Killer Energy

Popularity of Energy Drinks Overshadows Health Risks

Ryleigh Heasley, Staff Writer

The energy drink industry is a $91.94 billion industry that has been around for 74 years. The market significantly increased in 1997 with the creation of Red Bull, and since then the industry has not stopped growing. It’s estimated to be worth $177.58 billion by 2030. 

An energy drink is a beverage that typically contains large amounts of caffeine, sugars, other additives and legal stimulants, such as guarana, taurine, and L-carnitine. These stimulants can increase alertness, attention and energy, as well as increase blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. These drinks are popular among high school students who want an extra energy boost because they taste better than a cup of black coffee, however, the stimulants in these drinks can have harmful effects on the nervous system, among those under 25 years old. 

Before you grab just any energy boost, look over this list of the worst energy drinks on the market today. This is a list of top ten energy drinks starting with the best one for you to the worst. 

  1. FOCUS AID (100 mg of caffeine, 7g sugar 

Focus Aid is a not well-known energy drink, however it is one of the healthier options. It contains half the amount of caffeine as in the most popular drinks such as Celsius, and Focus Aid has 100mg of caffeine this is the recommended amount of caffeine for 12-17 year olds and it has just seven grams of sugar which is only 14% of the suggested amount. Aside from caffeine, B-vitamins, and ginger seng, there aren’t any other traditional energy drink ingredients. Focus Aid is full of natural flavors, natural sweeteners and caffeine from a natural source. 


  1. CELSIUS (200 mg caffeine, 0g sugar 

Celsius, one of the most beloved drinks, contains 200mg of caffeine in a 12oz can. This is double the amount recommended for teens, but only half the recommended adult intake. Celsius uses natural sweeteners and is naturally caffeinated and is marked as thermogenic meaning it helps to increase heart rate and metabolic rate by raising your body’s temperature. This is supposed to help burn off calories during your workout, so if weight loss is your goal, this is the drink for you. While this drink is promoted as a healthy energy drink, if used irresponsibly, it could hurt you while having a Celsius from time-to-time will do no harm, it’s when you drink this everyday or even multiple times a day that could not only lead to a caffeine addiction, but consumers may also experience increased heart rate or irregular heartbeat, insomnia and anxiety. 

  1. ALANI NU (200 mg caffeine, 0g of sugar)

Promoted by multiple fitness influencers, Alani Nu has the same amount of caffeine as Celsius in a 12 oz can. Most will argue that they are just about the same, and this would almost be true. While both Alani Nu and Celsius can lead to health problems when drinking too much, Alani Nu can cause worse and more side effects including, problems with the heart, acne, dizziness, jitteriness and nausea. It is recommended to limit this drink. 


  1. ZOA (160mg caffeine, 23g sugar)

Dwayne Johnson’s drink lands itself at number four. While most find this drink appealing it isn’t the healthiest way to get energy. While the caffeine amount is only 160mg, the sugar intake is 23 grams. To put this into perspective the American Heart Association suggests no more than 36 grams a day. While Zoa does offer a sugar free option the artificial sweeteners that are used are far from safe. Two of the main artificial sweeteners used are sucralose and Ace-K. There haven’t been many studies on the effects human of sucralose despite being around since the 90s, however there have been studies involving rats. During these studies it was shown that there was damage to gut due to bacteria and a link to higher risk of cancer. The same studies have been done on Ace-K. Ace-K is a calorie free sugar used in diet sodas and energy drinks. The research showed it was linked to cancer, thyroid problems and changes in brain function. 

  1. C4 ENERGY (200mg caffeine, 0g sugar)

Next up is C4 Energy. This is a very popular drink used to fuel workouts. With this drink you must understand just how much caffeine your body can handle. This is another drink you must consume in moderation. Not only is it high in caffeine but also creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline. Creatine in high doses can cause kidney damage and also stop your body from making its own creatine. When this is used in moderation you will be fine. 


  1. RED BULL (111mg caffeine, 51g sugar)

Red Bull is known as one of the unhealthiest energy drinks. But why? Red Bull contains 51 grams of sugar-101% of recommended intake, which Red Bull can give you wings, to heaven. Particularly in young people can be linked to abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack and in some cases death. Not only can it cause these issues, but also the high amount of sugar is associated with obesity, dental problems and type 2 diabetes. The sugar-free options use the same unnatural sweeteners as Zoa. Sticking to alternatives or even one once in a while will do no harm, but beware of the side effects if consumed regularly. 


  1. MONSTER (160mg caffeine, 54g sugar)

It should be no surprise that Monster is up next. Monster is one of the unhealthiest known energy drinks. It contains 160mg of caffeine and 54 grams of sugar; this is 108% of the suggested daily intake. Monster is one of the most popular drinks students will bring to school each morning to give them energy. These large amounts of caffeine sugar have been known to cause serious heart and blood vessel problems such as heart rhythm disturbances and increases in heart rate and blood pressure. It has also been found to harm children’s still-developing cardiovascular and nervous systems. Once again moderation can stop these things from happening. 

  1. ROCKSTAR ( 160mg caffeine, 63g sugar)

It was hard to place Rockstar because it contains the highest levels of sugar, but not the highest caffeine. Rockstar is placed toward the bottom of the list due to the significant lower take in caffeine compared to Bang and Reign. Rockstar contains 160mg of caffeine while that is less than both Alani Nu and Celscius it it contains 63 grams of sugar which is 126% of the suggested intake which is more than in any other drink in this list.



  1. BANG (300mg caffeine, 0g sugar)

Bang is sitting just before Reign at 300mg of caffeine and zero grams of sugar, however, sucralose is used to sweeten the drinks. One can of Bang allows you to consume 300mg of caffeine in mere minutes. Bang shows a warning on the label that states, “Too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleepiness, and occasionally rapid heartbeat.” While 300mg of caffeine wouldn’t harm you unless you have underlying health conditions it could do damage if you consume them often. Bang is also not going to help you burn any fat because of the amount of sucralose in it. It can cause you to feel hungrier which cancels out any fat burning-properties in the drink. 


  1. REIGN (300mg caffeine, 0g sugar)

Coming in this list of the most unhealthy energy drinks is Reign. While Reign may help muscles recover post workout, if you are consuming dangerously high amounts of caffeine and unnatural sweeteners it is not only bad for your liver, but also bad for your teeth. The amount of unnatural sweeteners may impact insulin sensitivity. Reign contains about all the bad things an energy drink is allowed to have. 



With any of these drinks, consumers should think about drinking them responsibly and in moderation.