I grew up in Austria in the 1980s and experienced the rise of Red Bull, one of the most popular energy drinks ever made. When I moved to the United States in 2007, I made sure to keep my fridge stocked with a case of Red Bull because I liked how it tasted, thought it gave me energy, and felt like it was my patriotic duty to support an Austrian brand (Red Bull was founded and is still headquartered in Austria).
The problem with Red Bull, Monster and most other popular energy drinks is that they’re loaded with ingredients that are terrible for your health in more ways than you might realize.
Even allegedly “healthy” energy drinks have a major drawback: they rely predominantly on caffeine, which (contrary to conventional wisdom) does not give you energy.
As part of my research into the best exogenous ketone supplements, I stumbled across SnakeWater, a truly healthy energy drink that leverages ketones to deliver energy to your brain, heart and other organs without any of the negative side effects of caffeine-based energy drinks (such as jitters, increased heart rate, or the well-known crash effect).
Before I introduce you to SnakeWater, let’s briefly talk about the common ingredients found in most energy drinks (and why they’re not good for you). I’ll also explain why caffeine works, but why it doesn’t give you energy in the sense you might have always assumed.
You can also skip ahead to the SnakeWater review.
Unhealthy Ingredients Found in Most Energy Drinks
Here is a list of unhealthy ingredients that are commonly found in energy drinks:
- Artificial colors.
- Artificial flavors.
- Artificial sweeteners (such as sucralose or acesulfame potassium).
- Added sugars (such as dextrose, glucose and maltodextrin).
- Toxic preservatives like benzoic acid.
- Excessive caffeine from guarana extract, coffee beans, green tea extract or other sources.
Virtually all energy drinks on the market rely on either sugar or caffeine — and sometimes a combination of both — to give you energy (or the illusion of energy).
The body converts the carbs from sugar into glucose, one of the few sources of energy (with ketones, fatty acids and lactic acid being the others). The problem with glucose is that it’s a short-term fuel; the body quickly removes glucose from the bloodstream via a hormone called insulin, which means the jolt of energy it provides is short-lived.
Additionally, there’s only so much glucose your body needs to meet its energy demands. Any excess glucose is converted into fatty acids by the liver, and those fatty acids are stored in your fat tissue. (That’s one reason why consuming sugar can lead to weight gain.)
Caffeine is a different animal altogether. Unlike glucose, it’s not a source of energy. Instead, caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine from binding to receptors in the brain. When that happens, your brain doesn’t get the biological signal that you’re feeling tired.
Additionally, by blocking the adenosine receptors, caffeine consumption leads to elevated adrenaline levels, which causes your body to remain in fight or flight mode with an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure.
Last but not least, caffeine interferes with the reabsorption of dopamine (the feel-good hormone). When you have more dopamine in your bloodstream, you feel better and more energetic.
The bottom line is that caffeine doesn’t give you more energy. It just redirects energy from other areas of your body. That can have downstream consequences, such as reduced recovery (both physically and cognitively), impaired sleep and more.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy beverages with caffeine. In fact, I have a cup of coffee or two every morning. But I don’t recommend using caffeine to make up for a lack of energy.
Aside from the sugar and caffeine, the biggest issue associated with traditional energy drinks is the presence of artificial ingredients.
For example, as I explained in my article about xenoestrogens, artificial colors (and certain preservatives) have endocrine-disrupting properties because they can mimic the sex hormone estrogen. By exposing yourself to such endocrine-disruptors, you increase your risk of infertility, cancer and other metabolic diseases. Plus, elevated levels of estrogen-mimicking chemicals can prevent you from losing weight.
On the other hand, artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc in your gut by negatively impacting your gut’s microbiome. That can lead to weight gain, inflammation and a compromised immune system. Additionally, many non-caloric sweeteners can also impact your glucose metabolism, leading to insulin issues and weight gain.
For all these reasons, I highly recommend staying away from traditional energy drinks. But if you want to enjoy the occasional carbonated beverage to improve your cognitive performance and focus without experiencing any of the negative side effects, continue reading to learn more about SnakeWater from KetoneAid.
SnakeWater Energy Drink Review
SnakeWater is a healthy energy drink that relies on ketones instead of caffeine to provide your brain and other organs with vital energy to help you focus and perform better without the jitters or crash effect.
As I explained in my article about the best exogenous ketone supplements, ketones are the preferred energy source of the brain, heart and other organs. The body makes ketones in the absence of carbohydrates, such as when you follow a low-carb diet like the keto diet.
The advantage of ketones is that they don’t negatively influence your blood glucose levels (exogenous ketones can actually lower blood sugar levels) and, unlike caffeine, they don’t redirect energy away from other parts of your body or cause jitters or sleepless nights.
The good news is that you don’t have to follow a ketogenic diet to reap the benefits of ketones. Instead, you can get get exogenous ketones from supplements or energy drinks like SnakeWater.
- Clever combination of highly effective ketone ester, salt and free acids.
- Contains teacrine and dynamine (more gentle caffeine alternatives).
- Packed with nootropics and electrolytes.
- Only three grams of slow release carbs.
- Sweetened with monk fruit and stevia leaf.
- Suppress your appetite by lowering levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
- Contains potassium sorbate for freshness, which can cause GI issues for some people.
- Comes in a can. While most cans no longer have BPA linings, there’s little known about the health impacts of the substitutes being used.
Even though I’m a serious fitness enthusiast, I’m more concerned about cognitive performance and improved focus than exercise performance. The former is where SnakeWater shines, because it contains a balanced combination of ketones, nootropics and gentle stimulants.
Ketones are like rocket fuel for the brain. When I have enough ketones in my bloodstream, my brain is primed to work optimally. That allows me to stay laser-focused on whatever project I’m currently working on, whether it’s doing research for a new blog post, building a shed for our rabbit colony, performing surgery on an infected chicken leg (I’d share the photos but they’re gory…) or working on a product launch for a new organ meat supplement.
As a result, I strategically use SnakeWater in the early afternoon, when my natural energy levels dip (based on my circadian rhythm).
A positive side effect of consuming ketones on an empty stomach is that they suppress your appetite. So even on days where I expend a lot of energy, I fuel my body with ketones in between meals to avoid getting hungry and distracted with food.
The bottom line is that SnakeWater is highly effective at delivering clean energy (in the form of ketones) that keep your brain working optimally without leading to the crash or energy slump you’d get from traditional energy drinks.
If you stumbled across this article in the search for an energy drink to improve your exercise performance, I recommend checking out KetoneAid’s KE4 Pro, which is a pure ketone ester. SnakeWater contains only 60% ester and 40% salts and free acids.
Ketone esters work best for improving exercise performance and have the most research to back them up.
Don’t get me wrong: the combination of ketones, stimulants and amino acids in SnakeWater can boost your exercise performance and make you feel better. But most research on the effectiveness of ketones for exercise performance has been done with ketone esters, which is why I recommend KE4 Pro for this particular use-case.
SnakeWater has relatively clean ingredients that I feel comfortable putting into my body. You can see a detailed breakdown of all the ingredients in SnakeWater on KetoneAid’s online store, but here’s a quick overview of each ingredient category.
- Ketones. Ketones are the main source of energy in SnakeWater, from 60% ketone ester and 40% ketone salt/free acid. The latter helps maintain optimal electrolyte levels, which is an important factor in energy production.
- Stimulants. Instead of caffeine, SnakeWater contains dynamine and teacrine, two stimulants that are similar to caffeine but which don’t increase your heart rate or cause jitters.
- Amino acids. SnakeWater contains a mix of essential and non-essential amino acids, including BCAAs, taurine, tyrosine and l-theanine, all of which can help boost both cognitive and physical performance (as I explain in my article about the effectiveness of pre-workout supplements).
- Vitamins. The vitamin B12 and niacin in SnakeWater support brain health and cognitive function.
- Nootropics. SnakeWater contains several nootropic adjuncts, adaptogens and antioxidants to boost mental performance, including cordyceps, CoQ10, resveratrol and huperzine A.
- Carbs. SnakeWater contains isomaltulose, a slow-release/low-glycemic carbohydrate.
- Sweeteners. Monk fruit and stevia.
- Preservatives. Potassium sorbate.
I appreciate the lack of caffeine, which allows me to consume SnakeWater in the afternoon without negatively impacting my sleep.
The vitamins in SnakeWater are a nice touch, but I’m not a huge fan of synthetic vitamins (and vitamin supplements in general). Instead, I recommend getting all your micronutrients from real food such as organ meats or freeze-dried organ meat supplements.
While a few grams of carbs (in the form of the low-glycemic isomaltulose) aren’t an issue for most people, I’d be OK without it so I could consume SnakeWater while fasting. Since each can has 2.75 grams of carbs, I have to wait until I break my fast. The good news is KetoneAid has several other ketone supplements that have zero carbs and are 100% fasting friendly.
As far as sweeteners are concerned, I appreciate that KetoneAid uses monk fruit and stevia instead of the artificial alternatives many other energy drink brands use.
The one ingredient I wish KetoneAid would get away from is potassium sorbate. It’s not as terrible as some of its endocrine-disrupting cousins (e.g., benzoic acid), but it may trigger allergic reactions, nausea or diarrhea in people sensitive to it. Nobody I know has ever experienced any of those symptoms, but it’s a possibility. The good news is that KetoneAid told me they’re phasing out potassium sorbate in their products.
SnakeWater is available in a tropical flavor that has just the right amount of sweetness for my taste. It’s also slightly bitter, and I’d argue that if you like dry wines (like I do), you will like SnakeWater. However, my wife prefers sweeter wines and still likes SnakeWater.
A 12-pack of SnakeWater retails for $59.00. That’s much more expensive than traditional energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster, but comparing SnakeWater to Red Bull is like comparing a McDonald’s hamburger to a nice steak. Both provide calories, but they use entirely different ingredients.
Even supposedly healthier energy drinks — like CELSIUS, Zevia Zero Calorie Energy, Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate, Clean Cause Yerba Mate, Hiball Energy, Nuun Sport + Caffeine, FOCUSAID Clean Energy or Zoa Zero Sugar Energy Drink — aren’t really comparable, because their primary ingredients are sparkling water (seltzer), caffeine, and (in most cases) artificial sweeteners.
What makes SnakeWater more expensive is the one ingredient that actually gives you more energy: ketones, which cost significantly more to manufacture compared to sugar and caffeine.
Of course, SnakeWater has beneficial ingredients beyond the ketones, such as pure, water-soluble coenzyme Q10. But what you’re paying for is the ketones.
The good news is that you can reduce the price per can by signing up for a subscription, which knocks 10% off immediately. Additionally, you can purchase 48 cans in bulk, which further reduces the price per can to a palatable $4 when combined with a subscription. That’s what I did for my last order.
You can also buy SnakeWater on Amazon, which sells single cans in addition to multi-packs.
Top 6 Reasons Why You Have Low Energy
While the reasons why you might have low energy levels aren’t the focus of this article, I figured it’d be worthwhile to briefly talk about them. I’ll also share some tips on how you can improve your energy levels without having to resort to stimulants.
- Sleep deprivation and poor sleep hygiene. If you don’t sleep well, nothing else matters and no energy drink in the world will fix that. Check out my article on how to sleep better and fall asleep quicker to get started. Cutting out caffeine after 12 p.m. is a good start. Another factor that can negatively impact your circadian rhythm and sleep is a lack of sun exposure in the morning and during the day. So get out into the sun without wearing sunscreen or sunglasses.
- A diet high in processed carbohydrates. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is one of the best ways to maintain steady energy levels. Check out the nutrition segment of my healthy lifestyle guide for more information on what to eat.
- Hormone issues. If your endocrine system is out of whack, then your body’s energy production is impaired and you’re likely to feel tired and fatigued. Most issues related to thyroid hormones, testosterone and estrogen are caused by poor dietary habits or the exposure to environmental toxins such as mold or xenoestrogens. Check out my healthy lifestyle guide to learn more about mitigating those issues.
- Chronic stress. Stress can also negatively impact your endocrine system, including the adrenal gland that is responsible for secreting such hormones as cortisol and adrenaline. Check out my article about some of the techniques and tools I use to better manage stress. Among my favorite tools to change how I perceive stress are sauna bathing and cold plunging.
- Nutrient deficiencies. If you’re low in certain micronutrients — such as iron, B vitamins, copper or CoQ10 — the mitochondria in your cells will likely have issues producing energy. That’s why it’s important to consume a proper diet centered around the muscle meat, fat and organs of animals, to obtain enough micronutrients in their most bioavailable form. I also recommend supplementing with freeze-dried beef organ capsules, such as the Grass-Fed Beef Liver and Heart & Spleen capsules we sell at MK Supplements.
- You’re consuming too much caffeine. While the reason you consume energy drinks with caffeine is to get a boost of energy, too much caffeine can actually have the opposite effect. But even moderate amounts (100 mg of caffeine or less) can make you feel tired and irritated, depending on your caffeine sensitivity.
It’s important to understand that if you haven’t addressed all of the reasons mentioned above, energy drinks will likely not offer you the energy levels you’re looking for.
However, if you have your lifestyle dialed in, consuming a high-quality energy drink such as SnakeWater can further improve your cognitive function and help to stay laser-focused for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t recommend consuming SnakeWater while fasting because it does have a few carbs and amino acids that could negatively impact your fasting goals, such as improving gut health or autophagy.
Most energy drinks have no health benefits. In fact, I’d argue that most energy drinks are detrimental to your health because they’re loaded with caffeine and sugar. But even many sugar-free energy drinks have inflammatory ingredients (such as artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners) that I recommend avoiding.
I’d argue that energy drinks that contain only natural ingredients are better than those with artificial ingredients. However, it’s worth noting that even ingredients with the word “natural” in the name (such as natural flavors) aren’t always natural. For example, the latter may contain solvents or other chemicals that flavor houses use to manufacture those flavors. It’s also worth noting that natural caffeine isn’t any better (as far as its side effects are concerned) than synthetic versions.
That depends on how sensitive to caffeine you are. However, keep in mind that caffeine remains in your system for much longer than you might think (up to nine hours). So any amount of caffeine in the afternoon will likely impact your sleep to some degree.
I limit my caffeine intake to two cups of toxin-free coffee before 9 a.m. However, I have no issues having a can of SnakeWater in the afternoon. Based on how quickly I fall asleep, how well rested I wake up, and the sleep tracking data I get from my WHOOP strap, the dynamine and teacrine in SnakeWater don’t appear to affect me.
I’m not a huge fan of liquid calories (and of liquid carbs in particular) because of their impact on blood sugar levels and their relatively low nutritional value. However, any real food (e.g., freshly squeezed orange juice) is arguably healthier than a beverage with processed and artificial ingredients.
Summary and Final Verdict: Why SnakeWater Is the Best Energy Drink
A 16-ounce can of Monster Energy Drink has a whopping 54 grams of sugar and 160 mg of caffeine. A can or two of such a beverage provides you with energy in the form of glucose that you likely don’t need (and that your body will store as fat instead), as well as enough caffeine to block the receptors that tell your brain when you’re feeling tired.
None of that is conducive to your wellness, or to sustained optimal energy levels throughout the day.
But even most of the zero-sugar and low-sugar energy drinks on the market are loaded with inflammatory ingredients, such as artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners that wreak havoc in your gut and negatively impact your endocrine system.
SnakeWater is different. It contains high-quality ketone esters, salts and free acids that, much like the ketones your body produces in the absence of dietary carbs, act as rocket fuel for your brain. In other words, you get clean energy without a spike in blood sugar or any of the negative side effects of caffeine.
Just remember that proper sleep hygiene, nutrition, stress management and other lifestyle factors are key to maintaining optimal energy levels throughout the day. Suppressing the neuroreceptors that tell your brain when you’re tired with crazy amounts of caffeine isn’t going to sustain you in the long run.
Michael is a healthy living enthusiast and CrossFit athlete whose goal is to help people achieve optimal health by bridging the gap between ancestral living and the demands of modern society.