5 Best Natural Energy Drinks

Authored by Ryan Rodal • 
July 15, 2019
 • 10 min read
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You’re sitting at your desk, knocking out tasks, checking items off your to-do list. Nothing can stand in the way of your productivity.

Until suddenly—a yawn. Then two, then three. It comes on out of nowhere: the dreaded, mid-afternoon crash.

The feeling of fatigue hits you like a ton of bricks. Your workday comes to a grinding halt.

Quick! You need to find a way to counteract this lack of energy and sprint through the final hours of the day with that same productivity it started with.

You’re looking for a source of energy—the strength needed for sustained physical or mental activity. When seeking out an energy source, it’s imperative to find the best option for your needs.

Many people reach for the typical energy drinks found in a convenience store fridge, but that boost is ephemeral, typically short-lived with a crash. Traditional energy drinks have been a part of the mainstream American marketplace for over 30 years, but they often come with a price that goes beyond dollars and cents. Quick crashes and questionable ingredient profiles have left consumers turning to natural energy drinks as a viable alternative.

But where should you turn when you’re looking for a natural source of energy?

Let’s look at some of the best natural energy drinks to keep you going without the crash.

Caffeine

Caffeine has been touted as the most commonly-used psychoactive substance in the world.1 Studies have shown the daily recommended amount of caffeine should be between 38mg - 400mg, a broad scope for different use cases.2 Make no mistake about it: caffeine is used constantly and it’s used internationally and it’s a major source of energy for so, so many people.

A study performed on 66 subjects gave coffee to one group and placebo to another group after an overnight fast.3 Both groups were given a series of cognitive tests to perform before, and one hour after, coffee consumption. Cognition tests were performed 10% faster with caffeine when compared to placebo; there was no difference in cognitive scores between groups. The results showed caffeine may be able to enhance cognitive abilities.

Not only is caffeine a great source of external energy, but it can also affect your body’s energy expenditure as well.

Caffeine can help increase thermogenesis and increase daily energy expenditure. A study was performed on both lean and obese subjects who were given 100mg of caffeine over a 150-minute period.4 Energy expenditure (EE) was determined at two hour intervals over a twelve-hour day, with results finding groups increased EE by 8% - 11% during the time period.

The net result was an increase in EE of 150 calories in the lean group and 79 calories in the obese group.

Another study on caffeine was performed on eight healthy men who consumed 10mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo both 90 minutes before and 240 minutes after ingestion.5 Caffeine ingestion increased energy expenditure 13% and fat utilization for fuel (increased fat burning capabilities). The results of both studies indicate caffeine can play a role in increasing total number of calories (energy) burned regardless of body weight.

Obviously, caffeine is a substance that gives us increased levels of energy and is consumed from an external source. But these studies show that caffeine might also have an effect on the way energy is used within your body.

Maybe, coffee isn’t for you.

If you’re really searching for that extra boost of energy, be sure to check out Sprint, HVMN’s nootropic for energy and focus. It’s perfect for on-the-go needs, formulated to promote alertness, focus, and relaxation—it can put you in the right state of mind necessary to power through the workday. Enjoy clean energy, avoid the afternoon slump and maybe, avoid that coffee stain on your white shirt.

Drink of Choice

If you’re looking for a caffeinated beverage to help power you through the day, why not try a portable cold brew, perfect for taking on the go.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup ground coffee beans
  • 1 ½ cups of cold water
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a mason jar, combine coffee and cold water. Give it a quick stir, then cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. The next morning, strain the coffee through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. You now have cold brew concentrate.
  3. In a new glass, mix together equal parts cold brew concentrate and water to taste.
  4. Add heavy cream if desired
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Coconut Water

Like the name implies, coconut water is the clear liquid found at the center of young, green coconuts. Popularly used for hydration, coconut water contains natural electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and manganese—many people call it “nature’s sports drink.”

A study was performed on eight healthy male volunteers who exercised at 60% VO2max until losing 2.78kg of body weight.6 Each was given either coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte based beverages, or plain water for recovery purposes in the form of 120% of lost body fluid. The results of the study showed coconut water caused less nausea, fullness, and was easier to consume in larger quantities compared to the other two beverages.

The study leads us to believe coconut water can be a superior source of hydration compared to water alone.

And staying properly hydrated is one way of maintaining mental energy throughout the day.

Coconut water can also help maintain electrolyte balances, which is another way of keeping energy levels up. Electrolytes carry electrical impulses needed for various physiological processes like muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmissions. What’s more, we lose electrolytes in sweat. These reasons leave many athletes reaching for electrolyte-enriched beverages for sport.

In a study performed on four male and four female participants, each was given either two liters of coconut water or tap water for four days.7 Urine specimens were collected and each individual’s 24-hour urine collection was found to have increased levels of citrate (29%), potassium (130%), and chloride (37%).

Coconut water was shown to increase theses electrolyte balances suggesting that coconut water can help rehydrate, which in turn may prevent fatigue and decreased energy levels.

Drink of Choice

If you want to try an all-natural source of coconut water for your daily energy boost, be sure to check out Harmless Harvest Organic 100% Raw Coconut Water. Its pure ingredients and fresh flavor make it a good source of coconut water without all the added sugar you may find in other energy beverages.

Green Tea

Green tea is another natural source of caffeine and energy. This natural energy beverage has been consumed for centuries across the world, providing a quick way to boost energy without added sugars.

One key ingredient found in green tea is L-theanine, which is often used to improve focus, memory and attention.

A study was performed on 12 habitual and 12 non-habitual consumers of caffeine; each received either 75mg caffeine, 50mg L-theanine, 75mg caffeine plus 50mg L-theanine, and placebo.8 The results showed caffeine with L-theanine improved performance on attention tasks and increased overall mood ratings. This study implies L-theanine may provide stronger cognitive benefits compared to caffeine alone. The benefits of green tea go far beyond being a source of energy.

That’s exactly why we combined caffeine and L-theanine in Sprint, HVMN’s nootropic for energy and focus. When combined, these two ingredients can boost short-term working memory, long-term semantic memory, and increased alertness.9

Green tea can also help control weight through increased energy expenditure.

A cross-over study was performed on ten healthy men who were given 50mg of green tea extract, 50mg of green tea extract and 90mg epigallocatechin gallate, or a placebo at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.10 The green tea resulted in a significant increase in energy expenditure (4%) and a decrease in respiratory quotient, which indicates more fat utilization for energy. The results of the study lead us to conclude that green tea has thermogenic properties capable of promoting fat loss.

Another health benefit of green tea might be reduced cardiovascular risk.

A study performed on 240 subjects over a two week period gave them either 583mg of catechins or 96mg of catechins per day (catechins is a green tea extract).11 Body weight, body mass index, body fat ratio, waist circumference, hip circumference and visceral fat were all measured.

The ingestion of more highly concentrated green tea resulted in reductions in body fat, systolic blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol. The study suggests that ingesting green tea extract can lead to decreased in obesity and potentially, risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Drink of Choice

If you’re searching for a green tea to provide a natural boost through your day, look no further than Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant as a green tea blend that contains both antioxidants and are free from artificial sweeteners.

Similar to coffee, if you’re not a tea-drinker, HVMN has Sprint. It’s the perfect portable dose of energy designed to promote alertness, focus and relaxation (from L-theanine) for that clean, jitter-free energy.

Ketones

The human body’s ability to produce and oxidize ketones evolved as a survival mechanism. When our great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers were on the hunt between large meals, they needed a way to use stored body fat for energy. But the brain—our biggest competitive advantage over our prey— can’t use fat for energy.

Normally the brain relies on carbohydrates for energy, but without, the body began using fat as fuel which led to the production of ketones in the liver.12 Ketones cross the blood-brain barrier, so they’re both a body and brain fuel, providing an alternate source of energy to the traditional carbs, fats and proteins.

That’s why you hear about the anecdotal feelings of mental clarity from those on the keto diet.

Evidence from animal studies have shown the keto diet can increase the creation of new mitochondria through a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, where fuel converts into bodily energy. More mitochondria means more efficient energy production.13

Ketones are also a cleaner-burning energy compared to carbs; they result in fewer free radicals when processed, compared to glucose.14

Total energy expenditure may also be increased from ketosis.

A rat-model study was performed to determine if a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet result in changes of total energy expenditure.15 Rats were fed a ketogenic diet for three weeks and results showed increased energy expenditure due to a metabolic switch from glucose to ketone bodies. We can deduce ketones are an efficient alternative form of energy compared to glucose.16

Drink of Choice

Going into ketosis can vary from person to person, but it can be achieved in two ways. The first is endogenously, which means ketones are produced within the body via diet or fasting. The second is exogenously, which can be achieved by consuming a ketone drink such as HVMN Ketone Ester.

HVMN Ketone Ester can enhance your physical and cognitive performance while supporting your fasting and dietary goals. Studies on ketone esters have shown an improvement in endurance performance, but more recently, we’re also seeing results from studies that assess its cognitive ability.17

One study tested male athletes on cognitive multitasking both before and after exercise. Those using a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution had more incorrect answers after physical exercise; those using ketone ester had the same amount of incorrect answers, both before and after exercise. This suggests ketone esters prevent cognitive decline normally seen after exercise.18

Ginseng

The name for ginseng is derived from the Chinese word meaning “man root” because it resembles the shape of the human body. Panax ginseng is an herbal medicine used to boost immune function, normalize blood pressure, and help control blood sugar levels in traditional Chinese medicine.19,20

Ginseng and its extracts have been shown to reduce mental fatigue allowing for extended periods of high-energy mental tasks such as psychological testing.

A study was conducted on 30 healthy young adults who consumed 200mg of ginseng, 400mg of ginseng, or a placebo.21 Blood samples were taken before and after ingestion of ginseng. They then completed a 10-minute series of cognitive tests and results showed improved task performances and reduced mental fatigue. They also found a decrease in blood glucose levels. The data suggests ginseng may be able to improve performance,decrease mental fatigue, and help with blood glucose regulation.

Another study was performed on mice that were divided into groups and given 125mg, 250mg, or 500mg of ginseng.22 The mice were tested in various activities related to fatigue and results showed ginseng reduced fatigue-induced alterations of inoxidative stress biomarkers and antioxidant enzymes. In other words, results suggest ginseng possesses anti-fatigue effects and may decrease exercise fatigue.

Because of ginseng’s ability to potentially reduce fatigue, it’s a natural choice for an energy supplement to help get you through the day.

Drink of Choice

Many mainstream energy drink sources such as Red Bull may contain ginseng, but these also come loaded with other less than optimal ingredients such as sugars and artificial sweeteners. A better alternative would be Celsius Energy Drink by Elite FX. It claims to help raise metabolism and increase the number of calories burned with exercise.

Along with caffeine and L-theanine, Sprint, from HVMN, contains 400mg of ginseng. Together, these ingredients may help improve cognitive performance and reaction time while reducing fatigue.23

The Dark Side of Energy Drinks

While energy drinks have been popular for the last couple of decades, many have questioned their safety. With high amounts of stimulants, some conventional energy drinks have been linked to health concerns such as cardiac issues.

Anecdotally, a 25 year old man had been drinking massive quantities of caffeinated beverages daily over the course of a week.24 He suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack) supporting a possible connection between caffeinated energy drinks and cardiac mortality. Although there is no specific literature proving energy drinks are a cause of cardiac-related health issues, the adverse effects of mainstream energy drinks should be highlighted.

Some harmful ingredients you should look out for in conventional energy drinks include:

  • B Vitamins: although B vitamins can provide health benefits, some energy drinks contain high levels of B3 and B6 which may cause skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, liver toxicity, and nerve damage.25
  • Taurine: many energy drinks contain taurine, which is an amino acid that supports neurological development. However, too much can be harmful even leading to kidney problems.26
  • Sugar: the majority of energy drinks contain high levels of sugar or high fructose corn syrup which can lead to issues related to insulin sensitivity and diabetes along with cardiovascular problems.27
  • Artificial sweeteners: although some brands now have artificial sweeteners instead of sugars, they have anecdotally been linked to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.28

Be on the lookout for energy drinks containing these ingredients. You should take caution with energy drinks that contain these ingredients in favor of natural alternatives.

Which Energy Drink is Right for You?

Natural energy drink sources can provide cognitive benefits and increase energy expenditure within the body. Although several different types of energy drinks can be found on the market, it’s important to take caution of ones with questionable ingredients.

Try out different sources of natural energy drinks and get a sense of which one works best for you. The key is discovering which one provides the best source of energy with minimal side effects. Only you can determine which one is right for you.

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Scientific Citations

1.James, J. E. (1997). Behavioral medicine & health psychology, Vol. 2. Understanding caffeine: A biobehavioral analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc.
2.Ruxton C.H.S. The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. British Nutrition Foundation. 2007; 33:15-25. doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x
3.Pasman WJ, Boessen R, Donner Y, Clabbers N, Boorsma A. Effect of Caffeine on Attention and Alertness Measured in a Home-Setting, Using Web-Based Cognition Tests. JMIR Res Protoc. 2017;6(9):e169.
4.Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49(1):44-50.
5.Acheson KJ, Gremaud G, Meirim I, et al. Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(1):40-6.
6.Saat M, Singh R, Sirisinghe RG, Nawawi M. Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2002;21(2):93-104.
7.Patel RM, Jiang P, Asplin J, et al. Coconut Water: An Unexpected Source of Urinary Citrate. Biomed Res Int. 2018;2018:3061742.
8.Dodd, F. (2015). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology Volume 14, Issue 232, March 2015, Pages 2563–2576.
9.Camfield DA, Stough C, Farrimond J, Scholey AB. Acute effects of tea constituents L-theanine, caffeine, and epigallocatechin gallate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition reviews. 2014; 72(8):507-22.
10.Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1040-5.
11.Nagao T, Hase T, Tokimitsu I. A green tea extract high in catechins reduces body fat and cardiovascular risks in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(6):1473-83.
12.Stubbs, B.Cox, P.; Evans, R.; Santer, P.; Miller, J.; Faull, O.; Magor-Elliott, S.; Hiyama, S.; Stirling, M.; Clarke, K. (2017). On the metabolism of exogenous ketones in humans. Front. Physiol.
13.Galgani JE, Johannsen NM, Bajpeyi S, et al. Role of skeletal muscle mitochondrial density on exercise-stimulated lipid oxidation. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012;20(7):1387-93.
14.Volek, J.S., and Phinney, S.D. (2012). The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. (Beyond Obesity LLC ).
15.Prince A, Zhang Y, Croniger C, Puchowicz M. Oxidative metabolism: glucose versus ketones. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;789:323-328.
16.Maalouf M, Sullivan PG, Davis L, Kim DY, Rho JM. Ketones inhibit mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species production following glutamate excitotoxicity by increasing NADH oxidation. Neuroscience. 2007;145(1):256-64.
17.Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.
18.Evans M, Egan B. Intermittent Running and Cognitive Performance after Ketone Ester Ingestion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018;50(11):2330-2338.
19.Lee CH, Kim JH. A review on the medicinal potentials of ginseng and ginsenosides on cardiovascular diseases. J Ginseng Res. 2014;38(3):161-6.
20.Kim HJ, Kim P, Shin CY. A comprehensive review of the therapeutic and pharmacological effects of ginseng and ginsenosides in central nervous system. J Ginseng Res. 2013;37(1):8-29.
21.Reay JL, Kennedy DO, Scholey AB. Single doses of Panax ginseng (G115) reduce blood glucose levels and improve cognitive performance during sustained mental activity. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2005;19(4):357-65.
22.Bao L, Cai X, Wang J, Zhang Y, Sun B, Li Y. Anti-Fatigue Effects of Small Molecule Oligopeptides Isolated from Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer in Mice. Nutrients. 2016;8(12)
23.Reay JL, Scholey AB, Kennedy DO. Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010;25(6):462-71.
24.Wajih ullah M, Lakhani S, Siddiq W, Handa A, Kahlon Y, Siddiqui T. Energy Drinks and Myocardial Infarction. Cureus. 2018;10(5):e2658.
25.Bailey RL, Gahche JJ, Lentino CV, et al. Dietary supplement use in the United States, 2003-2006. J Nutr. 2011;141(2):261-6.
26.Suliman ME, Bárány P, Filho JC, Lindholm B, Bergström J. Accumulation of taurine in patients with renal failure. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002;17(3):528-9.
27.Rippe JM, Angelopoulos TJ. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. 2016;8(11)
28.Tandel KR. Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2011;2(4):236-43.
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