Energy Drink of the Month — May2015 Celsius

Based on recalls, litigation, adverse event reports, and consumer complaints, some of the riskiest product categories are energy drinks, weight-loss supplements and sexual health products. If you thought energy drinks got a lot of scrutiny in the press and by politicians, just image the pressure for a product that is both an energy drink and a weight loss supplement.  For those on quests to become more informed consumers, examining such a product is a wonderful, often enlightening exercise.  Moreover, May is the perfect month to examine such a product for two reasons: students are more likely to try new caffeinated products as they try to cram for finals; and figure-conscious individuals may be more likely to try a product they believe will help them reclaim their beach-ready body for summer. A product that is both an energy drink and a weight-loss product fulfills both types of curiosity.

The Energy Drink of the Month for May 2015 is Celsius Raspberry Acai Green Tea.

 

THREE-SIXTY DEGREES CELSIUS — Honest Product Review from Food Scientist, Gym Rat, Caffeine Aficionado

FIVE POINTS OF PRAISE

  1. One whole can is one whole serving. That makes it easier to understand EXACTLY what you’re getting and how much of it. No Portion-Distortion here.
  2. Though caffeine is part of the “Meta-Plus Proprietary Blend”, the amount of total caffeine IS stated on the can. One serving is one can, which offers 200 mg caffeine. This amount of caffeine is the maximum amount recognized safe as a single dose, according to European Food Safety Authority’s Scientific Opinion on Caffeine Safety. According to this study, 200mg doses don’t raise safety concerns even when consumed less than two hours before intense exercise.
    ***Note that healthy adults can have up to 400mg caffeine per day, and also please note it is never recommended to “chug” your energy drink [See Duh-Alert: AHA says chugging caffeine is bad for the heart]
  3. The amounts of vitamins aren’t crazy. I roll my eyes when I see mega-doses of Vitamin B12 (which doesn’t actually do anything unless you’re deficient), or any fortification with Vitamin B5 (which is in almost every food group imaginable so there’s no need to fortify). Some supplements go a little overboard with Vitamin B3, but over 35mg of this can make some people flush and itchy. The B-vitamins are water-soluble, but that doesn’t mean that more is better.

    Celsius Raspberry Acai Green Tea GreenEyedGuide

    Product Claims

  4. The product claims highlight the ways this product is different from the energy drink stereotype. Even their Warning Statement is grammatically correct: “Not recommended for people who are caffeine sensitive, children under 12, or women pregnant or nursing.” I can’t help but chuckle when I read a Warning Statement that says, “Consult with a healthcare professional if you are pregnant.” Gee, thanks for the tip, but I was going to ride these 9 months doctor-free and deliver in a bathtub. In contrast to the warning statement which offers general health advice and cannot be read literally, Celsius’s statement actually refers to the product.
  5.  The label makes it very obvious this product does not magically make your fat disappear. Celsius is your workout buddy, your “Ultimate Fitness Partner”, and it’s made clear in the side-panel Marketing blurb the product doesn’t work if you’re not exercising.

FIVE BURNS of Celsius – The NEGATIVE POINTS

  1. The words “clinically proven” makes me raise my eyebrows as a scientist. It’s actually rather difficult to clinically prove anything related to weight-loss because there’s always confounding factors. In this case, the increased metabolism, reduced body fat, and improved endurance are typical results of studies that make people exercise, especially if any type of caffeine is involved. It’s common knowledge caffeine improves athletic performance, but the magnitude of those improvements depend on whether the person is an athlete or a gym rat; an occasional coffee drinker or a coffee/tea-holic.
  2. The front of the can says, “Your Calorie-Reducing drink” and yet there is a supplement facts panel. A product is not allowed to have a supplement facts panel if it is referred to as a “drink” or beverage. If it is truly a drink, it must have a “Nutrition Facts” panel, while supplements need a “Supplement Facts” panel and have different regulations for the fact panel layout and content. This may not seem like a big deal, but there are countless FDA Warning letters to companies that demonstrate this product-category confusion.
  3. This product always dries my mouth out. This astringent effect is common with certain tannins in tea and Premium Brewed Green Tea is a predominant ingredient. Ginger root extract may also affect some people this way.
  4. While the amount of caffeine is stated, there are other components of the “Meta-Plus Proprietary Blend” that I would prefer to see itemized. For instance, how much taurine and green tea leaf extract? How much ginger root? The missing amounts don’t concern me as a consumer, but knowing those amounts would fascinate me as a scientist.
  5. Again, the diction grammar bothers me. The side panel of this product says “Celsius burns up to 100 extra calories and more.” How can you burn UP TO 100 calories AND MORE? Which one is it? Also, the expression “calorie reducing” isn’t exactly the same thing as burning calories, but Celsius, the “calorie reducing drink” is supposed to help one burn more calories. Add in the fact that a calorie is a unit measuring energy and the “calorie reducing drink” that gives one “lasting energy”, and we’ve got QUITE THE PARADOX!

BOTTOM LINE

Overall this is not my favorite product, but it’s one that I do enjoy from time to time. Since it’s not carbonated, it’s less likely to upset my stomach if I drink it en route to my morning workout. There is a decent kick from the caffeine, but as a science-nerd I get just as big a kick out of reading the label. There’s nothing wrong with the ingredients but the caffeine may be strong for some people. If this product and its calorie-reducing promises help you commit to going to the gym instead of going home or sleeping in, then it can be a great product to try at least once!

 

— Green-Eyed Guide

 

Related Reading and Other Links

For more caffeine and energy drink information, don’t forget to find your copy of

ARE YOU A MONSTER OR A ROCK STAR? A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely

Energy drinks explained: ingredients, safety tips and consumption tricks. 

 

Response Part I to Panera’s No-No List

Panera publishes a list of ingredients it will not use, but something important is missing from their list.

As reported by Food Business News:

Panera Bread is the latest company to jump on the clean label bandwagon. The company announced May 5 the publication of its “No No List” of ingredients that will not be used to formulate its products. – From Panera publishes ‘no no list’ of ingredients it will not use” by Keith Nunes (click here to read full article)

Maybe they will achieve a “transparent menu” as expressed by Mr. Ron Shaich, founder and chief executive officer. HOWEVER, I believe consumers would benefit much more from this if Panera was scientifically transparent about WHY each ingredient was coming out. Instead of providing a list of ingredients and building the stigma around them, how about a short statement about what that ingredient is, what food science function it holds, and why it is deemed no longer necessary.

Without such explanation, this list is just another source of ambiguous diet advice based on fear. Looking at their list (available here), I can agree with some of their decision for removal. Yet other ingredients strike me as odd inclusions. What good is a clean label if you can’t also come clean about why certain ingredients had to go?

Perhaps I’ll take it upon myself (with the help of my favorite dietitians, culinologists, and fellow food scientists) to provide such a supplement to Panera’s list…

Stay tuned for Part II.

— Green-Eyed Guide

Related Posts:

Fear and FACTS — Food Science and Consumer Perception

How the ‘Natural’ Fixation is Creating Food Waste; and How the Superfood Fixation is Solving It

Case Study on Chemophobia — An Ingredient by Ingredient Review of Swish 4 Energy

Patreon, Age of Ultron, There and Back Again, and Supplement Reviews in Planning

Some quick news from the Green-Eyed Guide

I’ve started a Patreon site, calling all Patrons

This site helps me engage with my followers so I can provide more of the content you so heartily crave. This site also helps me work off the payments I made to my publisher for publishing my first book, Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely. You can read more about what happens when I reach my goals and your special prize for a $1/month contribution at the Patreon site –> https://www.patreon.com/GreenEyedGuide

Patreon Patron GreenEyedGuide

Become a Patron for a buck!

Gymnastics vs Crossfit, Hobbit/Storywonk and Age of Ultron

My goal since starting college has always been to help people see products the way I do, hence “Green-Eyed Insight”. I’ve taken the insight normally devoted to energy drinks and food science to the gym, and I’ve started recording WorkoutWednesday videos. These videos feed my craving/nostalgia for gymnastics, and also help me respond the the atrocity that Crossfit calls a pull-up. #YoureDoingItWrong

You can catch the latest WorkoutWednesday video below. In this video, I show you how to make basic leg kicks more exciting, while rocking my Marvel T-shirt in excitement for Age of Ultron. The name of this video (and the ones to come over the next 2 weeks) is “Back and There Again” as a shout-out to the Storywonk “Dear Mr. Potter” series, and The Hobbit. It’s also because all these exercises are done in passes: one exercise there, another exercise (or the same one on your other leg) to get back.

Supplement Reviews to Come

Finally, I’ve gotten a few different requests for supplement reviews after posting an ingredient-by-ingredient review of Swish 4 Energy.

First of all, thanks for all the interest and support, and second, I am planning to get to all your suggestions. Some of the products on my To Review list include a VERY popular pre-exercise supplement. I also want to dedicate a post to reviewing and discussing a group of products that are trying to cross-over into new markets (it’s like when you’re reading a How To book and it suddenly feels more like an autobiography).

As always, thank you for all your views and support, your feedback, and even your constructive criticism.

Advice of the day: Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.

— Green-Eyed Guide

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