Are ZOA Energy Drinks healthy? - Kill Cliff

Are ZOA Energy Drinks healthy?

ZOA Energy Drinks are a new line of energy drinks that hit the shelves in March of 2021 with actor and retired professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson helping to lead the charge as a co-founder. Claims have been made saying ZOA is “The first of its kind, CLEAN & HEALTHY energy drink.”

So, is ZOA actually a clean or healthy energy drink?

Let’s take a look at the nutrition labels for ZOA.

  • 100 Calorie version pictured on the left.
  • 15 Calorie (Sugar-Free ) version pictured on the right.

ZOA Energy Drinks - 100 Calorie Original Flavor ZOA Energy Drinks - 15 Calorie (zero sugar) Original


With ZOA being in the energy drink industry, you know it’s going to have a decent amount of caffeine. A 16oz can of ZOA has 160 mg of caffeine and according to studies, the most caffeine an adult should consume in a day is 400mg. 

With ZOA containing 160mg, you don’t come dangerously close to your caffeine limit with just one drink which is a nice change compared to many of the mainstream options out there.

According to its website, ZOA uses naturally-sourced caffeine. Of all of the popular energy drinks we've studied (besides ours), ZOA is one of the few that do not use artificial caffeine. Although it is strange that they list "Natural Caffeine" as a separate ingredient

One of the lesser-known facts about caffeine is that there are many sources of caffeine with some sources being 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.

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.

Props to ZOA for using the good stuff.


When you look at a drink’s ingredients list and see sugar is second on the list, it’s never a good sign. 

Sugar is the main sweetener in ZOA’s 100 calorie variant, with some Stevia used for extra sweetness. In the 16 oz can, there are 23grams 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. 

ZOA is also offering a sugar-free version, but the artificial sweeteners they use are far from safe. Two of the main artificial sweeteners found in ZOA’s sugar-free version: sucralose and Ace-K (Acesulfame Potassium):

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.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids, aka BCAAs:

BCAAs are essential proteins found in your foods. Your body receives energy as your muscles burn these amino acids. The three amino acids that make up the branched-chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are essential amino acids, meaning your body cannot produce them.

These three BCAAs are found in ZOA energy drinks. 250mg to be precise. While these sound like a great addition to a drink, they're not necessary or of sufficient quantity to be of real benefit (a typical dose of BCAAs is around 5-7g).

"If you're eating an overall healthy diet and you're balancing your protein throughout the day, you really don't need to take BCAAs in supplement form," says Joy Dubost, RD and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. 

Is there an alternative that is actually healthy?

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 boost coming from a natural source, with no artificial sweeteners, and most importantly--NO 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!