Energy Drink of the Month — March 2015

It’s an energy drink so powerful, just looking at it will get you pumped.

I always get excited when I come across a new energy drink, but when it’s by a company I have never heard of, that excitement is interwoven with suspicion and hesitancy. Though I am cautiously optimistic by nature, I am a scientist; I am trained to ask several questions before I form an opinion. All that hesitancy flies out the door when it comes to new flavors from a brand I know and trust. In this case, I didn’t even have to open the can to feel hyper.

The Energy Drink of the Month for March 2015 is a tie between Red Bull Total Zero Cherry and Orange Editions.

 

THREE REASONS TO GIVE RED BULL ANOTHER LOOK

ONE—Red Bull is Number One

One of the major reasons Red Bull deserves to be the energy drink of the month is that March is Caffeine Awareness Month. Did you know that Red Bull is the number one selling brand of energy drinks? Did you know that its caffeine content is less than the second and third top-selling brands? Compare Red Bull’s 80 milligrams per 8.4 ounce can with Monster’s 140-160mg/16oz and Rockstar’s 160-240mg/16oz. Two huge benefits Red Bull has over these other two brands are its smaller size and lower caffeine content. Together, these two details make Red Bull better options for those looking to keep their caffeine content in check. Though Monster’s zero sugar versions feature about 70mg per serving, the standard size features two servings per can. This packaging decision can make many consumers feel obligated to consume the whole thing, which can lead to caffeine over-consumption.

 

TWO—Bull, meet Elephant (in the Room)

What do Red Bull and March have in common? They both involve heavy consumption of alcohol. Another reason Red Bull deserves to be Energy Drink of THIS particular month is that St. Patrick’s Day is associated with copious amounts of alcohol. The same can be said for Red Bull.

It’s hard to deny that drinks like Vodka Red Bull are partially responsible for Red Bull’s amazing sales figures. An excerpt from Caffeine Informer’s article “Alcohol and Energy Drinks: The Dangers of Mixing” summarizes why this combination is such a bad idea:

A study out of Wake Forest Medical Center has been looking into this energy drink mixed with alcohol fad in order to see what negative effects it has created. The study revealed the following;

  • Students who drank the mix were likely to become more intoxicated and become intoxicated twice as often.
  • Students were twice as likely to be injured on this concoction.
  • They were twice as likely to ride with a drunken driver.
  • They were also twice as likely to be taken advantage of sexually or take advantage of someone else.

The researchers believe that the high doses of caffeine mask your body’s natural ways of letting you know you’ve consumed too much alcohol, therefore, people tend to drink way more than they should.

Every good bartender knows giving caffeine to a drunk just makes them a wide-awake drunk, not any less impaired (or annoying). Your body has a built-in safety mechanism: when you’ve had too much to drink, you pass out. This is the body’s way of saying, “You’ve had ENOUGH!” When you throw caffeine in the mix, you by-pass this safety mechanism and can literally drink yourself to death. Part of Caffeine Awareness Month is knowing when NOT to have caffeine.

For some, the strongest disincentive to combine alcohol and caffeine is that it impairs the reflexes as much as non-caffeinated alcohol would, but the caffeine masks the fun parts of being tipsy– the dizziness, the giggle-fits, the false sense of confidence, etc. In other words, combining caffeine and alcohol is a waste of alcohol (and caffeine!).

THREE—Inspiration from Rags to Riches and Wi-ings

Though there are plenty of great stories behind other energy drink brands, the story behind Red Bull’s creator is one I relish. Chaleo Yoovidhya was born into poverty but died in March 2012 as the third-richest man in Thailand. As the co-creator of Red Bull, his rise to success brings new meaning to the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”. As we approach “Bonus Season” and “Tax-Refund Season”, some people start thinking about their financial situation and how to change it. This month of financial re-calibration is a great time to think about the man who co-created Red Bull, and his escape from poverty.

BOTTOM LINE

While Red Bull does not have the cleanest, most-natural ingredient line like some of the other Energy Drink of the Month picks, Red Bull is the best pick for Caffeine Awareness Month. Its size and caffeine content make it a better option than some of the other popular energy drinks, as long as it is never, ever, EVER combined with alcohol.

 

– 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. 

 

FIVE Benefits of Getting Invisalign — Green-Eyed Insight

If you’ve ever had braces, a medical procedure that made your mouth/jaw sore, or if you’re thinking about getting Invisalign, consider the following insight.

 

PS – This year I am going to post one video per month (in addition to monthly Food Science/Energy Drink in the News posts and the Energy Drink of the Month posts). The video above counts for February, (sorry it’s late but I’ve been a very busy girl).

 

– Green-Eyed Guide

Energy Drink of the Month — February 2015

When it comes to food, I’m not a fan of the term “clean energy”. I get what this term is trying to convey, but as a food scientist, the term makes me laugh inside. Same thing with the concept of a “zero-calorie energy drink” (because a calorie is a measurement of energy). “Food Science v Marketing” rant over, let me tell you about a new source of “clean energy”.

The Energy Drink for the Month of February is Runa Clean Energy.

Energy Drink of the Month GreenEyedGuide Runa

Energy Drink of the Month — February 2015

The Berry flavor is my favorite (shocker, if you’ve been following my other monthly picks). I prefer not to drink my calories, but I much prefer the sweetness of the Berry flavor than the zero-calorie version. I tried the “Original Zero with a hint of lime” and, my word, it has an interesting flavor profile. It starts with a carbonated zing akin to citric acid, then the hint of lime shows up, followed by some earthly botanical notes that are reminiscent of iced tea but slightly different, and not unpleasant. The berry flavor is much more my style – short, sweet, and subtly strong.

5 Reasons to Recharge with Runa Clean Energy

ONE — Alternative Energy

Ever herd of guayusa? Pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”, this plant is the Amazonian cousin of yerba mate. While the leaves of guayusa are brewed like tea leaves, the lack of tannins means less of the bitter, astringent taste that’s characteristic of green, black and white teas.

This new source of caffeine has two benefits: First of all, yerba mate and guarana have developed negative connotations due to their use in energy drinks (and the controversy surrounding them). If you want to avoid the bitter taste of tea and the “save-your-liver” lectures from those who believe all energy drinks are bad for you, this new source of caffeine is your answer. The second benefit to guayusa is that because it’s novel, there are less people trying to source it and thus, more of it to go around. When demand of ginkgo biloba started to skyrocket, so did the cases of economic adulteration. Not enough supply to meet demand? Someone’s going to start providing knock-offs to reap those unmet sales requests. Finding new sources of America’s favorite drug (caffeine), means there’s less chance of depleting natural resources.

 

TWO — Caffeine with a Cause

I love energy drinks with a good story. There are some energy drinks that donate proceeds of each sale to charity, and then there are those who give back in other ways. Runa is fair-trade certified, and supports the small farmers and local communities to build a sustainable supply chain. To learn more about the Runa Foundation, see below.

THREE — Guayusa Your Way

A big part of consuming caffeine safely is about slowing your rate of consumption. In the Energy Drink Guide, Mr. Swift and Mr. Thrift demonstrate that nursing your caffeine instead of chugging it makes the effects of caffeine last longer, and helps mitigate an energy crash. While Runa Clean Energy comes in an 8.4 ounce can, there’s also a bottled version. If you’re trying to wean your caffeine intake, you can take a sip, reseal the bottle, and try to make one serving last a whole day (or two). Note – the glass bottles show a bit of particulate at the bottom so if you’re a “no-pulp” person like me, the cans might be a better option. You could also get fancy with your brewing and try the pyramid infusers or looseleaf tins, or just go the traditional route and get a box of tea bags.

 

FOUR — Polyphenols (antioxidants), Amino Acids, and Liquid Courage

While isolated antioxidants have failed to show the same health benefits in the human body as they do in a test tube, there’s plenty of credible evidence on the health benefits of drinking green tea. Guayusa contains twice the antioxidants of green tea, according to the Runa website. The “super-leaf” also contains essential amino acids (though the energy drink itself contains zero grams of protein). If none of that encourages you to try Runa Clean Energy, perhaps this will: traditional use of guayusa includes consumption before nighttime hunting trips, as the guayusa gave the hunters mental strength, courage and focus. Who doesn’t want more of that?

 

FIVE — 5 Levels of Fatigue = Level 3.99

Knowing your Level of Fatigue will help you find the right energy drink for your situation. Always reaching for the same caffeine concoction is a good way to build a tolerance or habitual craving. Furthermore, you can mitigate caffeine over-consumption by NOT reaching for caffeine when you are tired due to dehydration, or when you’re so tired that only sleep will save you. This is the 5 Levels of Fatigue system, and each level matches a specific set of recommendations.

Caffeine Informer Runa Clean Energy

If this is too much caffeine for you, the bottled versions have less caffeine, and can be re-sealed and saved for later.

Runa Clean Energy provides more caffeine than the most popular energy drink of this size. If 80 milligrams of caffeine isn’t enough for you, or if you want something that tastes a little more like tea and less like over-sweetened juice, Runa Clean Energy is a good option. However, it is on the very cusp of Level 3. Caffeine contents greater than 120 milligrams per serving are considered Level 4, but lack of carbonation is the reason Runa Clean Energy is still on the high end of Level 3. Carbonation irritates the stomach lining slightly, allowing caffeine to get absorbed that much quicker. You’ll want to save those Level 4 drinks for energy emergencies like all-nighters, swing shifts, and long road trips.

Bottom Line

Runa Clean Energy is not the energy drink you should reach for when you are bored or dehydrated. With 120 milligrams of caffeine per serving, it is best saved for those Monday mornings when you would give up $100 if it meant sleeping one more hour. It’s no coincidence Runa means “fully alive”. Runa Clean Energy is an energy drink you can feel good about drinking, not just because it’s rich in antioxidants, but because the makers of Runa are actively supporting the guayusa farmers to ensure fair-trade and sustainable growth. Finally, when someone inquires about that beverage you’re drinking with the healthy looking leaf on the can, you’ll get encouraging nods (or blank stares) instead of concerned frowns when you respond, “It’s ‘gwhy-you-sa’ “.

– Green-Eyed Guide

References and Related Reading:

Caffeine Informer on Runa Clean Energy

National Geographic: “Ecuador’s ‘Superleaf’ Tea: Could it Replace Your Afternoon Coffee?”

Runa Main Site and Runa Facebook Page

Caffeine Safe Limits: Determine Your Safe Daily Dose

5 Most Shocking Risk Assessments (***including ginkgo biloba***)

Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely

 

 

Why Some Millennials Can’t Cook — Green-Eyed Insight

I have a theory on why certain Millennials are not good at cooking. This is just my theory, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

PS – This year I am going to post one video per month (in addition to monthly Food Science/Energy Drink in the News posts and the Energy Drink of the Month posts). HOWEVER, I will NOT be using the same recording software for the next video. Sorry for the quality.

-Green-Eyed Guide

 

FINALLY! Caffeine Regulations I can SUPPORT!

According to an article by Nutritional Outlook, six senators are urging the FDA to immediately ban the marketing and retail sale of pure caffeine. This is the FIRST caffeine regulation I can really get behind, and here’s why:

This proposal addresses a legitimate safety issue; unlike some of the proposed energy drink bans, regulations to ban the sale of pure caffeine are a necessary step toward ensuring safe caffeine consumption.

Now, before you jump up and down with all the reasons you think energy drink bans are good, let me just say this: V8 V-Fusion has 80 mg of caffeine from green tea. This is an energy drink, but would you have a problem letting a 12 year old drink it? V8’s energy drink has the same amount of caffeine as an 8 ounce Red Bull, but they both that LESS CAFFEINE (and potentially less sugar) than a tall mocha from Starbucks.

The rest of my arguments against energy drink regulations can be found here (“Why You Could Get Carded for Buying a V8“), here (“NY Bans Marketing of Red Bull but Misses the Bull’s Eye“),  and here (“Save Lives by Focusing on the Source of the Problem“).

Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) is one of the six senators proposing this pure caffeine ban, and I have NOT been a fan of his other caffeine regulation proposals (see “Which comes first: supplement safety laws or the power to enforce them? The Durbin-Blumenthal Dietary Supplement Labeling Act“).

But for this one time, I will stand with the Senator and support this pure caffeine ban.

Perhaps the best argument FOR this proposed ban on pure caffeine sales is the following stat:

A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly the same amount of caffeine as 25 cups of coffee, according to FDA.

-Source: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/150129/caffeine

No consumer needs pure caffeine. If you’re buying pure caffeine to make your own energy drinks in your basement so you can sell them online, I am not okay with that. As a food scientist quality assurance professional, and caffeine consumer, everything about that situation scares me.

Dear FDA, I know you’re under-staffed, under-appreciated and over-worked, and I know you’ve got your hands full with the necessary FSMA regulations. But can you do us all a favor and please, please, do something (swift) about this request. It’ll make Mr. Richard Blumenthal (and Mr. Sherrod Brown) very happy.

-GreenEyedGuide

Related Posts:

Putting Caffeine in Gum is a BAD IDEA, here’s why…

Friends with the Monster? Three Crucial Counterpoints to the Energy Drink Debate