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5 Awesome Energy Boosting Supplements

Updated on April 30, 2013
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Coffee? That's so twenty years ago!

It used to be that if you wanted a potent pick-me-up in the morning, it would have to be either coffee or popping a Vivarin. The leading sodas, even when caffeinated, just didn't pack enough of a kick to compete (and still don't.) Of course, amphetamines became schedule II drugs in the U.S. in 1971, so unless you had a prescription or hung out with some shifty characters, you were out of luck (and probably for the better.)

These days, there are countless ways to get your daily energy fix. In addition to the explosion of canned and bottled energy drinks that are available today, we now have alternative methods to legally tweak, such as energy chewing gum, stimulant-laced beef jerky, caffeine inhalers, and caffeinated soap. Yes, caffeinated soap.

So, if you're like me and crave a good energy buzz when you wake up in the morning (or afternoon, no judgment here,) and either don't like coffee or are drawn to flavors on the sweeter side of the spectrum, the options are seemingly endless. Here are 5 of the best all-around energy boosting supplements out there. For this list, I am considering first and foremost the quality and strength of each product's energy kick. The second rating criteria is the taste. None of the supplements in this list are pills, so each one of them will have to be tasted when consumed, even if briefly. So, a decent flavor is critical, especially if energy-enhancement is an everyday thing for you. Finally, I have considered the overall price of each supplement and its value in tems of how much bang you get for your buck.

5 Hour Energy Extra Strength Shot

We start with a variation on the classic 5-Hour Energy shot by Chaser. It is the Extra Strength shot, and it comes in a more ominous-looking black and red bottle than the sunny orange and red original. Since the original 5 Hour Energy shot came onto the market in 2004, the market has been flooded with similar shot-sized products, often boasting 6, 7, 8 or even 14 hour energy boosts. Regardless, none of the energy shot imitators have been able to top 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength, if nothing else because it delivers with strong potency and great tasting flavors, including berry and grape.

One full shot of original 5-Hour Energy contains 207 milligrams of caffeine. This surpasses the average cup of coffee by double and is significantly stronger than most brewed coffee (133 mg.) And the Extra Strength variety pumps the boost up a bit. In addition to a substantial dose of B vitamins, 5 Hour Energy Extra Strength boasts a proprietary stimulant blend that includes taurine and caffeine for a steady energy rush, and also citicholine, which is believed to play an important role in brain function.

At about $3 each on average, Chaser's 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength shot definitely stands tall and stands out amongst the rest of the energy shots that have imitated but could never duplicate it.

MiO Energy Liquid Water Enhancer

Arriving early 2012 in sleek, stylish and ultra-portable bottles, MiO Energy Liquid Water Enhancer is Kraft Foods' newcomer that can definitely hold its own with the big guys. The original MiO was originally introduced in March 2011 as a concentrated, zero-calorie and caffeine-free liquid that could be easily added to a bottled water for a quick burst of flavor.

Building on their success with MiO Water Enhancer, Kraft decided to add caffeine, taurine, guarana, B vitamins and ginseng to the mix to appeal to those among us who want an added boost. With a small bottle of MiO handy, you have a convenient and quick way to super-charge your bottled water (or whatever other drink you think it may work well with.) The bottles come in sizes of 12 and 18 servings each, with each serving being one squirt of MiO per every 8 ounces of water. There are 60 milligrams of caffeine in each serving. Typically, I add at least two or three squirts of MiO Energy to a chilled 16.9 ounce bottled water for a super-charged and refreshingly light drink that is easy to gulp down quickly. The Mio flip-top lids can be securely re-closed once the container has been opened, and since they are so small, it's easy to take a MiO Energy bottle with you if you're on the go.

While the original Mio Liquid Water Enhancer comes in a wide assortment of flavors, currently there are only two for the energized variety, Green Thunder and Black Cherry. Sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium, MiO Energy contains no sugar. But, despite being zero calories, Mio Energy does not have an overbearing "diet" or artificial aftertaste. The 18-serving bottle is about $4.99 which, depending on the desired drink concentration, will be enough to make at least 18 flavored eight-ounce bottles.

ZipFizz Healthy Energy Mix

Akin to Mio Energy but in powdered form, ZipFizz Healthy Energy Mix is a nutrient-packed powerhouse that transforms your average bottle of water into an invigorating and tasty source of long-lasting energy. The mix is packaged in handy and colorful plastic tubes, which are easy to take with you, and preparing a ZipFizz drink (simply pour one tube into about 16 to 20 ounces of bottled water) is hassle-free with no mess.

One thing that I particularly like about ZipFizz is that it is all-natural and loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In particular, the ZipFizz claim to fame is a whopping 41,667% RDA of vitamin B12! When I first read that, I wondered whether that large of a dosage could be blatantly unhealthy. Granted, I'm not under any illusions that any energy supplements are particularly good for you, but a dose that large just seemed like it could hurt! However, B-vitamins are water-soluble and the body only absorbs a fraction of the total amount that is ingested, so I don't think there is anything to worry about. Some other notable nutrients in the formula include green tea and grape seed extracts, ginseng and ginger. Each tube of ZipFizz Healthy Energy Mix contains 100 milligrams of natural caffeine. The powder mixes very well with water and is easy to gulp down, so there is no problem when it comes to catching a satisfactory buzz

ZipFizz comes in five flavors: Berry, Citrus, Grape, Pink Lemonade and Orange Soda. It is sweetened with a combination of xylitol and sucralose, and is only 10 calories per serving. All of the flavors are light and taste true to the fruit that is being represented, and while the drink is non-carbonated, it stays true to its name and yields a pleasantly mild fizziness as you drink it down. You can pick up a package of 30 individual tubes for $30, so at about a buck apiece, they are a great value!

Rockstar Zero Carb

Since energy drinks began exploding onto store shelves in massive numbers in the late 90's, the market has become flooded with countless brands and varieties, many of which feel like uninspired clones of one another. In terms of canned energy drinks, however, Rockstar Zero Carb remains unrivaled.

Rockstar Zero Carb is hard to miss because of its bold and attractive blue and silver can, with the standard Rockstar logo emblazoned across the front, along with the words "Zero Carb" (NOT "diet," mind you!) The blue and silver color scheme help to distance Rockstar Zero Carb from the non-threatening appearance of the typical "diet" drink, and it also prevents confusing the drink with Rockstar Sugar Free, which features an all white can. Other than both having zero-calories, Rockstar Zero Carb and Rockstar Sugar Free are nothing like each other in any other respects. Whereas Rockstar Sugar Free tastes exactly like what one would expect a diet version of Rockstar to taste like, Rockstar Zero Carb has a bold, crisp berry flavor that is uber-refreshing when chilled and rivals many sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Along with the usual Rockstar suite of B-vitamins, taurine, and l-carnitine, Zero Carb boasts 50% more caffeine than regular Rockstar. That's 240 milligrams in a 16 ounce can! If that's not enough to get you moving, Rockstar Zero Carb also contains Green Tea and Yerba Mate extracts, which are touted as potent antioxidants. The drink also comes in a 24 ounce jumbo can, tallying 360 milligrams, if you are interested in cracking the LD50 of caffeine. At only $1.99 and often on sale for less, Rockstar Zero Carb is the hands-down best all-around canned energy drink out there.

Dyna Pep Energy Micro Shot

It is often said that great things come in small packages, and that could not be more true than with the Dyna Pep Micro Energy Shot. Touted on the product website as "The World's First Supercharged Energy Micro-Shot," there is absolutely nothing "micro" about the power of this supplement.

A critical update to this article follows....Dyna Pep was previously my personal favorite all-around energy supplement, because it delivered a patently unique energy buzz that, until its introduction, was only really attainable with pricey thermogenic weight-loss drink mixes.

Oh, how things have changed. To my dismay, I have found that Dyna Pep no longer contains DMAA, which was the key reason for the mildly euphoric high that it once yielded in addition to its solid energy boost. DMAA (2-amino-4-methylhexane, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine,) is a potent stimulating amino acid which is no stranger to controversy, as it is commonly found in party pills around the world and can be dangerous if taken in very high doses. My guess is that safety/health concerns are to blame for Dyna Pep deciding to remove it from their formulation. In place of DMAA, Dyna Pep's proprietary energy blend now includes green tea extract and raspberry ketones. The size of the shot vial has also been doubled to 8 milliliters. The label doesn't explicitly state how much of the new ingredients are used, but I just tried the new formula and I can say that it does deliver a strong energy lift. It doesn't come near the unique, mild high that once came with DMAA, but I suppose Dyna Pep is opting for a "healthier" energy blend. The label also touts an "enhanced flavor," but I don't see much improvement in this area. There are currently three flavors available: Berry, Mint and Cinnamon; admittedly, these aren't the best tasting of the supplements I've reviewed thus far, but since the shot is so small and goes down so quickly, that's really not an issue. With that said, go for the mint!

At $2.99 for a single vial and $5 for a double-pack, Dyna Pep Micro Energy Shot is not exactly cheap, but it is worth the price for the energy buzz that it still delivers. For now it seems, if you want your daily DMAA fix, you'll have to purchase it as a stand-alone supplement (in powder or capsules,) or as part of rather expensive thermogenic weight-loss drink mixes. It will be interesting to see if any other energy supplement makers will step in and introduce a new booster that includes DMAA. Stay tuned...

And for the record, the title of All-Around Personal Favorite now goes to Hemo Rage Black Ultra Concentrate Energy Shot.

See You On The Other Side

We've definitely come a long way from the days when Jolt Cola was the "extreme" of the soft-drink industry, and I'm eager to see what the next big thing might be like. So bottoms up, fellow caffeine junkies, and happy amping!

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