What gives you wings? A review of the most popular energy drinks

By Kaitlin Dunn
Lifestyle Editor

In the fast-paced lifestyle that is college, many students turn to additional help to get through their packed days. Drinks such as coffee and matcha are more traditional methods, but sometimes the caffeine content that they bring simply is not enough.

So, in comes the humble energy drink. With some packing an upwards of 300 mg of caffeine, they can certainly help you get through your increasingly busy day.

According to the Washington Post, “A 2008 study of undergraduates at a large public university found that 39 percent of students had consumed at least one energy drink in the past month.”

Since the study, energy drinks have increased in popularity across the country, with more options being available at relative ease.

With that comes a caveat — with so many energy drinks on the market, which one is best for me?

Red Bull

Red Bull is one of the most common energy drinks on the market. You can find them in most gas stations and grocery stores, and they offer a variety of flavors in full sugar, sugar-free, and zero sugar options.

Red Bull, while accessible and with a wide variety, has a few downfalls. The flavor of the drink is oftentimes hit or miss depending on the individual flavor and a person’s taste. Some feel as though it is delicious, while others have said it tastes reminiscent of pee.

In comparison to other energy drinks on the market, however, Red Bull offers the least concentrated amount of caffeine per serving. A 12 oz can contains approximately 110 mg of caffeine, which in comparison to other popular energy drinks or your espresso, is a pretty measly amount.

While reviewing these, I had to drink two Red Bulls just to feel slightly more awake. They get points for variety and accessibility, but fall short in terms of efficiency.

Monster Energy

Another common energy drink, Monster Energy is potentially the most infamous. Despite having lower caffeine contents than some of the other beverages mentioned (120 mg per 12 fl oz), it is often the most warned about.

Monster Energy offers a variety of flavors, including coffee and tea, their traditional full sugar drinks, and fruit punch.

Personally, I find that Monster Energy drinks are the least desirable. With so many options available with less scare stereotypes surrounding them, I rarely, if ever, reach for Monster Energy as my choice of beverage.


The favored energy drink of highly busy people and those who frequent the gym, CELSIUS is a newer energy drink that quickly made its mark.

Intended to be a form of ready made pre-workout, CELSIUS has expanded beyond this, some people simply drinking them as a replacement for their morning cup of coffee.

Like Red Bull, they offer a wide variety of flavors. However, they are all zero sugar and are under 20 calories, meaning that — at least at a surface level — they are better for you.

According to the CELSIUS website, “CELSIUS stands out against other brands because it’s made with healthier ingredients such as ginger, guarana, green tea, and seven essential vitamins. Our drinks contain no sugar, no aspartame, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.”

Containing 200 mg of caffeine per can, CELSIUS is my preferred energy drink in terms of flavors, efficiency, and potential health benefits.

CELSIUS also offer non-carbonated versions for those who do not like carbonated beverages.

Alani Nu

Alani Nu is a newer brand of energy drinks. Like CELSIUS, Alani Nu was created to foster better workouts. It also shares a caffeine content of 200 mg per serving.

According to the website, “Alani Nu supplements are strategically designed to provide you with everything [you] need and nothing [you] don’t, to help [you] find the strength inside.”

The brand offers a variety of flavors based on desserts and other sweets, with the intent of offering your cravings that you can enjoy outside of your cheat days.

Alani Nu’s flavors tend to be relatively accurate — Cherry Slush tastes like a 7-eleven slurpee, and Trippy Hippy is on the nose for a pina colada.

While they are a close second for CELSIUS drinks, they are the least accessible out of all of them, only being offered online and in Target.

For anyone who is tired of their regular latte or simply needs a quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day, any of these energy drinks would be great options. It is all about finding your personal preference and what best suits your busy life.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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