Diet Energy Drinks

Not Many Calories, a Lot of Caffeine, Weird Flavors

A couple of my walking buddies like having a Red Bull energy drink as they get near the end of a long endurance walk. But these expensive drinks aren't designed for endurance sports. For one thing, they are carbonated, so you can't pack them with you without causing a geyser when you open them. Instead, most are meant to appeal to youth to give a burst of energy from caffeine and caffeine-like substances. But I was tempted to try the diet versions - not when walking, but when facing a mind-numbing afternoon at work. My taste test definitely produced winners and spit-out losers.

1
Celsius

Celsius Sparkling Orange
Celsius Sparkling Orange. Courtesy of Amazon

Celsius touts itself as a negative-calorie drink. They have a MetaPlus(r) blend of metabolism-boosters that include green tea extract, ginger extract, caffeine, guarana, B-vitamins, biotin, Vitamin C, calcium, and chromium. What they don't have is sugar, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives. They have a variety of sparkling flavors and are about 10 calories per can. I didn't mind the cola flavor, but the other flavors had that off-taste you get with these energy drinks. Yes, I could feel the energy boost, which is the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee.

2
Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drink

Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drink
Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drink. Courtesy of Amazon

This one doesn't taste bad, it just has a taste that makes you think "what the heck is that taste?" After searching online, the two best descriptions are "melon-citrus" or "banana candy." It has 20 calories per 16-ounce can. The energy elements are caffeine, L-carnitine, guarana, inositol, glucuronolactone, maltodextrin, and glucose. I might have gotten a mild jolt from this, but it didn't last long.

3
Red Bull Sugar Free

Red Bull Sugarfree
Red Bull Sugarfree. Courtesy of Amazon

Red Bull is the pioneer of this genre of energy drinks, but it comes in a small can of 8.3 fluid ounces. There is a theory that it packs more caffeine into a smaller volume, which makes it more of an energy shot. But the flavor is a giant stumbling block for me. It tastes like diluted, carbonated cough syrup, with a nasty medicinal aftertaste. It packs in caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, niacin, sodium citrate, and inositol for energy. The diet version has only 10 calories per can.

4
Rockstar Sugar Free

Rockstar Sugar Free
Wendy Bumgardner © 2007

I took one swig of this and didn't want any more. The carbonated cough syrup flavor is simply nasty. I passed it around to two of my walking buddies and they both agreed. We dumped out the rest of the 16-ounce can. It has 20 calories per 16-ounce can. It boasts ginkgo, milk thistle extract, guarana, caffeine, taurine, l-carnitine, inositol, and B vitamins.

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