Product Smackdown: Energy Drinks

Sorry, we're a little amped right now. New launches always get us excited, but not quite as excited as this. Energy drinks are a divisive product, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Here at R29, we range from decaf drinkers to two-Red-Bull-a-day maniacs caffeine lovers. But with all the new sips out there, we thought we'd conduct our own highly unscientific study. Using our own team as the subjects, we sampled seven of the top energy drinks on the market (not all at once, don't worry), and rated them by taste, ingredient quality, and effect. Click through to read which worked, which fell flat, and which made our brains feel funny.
FRS Healthy Energy

Claim To Fame:
The main ingredient here is the antioxidant quercetin, which not only affects your energy levels, it's touted as a great skin-care addition for its anti-aging effects. Gotta love that.

Why We Like It:
It comes in a million forms — bottles, cans, chews, and just-add-water powder packs.

A-. Think Emergen-C, but a little more dense.

We felt perkier, but not drastically so. With the same amount of caffeine as 1/3 of a cup of coffee, FRS is great for those who shudder at the sight of Red Bull.

Available At: GNC
Photo: Courtesy FRS
HiBall Sparkling Energy Water

Claim To Fame:
The only energy drink with no sugar or sweeteners — not to mention, all fair trade, USDA organic ingredients.

Why We Like It: The taste! HiBall tastes exactly like a flavored sparkling water — a lot more pleasant than the usual sweetened-chemical flavor that tastes like pure crazy.

A++. See above raving.

Considerable. Despite the taste, this should not be confused with a plain, old club soda. One can and you'll be good to go for a while.

Available At: Whole Foods

Photo: Courtesy of HiBall

5-Hour Energy
Claim To Fame: Five hours of energy. Can't argue with that.

Why We Like It:
It's portable, widely available, and lives up to it's no-crash promise.

Taste: C. It's not unlike the flavored nighttime cough syrup you took as a kid — but with the opposite result.
Effects: We're not sure what kind of voodoo is at play here, but 5-Hour keeps us perky for hours, without feeling speedy. Just be very careful not to take this late in the day unless you plan for an all nighter. Some reported this to be more like a 9-hour energy, making for a very grumpy, un-energetic morning.
Available At: Target
Photo: Courtesy of 5-Hour Energy
Scheckter's Organic Energy

Claim To Fame:
All-natural ingredients, agave-sweetened, and boosted by all kinds of good-for-you juices, like elderberry and ginkgo.

Why We Like It:
This feels a lot more like drinking a healthy, fresh juice than an energy drink.

Taste: A-. The flavor is close to raw apple juice, and it's on the sweeter side.

Mixed. Some were wide awake after 20 minutes, while others didn't feel a thing. The good news all around? No crash or sleep problems, even if you drink it in the afternoon.

Available At: Whole Foods

Photo: Courtesy of Scheckter's Organic Energy

Claim To Fame: So many. The can claims to reduce body fat, boost metabolism, and burn over 100 calories. That's right, Celsius' claims a "negative calorie" effect. Hm.

Why We Like It:
The flavors are varied and taste very good. Also, it's available in non-carbonated options, for a change.

Taste: B+. Cola tastes like cola, Orange tastes like Sunny Delight, and Raspberry-Acai-Green-Tea tastes like a Lime Rickey. Go figure.

Major. Some reported a three-espresso high, some were up half the night, and all of us agree — we look super skinny now.

Available At: Vitamin Shoppe
Photo: Courtesy of Celsius
Sambazon Amazon Energy

Claim To Fame:
Known for its juices and smoothie packs, Sambazon's new Amazon Energy offers the boost of a cup of coffee, with a heavy dose of açai and other antioxidants.

Why We Like It: We trust Sambazon's commitment to creating a healthy product. This is one energy drink that has an ingredient label we're not afraid to look at.
Taste: A-. Lightly carbonated, sweet and tart. Not everyone's a fan of açai though.

Everyone felt the same way they feel after a cup of coffee. So, the regular coffee fans felt great, and the non-java-drinkers felt cuh-razy.

Available At: Whole Foods
Photo: Courtesy of Sambazon
Red Bull

Claim To Fame:
Being Red Bull.

Why We Like It:
It gets the job done.

B. With that signature Taurine-tang, it just tastes like you're going to be awake in 20 minutes.

If you've ever been a college student, you know how Red Bull affects you. Whether you've mixed it with vodka, used it as a study aid, or depended on it to get you up in the morning, Red Bull will always wake you way, way up.

Available At:

Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull

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