Best Athlete-Endorsed Sports & Energy Drinks

Ranking the top-performing brands athletes are putting their names behind

If you're in the sports and energy drink business, inking an endorsement deal with a high-profile athlete is like getting your hands on that elusive, high-value collector's card. You know, the kind of thing that probably ends up paying for itself. (Derek Jeter drinks Gatorade? I'll take one — make that two — please.)

Obviously it's not like the athletes get a raw deal out of this kind of arrangement either. In many cases, there's more money to be made off the game clock than on. According to Sports Illustrated, big-name athletes like Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. earned more from endorsements in 2010 than they did by competing in their respective sports. OK, so the companies can shell out the big bucks to get the big names, but how do you know if these athlete-endorsed products are worth your money?

It's a question that is especially important in the often controversial category of sports and energy drinks (See Vitaminwater, which, by the way, has been endorsed by the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant). Generally speaking, a top-performing sports energy beverage should provide you with a good balance of hydration, energy, and nutrients according to the nature and physical intensity of your activity.

As is the case across so many categories of food and drink, the trend among sports energy beverages today favors those that are healthier and more natural. Of course iconic drinks like Gatorade remain top players, but how interesting that just this month baseball mega-star Alex Rodriguez announced that he was the new face of Vita Coco, a brand of all-natural hydrating coconut water. 

From sports beverages to energy drinks, we've ranked the top-performing brands athletes are putting their names behind.

Click for the Best Athlete-Endorsed Sports & Energy Drinks Slideshow.