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10 Energy Drink Ingredients You Should Know

energy drinks on store shelves

If you ever looked at the ingredient label on a Monster or Red Bull, you know that there are quite a few ingredients in there. But what exactly are the Monster energy drink ingredients or C4 energy drink ingredients?

We broke down 10 ingredients that you can typically find in energy drinks, so you know exactly what you’re drinking — and how much is too much.

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Top 10 Energy Drink Ingredients:

1. Caffeine

Typical Amount: 100 to 300 mg
Safe Amount: 400 mg per day
Purpose: Improves memory, decreases fatigue, and improves mental functioning

Caffeine is the most talked-about ingredient in energy drinks and for good reason. Energy drinks come packed with caffeine, as it’s one of the primary energy boosters.

If you’re looking for the energy drink with the most caffeine, it’s Bang energy drink, with 300 mg per 16-ounce can.

Caffeine has tons of short-term perks, but the drawbacks are numerous too. It’s an addictive substance, and it’s easy to build up a tolerance and end up consuming more caffeine in a day than you should.

Pros
  • Does a great job boosting short-term energy
  • Gives mental functioning a significant short-term boost
Cons
  • Addictive
  • Can make you feel jittery and nervous
  • The body builds up a tolerance
  • Easy to overdose

2. Taurine

taurine powder on a wooden spoon and in a glass bowl
Image Credit: Imagepocket, Shutterstock
Typical Amount: 750 to 1,250 mg
Safe Amount: 6,000 mg per day
Purpose: Supports metabolism, improves physical performance, and supports nerve growth

While caffeine might be the most talked-about ingredient in energy drinks, taurine is a close second. Taurine is a natural chemical that is already found in your body, though nowhere near the levels in energy drinks.

Taurine helps improve your metabolism and peak physical performance, but there are no long-term studies that show the effects of large dosages of taurine in the body.

Pros
  • Natural ingredient
  • Improves metabolism and physical performance
  • Supports healthy nerve growth
Cons
  • No long-term studies on dosage amounts found in energy drinks

3. B Vitamins

Typical Amount: 8 to 12 μg
Safe Amount: Unlimited
Purpose: Provides, stress relief, boosts cognitive performance, and reduces stress and anxiety

Manufacturers pack B vitamins into energy drinks. But while there are definite perks for small dosages of B vitamins, like stress relief and improved cognitive performance, there’s not much reason to take the amount found in energy drinks.

They’re not bad for you, but your body simply can’t process that much of it. The excess simply passes through your system.

Pros
  • Can’t overdose on it
  • Natural ingredients
  • Benefits for smaller dosages
Cons
  • No real benefits for amounts in energy drinks

4. Glucuronolactone

Typical Amount: 1,000 and 1,200 mg
Safe Amount: 1,000 mg per kilogram of body weight
Purpose: Improved stamina, improved mood, and reduced mental fatigue

If you’re looking at the ingredient list of energy drinks, glucuronolactone isn’t likely one that you’re going to recognize. But it’s found in a bunch of energy drinks for a reason. It helps improve stamina and reduces mental fatigue, although it’s not in many studies.

Still, you can consume up to 1,000 mg per kilo of body weight, so the 1,000 to 1,200 mg found in a typical energy drink is far under the maximum dosage.

Pros
  • Improves mental performance
  • High overdosage amount
  • Improves energy and mood
Cons
  • Not involved in many studies

5. Guarana

Typical Amount: 1.4 to 300 mg
Safe Amount: 3 grams per day
Purpose: Reduces fatigue, aids learning, and boosts memory

Guarana is an ingredient that energy drink companies brag about, but few people actually know what it does. While it does a great job of reducing fatigue and improving short-term mental performance, there are many potential drawbacks.

For some people, guarana can cause insomnia, nervousness, and a whole litany of adverse side effects. It doesn’t affect everyone this way, but it’s certainly a risk.

Pros
  • Does a great job of reducing fatigue
  • Greatly improves short-term mental performance
Cons
  • Can cause insomnia
  • Can cause nervousness
  • Many potential side effects

6. Ginseng

ginseng on flat basket
Image Credit: whaltns17, Pixabay
Typical Amount:  8 to 400 mg
Safe Amount: 10-gram single dose, 200 mg per day with no breaks
Purpose: Acts as an anti-inflammatory, enhances brain functions, and fights fatigue

The primary purpose of ginseng is to boost the effects of the caffeine in energy drinks. It comes with many of the same potential drawbacks, and it’s known to interfere with certain medications.

Still, it helps fight short-term fatigue and improves short-term brain function. It can also act as an anti-inflammatory, which is a useful perk.

Pros
  • Enhances effects of caffeine
  • Improves short-term brain function
  • Helps fight fatigue
Cons
  • Can interfere with certain medications
  • Not as well-regulated as some other ingredients

7. Sugar

sugar on table
Image Credit: Bru-nO, Pixabay
Typical Amount:  0 to 55 grams
Safe Amount: 24 to 36 grams per day (long term)
Purpose: Improves taste, short-term energy burst, short-term mood booster

While not every energy drink contains sugar, those that do contain a large amount of it. Sugar acts as a tremendous short-term energy booster, but it also leaves you susceptible to a crash.

It’s also habit-forming, and most energy drinks contain more than the daily recommended value in one drink alone!

Pros
  • Tastes great
  • Outstanding short-term energy booster
Cons
  • Way too much in many energy drinks
  • Habit-forming

8. Aspartame/Sucralose/Ace-K

Typical Amount: Unknown
Safe Amount: 50 mg per kilogram of weight
Purpose: Improves taste and eliminates sugar

If your energy drink doesn’t have sugar, chances are that it has an artificial sweetener instead. This is the case for the 0-calorie Monster and Red Bull drinks, and all you need to do is take a look at Reign energy drink ingredients and Rockstar energy drink ingredients to see that they have the same thing.

Artificial sweeteners improve a drink’s taste and eliminate sugar, but their side effects are highly controversial.

Some studies link artificial sweeteners to weight gain and cancer, but these are controversial. That’s why the safe amount is set at 50 mg per kilogram of body weight, though some studies show that there’s no such thing as a safe dosage.

Pros
  • Tastes great
  • Eliminates the need for sugar
Cons
  • Controversial

9. L-Carnitine

Typical Amount: 150 to 250 mg
Safe Amount: 2 grams per day
Purpose: Improves exercise performance and enhances self of well-being

Just about every energy drink out there has l-carnitine, but not too many people know what it does. In short, it helps improve exercise performance and can act as a mood booster.

However, while it’s one of the less-controversial supplements in energy drinks, it can cause gastrointestinal issues and lead to heartburn.

Pros
  • Safe supplement
  • Improves stamina and exercise performance
Cons
  • Can cause upset stomachs
  • Can cause heartburn or diarrhea

10. Ginkgo Biloba

ginkgo biloba leaves
Image Credit: Marzena7, Pixabay
Typical Amount: 30 to 70 mg
Safe Amount: 240 mg
Purpose: Has antioxidants, helps prevent inflammation, improves cognitive function

Ginkgo biloba is likely one of the least controversial ingredients found in energy drinks, yet it’s one that few brands advertise that their drinks have.

Ginkgo biloba improves brain function and is an outstanding source of antioxidants. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits. The only real drawback of ginkgo biloba is that it can upset your stomach and lead to headaches.

Pros
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • Improves brain function
  • Outstanding anti-inflammatory
Cons
  • Can cause headaches
  • Can upset your stomach

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Energy Drinks: People Also Ask

How Often Should You Drink Energy Drinks?

While the label on energy drinks often says that you should drink no more than three a day, the truth is that three energy drinks a day are likely too much.

Many experts recommend that you only drink one energy drink a day and that children and adolescents should never drink them. In short, energy drinks aren’t good for you, and the fewer that you can drink, the better.

When you look at Zoa energy drink ingredients or the ingredients on any of your favorite energy drinks, it’s not hard to see why.

woman drinking bang energy drink
Image Credit: Sean Patrick, Pexels

What Is a Healthy Substitute for Energy Drinks?

If you take a look at your Celsius energy drink ingredients and decide to cut them out, what can you drink instead? There are a few healthy alternatives, but the best choices include water, coffee, or tea.

All three can provide you with energy-boosting benefits, and they don’t come with all the adverse side effects.

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Conclusion

While there’s no arguing that energy drinks aren’t good for you, there’s also nothing wrong if you decide to indulge every once in a while. Now that you know what all the different ingredients are, you can make an informed decision for yourself and ensure that you don’t accidentally overdose on anything!

See Also: 17 Ingredients in G Fuel: Is This Energy Drink Really Healthier?


Featured Image Credit: Joenomias, Pixabay

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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