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5 Hour Energy Shot Review (Sugar Free)

Updated Review Date: 05/31/2017
Original Review Date: 08/22/2011


         Do you occasionally need an energy boost without the sugar? Then sugar free 5 Hour Energy Shots might be for you. Before we get started into the review though, a little preliminary product info is in order.
         Sugar free 5 Hour Energy is available in 2oz. shot bottles, making it small enough to bring just about anywhere. It's also considered a "light" energy drink, having only 4 calories and 18mg of sodium per bottle. Currently there are 6 flavors of the original formula on the market including Pomegranate, Orange, Grape, Berry, Pink Lemonade and Lemon-Lime. The extra strength version (not yet reviewed) has additional flavors, which we will touch on in an upcoming review. The original regular strength formulation in this review should be easy to find locally in single serving sizes, but for larger quantities like 4, 12 or 24 packs where you can save money from buying in bulk, you should check out the full selection of sugar free 5 Hour Energy shots at Amazon
         So, is this the energy drink you've been looking for? Read on to find out...

5 Hour Energy Shot Nutrition Information

Per entire 2 oz. shot bottle this product has the following nutrition values:

Calories: 4
Sodium: less than 1% (18mg)
Carbohydrates: 1g
Vitamin B6: 40 mg
Niacin: 150% (30mg)
Folic acid: 100%
Vitamin B12: 8333% (500mcg) - this isn't a typo.
Energy Blend: 1870 mg (Daily value not yet established)
Caffeine: 200mg

5 Hour Energy Shot Ingredients

All flavors in the original 5 Hour Energy series, excluding the decaf and extra strength versions, have the same ingredients:

Energy Blend: Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Malic Acid, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Phenylalanine (Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine), Caffeine. Other Ingredients: Purified Water, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sucralose, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate and EDTA (to Protect Freshness).

The Scorecard for 5 Hour Energy Shot

Based on the five point rating system for energy drinks, here's how 5 Hour Energy scores:

Does it Work? I decided to give 5 Hour Energy a try to test if it could actually replace my morning cup o' joe. For three consecutive mornings in a row I used a different flavor of 5 Hour Energy - first berry, then grape and finally lemon-lime. While it did give me an energy boost, it wasn't any better or longer lasting than my regular strong cup of black coffee without cream or sugar. I didn't experience jitters or any other bothersome side effects from the product, though one of the taste testers did...
         It took some haggling, but two taste testers also agreed to give 5 Hour Energy a try (just for one day) and the results were mixed. Similar to my experience, one taste tester didn't notice any difference at all between 5 Hour Energy and coffee and she's a die-hard coffee drinker of sorts, usually having 5 to 6 cups of it a day. The other taste tester who is not a coffee drinker at all drank the full bottle and did get jitters for about two hours, though he suspects it was due to having an empty stomach and his low caffeine tolerance to begin with. He did report increased energy though and attests that it does work beyond 5 hours, which is what I sort of expected from someone who doesn't drink coffee on a regular basis. Just so you know, the manufacturer does recommend using just a half bottle for moderate energy and one full 2 oz. bottle for maximum effect - if you've never tried it before starting with a 1/2 bottle is a smart idea. While the manufacturer also says a niacin flush is a possibility from using the product, none of us experienced one - a niacin flush is a harmless increase of blood flow near the skin from vitamin B3. Lastly, the packaging advertises "No Crash", but what this actually refers to is no sugar crash, something that can happen when an energy drink is pumped with sugar.
          Ultimately the original version of 5 Hour Energy does work but I can't honestly attribute the energy boost to anything else besides the caffeine, unlike the one taste tester who swears that more is at work than just the caffeine. (+1)

Taste: The three flavors I tried (berry, grape and orange) all had a medicinal taste to them with the berry flavor being the worst of the lot and tasting similar to extremely tart cherry cough syrup. The other two taste testers for this review also tried all three flavors and were in agreement about the overall medicinal taste. We were all in agreement that the grape flavor was the best tasting of the three flavors. However, considering the size of the product (2 oz.) and its intended use, I suspect that taste is probably low on many people's list of important features. (+.25)

Packaging Waste: 5 hour energy is packaged in a very small bottle made from #1 recyclable plastic. The only waste is a minuscule piece of the plastic wrapper which acts as the safety seal. If you're careful you could actually leave this attached to the label and there would be zero waste. Regardless, since more than 95% of the packaging is recyclable, it gets a top score in packaging waste. (+1)

Value: At about 2 bucks and change per bottle, it is priced competitively against other energy drink products in the same 2 oz. class. Sugar Free 5 Hour Energy can be found considerably cheaper per bottle when buying 12 or 24 packs at Amazon than your local grocery store. At the same time there is a high-level of convenience with this product in that you don't have to take the time to brew coffee and can easily take a 2 oz. bottle of 5 Hour Energy anywhere. Considering the class and intended use of the product I see nothing that prevents a top score for value. (+1)

Health Factor: Did you notice how much vitamin B is in 5 Hour Energy? 8333%? Although the tolerable upper limit for the daily intake of vitamin B12 has never been established, there is still a recommended daily allowance. Going beyond the USRDA for people with certain health conditions can do more harm than good in certain circumstances - have a look at what the Mayo Clinic's vitamin B12 safety page has to say. It shouldn't be any surprise that the label states if you're taking medication or have any medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before use. Personally I'd also check with a pharmacist if you take any medications, and be sure to mention the all the ingredients, including the "energy blend" ones. After my own research into the "energy blend" ingredients in 5 Hour Energy, I found out they're supposed to have the following benefits:


  • Taurine - An essential acid for cardiovascular function and skeletal muscle development
  • Glucuronolactone - Detoxifies the body
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine - Improves mental functions and physical performance under stress
  • L-Phenylalanine - Combats depression and ADHD (improves mental focus)

While the other taste testers and I experienced the benefits above, excluding the detoxification, only one of us believed the increased energy and mental sharpness came from the energy blend ingredients versus the caffeine. And that brings us to the caffeine content, of which there's approximately 140 mg per 2 oz. bottle of 5 Hour Energy. This might be too much for some people, whereas for others it might just right or even not enough.
         One last topic is the choice of preservatives which might have some folks wondering about benzene contamination or other issues. Both sodium benzoate and EDTA are used to preserve freshness, but there's actually nothing to worry about with either substance in this particular energy drink. Without ascorbic acid (vitamin C) there's no danger of any benzene formation from the sodium benzoate, and EDTA is a well-studied acid with no side effects or toxicity issues at the levels used for preservation. In higher amounts EDTA is actually used in the medical field for chelation therapy, dentistry and eye surgery.
         So what's the health factor score? Considering the unknowns involved with some of the energy blend ingredients and the possible problems for some people from the wickedly high vitamin B12 content, there would normally be a deduction of three-quarters of a point. However, the manufacturer in good judgment has included an adequate warning label, so being fair I can't deduct that three-quarters of a point. Besides those issues I don't have a problem with any other aspect of the energy drink in regard to the health factor. Also, there's no deduction for the Phenylalanine content as it's an intentionally added energy blend ingredient versus being a product of the breakdown of aspartame. For health factor 5 Hour Energy actually gets a top score. (+1)

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5 possible points yields a surprisingly decent score. 5 Hour Energy does work but with caveats and there's three important items to remember if you decide to try the product: 1) If you have any health conditions or are taking any medications, check with your doctor and even a pharmacist before using. 2) Start out with only a half a bottle at first and wait a good 15 to 20 minutes to see if you need anymore. 3) Never use more than two full bottles a day.





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