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The Guide to Sugar-Free Energy Drinks: Do Energy Drinks Use Artificial Sweeteners? Is there a Naturally Sweetened energy drink?

It’s no secret that many energy drinks available to us are filled with sugar. With so many people being cautious of their sugar intake, many of those people have switched over to sugar-free energy drinks. Are these drinks really that much better for us? How are they making these drinks sweet without sugar? We can answer those questions for you.

Are sugar-free energy drinks using artificial sweeteners?

Yes, and you should be aware of what types of sugars you are consuming. Energy drinks are filled with sugar to provide you with additional energy and to mask the terrible bitter taste of caffeine. Though you might appreciate the energy and sweet flavor, you won't appreciate what the excessive sugars will do to your body.

This isn't breaking news, though. Most everyone is well aware of the dangers of high sugar consumption. In theory, switching to sugar-free drinks is not a horrible idea, but the sugar-free energy drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K). While these have all been deemed safe by the FDA, there have not been enough tests to determine long-term effects.

Sucralose, otherwise known as Splenda, is a popular artificial sweetener found in sugar-free versions of Rockstar, Bang, and Monster. 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 rats. Further, Sucralose spikes your glycemic index similar to real sugar; and, the super-health conscience CrossFit community outright rejected sucralose products a few years ago. Sucralose doesn't sound so great, and given that it is created in a lab...why drink it if you don't have to?

The image compares the impact of sucralose on body vs a healthy, complex carbohydrate.

Like sucralose, Ace-K is a calorie-free sweetener used in many diet products, including sugar-free versions of Red Bull, Rockstar, 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.

Last, but not least, aspartame is another popular artificial sweetener that is found in sugar-free Red Bull. Components of aspartame have been proven to block the production of a gut enzyme called alkaline phosphatase; this is an important enzyme in preventing obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. When tested on mice, aspartame also led to higher blood sugar levels.

Are there natural sweetener alternatives?

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, which in results reduces 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 kaemferol can recuse the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23%.

Is there a healthy energy drink?

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 we made one.

Kill Cliff IGNITE is a sugar-free energy drink naturally sweetened with erythritol and stevia 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...or you want a tasty Cherry Lime-A-Rita, Kill Cliff IGNITE is your go-to option! Check it out!

Connor Deneau
Connor Deneau