Energy Drinks: With None Of That Pesky Energy

Is it just me, or is it weird (and misleading) to have energy drinks that brag about how little energy they contain?

Calories are a measure of energy, plain and simple. It imagemakes no sense to sell a product called 5-hour energy when it contains virtually no energy. It certainly makes no sense to say brag about how little energy your energy drink contains. And yet, that is exactly what some energy drink manufacturers do. Looking at the claims on the 5-hour energy bottle from bottom to top:

  • “4 calories” – this is enough to power an average human body for, at most, about five minutes. In other words, virtually no energy.
  • “Sugar free” – okay, that’s fine.
  • “No crash later” – a sugar crash is when your blood sugar level spikes and then crashes, so having no sugar at all is a good way to prevent that
  • “Hours of energy now” – well, actually, no.

I know that these products are supposed to make consumers feel energetic because of the caffeine they contain. But I still find the bold-face double-speak quite peculiar, and it does make me wonder how many 5-hour energy customers realize how complete the contradiction is.


imageIf an energy drink with with no energy is strange, then what are we to make of 5-hour energy’s newest product: 5-hour energy, decaffeinated version:

No calories, virtually no caffeine – no point?

At least products like GU Energy Gel actually contain energy – 100 calories, plus amino acids, electrolytes, and optional caffeine. And they suggest it’s good for about 45 minutes of exercise, which is a lot more biologically reasonable than four calories for five hours. I’m not saying that people should be routinely sucking back energy gel packets – I’m just confused by energy drinks.


8,333% of the recommended daily amount of B12. That almost makes the 2,000% of the recommended daily amount of B6 seem reasonable. Put another way, each container of 5-hour-energy has an 83 day supply of B12 and a 20 day supply of B6. Huh.

About brucedawson

I'm a programmer, working for Google, focusing on optimization and reliability. Nothing's more fun than making code run 10x as fast. Unless it's eliminating large numbers of bugs. I also unicycle. And play (ice) hockey. And sled hockey. And juggle. And worry about whether this blog should have been called randomutf-8. 2010s in review tells more:
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7 Responses to Energy Drinks: With None Of That Pesky Energy

  1. Energy drinks actually contains caffeine,taurine, gurana etc. which helps you awake. They don’t gives any energy. They actually stimulates your nerve so that you don’t fall asleep.

    • brucedawson says:

      I’m tempted to delete this spam comment because it really doesn’t add anything to the conversation. In particular, it ignores the misleading phrase “energy drink” and fails to explain what the point of a caffeine free energy drink might be.

  2. Nathan Frost says:

    I think the comedic value of the spam comment more than justifies its presence, for whatever that’s worth. 😉

  3. These kinds of small rants / critique make me feel a bit less lonely. Thank you, Bruce! And of course, I am a devoted reader of your post about programming and other meaningful things. For that, thanks for your dedication and for the sharing of your knowledge and your investigations. I am sure it adds to the improvement of our community (and beyond). 🙂

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