and in books.
The Big Book of Kombucha is a great place to start you can find that on Amazon right here.
Kombucha might just be the king of osmolality drinks. Plus, it is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
You’ll really need to read up on it because to tell you how good it is for you would actually take a book in itself.
3. Yerba Mate. You’ll need just a little bit of equipment to drink it properly like the Uruguayans and Argentines do but, once it grows on you, this discovery might just have started a lifelong love affair with this amazing beverage.
Yerba Mate is a plant that is a shrub when young and matures into a tree of between 15 and 20 meters tall.
It grows primarily in South America where it has been consumed for centuries.
There are many different brands, and each has its own unique characteristics. You may need to experiment with a few to see which one matches your taste.
The kind you’ll want to start off with is the Brazilian green, unsmoked, organic Yerba Mate.
The reason is most brands smoke it by roasting the Yerba (herb) over burning wood smoke and this is what gives it that flavor and smell.
Wood smoke is not good for you. As such we recommend unsmoked.
Our pick is also as mentioned organic. You can get it from Amazon here.
To drink the Yerba, you’ll need a Mate (a hollowed-out gourd) and a Bombilla (a straw made of metal or wood with a screen at the bottom to strain the herbs.
However, since you may not be familiar with the process of seasoning your gourd and it can be quite a chore.
We recommend getting a nice stainless-steel Mate and Bombilla set from Amazon here.
You can find drinking instructions online that will teach you the age-old Yerba Mate drinking etiquette that you’ll need so you look like a pro.
The benefits of Yerba Mate are that it doesn’t actually contain caffeine, it contains theine.
A kissing cousin to caffeine, theine does not cause the jitters and is actually used by many to get off coffee without the normal headaches and withdrawal associated with stopping coffee consumption.
Yerba Mate contains many, many times more antioxidants than green tea and is one of those rare drinks that once you acquire a taste for, you may have just found your soul mate, in a beverage that is.
There you have it.
We have done our level best to give you the best energy drink advice around.
We implore you to give our recommendations a shot. They really are the best healthy energy drinks available today.