The ‘healthy’ energy drinks that really boost your body and brain

Designed to help us focus and concentrate better, train harder for longer – or simply get through a busy day, energy drinks have become a popular choice: in the UK we drink one every year for £1 2 billion of .

Energy drinks are known for being loaded with sugar and harmful additives, but there are now a number of “healthier” versions, mostly sugar-free, and often laced with “good” ingredients, including vitamins and even beneficial bacteria. But are they really better – and will they give you the energy boost you’re looking for?

Mandy Francis asked Sophie Medlin, President of the British Dietetic Association for London and founder of CityDietitians, to rate a selection, which we then reviewed.

GRENADE CHERRY BOMB

330ml, £1.99, grenade.com

GRENADE CHERRY BOMB

Claim: ‘Sugar-free, with BCAAs [branched-chain amino acids], electrolytes and vitamins” and as much caffeine as two espressos – “to provide more sustained energy throughout the day.”

Expert verdict: Like most regular energy drinks, caffeine is the main energy-boosting ingredient here. There’s 155mg in a can, about the same as a double espresso, which comes from coffee beans, green tea, and guarana (a Brazilian plant whose seeds contain stimulants similar to caffeine).

The electrolytes (electrically charged minerals) here can be useful to replace salts lost in sweat during exercise.

There is some evidence that BCAAs – nutrients that support muscle metabolism – can reduce fatigue, but there is only a small amount in this product.

It’s also sugar-free, but its high caffeine content (155mg, more than a third of the recommended daily limit) means it’s best avoided if you have blood pressure problems, anxiety, or stomach or bladder problems.

You’ll get 100 percent of your daily vitamin B needs from one can, but if you drink more than one can or take supplements, keep in mind that excessive B vitamins can lead to nausea and gut problems.

5/10

Taste: Powerful cherry candy flavour.

ADVANTAGE ENERGY WATER

ADVANTAGE ENERGY WATER

ADVANTAGE ENERGY WATER

Four 250ml cans, £5, thebenefitbrand.com

Claim: ‘No sugar, no caffeine’ and B vitamins, magnesium and iodine, to ‘support cognitive and brain function’ and ‘provide an energy boost’.

Expert verdict: In addition to having no added sugars and few calories, this sparkling water provides 15 percent of your recommended daily magnesium intake (for healthy blood pressure) in a can, B vitamins (for normal brain function), and iodine, a mineral necessary for healthy thyroid function and fighting fatigue, which many lack.

But this contains no caffeine, sugar, or sweeteners, so it’s unlikely to provide an instant energy boost — any immediate effects likely come from the hydration it provides.

7/10

Taste: Very subtle mango and coconut flavour.

KOMBUCHA CAT ENERGY

KOMBUCHA CAT ENERGY

KOMBUCHA CAT ENERGY

250ml, £1.99, ocado.com

Claim: “Billions of beneficial bacteria and as much natural caffeine as a shot of good coffee.”

Expert verdict: Kombucha, fermented sweetened tea, is rich in gut-friendly or “probiotic” bacteria. These are good for general health and energy levels, but there is little research to show how beneficial kombucha is. A ‘dose’ of probiotics from such a can does not immediately give you an energy boost.

The caffeine kick from green tea (which also contains protective antioxidants) and guarana is about the same as a cup of coffee, but there are two teaspoons of sugar in a can, which also gives an energy boost, but accounts for more than a third of your energy. daily limit.

3/10

Taste: Slightly carbonated with a hint of vinegar.

WELLWOMAN VITAMIN DRINK

WELLWOMAN VITAMIN DRINK

WELLWOMAN VITAMIN DRINK

250ml, £1.45, hollandandbarrett.com

Claim: ‘With vitamins B6 and B12 that contribute to the reduction of fatigue. Less than 15 calories per can.’

Expert verdict: The guarana and green tea extracts in this still drink contain only 2.8 mg of caffeine per can, but when combined with anthocyanin – a plant extract that has been shown to have a beneficial effect on mental performance – can provide an energy boost .

It is sweetened with sucralose, an artificial sweetener that has no calories and contains some fruit juice.

The B vitamins contained in it, plus 18 percent of your daily iron needs and 25 percent of your daily zinc, are unnecessary because they do not provide an immediate energy boost.

As with other beverages here, care should be taken to avoid overdoing it with minerals if you drink this regularly and also take multivitamins.

8/10

Taste: Slightly medicinal berry flavour.

TENZING ORIGINAL

TENZING ORIGINAL

TENZING ORIGINAL

250ml, £1.30, tesco.com

Claim: ‘Natural energy from plants, vitamin C, hydrating electrolytes from rock salt, 48 calories per can.’

Expert judgment: The added vitamin C in each can (about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake) may be beneficial for those struggling to get their five-a-day.

Adding a little sugar and salt to a drink like this can help reduce dehydration and thirst quickly.

The 80mg of caffeine is about the same amount you’d get in a cup of strong instant coffee – that, and the beet sugar used, provides an energy boost.

However, the amount of sugar is quite high. The beet sugar is chemically identical to table sugar: you get more than a third of the daily limit in a can, which is bad for the teeth and can contribute to weight gain.

5/10

Taste: Refreshing with notes of green tea.

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