Red Bull vs Monster vs 5-Hour Energy

Red Bull, Monster, and 5-Hour Energy stand alone atop the energy drink market in terms of market share and popularity. This leads to their frequent comparison and the seemingly never-ending battle with each other for the title of “best energy drink”.

5-Hour Energy often finds itself in a bit of a standalone category. The “energy shot” industry is still burgeoning and there is almost no competition for the popular brand made by Living Essentials, LLC.

Comparing Ingredients, Caffeine, and Sugar Content

One fun way to compare energy drinks is to look at what is really in them. Most people who turn to one of these products for a boost fail to take the time to investigate the contents of the drink. Here, we will examine how the drinks are similar and different when it comes to content.

General Ingredients

It may surprise you to see so many natural ingredients on the chart below. Energy drinks have taken some publicity hits because of their high caffeine levels, an exorbitant amount of sugar, and some unfortunate instances with very few of their consumers.

One ingredient common amongst these top three energy products is vitamin B. While there are various forms included in each drink, the inclusion of vitamin B is likely to amplify the energy impact of caffeine. Vitamin B is known to boost the ability of your body to turn food into energy.  


There is one ingredient that all of these drinks must have to make them qualify for the energy category: caffeine. While some medical professionals frown on excessive caffeine consumption, there is little evidence that the amounts in these products are harmful to the average person.

The average cup of coffee (8-ounce serving) has around 95 mg of caffeine in it. Monster actually comes in well under that number in a direct serving size comparison (43 mg). Red Bull has less than coffee in an 8-ounce serving, as well (74 mg). 5-Hour Energy certainly takes the cake with its 215 mg of caffeine in only a 2-ounce bottle!


The knock on many energy drinks is their sugar content and Monster and Red Bull are both guilty of pumping their customers full of sugar. The recommended daily intake of sugar for an adult male is 37.5 grams and for an adult female is 25 grams.

As you can see in the chart below, only 5-Hour Energy comes away clean with zero grams of sugar in its product. Monster Energy and Red Bull are both guilty of containing more than the recommended daily intake in a single can of their drinks.

A Comparison of Ingredients, Caffeine, and Sugar Content (Chart)


Monster Energy

Red Bull

5-Hour Energy


  • Water (Carbonated)
  • Sucrose and Glucose
  • Citric Acid
  • Natural Flavors
  • Taurine
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Color
  • Ginseng Root Extract
  • L-Carnitine and L-Tartrate
  • Caffeine
  • Sorbic Acid
  • Benzoic Acid
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Gluconolactone
  • Inositol
  • Guarana Seed Extract
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (a form of Vitamin B6)
  • Riboflavin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Cyanocobalamin (a form of Vitamin B12)
  • Caffeine
  • B3, B5, B6, and B12
  • Taurine
  • Sucrose and Glucose
  • Carbonated Water
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Baking Soda
  • Vitamins B6 & B12
  • Folic Acid
  • Sodium
  • Taurine
  • Glucuronolactone
  • Malic Acid
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Citicoline


86 mg (16 oz)

111 mg (12 oz)

215 mg (2 oz)


54 g (16 oz)

37 g (12 oz)

0 g

A Comparison of Sales Around the Globe

Soft drinks (sodas, pops, etc) have taken a bit of a hit lately when it comes to annual sales. Energy drinks have managed to steer clear of this slump and continue to do well despite some negative press.

As you can see in the chart below, Monster and Red Bull are far outpacing 5-Hour Energy in annual sales. However, when compared with its peers in the “energy shot” market, there is virtually no brand even close to 5-Hour Energy in yearly sales.

Monster Energy continues to try and keep up with Red Bull and does so when comparing their company-wide sales (all flavors). When compared head-to-head using the  original flavor sales, Red Bull continues to dominate the competition.

2018 Global Sales Chart

Monster Energy

Red Bull

5-Hour Energy

2018 Sales(Original Flavor)




2018 Sales(Company Wide)




How About the Price?

Sometimes ingredients and popularity simply are not enough to decide which drink is best. It may all come down to the cost. There are two ways to look at cost - by serving and by mg of caffeine.

Monster Energy provides the most bang for your buck if you are looking for an inexpensive serving of energy drink. Red Bull comes in at almost a dollar more and 5-Hour energy is just not something you drink for the sake of drinking.

When we flip the coin and examine the real pop - caffeine - we realize that 5-Hour Energy provides the best deal. The other two, Monster and Red Bull, come in at three times as much per mg of caffeine.

Cost Comparison Chart

Monster Energy

Red Bull

5-Hour Energy

Cost Per Serving




Cost Per mg of Caffeine