Energy drink formulators favor sustained energy ingredients

Energy drink formulators favor sustained energy ingredients

Typically energy drinks have evoked an image of testosterone-riddled twenty-somethings careening down mountains on bikes. But the evolution away from caffeinated energy bursts to more sustained, work-focused energy supplements started with the vitamin B boom of 5-hour Energy. Now even more ingredients are cropping up with promises of endless energy.


The immortal question: “Dude, wanna pound a Red Bull?” tends to have less resonance the further away you get from a frat house. For people who are past the party-all-night stage of life, energy support tends to focus on cellular-level ingredients like D-ribose, L-carnitine and B vitamins, along with carbohydrate formulations that digest slowly.

“There are two distinct energy markets: stimulants and sustained,” says Dan Murray, vice president of business development at Xsto Solutions. Traditionally, he says, younger people tend to go for caffeine- and herbal stimulant-based quick boosts, while older people are looking for all-day energy that gets them through a planning session at the office or a training run for a 10K.

But in the wake of the FDA’s recent crackdown on caffeine and alcohol-spiked beverages, even young people are questioning the safety of purely stimulant drinks, says Chase Hagerman, business development and marketing manager with Chemi Nutra. Hence the rise in multigenerational beverage blends like Coca-Cola’s Full Throttle energy drink, which contains the stimulant caffeine and the sustained energy ingredients ribose and niacin.

Young or old, the energy category is booming, Hagerman says. “Not everyone needs to address the health of their heart, joints, bones, skin or body composition, but most people welcome having more energy,” he points out. Here’s a look at some of the sustained-energy ingredients that are propelling sales.

3 new ingredients to boost energy drink formulations

Rev with ribose

Bioenergy Life Science’s Ribose, a five-carbon monosaccharide, is a precursor to ATP, which the body’s cells use to produce energy. More than 100 studies show that ribose helps produce energy in muscles, including the most important muscle of all—the heart—which not only improves athletic performance, but also pumps more oxygen throughout the body, helping people feel less tired.

The sweet spot

Humanetics’ Inzitol provides sustained energy courtesy of pinitol, a sugar alcohol found in legumes. Pinitol’s ability to mimic insulin is a natural aid to glucose metabolism, says Scott Steil, Humanetics’ vice president of sales and marketing. Muscles are a major site for glucose metabolism, and a St. John’s University study shows that pinitol stimulates glucose uptake in muscle cells by 25 percent to 80 percent.

Pinitol also boosts athletes’ creatine levels, which helps produce ATP. One study of 20 men who supplemented with creatine and 1 to 2 grams of pinitol daily found the combo was 23 percent more effective than dextrose at delivering creatine to muscle.

Beneo’s Palatinose also uses sugar—in this case isomaltulose, a form of glucose—for sustained energy. According to the company, isomaltulose molecules are more stable than sucrose so they’re metabolized four to five times slower, providing sustained, low-glycemic energy. Palatinose is backed by more than 180 human and animal studies.

B energetic

B vitamins have long been known for their ability to provide energy by breaking down carbohydrates into glucose. Several ingredients companies have debuted products that use Bs or related nutrients.

Chemi Nutra’s AlphaSize Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC) powers muscles and provides mind and body energy, Hagerman says. A-GPC turns into phosphorylcholine, an active form of the B vitamin choline, and synthesizes and releases acetylcholine, which is an important neurotransmitter in brain and muscle tissue. A-GPC helps improve cell-to-cell communication, activating muscle fiber and muscle contractions for sustained energy, Hagerman says.

AlphaSize is available in a powder formulation and received self-affirmed GRAS status in April following a regulatory review by Life Sciences Research Organization. A 2008 study showed that supplementing with 600 mg of AlphaSize 90 minutes prior to resistance exercise increased subjects’ peak bench press power. Hagerman says Chemi Nutra is planning another study on the ingredient within the year.

National Enzyme Co.’s Zip Ex2 provides a three-pronged energy punch through B complex vitamins, digestive enzymes and stimulant herbs like guarana and Siberian ginseng. The herbs offer quick energy, B vitamins provide sustained energy, and lipase and proteolytic enzymes reduce digestive energy drain by helping the body break down macronutrients in proteins and fats and absorb them easily, says Danielle Harrison, National Enzyme’s science and regulatory affairs manager.

L-carnitine, once known as vitamin Bt, is another sustained-energy favorite. It helps transport fatty acids into the cells for energy generation. Lonza uses a fermentation process to produce its L-carnitine ingredient Carnipure tartrate. A new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that Carnipure coupled with carbohydrates increases muscular L-carnitine in recreational athletes, producing more vigorous workouts with lower perceived exertion. 

Condition Specific Directory


Albion, Human Nutrition Division
Creatine MagnaPower® (magnesium creatine chelate)

Bioenergy Life Science, Inc.
Bioenergy Ribose
Bioenergy Ribose is natural, sustainable energy the body utilizes during periods of fatigue. At one calorie per gram, Bioenergy Ribose is the superior energy ingredient.
[email protected]
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

AlphaSize® Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC)
Improve USA, Inc.
Aloe vera gel and whole leaf decolorized
Consuming our daily supplements with aloe instead of water increases the bioavailability. A study at the University of California, Davis showed an increase in the bioavailability of vitamin C and B12 when consumed with 3 ounces of aloe. Get more from the vitamins and minerals you consume daily.
[email protected]
DeSoto, Texas, USA


NP Nutra

National Enzyme Co.
A powerful, all-natural three-tiered energy management solution with a unique blend of digestive enzymes featuring BioCore Lipo, B complex vitamins and energy-filled herbs.  This all-natural combination offers sustained energy without a crash or jittery feeling.

[email protected]
Forsyth, Missouri, USA

Nutratech, Inc.
Advantra Z®

P.L. Thomas
MenaquinGold Natural Vitamin K2

Trace Minerals Research
ConcenTrace Ionic Trace Mineral Complex

TSI Health Sciences, Inc.
PEAK ATP®, Promilin (20% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine), PromilinPro® (60% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine)

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