As a long-time participant in the natural product space, I tend to be skeptical. Some would call me a “doubting Thomas.” Exaggerated product claims and misrepresentations on supplement facts panels are not uncommon. Marketing executives at some supplement companies even have a budget for FDA or FTC fines and, in anticipation of lawsuits, including some of the more popular brands in the space.
This article reviews a current offering, Bang Energy, from Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX), that saw a meteoric rise to number three in the vast energy category. However, after losing a $293 million lawsuit brought by rival Monster Energy for false advertising and trade secrets, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2022. In July 2023, Monster Beverage acquired the bankrupt company for $362 million and announced that Coca-Cola and its bottlers would distribute Bang globally. Monster and Coke have a close relationship, with Coke owning a stake in the Monster brands.
Fortunately, with Coca-Cola’s marketing expertise and sales clout with retailers, we found the product in our local supermarket. We tested the product in several different settings, and we think you will be pleasantly surprised by our findings. Bang promises to “Fuel Your Destiny”! We’re not prepared to validate that claim; however, we will provide our analysis of the nutritional facts, ingredients, taste, price/value, and performance.
Bang Energy Drink
Bang Energy is a carbonated beverage delivered in sixteen-ounce cansBang designed to improve energy and performance. The product is broadly available online and in stores. Given the recent change in ownership, the BangEnergy.com website states, “Be Right Back.” An active Bang Energy Facebook page promises the product will fuel the mind, body, and spirit. The container says that Bang has created an entirely new “performance energy” category, performance tested in 28 university studies.
As with most energy drinks, the Nutritional Facts Panel doesn’t tell us much. Bang contains no calories, fat, carbohydrates, sugars, or protein. The listed nutrients are Vitamin C, B6, Magnesium, Potassium, Niacin, and Vitamin B12. Other key ingredients in the formula are Caffeine anhydrous, Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), including the three BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids), Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, and COQ10. The EAAs and COQ10 are displayed in large print on the can.
Bang contains no fruit juice or added sugars, is gluten-free, and Vegan friendly; however, it does have artificial flavors and preservatives and uses Sucralose, an artificial sweetener and sugar substitute. Note: to ensure you get the gluten-free version, look for cans that state EAAs versus the previous versions that showed BCAAs.
Previous product iterations also included “Super Creatine” as an ingredient, a dipeptide of creatine and L-leucine. Creatine is a popular sports nutrition supplement, an ergogenic aid to enhance exercise performance and muscle recovery. Creatine, however, is not stable in liquid form, and Bang used this as a marketing ploy and advantage versus other energy drinks. This was a major point of contention in its legal battles, and the courts determined there was no creatine in the product. The product continues to list the patented Creatyl-L-leucine as an ingredient.
Bang is available on Amazon.com in numerous flavors such as Black Vanilla Cherry, Blue Razz, Candy Apple Crisp, Delish Strawberry Kiss, Peach Mango, Purple Haze, Rainbow Unicorn, Sour Heads, Star Blast, and Radical Skadattle, as well as assorted variety packs. Twelve-pack prices range on the site from $39.99 to $43.95, or roughly $3.50 per can. This is a significant premium versus most players in the category, such as Amino Energy, C4, Celsius, and Ghost; however, several of those brands are in twelve-ounce cans.
More affordable pricing at other retailers is as follows. Note these prices are comparable to competitive energy drink brands:
- Vitamin Shoppe – $32.99 / $2.75
- Target – $2.39 per can ($28.68 per 12-pack)
- Safeway – $2.79 per can ($33.48 per 12-pack)
Several retailers that might typically carry Bang products do not show a listing, apparently due to recent changes in ownership and distribution methods.
Bang Energy Drink Ingredients
Unlike dietary supplements, ready-to-drink sport beverages are regulated as food products by the FDA. As such, we get a Nutrition Facts versus a Supplement Facts label. This is unfortunate as the Nutrition Facts tell us very little, as no calories or macronutrients are present. The dosage and percentage of Recommended Daily Values are listed for other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. In Bang, those vitamins (C, B6, Niacin, and B12) and minerals (Magnesium and Potassium) are at relatively small dosages, well below the Daily Values.
The ingredients list below the Nutrition Facts Panel details the compounds in the product. Beyond knowing these ingredients are listed by volume in descending order, we cannot determine the precise amount of these components.
- 300 mg of Caffeine Anhydrous – A separate “Caution” panel warns that there are 300 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous in Bang Energy. By comparison to other energy drinks, such as C4 Smart Energy (200 mg), Celsius (200 mg), or Monster (160 mg), that is a healthy dose. Also, products such as C4 Smart Energy use caffeine from natural sources as opposed to the anhydrous in Bang. Some consider anhydrous (a processed, dehydrated form of caffeine) a more potent form, while others contend that naturally sourced is gentler on your body.
- Essential Amino Acids – Amino acids are frequently used in intra- and post-workout supplements to enhance performance, promote recovery, and help build muscle. Your body requires twenty amino acids to function correctly – nine of which are essential, meaning you must get them through diet or supplementation. All nine EAAs are included in Bang Energy, including the three most associated with sports performance: the BCAAs, leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
- COQ10 – This is another popular ingredient in the dietary supplement space. It is a powerful antioxidant that aids in cell growth and maintenance. Although COQ10 is printed in bold letters at the top of each can of Bang, we must assume the amount in the product is negligible, as it is the third to last compound listed.
- Creatyl-L-Leucine – As indicated, this is a compound created and patented by the founder of VPX. The intent was to provide bioavailable creatine in Bang to improve athletic performance. Unfortunately, clinical trials indicate this is not the case.
What to Expect from Bang Energy Drink
Regardless of the energy, focus, or endurance you get from your energy drink, you won’t be back for more if it doesn’t taste great. So, let’s first address the taste of Bang Energy.
Taste is highly subjective, and the Bang flavors seem very good at first blush. I’ve tried the Black Cherry Vanilla and Delish Strawberry Kiss, and both are good (personal preference is the Strawberry); however, as you work your way through a sixteen-ounce can, you may find a slightly “tinny” or “after-taste.” It’s akin to Monster or Red Bull – not totally unpleasant but not as flavorful as some of Bang’s competitors, such as C4 Smart Energy.
How Much Energy Can You Expect from Bang Energy Drink?
Whereas products using a natural source of caffeine provide a gentle boost of clean energy, the energy from Bang’s anhydrous is more pronounced and “in your face.” My tolerance for caffeine is high as I consume at least three to four cups of black coffee throughout the day, and my pre-workout supplement has the same 300 mg of caffeine anhydrous. I’ve used Bang before cardio and resistance training and felt more energy with Bang than my powdered supplement – quite a surprise.
Although I didn’t notice any jitters, the energy was accompanied by a bit of ADHD as I immediately felt like writing, not a bad thing, but I was testing the product as a pre-workout drink given its performance energy positioning. I was pleasantly surprised once I made it to the gym and started lifting. The energy persisted; I was focused and continued to add sets to my planned routine. There was no crash, even as I extended my workout. In the absence of more established ergogenic aids such as creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, or arginine, I assume the caffeine and EAAs, which included the three BCAAs, played a role in delaying the onset of fatigue. I’m not easily impressed, and this workout was very good.
For the cardio workout, I drank Bang about fifteen minutes before a longish (for me) bike ride. Even though it was a windy day and a hilly ride, I finished in excellent time. At the start of the ride, I went out perhaps a bit too aggressively, particularly on the hills. Caffeine can do that to you. Surprisingly, I didn’t pay the price on the back end of the ride as I finished feeling strong and with no crash, mentally or physically.
Bang Energy Drink Benefits
VPX positions Bang as the creator of an entirely new segment, the performance energy drink. As mentioned earlier, I tend to be skeptical of advertising claims, and excuse me, particularly from a company that lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit over false advertising. I’m sure other brands would dispute the claim of “creating” the category; however, Bang does provide a significant blast of energy, and for this laboratory of one, it enhanced my performance both in the gym and on the road. In all candor, I’m still determining what I would do with that much energy if I weren’t heading to a workout. Perhaps it would be acceptable if I had an assignment due or were prepping for a test. Although focus is not a major claim made by the Bang people, I also noticed that I was laser-focused during my workouts.
Maybe there was a bit of a placebo effect, but I would almost consider Bang in lieu of my normal pre-workout product, although the cost per serving would be nearly double that of the powder. I would also be missing several components that I know are beneficial long-term, such as creatine monohydrate or HCI, betaine, beta-alanine, and a nitric oxide component for vasodilation.
Bang Energy Drink Competitors
How Bang compares to other brands in the energy/sports drink category largely depends on what you want in a beverage.
For hard-core intensity training, Hyde Extreme from Pro Supps may be a better, albeit more expensive, option at $3.60 per can. With 400 mg of caffeine anhydrous, the energy component is significant. But the intensity doesn’t stop there, as the product also contains Theanine, N-Acetyl-Tyrosine, Teacrine, GABA, and Yohimbe. Although Hyde doesn’t contain EAAs or BCAAs, it does have ergogenic components, and at the appropriate dosages:
- Citrulline Malate at 6 grams
- Beta-Alanine at 3.2 grams
Another option for the hard-core user is C4 Ultimate Energy, Non-Carbonated. With the same 300 mg of caffeine anhydrous as in Bang, this C4 variety adds CarnoSyn, a patented beta-alanine, and Betaine Anhydrous as the primary performance ingredients. Beta-alanine and betaine may be better options for resistance training than the EAAs found in Bang.
Those seeking a clean, plant-based energy might consider Reign Storm. Reign is one of the cleanest RTDs on the market, with just ten calories and 200 mg of plant-based caffeine. No sugars, added preservatives, artificially sourced flavors or colors, or high fructose corn syrup. It’s a cleaner option than Bang; however, it’s not as potent. Another option for a gentler energy boost with the same amino acid profile is Amino Energy from Optimum Nutrition. Amino Energy delivers milder energy with less caffeine, 100 versus 300 milligrams, and from natural sources versus anhydrous. Amino Energy also has electrolytes for hydration, making it a better option for intra-workouts or longer cardio sessions.
In Summary: Bang Energy Drink Review
The brand has had its day, and unfortunately, its day in court. False advertising is anathema to the natural products industry, so the brand’s fate was most likely a long-term blessing. Monster and Coca-Cola will undoubtedly toe the line going forward and avoid future issues. And that’s a good thing as the product is excellent and delivers the energy and improved performance it promises. That said, I’m still unsure how it will “Fuel Your Destiny,” whatever that may mean.