Energy Drinks GreenEyedGuide

FitFluential-10 Things No One is Telling You About Energy Drinks

Let’s play a game. If I say “energy drink,” what comes to mind? Extreme sports athletes? Teenagers in the hospital? Green tea? News outlets often portray energy drinks as dangerous concoctions of sugar and caffeine but this isn’t the whole picture. While some energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine, the truth is there were over 200 different energy drink brands in the US as of 2009, and some of those are more like green tea than the sugary caffeine-loaded product portrayed. Since many popular energy drink ingredients are also popular in fitness/health supplements, it’s time to consider the energy drink facts no one is telling you.

Read the rest on

Energy Drink of the Month — April 2014

Could you pick an energy drink out of a line-up? Every so often, I read a news story that makes me either laugh or grit my teeth because of how energy drinks are portrayed as dangerous concoctions of sugar and caffeine. To me this portrayal seems like saying all water tastes exactly the same. Ocean water, bottled water, carbonated water etc. While some energy drinks do contain extreme amounts of sugar and caffeine, condemning all energy drinks without addressing the specifics is both folly and counter-productive to safe caffeine consumption. To combat this grievous over-generalization, each month I try to highlight an energy drink that breaks the mold and counters the stereotype.

The Energy Drink of the Month for April 2014 is Avitae (“ah-vee-tay”) caffeine+water.

There are currently no flavored versions (and thus ends, temporarily, the pomegranate theme I’ve had going since January’s pick). There are three caffeine levels of this Avitae line available: 45 mg, 90 mg and 125 mg.
As far as energy drinks go, it doesn’t get much cleaner or simpler than this. With the three levels of caffeine available, this product line is suitable for Level 2, 3 and 4 of the 5 Levels of Fatigue.  Also note that since it comes in a bottle you can sip it and reseal it, regulating your caffeine intake in ways that aren’t possible with an open can or a hot coffee.

For more, see:

Redefining “Energy Drink” — 5 Qs with Avitae

Redefining “Energy Drink” – 5 Qs with Avitae

Are you a big fan of caffeine but not a fan of added sugars or artificial colors/flavors? Are you looking for an energy drink with a clean label and a simple ingredient line? Pronounced “ah-vee-tay”, Avitae’s line of caffeinated waters might be your solution.

Wandering through the halls of the 2014 Natural Product West Expo, I was looking for something to grab my attention. With over 45,000 booths of products all chasing the same consumer trends (“natural”, “gluten-free”, “non-GMO”, “Vegan”) I was looking for something unusual. As a food scientist, I love reading labels, especially when it comes to anything caffeinated or supposedly ergogenic. Unexpectedly, it was one of the simplest products that captivated me most: water, caffeinated.

Continue reading

Food Science in the News – Death and Freggies

Would you believe eating 7 servings of fruits and vegetables (“freggies”) a day can reduce your risk of death by 42%? This stat comes from research by the University College of London and, while it bugs me when news headlines use extreme terms like “death” to catch attention (see below*), this research on mortality and freggies is worth discussing.

*(see “Food Allergies and Murder”)

Green-Eyed Insight on Risk of Dying and Freggies

This study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. It’s available online through Open Access (meaning you get to read the whole research paper, free) so if you’re interested you can access it here:

Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortally

If you just want the press release, you can read this article by Food Product Design.

Actual pile of papers I had to grade as grad student TA

Actual pile of papers I had to grade as grad student TA

This research paper is packed with helpful statistics like a blueberry is packed with antioxidants. During grad school it’s normal to have to plow through heaps of papers like this one. After a while you learn what details to look for, like a lifeguard reading body language at the beach or a runner on first base reading the pitcher to determine whether or not to steal. The most notable details of this paper are as follows:

1. Adjustments for age, sex, social class, BMI, alcohol consumption and physical activity.

Many mortality studies will control for smoking, financial/social status and age, but this study actually considered physical activity too. Let’s say Bob eats 7 servings of vegetables a day and Rob only eats 3 servings a day. Now let’s say that Bob dies first (sorry). What? But he ate more vegetables! Turns out that Bob never exercised at all and Rob does 60 minutes of cardio 3 times per week. These details can mess up the data if you were trying to prove vegetables can decrease your risk of dying.

Table 2 of this study shows that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption decreases one’s risk of death from any cause. If two people are normal weight, non-smokers with the same BMI, age, social class, physical activity and alcohol intake, the one who eats more fruit and veggies is most likely to live longer. Even people who are overweight can reduce their risk of dying from any cause by increasing fruit and veggie consumption.

2. Fruit versus Vegetables

One of the drawbacks of the “5 a Day” campaign is that eating 5 fruits is not quite as good for you as eating 5 vegetables. I’m sure there are exceptions; as my brother likes to say, “Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” Just looking at portions of vegetables and dying, this study found that consuming greater portions of vegetables significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer deaths. Just looking at portions of fruit and risk of dying, there was no significant benefit from eating fruit. Don’t write off fruit entirely: risk of dying did decrease with increasing fruit intake, but the differences were just not statistically significant.

3. Fresh, Raw, Frozen and Canned – it matters

I grew up on canned veggies and I maintain that canned and frozen vegetables are better than no vegetables at all. I’ll never forget how mortified I was when I went to a friend’s house and her mom served grilled artichokes. I had absolutely no clue how to eat the thing, having only seen it from afar in the grocery store. My mom hates vegetables so I had very little exposure to them until I got to college. I remember calling my mom to tell her about the mess hall’s delicious mix of carrots and white broccoli (which I later learned was cauliflower).

I thought it was an art display. Nope, vegetables...from outer space?

I thought it was an art display. Nope, vegetables…from outer space?

Some people just are not vegetable eaters. For that crowd, frozen, canned or pre-seasoned steamer bags might be the only way vegetables make it into their diets. This study looked at how eating different types of freggies changed the risk of dying. They found that fresh vegetables, salads and fresh and dried fruit showed stronger health benefits (decreased risk of dying) than canned and frozen fruit. In fact, canned/frozen fruit (not canned/frozen veggies) was associated with an INCREASE in the risk of dying.

Canned green beans – okay; Canned pears — not-so-okay

The authors of this study pointed out that most canned fruit contains high sugar levels, and admitted it was impossible to separate the frozen fruit from the canned fruit in the calculations for risk of death. It would be interesting to see future studies separating those two categories to clear this new stigma on frozen fruit. Let this be more evidence that limiting added sugars can only improve your health, but also remember that the dosage makes the difference between a poison and a cure.

Bottom Line

This is a great study, and despite all the factors that complicate the calculations of someone’s risk of dying, this research only adds to the proof that eating vegetables could save your life.

Related Posts:

Food Allergies and Murder

High Protein Diets Increase Risk of Mortality as Much as Smoking

Combating Obesity in Professional Baseball Players – The Onion

To celebrate April Fool’s and to help you Angels fans get over that horrific 10-3 loss to the Mariners on Opening Night, I thought I would share one of my favorite nutrition and health pieces from The Onion:


“Michelle Obama Introduces Exercise Program to Combat Obesity in Professional Baseball Players”


Enjoy and remember, if you’re going to pull your own April Fool’s Day tricks, make sure the mean doesn’t outweigh the funny.

Related Reading:

15 Ways to Convince Your GF Baseball is the Best Sport


What are YOUR favorite April Fool’s Day tricks?