Is one sugar free energy drink a day OK?

Energy drinks have become incredibly popular in recent years, with many people consuming them daily for an energy boost. Sugar free versions are often seen as a healthier alternative to regular energy drinks. But is having just one sugar free energy drink per day actually OK and safe?

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are beverages that contain ingredients marketed to increase energy, alertness, and stamina. These ingredients usually include:

  • Caffeine
  • Guarana
  • Taurine
  • B vitamins
  • Ginseng
  • L-carnitine
  • Yerba mate
  • Sugars

Popular energy drink brands include Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and many others. They often have a tangy, fruit-flavored taste and are carbonated like sodas.

Difference between regular and sugar free energy drinks

Regular energy drinks contain a lot of added sugars, with around 25-30g per 8 ounce serving. This is equivalent to 6-8 teaspoons of sugar.

Sugar free versions contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, or erythritol instead of sugar. They have 0g of sugar and fewer calories, while providing the same energy boost.

Are the ingredients in energy drinks safe?

Here’s a breakdown of the most common energy drink ingredients and their safety:


The primary active ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. A typical 8 ounce serving contains around 80mg, similar to a cup of coffee.

Up to 400mg caffeine per day is considered safe for healthy adults. Higher intakes may cause side effects like insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and rapid heart rate.


Guarana comes from a South American plant. It contains caffeine and related stimulants like theophylline and theobromine.

In the amounts found in energy drinks, guarana is likely safe. But due to its caffeine content, it should be included when estimating total caffeine intake.


Taurine is an amino acid that supports brain development and function. Many experts consider taurine safe even in large amounts.

B vitamins

Energy drinks often contain B vitamins like vitamin B12, niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6). These help convert food into energy.

B vitamins are water soluble, meaning excess amounts are flushed out in urine. They’re considered safe at the levels added to energy drinks.


Ginseng is an herbal supplement used to reduce stress and boost brain function. Short-term use at normal doses is likely safe.


L-carnitine is an amino acid that transports fatty acids for energy production. Its safety profile is excellent even at high doses.

Yerba mate

Yerba mate is a tea containing caffeine and other stimulants. Up to 1 gram per day appears safe according to research.


High intakes of added sugars can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay. That’s why sugar free energy drinks are promoted as healthier – they contain artificial sweeteners instead.

Are sugar free energy drinks healthier than regular?

Sugar free energy drinks are lower in calories and don’t spike blood sugar levels like regular versions. This may provide some health advantages:

  • Reduce risk of weight gain and obesity
  • Help control blood sugar in diabetes
  • Lower risk of cavities

However, the artificial sweeteners used may not be completely harmless either. Concerns include:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reactions
  • Changes to gut bacteria
  • Possible carcinogenic effects (inconclusive)

Overall, sugar free energy drinks are likely a better option than regular due to lower sugar content. But they’re not necessarily healthy.

Is one sugar free energy drink per day safe?

Moderate caffeine intake under 400mg daily is considered safe for most healthy adults. Since one 8 ounce sugar free energy drink contains around 80mg caffeine, one per day should be fine.

However, there are some reasons you may want to limit intake or avoid sugar free energy drinks altogether:


Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it hard to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, limiting sugar free energy drinks is wise.


Caffeine may exacerbate anxiety issues. Those with anxiety disorders may be more sensitive to caffeine’s effects.

Medical conditions

Pregnant women, children, and individuals with certain medical conditions like heart problems should limit or avoid caffeine from energy drinks.

Medication interactions

Caffeine can interact with some medications like lithium, clozapine, and MAOIs. Speak with a doctor if taking prescription medications.

Addiction and dependence

It’s possible to become dependent on caffeine’s stimulant effects. Limiting intake can prevent this.


Energy drinks with caffeine have diuretic effects, meaning increased urination. This can negatively impact hydration.

Dental health

Even sugar free energy drinks are acidic and can damage tooth enamel over time, increasing decay risk.

Other drawbacks of sugar free energy drinks

Aside from caffeine content, other drawbacks of having one sugar free energy drink daily include:

  • Artificial sweeteners – possible long term health effects
  • Acidity – can damage teeth
  • Cost – can get expensive over time
  • Doesn’t address root causes of fatigue like poor sleep, diet, exercise
  • Sets up habit of relying on sugar free energy drinks daily

Healthier alternatives to sugar free energy drinks

Here are some healthier options if you’re looking for an energy boost:

Limit to occasional intake

Having an occasional sugar free energy drink when you really need it is unlikely to cause harm. It’s daily use that is more concerning.

Unsweetened coffee or tea

Coffee and tea also provide caffeine but without all the other artificial ingredients.

Low/no sugar sports drinks

During intense exercise, sports drinks can provide energy from carbs and electrolytes without as much sugar as regular soft drinks.


Proper hydration is linked to increased energy. Sip water consistently throughout the day.

Snacks with protein and complex carbs

Foods like nuts, whole grains, and yogurt provide energy-boosting protein and carbs without the crash later.

Power naps

Napping for 15-20 minutes can recharge without leaving you groggy.


Physical activity not only boosts energy in the moment but over the long term as well.

The bottom line

Having one 8 ounce sugar free energy drink per day is unlikely to be harmful to most healthy adults. However, there are some potential risks to consider, especially related to caffeine intake.

To maximize energy while minimizing health risks, focus on getting enough high quality sleep, managing stress, eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and limiting caffeine from beverages like sugar free energy drinks.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to drink sugar free energy drinks while pregnant?

No. Pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day and avoid energy drinks entirely.

Do sugar free energy drinks still rot your teeth?

Yes. Even without sugar, most energy drinks are highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel and lead to decay.

Can kids drink sugar free energy drinks?

No. Children and adolescents should avoid energy drinks since caffeine intake can negatively impact development.

Do sugar free energy drinks cause weight gain?

Sugar free versions don’t directly cause weight gain because they’re very low in calories. But they may increase hunger and lead to overeating later.

Energy Drink (8 oz) Calories Sugar (g) Caffeine (mg)
Regular Red Bull 110 27 80
Sugar Free Red Bull 10 0 80
Regular Rockstar 240 62 160
Sugar Free Rockstar 15 0 160

As shown in this table comparing regular and sugar free versions, sugar free energy drinks are much lower in calories and sugar but provide the same amount of caffeine.


Having one sugar free energy drink per day is unlikely to cause harm for most healthy adults consuming moderate amounts of caffeine from other sources. However, there are some potential risks to consider, and energy drinks are not a healthy beverage choice overall.

Moderating intake, opting for healthier alternatives when possible, and maintaining an otherwise healthy lifestyle can help maximize energy without overdoing it on sugar free energy drinks.

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