If you’re like many busy Americans, you may feel the need for an extra boost of energy to stay focused and perform at your best throughout the day. Whether you experience the age-old 3 p.m. slump at your desk or you need an extra jolt to power through a morning workout, you may be looking for healthy energy drinks and coffees.
Caffeine happens to be the most-consumed energy booster in the world. From coffee to tea to chocolate, about 90% of Americans consume caffeine in some form every day. And increasingly, people are turning to energy drinks to satisfy their energy needs.
Energy drink consumption is especially high among young adults. In a 2016 survey, over one-third of 18- to 29-year-old respondents said they consumed energy drinks on a regular basis.
There are dozens of energy and sports drink companies out there to meet this growing demand for a regular energy boost. From flashy cans packed with bold flavors to all-natural alternatives, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and choose the right healthy energy drink for you.
That’s why we’re reviewing the top healthy energy drinks and coffees that will give you a moderate level of caffeine without added sugars and artificial ingredients.
Our Picks for the Best Healthy Energy Drinks and Coffees
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Coffee Alternative – MUD/WTR
- Best Mushroom Coffee – Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee
- Best Flavor Energy Drink – Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy Drink
- Best Low-Calorie Energy Drink – Sunshine Good Energy Drink
- Best Low-Sugar Energy Drink – GURU Lite Organic Energy Drink
- Best for Giving Back – Clean Cause Sparkling Yerba Mate
- Best CBD Coffee – Sträva CBD-Infused Coffee
The Downside of Mainstream Energy Drinks
Step into most gas stations, and you’ll find a fantastically colorful, shiny, and attention-grabbing display of canned energy drinks slapped with powerful names like “Rockstar” and “Red Bull.” But often, hidden behind the neon graffiti-scribbled cans are ingredients best avoided for the sake of your health.
Most mainstream energy drinks are packed with high amounts of caffeine as well as heaps of sugar and other undesirable ingredients. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should aim to consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.
To put that into perspective, a 1-ounce shot of espresso contains about 64 milligrams of caffeine. A regular cup of coffee has about 70 to 100 milligrams. Some energy shots contain more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in a single serving.
Overdoing your caffeine intake can have negative impacts on your health. The extent to which you experience side effects will depend on your tolerance for the drug, your age, and your genes. Signs of too much caffeine include headaches, anxiety, an elevated heart rate, muscle jitters, irritability, and frequent urination.
Added sugar is another common unhealthy ingredient in mainstream energy drinks. The American Heart Association recommends that adult men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar per day and women consume no more than 25 grams. However, a single serving of many mainstream energy drinks can easily contain 27 or more grams of added sugars per serving.
Studies show that consuming excess added sugars (those that aren’t naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables) can have serious health implications. For most Americans, these added sugars come from flavored drinks, cereals, baked goods, and other processed foods, including energy drinks.
All of this sugar adds up to an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In one 15-year Harvard study, participants who consumed 17-21% of their daily calories from added sugars increased their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 38% compared to individuals who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar.
Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease are all leading causes of death in the U.S. By choosing no- to low-sugar healthy energy drinks without large amounts of caffeine, you can reduce your intake of added sugars and avoid overdoing your caffeine intake.
What to Look for In a “Healthy” Energy Drink
So how can you be sure your daily pick-me-up is a healthier option that will still sustain your energy levels? Start by reviewing the caffeine and sugar content. Many natural energy drinks on the market are sugar-free and made with natural caffeine sources. For example, matcha green tea is an herbal source of caffeine that has other nutritional benefits for overall wellness like antioxidants.
In addition to the caffeine and sugar content, many healthy energy drinks are fortified with essential nutrients that have positive health effects. You may get the added benefit of antioxidants from black tea, for example.
As always, be sure to read the label of any energy drink carefully and with an eye on added sugars, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients. And remember that caffeine is a natural diuretic, so it’s important to watch your hydration and drink plenty of water.
Best Healthy Energy Drinks and Coffees
Best Coffee Alternative: MUD/WTR
MUD/WTR is an all-natural alternative to coffee designed to provide a more balanced and nutritional morning routine. It’s made from a blend of masala chai and cacao and an all-star lineup of nutrient-rich mushrooms, including Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, and Chaga, as well as turmeric, cinnamon, and Himalayan salt. Packed with immune-boosting antioxidants, but with a fraction of the caffeine in coffee, MUD/WTR can help help supercharge your day without the jitters.
Strength: 1/7 of the caffeine in a cup of coffee
Why buy: 100% USDA-organic; Non-GMO; Vegan; Gluten-free; Whole-30; Kosher; Mushrooms grown in the USA
Best Mushroom Coffee: Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee
Four Sigmatic offers a variety of organic plant-based drinks and supplements, but their ground mushroom coffee is one of their most popular. It’s made with Fair Trade organic coffee beans and organic Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushrooms. This allows you to enjoy all the benefits of coffee without the mid-afternoon crash. They also offer a full money-back guarantee so you can try it for yourself risk-free. Four Sigmatic also has a membership subscription service for 20% off all orders.
Strength: Equivalent to a regular 12 oz. brewed coffee
Why buy: Organic, Fair Trade certified, single origin Arabica coffee beans; Organic, sustainably wildcrafted mushrooms
Best Flavor Energy Drink: Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy Drink
We love that Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy Drinks are both low in calories and sugar (with only 6 grams per serving) while providing other important vitamins. The green tea and yerba mate that give each can its 120 milligrams of caffeine come with potent antioxidants and vitamin C. This is another slightly more caffeinated option if you’re looking for a stronger jolt from your healthy energy drink without the excess sugars and artificial ingredients you’ll find in mainstream high-caffeine options. With fruity Amazon-inspired flavors like acai berry and pomegranate, Sambazon ensures every sip is delicious and refreshing.
Strength: 120mg per can
Why buy: Made with guarana, yerba mate and green tea; USDA-Certified Organic; Non-GMO; Vegan; Gluten-free; Kosher
Best Low-Calorie Energy Drink: Sunshine Good Energy Drink
This brightly colored can is not only enticing, but it’s also good for you. Sunshine Good Energy Drinks have a moderate amount of caffeine (about the same amount as a cup of coffee) for a light buzz that won’t cause a crash. This low-calorie option (60 calories per can) is especially great for plant-based diets, which can often lack essential B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. These healthy energy drinks are fortified with B12, and the clementine flavor also offers 100% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.
Strength: 70mg caffeine per can
Why buy: Made with organic green coffee beans; Added B12; Contains electrolytes; 100% of your daily Vitamin C
Best Low-Sugar Energy Drink: GURU Lite Organic Low Sugar Energy Drink
GURU’s Lite Energy drink is brewed with antioxidant-packed green tea and hydrating carbonated water. This vegan energy drink includes the added bonus of natural sweeteners and vitamin sources. Every can is made with ginseng, echinacea, guarana, and sweetened with stevia and monk fruit for a lightly sweet, nutrient-packed sip. Plus, GURU has an environmentally friendly commitment to using natural, organic ingredients in this low-sugar, caffeinated energy drink.
Strength: 100mg caffeine per can
Why buy: Non-GMO; Vegan; No artificial sweeteners; Organic
Best for Giving Back: Raspberry Sparkling Yerba Mate
Last on our list of best healthy energy drinks is the Clean Clause Sparkling Yerba Mate. Clean Cause donates 50% of its profits from sales of this USDA Certified Organic energy drink to support addiction recovery. The company’s mission is to support recovery from alcohol and drug addiction through sustainable funding. Clean Cause brews its energy drinks from the dried leaves of yerba mate, a vitamin-rich South American plant that is naturally high in caffeine and antioxidants. Every serving offers plant-based polyphenols, a group of antioxidants shown to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
Strength: 160mg per can (two servings)
Why buy: USDA Certified Organic; Natural caffeine from yerba mate; Four fruity, sparkling flavors
Best CBD Coffee: Sträva CBD-Infused Coffee
Sträva Craft Coffee makes a premium CBD-infused coffee that combines specialty-grade, hand-roasted Columbian coffee beans with broad spectrum CBD. It makes for a drink that provides alertness and focus while also supporting natural wellness and calm. Their coffee beans are all ethically-sourced and their CBD is sourced from organic USA-grown hemp that undergoes independent third-party testing. This coffee is a delicious way to introduce CBD into your routine.
Strength: 10mg broad spectrum CBD per serving
Why buy: Organic, ethically-sourced coffee beans from Columbia; CBD distilled from organic American-grown hemp
Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.
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