Along with Red Bull and Monster, Rockstar is one of the bigger names in the energy drink industry. According to the Rockstar website, the original Rockstar drink is “designed for those who lead active lifestyles- from athletes to rockstars.”
Similar to Red Bull and Monster, Rockstar is popular in the action sports arena and sponsor a plethora of athletes within that space. With their website’s claim and how much success they have had reeling in professional athletes, you would think drinking Rockstar will help your athletic performance. We decided we should investigate to find the answer to the question: Does Rockstar Actually Work? Spoiler: It doesn't.
What are Rockstar's ingredients?
Unfortunately, Rockstar’s website doesn’t shed much light on what exactly is in their drink. Fortunately, the internet knows all. Here’s the ingredient label for a 16 oz. Rockstar Energy drink:
With Rockstar being a leader in the energy drink industry, you know it’s going to be packed with caffeine. The regular 16oz Rockstar has 160mgs of caffeine.
One of the lesser-known facts about caffeine is that there are many sources of caffeine. Some of the sources are natural, plant-based caffeine while others are synthetically produced.
Synthetically produced caffeine from Chinese pharmaceutical plants is the most popular caffeine source in soft drinks and energy drinks. Synthetic caffeine is quickly absorbed into your body, giving you the energy you crave faster than that of a naturally sourced caffeine. However, synthetic caffeine will lead to a much quicker crash.
Where does Rockstar source their caffeine from? Great question. They make no mention of where their caffeine is sourced from. Looking at the ingredients label, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of natural plant extract that can act as a stimulant, thus leading us to believe that it’s likely an artificial source of caffeine.
When you look at a drink’s ingredients list and see sugar is the second thing listed, that’s never a good thing.
Glucose is the main sweetener in Rockstar. In the 16 oz can, there are 61grams of sugar. To put it in perspective, per day, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar consumption for men and 25 grams for women.
Of course, there are sugar-free versions of the classic Rockstar, but they are far from safe. There are two main artificial sweeteners found in Rockstar: sucralose and Ace-K.
Despite being around since the 1990s, there has not been a ton of human research done on the effects of sucralose. There have been sucralose studies conducted on rats showing damage to gut bacteria. There have also been studies linking sucralose to a higher risk of cancer with the mice.
Like sucralose, Ace-K is a calorie-free sweetener used in many diet products, including sugar-free versions of Red Bull, Bang, and Monster. Similar to sucralose, Ace-K has been tested against mice. The research showed that Ace-K has been linked to cancer, thyroid issues, and changes in brain function.
Are there better alternatives to the sugar and caffeine in Rockstar?
Of course, there are alternatives!
Erythritol and Stevia are two natural sugar alcohols that can be used instead of the dangerous artificial sugars. These sugar alcohols are generally found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables.
Erythritol only has 6% of the calories of sugar but retains 70% of the sweetness. Erythritol doesn’t spike your blood sugar or insulin, so this makes it a great sugar substitute for diabetics. Studies have shown that erythritol acts as an antioxidant, reducing blood vessel damage that has been caused by high blood sugar levels. Erythritol also will not cause your teeth to decay, unlike sugar and other artificial sweeteners.
Stevia, another sugar alcohol, also makes for a great natural sugar substitute. Stevia has no calories and is 200x sweeter than sugar. Studies have shown that stevia has the potential for treating diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Antioxidant compounds, including kaempferol, can be found in Stevia. Studies have shown that kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23%.
Green Tea caffeine is a naturally sourced caffeine that your body metabolizes differently than coffee, meaning it will affect you differently.
What could be THAT much different? It’s all caffeine, right?
Well, it’s actually something pretty beneficial. The caffeine found in Green Tea sticks to the antioxidants in the tea. This causes the caffeine to be absorbed slower by your body. As a result, you will not get the immediate caffeine rush you would with synthetic caffeine. Instead, your caffeine will slowly release over time, giving you more sustained energy.
Caffeine is also known to give people the shakes or jitters. With Green Tea caffeine, that is absent due to one of the antioxidants called L-Theanine, which is an antagonist to caffeine.
Does Rockstar help sports performance?
The answer is tricky, but it's mostly no. Let us explain.
Drinking a caffeinated beverage, such as an energy drink, will stimulate your nervous system. This stimulation will give you a temporary energy boost. With the right dosage, your mental performance will also receive a boost.
Studies have shown that your cognitive functions can improve as a result of drinking energy drinks. This will allow you to get more done in a short amount of time.
But wouldn't you rather have a longer-lasting energy boost than a just a short energy spurt? If so, look for a drink with naturally sourced caffeine rather than the typical energy drink with synthetic caffeine.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it will cause you to urinate, leading to possible dehydration. With 160mgs of caffeine in the 16oz can, Rockstar does not have enough electrolytes to help hydration and prepare you properly for any sort of exercise.
Sugary drinks are also known to make you prone to losing extra fluids. With 54mgs of sugar in their 16oz can, Rockstar certainly falls underneath this umbrella. Again, with not enough electrolytes to help replenish lost fluid, drinking a Rockstar before or during athletic activity is doing yourself a disservice.
Is there a healthy alternative to Rockstar?
Yes! Here at Kill Cliff, we love a good energy drink, but we're aware of the possible dangers of the many unnatural ingredients that many popular energy drinks contain. We wanted an energy drink with a strong caffeine buzz coming from a natural source, with no artificial sweeteners.....so we made one.
Kill Cliff IGNITE is a sugar-free, naturally sweetened energy drink that delivers the jolt you crave with 150 mg of naturally-sourced green tea caffeine (about a cup and a half of coffee). Additionally, Kill Cliff IGNITE includes only FDA-regulated ingredients in its specialized blend of B-vitamins and electrolytes. It provides you with 10% of your daily values of magnesium and potassium, which helps regulate hydration and blood flow.
So, whether you want sustained clean energy to help you through your day, or you want a natural alternative pre-workout drink...or you want to get fired up for a long night of playing Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption, Kill Cliff IGNITE is your go-to option! Check it out!