Best Energy Drink for ADHD

Best Energy Drink for ADHD

If you have a diagnosis of ADHD – or know someone who does – you’re probably wondering if caffeine affects the condition. It’s no secret that caffeine, a stimulant, has a significant impact on your body and brain. But what happens when certain regions of the brain are hyperactive, as they can get when you have ADHD? Caffeine, a core component of most energy drinks, affects people with ADHD differently. So, let’s take a look at what caffeine does to the brain, how it impacts people with ADHD, and whether it’s safe to take energy drinks when you have ADHD. Lastly, we’ll look at some of the best energy drinks for ADHD.

How Does Caffeine Affect the Body?

Caffeine can impact your body and nervous system in different ways. Because it’s a stimulant, it blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel sleepy. It’s why you feel energetic and alert after your morning coffee, which allows you to stay awake. Benefits like alertness and increased energy are the main reasons people need caffeine early in the morning to jolt them awake. Another reason people take caffeine is that they notice differences in their memory and cognition. Studies have indicated that participants who drank coffee before performing a task did better than those who didn’t.

Disrupts Sleeping Patterns

However, it also decreases levels of melatonin, a necessary chemical for regulating sleeping patterns. This causes you to stay awake, even if you don’t want to. Pair this with the potential for dependence on caffeine, and it’s easy to see why medical professionals recommend taking it in moderate amounts.

Increases Dopamine

Commonly known as the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that regulates concentration, mood, memory, and movement. Although the brain always has some level of dopamine, higher levels are necessary for an improved mood. Caffeine increases dopamine levels by blocking the reabsorption process. Rather than increasing dopamine production, it slows down the rate at which it leaves the brain and goes back to the body.

Enhances Energy

Caffeine also contributes to increased brain activity, which causes the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands and release adrenaline. This increased circulation of adrenaline can contribute to higher physical energy levels.

Impact of Caffeine on ADHD Symptoms

Research shows that it’s possible to use caffeine for the management of ADHD symptoms. However, most of these studies use tea, such as green tea, as a way to test the effects of caffeine. And because tea can contain other substances, like l-theanine, they could have an effect on symptoms as well. After all, l-theanine can address anxiety, which is a common complaint in over half of people with ADHD.

Though typical stimulant medication does a better job at managing ADHD symptoms in children than caffeine, there are still some benefits of giving it. Studies have found that providing children with a moderate dose of caffeine leads to better executive function and lower hyperactivity.

However, caffeine doesn’t have an equal effect on all characteristics of ADHD. Caffeine is only as effective as medication when it comes to addressing attention deficits. On the other hand, methylphenidate has a higher efficacy for addressing hyperactivity, while amphetamines are more effective for impulsivity as well.

Why Caffeine Consumption is Common Among ADHDers

There are theories that people with ADHD struggle with a dysfunctional dopamine system in their brains. It’s what causes them to seek out substances that can increase the release of dopamine and slow down the reabsorption process. Therefore, it makes sense that people with ADHD commonly consume caffeine. It addresses their dopamine deficiency and helps with inattention. Some mental health experts explain that the use of caffeine among people with ADHD can be an unintentional attempt at self-medicating. This is particularly the case for those with undiagnosed ADHD.

Research on Using Caffeine to Treat ADHD Symptoms

Currently, there are few studies on the use of caffeine for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. According to one 2011 study, researchers found that tea consumption can prove beneficial in the treatment of ADHD in adults. Similarly, a 2011 study that used an animal model of ADHD found that caffeine consumption improved attention deficit disorder in rats.

Based on the results of a 2014 literature review, researchers suggested further studies on the therapeutic potential of caffeine and its use in conjunction with traditional therapeutic measures. Moreover, results from a 2013 research indicate that caffeine can be added to the treatment process, as it balances dopamine levels and reduces symptoms of inattention.

Pros and Cons of Caffeine Consumption

Though caffeine can have some advantages when it comes to cognitive performance and executive functioning, it also has a few disadvantages. To get a clear idea of how it can be helpful and unhelpful, here are the pros and cons of caffeine consumption.


  • Increased alertness: Caffeine has a significant effect on your brain, where it blocks sleep-inducing adenosine receptors. This reduces feelings of sleepiness and keeps you alert when performing tasks.
  • Higher brain function: By increasing brain activity and slowing down the reabsorption of dopamine, caffeine can improve your concentration while working on a task.
  • Better memory function: Studies have found that caffeine can influence memory performance and enhance long-term memory. Additionally, research indicates that having a cup of coffee before you sit down to study can make it easier to absorb information.


  • Anxiety: Excessive intake of caffeine can cause physiological symptoms like increased heartbeat, as well as symptoms like restlessness, which are a common characteristic of anxiety. Because many people with ADHD already struggle with anxiety, caffeine can make their symptoms worse.
  • High blood pressure: Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor by blocking a hormone that keeps your arteries widened. Moreover, caffeine increases the stimulation of adrenaline. Combined, these effects can lead to increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular concerns.
  • Insomnia: Remember how caffeine blocks adenosine receptors? When taken at the wrong time, caffeine can interfere with sleeping patterns, making it harder for you to fall asleep.

Another disadvantage of taking caffeine is that if you have ADHD and are currently taking medication for it, it can increase the intensity of the side effects you experience.

Is It Safe to Take Both Caffeine and ADHD Medication?

Usually, mental health practitioners prescribe stimulant medications for people struggling with ADHD. These are formulated to increase concentrations of certain brain chemicals, such as norepinephrine and dopamine. Since these neurotransmitters regulate functions like motivation, memory, and attention, increasing their levels helps people with ADHD stay focused. At the same time, caffeine is also categorized as a stimulant drug. And because caffeine and stimulant medications affect the brain in similar ways, combining them could lead to a much more intense effect.


When you take caffeine with amphetamine medications such as Adderall, it causes ‘synergy.’ This is when two substances or medications have complementary mechanisms, which allows them to have a powerful combined effect. Taking caffeine with Adderall can lead you to experience increased effects of both substances.

But whether this effect is positive or negative depends on how your body reacts to these substances. Some people can benefit from better management of symptoms, while others may have to deal with severe side effects. According to a study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, caffeine and ADHD medication, when taken at the right dosage, can have a positive synergistic effect. Researchers found that it helped manage symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In fact, these cases point to the potential of needing a lower dosage of stimulant medication.

However, this also points to an increased risk of experiencing serious side effects like increased blood pressure or heart arrhythmia. Combining caffeine with ADHD medication can lead to a higher risk of developing symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate.

Potential For Addiction

Another concern is that pharmacological stimulants prescribed for ADHD, as well as caffeine, come with high risks of addiction. This risk is intensified when both are taken together, while people with ADHD already face a greater risk of experiencing substance abuse issues. In one study, researchers found that people with ADHD are three times more likely to struggle with substance abuse problems than those who don’t have the condition. Meanwhile, another study found that people who take medication to address ADHD symptoms have a lower likelihood of developing a comorbid substance use disorder.

How Much Caffeine Is Safe

According to the FDA, the limit for adults is 400 mg of caffeine each day. It’s the safe limit and amounts to about four cups of regular, filtered coffee. It’s also recommended not to take it all at once and to space out caffeine consumption throughout the day. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it’s recommended to reduce your caffeine intake to about 300 mg a day.

Although children can have caffeine, the maximum intake varies depending on their age. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 should have a maximum of 45mg a day, while 10 to 12-year-olds can have 85 mg, which is about one 8-ounce cup.

While the limit is 400 milligrams, there’s extensive variation in how much caffeine people can tolerate. If you’ve had too much caffeine, you may experience signs like dizziness, agitation, and headaches. If you’re experiencing these effects, you can wait for them to wear off. In most cases, you can start experiencing these effects within an hour after taking caffeine. After about 6 hours, your body will have metabolized the caffeine you consumed.

Should I Try Energy Drinks for ADHD?

There’s evidence that when caffeine is implemented as part of treatment for ADHD, it can improve memory, learning, and attention. Most people with ADHD consume caffeine as a way to stay alert, and if they’ve developed a tolerance to plain old coffee, they may prefer using energy drinks, which give a higher dose of caffeine. So, it can lead you to wonder whether energy drinks can help with ADHD symptoms as well.

Before you start taking energy drinks for your daily caffeine fix, keep in mind that they contain more than just that. Other ingredients include l-theanine, citric acid, ginseng, and taurine, all of which have different effects on ADHD.


Panax ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng, is a commonly found ingredient in many energy drinks. That’s because it’s an adaptogen that improves the body’s resistance to stressors. It also contains active chemicals called panaxosides that lead to improved mental functions. If you have ADHD, ginseng can address issues like short-term memory problems and inattentiveness.


Current research on taurine, a naturally produced amino acid, shows that it can treat symptoms of anxiety, hypertension, and ADHD when taken as a supplement. Animal studies showed that taurine could improve brain function and hyperactive behavior in rats, suggesting that it can potentially help people with ADHD when provided in higher concentrations.


Commonly found in supplements, teas, and, of course, energy drinks, this amino acid has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies point to a possible link between l-theanine supplementation and an improvement in inattentiveness and impulsivity symptoms in ADHD.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or as it may appear on the label, citric acid, is commonly found in different energy drinks. While it’s not harmful per se, keep in mind that it can hamper the absorption of medications when consumed at the same time. It’s best to avoid energy drinks or other foods containing citric acid when taking medication such as Adderall and Dexedrine.

Best Energy Drinks for ADHD

If you feel like caffeine can improve your ADHD symptoms, but you no longer get the same benefits from coffee, energy drinks are a suitable alternative. They come with different levels of caffeine, as well as various flavors and additions, like vitamins and antioxidants. Nevertheless, energy drinks should be taken in moderation to prevent side effects like disrupted sleep patterns, increased heart rate, and hypertension. That being said, let’s have a look at some of the top energy drink options that you should consider if you have ADHD.

1.     Red Bull

Caffeine per Serving: 80mg per 8.4 fl oz

Red Bull, which is also available in a sugar-free version, contains ingredients such as caffeine, B vitamins, and taurine. According to one study, this combination of ingredients had a positive impact on participants’ attention, cognitive performance, and driving. Regular cans of Red Bull contain 24g of sugar, which is about 110 calories, so if you want to skip that, it’s recommended that you get the sugar-free version.

Another difference is that it comes in 8.4 fl oz cans, which means it’s a much smaller serving compared to those available by other brands. A benefit of this smaller size is that you can control how much caffeine you consume, but a downside is that you get less bang for your buck.

2.     Celsius

Caffeine per Serving: 200mg per 12 oz

Celsius, which is available in both sparkling and non-sparkling variants, has been gaining immense popularity for its amazing flavors. You can choose from flavors like lemon-lime, orange, and watermelon while getting 200mg of caffeine with just ten calories.

Besides caffeine, it contains ingredients like taurine, guarana extract, ginger extract, and green tea leaf extract, some of which are linked to better focus. Research shows that participants’ attention and memory were improved after taking a guarana-based supplement. If you’re more conscious about not consuming additives, this energy drink doesn’t contain artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. It’s not high in sugar, either, which can worsen ADHD symptoms.

3.     Rockstar Energy

Caffeine per Serving: 160mg per 16 oz

One of the most well-known energy drinks out there, Rockstar Energy, contains taurine, caffeine, vitamin C, ginseng, and B vitamins. With an impressive 160mg of caffeine per 16 oz can, it has a much higher caffeine content than a standard cup of coffee or tea. It also contains B vitamins, which are proven to benefit cognitive function and slow down cognitive decline. This can prove beneficial when you’re struggling to stay focused and get a task done. It does, however, contain 24g of sugar per can, which is equal to 260 calories. So, if that’s a concern, you can simply get the sugar-free version instead. And if you prefer a smaller serving, it’s available in a 12 fl oz can, too.

4.     G Fuel

Caffeine per Serving: about 150mg per scoop

Compared to other formulas, G Fuel is a sugar-free, water-based energy drink that contains extracts from various natural ingredients. Its antioxidant complex contains extracts from fruits like pomegranate, pineapple, orange, blueberry, and many others. It’s enriched with antioxidants, B vitamins, and amino acids like L-tyrosine, which is proven to improve alertness, focus, and cognitive function.

It’s low in calories and can promote brain function, productivity, and energy. It’s also available in a 16 fl oz can, which has zero calories and 300mg of caffeine per can. While the cans provide more caffeine, the tubs give you more control over how much you drink in a single day.


Caffeine per Serving: 100g per 12 fl oz

While other energy drinks are meant to improve endurance and performance on physical tasks, FOCUSAID is formulated to help people stay on task. Aside from 100mg of caffeine, it contains vitamin B complex, green tea extract, acetyl-L-carnitine, yerba mate, and GABA. Although it contains less caffeine than some of the other options on the list, it makes up for it with a combination of ingredients that can improve brain function.

Yerba mate, which acts as a natural source of caffeine, has had positive effects on focus and concentration in different studies. Meanwhile, research indicates that lower GABA concentrations are associated with memory and concentration problems that are common in ADHD. Therefore, supplementing the body with GABA can help alleviate symptoms.

6.     Nuun Energy

Caffeine per Serving: 80mg per 16 oz

Nuun Energy tablets don’t come in a can like other energy drinks. Instead, they come in a 10-pack of effervescent tablets that you can dissolve in water. They give you 80mg of caffeine per 16 oz, which is the lowest caffeine-to-volume ratio on this list. That being said, it’s still a great option if you’re trying to cut back on your caffeine intake. It contains caffeine derived from green tea, 20 mg of Asian ginseng, and vitamins B6 and B12. As mentioned above, ginseng can address problems like inattentiveness, while B vitamins can boost concentration.

The added benefit of this energy drink is that it’s water-based and has a larger serving, which helps you stay hydrated. And since each serving has as little as 15 calories and 4 g of sugar, you don’t have to worry about increasing your sugar intake in the process.

7.     XS Energy Drink

Caffeine per Serving: 80 mg per 8.4 fl oz

XS Energy Drinks come in different flavors and contain as much caffeine as a Red Bull. But unlike Red Bull, it has only eight calories and 0 sugar. It’s a blend of caffeine, vitamin C, glutamine, taurine, and B vitamin complex, which includes vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. The amino acid l-glutamine acts as a nootropic that helps you focus on tasks, improve concentration, and boost memory. Similarly, B vitamins such as niacin and B12 are among the best for improving concentration. Additionally, vitamin C is important for impulse transmission, making it an essential part of cognitive performance.


To sum it up, caffeine can be effective in addressing some symptoms of ADHD when taken in moderation. The effects of caffeine can depend on the individual’s symptoms and whether they have the inattentive type, hyperactive type, or both. For those looking to get a steady dose of caffeine throughout the day, energy drinks are a better option when coffee doesn’t give the effects you’re looking for. Some of the best energy drink options for people with ADHD include FOCUSAID, G Fuel, and Celsius because they contain caffeine and additional vitamins that are designed to enhance attention, concentration, and focus, such as B vitamins, yerba mate, and GABA.

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