I declared myself a biochemistry/chemistry major in 2003 – right at the beginning of the Energy Drink Boom. Fascinated by these drinks and all the fears surrounding their use, I’ve applied my education (and basically all my free time) toward understanding the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. In 2003, energy drinks contained synthetic caffeine as well as caffeine extracts from guarana and yerba mate. While synthetic caffeine was often criticized for being synthetic, guarana and yerba mate were often criticized for being “dangerous stimulants”. Then along came green coffee bean extract and coffeeberry/coffee fruit. As a caffeine consumer, you may be wondering, what is it about green coffee beans and coffeeberry that make it special? I encourage you to geek out with me over these game-changing energy drink ingredients.
Caffeinated water can be a great alternative to the stereotypical energy drink, but there are some important details to consider before trying it. This is the first of a three-part series on caffeinated water. In this series, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions including:
- Is caffeinated water safe?
- Is caffeinated water healthy?
- How does caffeinated water compare to energy drinks?
- Does caffeine make you dehydrated?
- How does caffeine affect urine output?
I’ve been researching energy drinks for several years now and I’m always amazed at how far we’ve come from the days when Red Bull and Monster were your only alternatives to coffee and caffeinated soda. Caffeinated waters are another way energy drinks have evolved to meet the desires of consumers. In this case, that desire is for an energy drink with simple ingredients and minimal side-effects.
In This Series:
- PART ONE: (YOU ARE HERE) Caffeinated Waters 101 – Safety and Science
- PART TWO: Caffeine and Hydration – What does research tell us?
- PART THREE: My Favorite Caffeinated Waters
Caffeinated Water 101
Don’t have time to watch the full video? No worries! The key details are below.
What is Caffeinated Water?
Caffeinated waters lie on a spectrum. Some brands of caffeinated water are literally just caffeine and water; other brands of caffeinated water contain caffeine, water, and other ingredients like flavor, colors, and sweetener.
Where does the FDA stand on this?
The FDA’s definition of water includes the fact it’s zero Calorie. The FDA has issued warning letters to companies for using the word “water” to market/label drinks with added sugars because these drinks are not Calorie-free, and therefore can’t be called “water”.
Hello, Loophole: If it’s not Zero Calorie, it’s “water BEVERAGE”, not “water”.
For the rest of this discussion, I’m going to define Caffeinated Water as a non-carbonated beverage with caffeine and few other ingredients: no vitamins or electrolytes, no added sugars or juice, maybe some flavor or non-calorie sweetener and some citric acid for flavor and freshness.
Is Caffeinated Water Healthy?
In general, caffeinated waters will have less complicated formulas than the stereotypical energy drink. There (probably) won’t be any taurine, carnitine, glucuronolactone, or guarana in caffeinated water. This is good news for those who think energy drink ingredients interact and make energy drinks more dangerous than coffee. For caffeinated water, that concern is a moot point.
Some caffeinated water does have artificial ingredients.
If you’re trying to avoid this, read the label!
“Healthy” is a relative term but, with the simpler formula, caffeinated water is healthier than sugar-free Red Bull (for example). But being a healthy drink depends on the caffeine content, which brings us to the next big question.
Is Caffeinated Water Safe?
Don’t assume caffeinated water is safer than energy drinks because some brands of caffeinated waters have more caffeine per can than some brands of energy drinks. To be safe, it’s up to you to check the label and confirm the caffeine content is something you can handle. People have overdosed on pure caffeine powder – just because there’s no taurine or ingredients you can’t pronounce doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to drink.
For reference, the max amount of caffeine adults can have in one day is 400 mg caffeine total. The max per serving is 200 mg caffeine. [EFSA Guidelines]
Should You Drink Caffeinated Water?
If you’re looking for something that tastes more like water (meaning flavor is really weak, like cucumber or lemon in your water), caffeinated water is a good alternative to the stereotypical energy drink.
If you’re looking at a specific brand, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Is the caffeine a good amount for me
- Does this contain any ingredients I’m trying to limit in my diet?
- Am I thirsty / Would a non-caffeinated water mix-in work just as well?
Now on to Part Two: Caffeine and Hydration
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Does caffeine make you pee? Is caffeinated water a paradox (hydrating and dehydrating you at the same time)? Is there a difference between water, caffeinated water, and energy drinks when it comes to hydration? In this presention I'll answer these questions and more. I've been studying energy drinks and their ingredients for over 10 years and I love summarizing the latest caffeine research for all caffeine fans, foodies, and science nerds. 👩🏼🔬💚☕ Watch this at http://bit.ly/CaffeineAndHydration
Love this info? Want to learn more?
I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:
- Get your copy of MY 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” on Amazon and NOW ON AUDIBLE***
Need help with quitting caffeine?
- I HIGHLY recommend this Caffeine Informer guide: Awake: How to Quit from Caffeine for Good
Glucuronolactone is fun to say, in my opinion. Once you’ve got it down, it’s a musical mouthful. When doing research for my book, I remember being most intrigued by this energy drink ingredient because it was such a mystery ingredient. It’s certainly not a star player as far as effective ingredients go — if energy drink ingredients were football players, you definitely wouldn’t want to draft this one before the fourth round for your fantasy lineup.
For last week’s book excerpt, we talked about what glucuronolactone is. For this week’s Book Excerpt from “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star”, we consider one theory behind what glucuronolactone does and why it might be useful in energy drinks. Read more
Caffeine, taurine, carnitine, and glucuronolactone are traditional energy drink ingredients. But what is this glucuronolactone exactly? For the Book Excerpt of the Week from the Energy Drink Guide, we look at what this weird, chemical-sounding ingredient is, and what it has to do with glucose.
Like ginkgo, ginseng is in THOUSANDS of products, not just energy drinks… Why? What does it do? Read more