5 Best Sucralose Free Energy Drinks [2024]

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Many mainstream energy drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners like sucralose, which may have negative health effects.

In this post, we will explore the concerns around sucralose, why it’s added to so many products, and the best sucralose free energy drinks.

Our Overall Picks:

Best Monkfruit Option: Jocko GO Energy Drink
Best Stevia Option: Zevia Zero Calorie Energy Drink
Best Caffeine Alternative: Drink Update Energy Drink with Paraxanthine
Best Paleo: FITAID Recovery Blend
Widely Available: CELSIUS Sweetened with Stevia

What is Sucralose?

Sucralose powder form, energy drink

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that goes by the brand name Splenda.

It’s made from sugar but has been chemically modified to be much sweeter, around 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar.

The FDA approved sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener in 1998.

Since then, it has been adopted widely by the food and beverage industry in everything from soft drinks to protein powders.

The appeal for manufacturers is that sucralose provides the sweet taste of sugar with no calories or carbohydrates.

Why is Sucralose Bad for You?

While government regulators and chemical manufacturers insist that sucralose is safe, there are legitimate health concerns around this artificial sweetener.

Here are some of the potential issues.

  • It confuses your metabolism – When you taste something super sweet like sucralose, your body expects an accompanying amount of calories. When those calories don’t arrive, it can disrupt the balance of hormones like insulin and leptin. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and even diabetes.
  • Harmful to good gut bacteria – Studies on mice have shown that sucralose can decimate healthy gastrointestinal bacteria. Our gut microbes play many essential roles in digestion and immunity.
  • Toxic byproducts – There is some evidence that sucralose breaks down into potentially toxic compounds like chloropropanols when baked or heated to high temperatures.
  • Adverse neurological effects – One study found that sucralose intake was linked to a reduction in beneficial brain neurotransmitters like GABA. It also increased the expression of neurotoxic compounds.

While more research is needed, there are legitimate reasons to be cautious and limit your sucralose exposure.

Best Sucralose Free Energy Drinks

If you’re looking to avoid sucralose, here are some of the top energy drinks we found that are free of this artificial sweetener.

Jocko Go Energy Drink

Sweetened with stevia and monk fruit, Jocko Go provides a sugar-free and sucralose-free energy boost from green tea caffeine, L-theanine, vitamin B12, and other natural ingredients.

FitAid Energy Drinks

FitAid uses cane sugar and stevia for sweetening their line of energy drink options. They also rely on yerba mate caffeine for clean energy.

Zevia Energy Drinks

Sweetened solely with stevia, Zevia Energy provides caffeinated flavors like grape, berry and citrus for an energy lift without artificial sweeteners.

Celsius Sucralose Free

Celsius reformulated their popular fitness energy drink in 2020, removing sucralose in favor of monk fruit and stevia sweeteners.

Update

Update is an energy drink featuring Paraxanthine for sustained energy without side effects, scientifically-backed ingredients for focus, natural sweeteners like stevia and allulose for a sugar-free experience, and comes in four distinct, lightly carbonated flavors.

Related: Andrew Huberman Yerba Mate: Everything You Need to Know

Why is Sucralose in Everything?

Energy drink manufacturing floor

With all the potential health concerns, why has sucralose proliferated so widely throughout our food system?

There are a few key reasons.

Cost Savings

Sucralose is made from sugar, but the end product is incredibly intense in sweetness.

A little bit goes a very long way.

Manufacturers only need a tiny amount of sucralose to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar.

This makes it extremely cost-effective in comparison to real sugar or other natural sweeteners.

The cost savings get passed along to increase profits.

Versatility

Unlike some other artificial sweeteners, sucralose maintains its sweetness and stability at high temperatures.

This makes it suitable for use in baked goods, syrups, sauces, and other applications that require heating during production.

Sucralose won’t break down or get bitter when cooked.

Addiction and Cravings

Some researchers believe the super-intense sweetness of sucralose conditions people to crave more sweet foods and drinks.

The 600x sweetness compared to sugar lights up pleasure sensors in the brain. People associate that intense sweet taste with satisfaction.

This results in higher sales as consumers continually crave products with sucralose’s sweet hit.

Health Halo Effect

Sucralose allows manufacturers to create no-calorie or low-calorie versions of popular sugary drinks and snacks.

Even though sucralose has its own concerns, it generates sales growth within the “health halo” of diet and light foods.

Consumers see the calorie count or “no sugar added” label and feel better about purchasing those items.

Healthier Natural Sweetener Options

In place of sucralose, there are some healthier natural sweeteners to look for in energy drinks and other products:

Stevia

Stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. It contains no calories and does not spike blood sugar.

Stevia has been used for centuries in South America.

Only purified stevia extracts like rebaudioside A are approved for use as sweeteners in the U.S.

Monk Fruit

Also known as luo han guo, monk fruit sweetener comes from a melon native to China.

The sweet components called mogrosides can be extracted and used as a zero-calorie sweetener.

Monk fruit has been consumed for centuries with no safety concerns.

Erythritol

This sugar alcohol is naturally found in some fruits and fermented foods.

It provides about 70% the sweetness of sugar with minimal side effects other than gastrointestinal distress in large doses.

Xylitol

Derived from birch bark or fibrous plant material, xylitol is another sugar alcohol that can be used as a sweetener.

It has 40% fewer calories than sugar and does not raise insulin levels.

Xylitol may even provide dental health benefits.

Finding Sucralose Free Energy Drinks

If you want to cut back on sucralose but still need an occasional energy boost, there are healthier options. Here are some tips for finding sucralose free energy drinks:

  • Read ingredients lists – This is the only way to really know if a product contains sucralose or any other sweetener. Don’t assume that a “no sugar added” label means no artificial sweeteners.
  • Choose naturally sweetened drinks – Some companies are using stevia or monk fruit extract to sweeten their energy drinks without artificial sweeteners.
  • Opt for unsweetened versions – Brands like Celsius and Bang have sucralose free options that are lightly flavored but unsweetened. Relying on natural ingredients like caffeine, B vitamins and amino acids for energy.
  • Drink plain coffee or tea – Sometimes you just need a good old fashioned cup of coffee or tea for a caffeine boost. Avoiding heavily processed energy drinks altogether.

With a little label reading and wise choices, you can still get an energy lift during your busy day without exposure to concerning sweeteners like sucralose. Your body will thank you.

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About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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