Best Energy Drinks for Hangovers

As a food scientist who’s studied energy drinks since 2003, I’ve seen a lot of information about “Your Body on Energy Drinks” that’s just flat-out wrong. So let’s get one thing straight right here, right now – energy drinks are AWFUL for your body…
…when mixed with alcohol.

Energy drinks are horrible mixers (biochemically) but they work WONDERS for hangovers. It’s all in the science. So grab an aspirin and some greasy chips and let’s review!

Related Reading: “Everything Wrong with the ‘Your Body on Energy Drinks’ infographic”
Related Reading: “Hulk and Ironman Demonstrate Why Mixing Caffeine and Alcohol is So Bad”

The Three Best Energy Drinks for Hangovers

(I wrote this article for Brobible back in 2015 but here’s my own version, with a little less bro-ness)

It’s that moment when you wake up and swear to never drink again. Ever. The pain is unbearable, and so is the memory of how you used to be able to drink way more and suffer a lot less. Dude, you’re getting old. And this hangover is the worst.

Fortunately, there’s a cure, and it comes in the form of an energy drink.

BUT WAIT.

Not just any energy drink will do. Only 3 of the top 10 energy drink brands have concoctions worthy of your next hangover.

The ideal hangover cure has 6 key ingredients:

1. Vitamins

Not just any vitamins. What your body REALLY needs after a long night of drinking is vitamins B1, B3, B6, and C. These vitamins are all depleted when your body metabolizes the booze.

2. Minerals/Electrolytes

It’s what plants crave. If you’re hungover, you need magnesium and potassium. These get depleted just like the vitamins.

3. Water

Stay away from carbonated energy drinks. Carbonation irritates the stomach, and odds are your stomach is irritated enough.

4. Milk Thistle

They give this weed to people in the hospital who’ve eaten deadly mushrooms! And you thought YOUR pain was bad.

Milk thistle protects the liver as it tries to process the junk you thought was a good idea to eat/drink. Unfortunately, there isn’t a big enough dose of milk thistle in energy drinks to really do anything. BUT, unlike tequila shots, a little bit is better than nothing.

5. Caffeine

When you’ve got a pounding headache, caffeine narrows the blood vessels, so fewer little men with hammers can get to your brain at once.

6. NAC aka N-acetyl-cystine

Glutathione is like the Batman of liver detoxification, and cysteine is like the Alfred, making sure Batman’s suit and gear are ready for action.

NOW for the winners, your top three hangover solutions:

First place goes to Rockstar Recovery. Both Recovery Orange and Lemonade favors have B-vitamins, electrolytes, milk thistle, caffeine, and NAC. And they’re non-carbonated. There’s no vitamin C added, but you could always put it in a glass and add an orange slice like it’s a ShockTop.

caffeine informer picture of rockstar recovery with 160mg caffeine

Second place goes to the Monster Rehab line. There are (were?) five different flavors: Tea+Lemon, Raspberry+Tea, Tea+Pink Lemonade, Peach Tea, and Tea+Orangeade. Monster Rehab is non-carbonated and does have electrolytes, caffeine, milk thistle, B-vitamins, and vitamin C (but no NAC).

The watch out here is that while Rockstar is juice-based, Monster is tea-based. Tea has tannins, and tannins in dark-colored alcohol can make a hangover worse. Since you’re already hungover, this is probably not going to matter to you, but the possibility gives Rockstar Recovery a slight advantage.

Third place goes to Arizona, as in Arizona Iced Tea. Arizona makes Arizona Natural Energy drink. This concoction has magnesium and potassium electrolytes from coconut water, vitamin B6, and milk thistle. Even better, the caffeine comes from green tea. Each can contains 120 mg caffeine, just a teeny bit weaker than the two options above.

There you have it. Your top 3 Energy Drink Hangover Cures. If you’re already hungover it’s a bit of a moot point, but I’m going to say it anyway – Please drink responsibly.

Love this info? Want to learn more?

I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:

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