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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Best Energy Drink

What is the Best Energy Drink?

Energy drinks have grown in popularity in the past few years.  Energy drink have lots of caffeine, sugar, and even vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to perk you up.  Some people drink energy drinks to get an afternoon lift to get through the day.  Some people drink energy drinks to get rolling for a night out.

What is the best energy drink?  People have different preferences for flavor, and energy drinks don't seem to make claims about tasting great anyway.  It seems that the most important features of energy drinks are:

  • Caffeine Content
  • Calories
  • Cost

Rockstar and Starbucks Energy Drinks
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Today we'll consider these factors to select the best energy drink.  We'll check popular energy drinks including 5 Hour Energy, Rockstar, Monster, Red Bull, Amp, and NOS.

How Much Caffeine is in Energy Drinks?

Before energy drinks were popular, people would drink a Mountain Dew for the same effect.  Mountain Dew has 54mg of caffeine in a 12 oz can.  How much caffeine is in energy drinks?


Energy Drink Caffeine Content Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Table: Energy Drink Caffeine Content

Energy Drink
Caffeine Content (mg)
5 Hour Energy 215
Rockstar Energy Shot 230
Monster Energy 90
Red Bull 85
Amp 70
NOS 225

The tables above show the caffeine content of popular energy drinks.  All of these energy drinks have a lot more caffeine than a can of Mountain Dew.  NOS, 5 Hour Energy, and Rockstar are loaded with caffeine with over 200mg per container.  Monster, Red Bull, and Amp have under 100mg of caffeine per container.  If I were drinking an energy drink at night, I would choose one with less caffeine in order to interfere less with sleeping.


RedBull Energy Drink is available in at least four sizes!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

How Many Calories are in Energy Drinks?

Some energy drinks contain calories to provide energy, while others have almost no calories.  If you drink energy drinks a lot, calories are a concern.

Energy Drink Calorie Content Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Table: Energy Drink Calorie Content Table
Energy Drink Calories
5 Hour Energy 4
Rockstar Energy Shot 10
Monster Energy 100
Red Bull 110
Amp 110
NOS 220

As you can see in the tables above, 5 Hour Energy and Rockstar Energy Shot have almost no calories.  The other drinks on the list have about the same amount of calories as a soda pop like Mountain Dew.

How Much Do Energy Drinks Cost?

You can buy a 16 oz bottle of Mountain Dew for about $1.50.  How does the cost of energy drinks compare to Mountain Dew?

Energy Drink Cost Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
Table: Energy Drink Cost Table
Energy Drink Cost
5 Hour Energy $2.00
Rockstar Energy Shot $2.00
Monster Energy $1.00
Red Bull $1.75
Amp $1.00
NOS $2.50


The cost of energy drinks is a bit more than a bottle of soda pop.  Amp and Monster Energy are the lowest cost among these energy drinks at $1.00 per container.  NOS weighs in as the most expensive in the group at $2.50.

The Best Energy Drink Is...

The best energy drink should have a lot of caffeine, not have many calories, and should not cost very much.  I'm going to go old school for my selection of best energy drink- really old school.

Coffee is the original energy drink and has been enjoyed for over a thousand years.  Coffee compares favorably to modern energy drinks in terms of caffeine content, calories, and cost.

Caffeine Content: A 16 oz cup of coffee shop coffee has about 330mg of caffeine- more than any of the popular energy drinks in our comparison group.  If you want less caffeine, you can use ground coffee rather than grinding your own beans.  You can also mix decaf grounds with regular grounds to adjust the caffeine content to almost any level of caffeine that you desire.

Calories: Coffee naturally has almost zero calories.  If you don't like your coffee black, you can add simple things like sugar, honey, and milk that add 50 to 100 calories to a cup of coffee.  If you don't want to add any calories, you can use artificial sweeteners to create a zero calorie energy drink.  If you don't want a hot drink, you can drink an iced coffee.

Cost: You can make your own 'coffee shop' quality coffee at home for only 60 cents per 16 ounces.  This is less expensive than any of the energy drinks in our group.  If you want, you can make coffee for even cheaper if you buy less expensive coffee grounds.


Coffee wins as best energy drink based on caffeine content, calories, and cost.

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