Cool Blue Revitalizer, Red Bull Purple Edition, Iconic Protein Coffee Drink, Monster Hydro Mean Green, F’Real Frappe Coffee, and West Coast Chill: June Recap of Quick Reviews – Science of Energy Drinks

Here’s a recap of the quick reviews posted this month for the “Science of Energy Drinks” series on the GreenEyedGuide Instagram and Facebook pages: Cool Blue Revitalizer, Red Bull (sugarfree) Purple Edition, Iconic Protein Coffee Drink, Monster Hydro Mean “Green” (more like yellow), F’Real Frappe Coffee, and West Coast Chill (caffeine free!) energy drink.

Cool Blue Revitalizer

  • Caffeine Content 100 mg = Fatigue Level 2

Science Behind Cool Blue Revitalizer

Science Behind Cool Blue Revitalizer: This drink makes a big deal about 3 natural ingredients but it’s UNNATURALLY blue.

✔1. “Real Sugar” – true, but it ALSO has sucralose.
✔2. “Natural Flavor” – I guess BLUE drink =BLUE-berries? To me this drink tasted like CITRIC ACID OVERLOAD!!! WOAH BUDDY!
✔3. “Natural Caffeine” – From where? The label doesn’t specify but it’s 100 mg caffeine [#fatiguelevel2]
🤓PET PEEVE: 1 container= 1.3 Servings? Really…you couldn’t change your formula or can size?
🔬SODIUM BENZOATE— Did you know that benzoate salts like this one prevents growth of microorganisms like yeast and mold; it’s used for preservation of sour food (pH 4 and lower) and is often used with other preservatives especially at low pH (acidic food).
🔬SODIUM BENZOATE SAFETY NOTES — Consumers can ingest up to 5mg per kg of body weight of benzoic acid and its salts according to European Commission – Scientific Committee on Food. There are safety concerns suspected but unconfirmed for benzene formation from benzoic acid with ascorbic acid. However, this risk “cannot be reliably assessed on basis of data available” per BfR Expert Opinion. [More Info on the “Panera KNOW-No List“]

Red Bull Purple Edition (sugarfree)

  • Caffeine Content 114 mg = Fatigue Level 3

Science Behind Red Bull Purple Sugar Free

The Science Behind RED BULL PURPLE EDITION: Red Bull has less caffeine and fewer ingredients than Monster and Rockstar. No guarana, carnitine, glucuronolactone, ginseng, or ginkgo; NO PRESERVATIVES! NO SUGAR!

🤓Since Red Bull has been around a long time there are mounting scientific studies testing its effectiveness
🤓Red Bull is not only the NUMBER ONE SELLING ENERGY DRINK BRAND  on the PLANET, they also set the standard for energy drink industry SAFETY GUIDELINES. Red Bull was the FIRST ENERGY DRINK Company to list caffeine content on their cans several years ago, paving the way for other companies to follow suit.
🤓FURTHERMORE Red Bull has been open about their commitment to food safety and quality – you can read all about that HERE: ⚡ Red Bull on Caffeine Safety and Transparency
✔This MAY NOT BE FOR YOU IF you are trying to avoid artificial flavors and/or sweeteners – This drink has Sucralose and Ace-K but I am more concerned about the KNOWN effects of high sugar intake than the DEBATABLE effects of these two sweeteners.
✔Ace-K has been USED AROUND THE WORLD for 15 years and used in the US since 1988.
✔Sucralose was approved by FDA in 1998, and it’s considered safe by government/regulatory agencies worldwide.
✔As far as caffeine interactions that (maybe?) make energy drink more dangerous than coffee, I enjoy Red Bull’s simple ingredients, sugarfree options, and moderate caffeine content. 🤓💚⚡⛾⚡🔬⚡

Iconic Protein + Coffee Drink

  • Caffeine Content 180 mg = Fatigue Level 3

Science Behind Iconic Protein Caffeine drink

If caffeine is best for PREworkout and protein is best for POSTworkout, what do you do with a CAFFEINE+PROTEIN COMBO?
But seriously, here’s what you should know:

✔ This drink has 180 mg caffeine per container. That’s as much as a Monster Energy (160 mg)
✔Caffeine doses of 3-6 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight are the best for pre-workout. That’s the range used in “[X] Til Exhaustion” studies (cycling, running, rowing…)
✔ Protein doses of 20-25 grams* protein taken in the 30 min window after workout is ideal for muscle growth but overall protein consumption matters too. *NOTE bigger protein doses don’t mean bigger results
✔ONLY 3 GRAMS SUGAR from Agave. Sweetness also comes from MONK FRUIT (aka Luo Han Guo) & STEVIA! I LOVE seeing these natural sweeteners used in caffeinated beverages 🤓💚🔬➕⛾➕🏋️‍♀️

Monster Hydro Mean Green

  • Caffeine Content 125 mg = Fatigue Level 3

Science Behind Monster Hydro

As the GREENEyedGuide I’m bummed “Mean GREEN” is yellow.

As a Food Scientist, I know artificial green is hard to keep green and natural green often involves spirulina, which has the slightest seawater taste. I don’t normally talk about taste in my reviews bc it’s subjective, but this tasted like flat Moutain Dew or old lemonade to me. 🤓💚🔬⛾

KEY Ingredients:
✔Sugar sources include sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and artificial sweetener sucralose. 23g! Not awful but <10g is my sweet spot (food pun!)
✔NO GUARANA OR TAURINE OR CARNITINE so really different than the typical Monster Energy Blend.
125 mg caffeine per bottle, compared to 180mg in most flavors of Monster Energy.

Is Monster Hydro a healthier alternative to Monster Energy?
YES in terms of lower caffeine content and FEWER Caffeine-(other ingredient) INTERACTIONS, which some people* think make some energy drinks more dangerous than coffee.
*I’m on the fence about this. Caffeine-Taurine-glucuronolactone combos are fine but no data for or against caffeine-carnitine combos yet.

F’real Frappe Coffee

  • Caffeine Content not disclosed – Unknown Level of Fatigue

Science Behind FReal Frappe Coffee

That Moment When you want to hide your CAFFEINE CONTENT so badly, you COMPARE yourself to something AMBIGUOUS. “2x caffeine as leading frozen coffee” 

Who is the leading FROZEN coffee and HOW MUCH caffeine do they have? It is FALSE to assume a cup of coffee has a standard amount. 1 cup at Starbucks doesn’t equal 1 cup at Pikes or 1 cup at your hotel.
Neat concept with the DIY F’Real Blender machine but if we’re going to GET REAL (or “f’real”) ABOUT CAFFEINE SAFETY we need EVERYONE to report caffeine content.

Have you ever seen a bottle of ALCOHOL that DID NOT disclose the %?
PS – sixty-one grams of sugar y’all. Sixty. One. But look at how clean and simple the ingredients are. Too bad simple doesn’t = healthy. 🤓💚⛾🔬

West Coast Chill (caffeine free energy drink)

  • Caffeine Content = ZERO! Fatigue Level 0-1 Energy Drink

Science Behind West Coast Chill

An energy drink with NO CAFFEINE?!? Does the term “energy drink” mean anything anymore!?!

Let’s inspect it: 🤓💚⛾🔬Active ingredients include:
🤓Ribose – a compound that participates in an odd (pun) energy producing reaction called the Pentose phosphate pathway. Promising science, just hasn’t caught on yet.
🤓Ginseng – be skeptical of benefits!
🤓Arginine – amino acid with important jobs in the body (Urea Cycle Waste Removal). HOWEVER the BEST way to supplement arginine is to TAKE Citrulline!
🤓B-vitamins AND minerals – minerals aren’t usually in energy drinks. Curious… 🤓💚🔬⛾📚

Click HERE to learn more about how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue.

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Panera Know-No List — Part II: Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

Panera, among other food companies, has announced a commitment to removing certain ingredients from their products. While many in the food science industry have mixed feelings about this decision, this is an opportunity to help consumers understand what is in their food (and why).

At the time of this post, there are numerous sites dedicated to presenting information on food ingredients, but some of those sites seem more about fear than food science. There have been several insightful articles on Panera’s initiative [See Related Reading, below, for my favorites], but to date, no site has accumulated the credible information and assembled it to directly correspond to the ingredients on the Panera No No List. Until now.

For each ingredient on Panera’s list, I’ve* collected the pertinent information about why that ingredient is used in food in the first place. For each ingredient, you’ll find a brief explanation of its purpose, safety concerns if any, and whether a natural counterpart can perform as well or better.

*This list has been a collaborative effort, and I thank all who have helped me compile this information. See “FOR MORE INFO” for resources and contact me on Twitter @GreenEyedGuide for the opportunity to join them in completing and improving this project.

Part II of V – Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.] Ingredients discussed in this post are red.


Acesulfame K, Acesulfame potassium, or “Ace-K”

  • PURPOSE: Low-calorie sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in combination with other low-calorie sweeteners to enhance taste of food products like baked goods, frozen desserts, beverages and dessert mixes
  • SAFETY NOTES: Has been used around the world for 15 years; used in the US since 1988
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’sEverything You Need to Know About Ace-K



  • PURPOSE: Low-calories sweetener made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid; 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in confections, desserts, canned fruits and dressings
  • SAFETY NOTES: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published an opinion on aspartame safety (spoiler: deemed safe),
  • FOR MORE INFO: Compound Interest has published a thoroughly informative infographic, which I cannot praise strongly enough, reviewing the chemistry and safety of Aspartame.
Compound Interest on Aspartame
Read the whole article and see the infographic in full at

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

  • PURPOSE: Invented in 1960, fructose syrups start out as plain corn or potato syrup and go through an enzymatic conversion that converts some of the glucose sugars into fructose sugars (glucose is the simplest sugar; fructose is glucose, slightly rearranged in the way you might rearrange a Mr Potato Head). Since fructose is slightly sweeter than glucose (thanks the rearrangement, which is more easily detected by sweetness receptors), less total syrup is needed to get the same sweetness sensation. ***NOTE: Sucrose (table sugar) is 50/50 glucose and fructose; HFCS has the same approximate sweetness to sugar and are usually around 55/45 glucose and fructose (yep, there’s more glucose than fructose in HFCS)
  • SAFETY NOTES: Studies comparing high fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption in men and women have found no significant differences in outcome measures of metabolism (Am J Clin Nutr)
  • FOR MORE INFO: One of the most entertaining scientific papers I’ve ever read is by John White; FREE ACCESS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Hydrogenated Starch

  • PURPOSE:  Hydrogenated starches are common sugar alcohols. “Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol, but they don’t contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do.” – FROM IFIC Food Insight Sugar Alcohols Fact Sheet
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL COUNTER-PART: Unlike high-intensity sweeteners like Stevia or Aspartame, sugar alcohols can provide similar bulk/mouth-feel as regular sugar.
  • SAFETY NOTES: The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recommends to cut back on hydrogenated starches because they aren’t completely absorbed (which is why they’re less calories than sugar), but, “As with most sugar alcohols, eating significant amounts of HSH may cause intestinal gas and diarrhea.”
  • FOR MORE INFO: See this review of polyols from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)


  • PURPOSE: Neotame is Aspartame that’s been modified to be 7,000 – 8,000 times (!!!) as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: CSPI put Aspartame in the “Avoid” category, but put Neotame in the “Safe” category.  Neotame was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2002 and the European Union in 2010, but is still rarely used.
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’s “Facts About Low-Calorie Sweeteners”


  • PURPOSE: The first alternative sweetener, 300 times as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: (when rats get fed WAY too many cans of soda, it’s a fascinating turn of events) CSPI put Saccharin in the “Avoid” category, and notes:
  • FOP MORE INFO: CSPI on Sacchrin


  • PURPOSE: Sucralose is a sugar molecule that’s been slightly tweaked so our bodies don’t absorb as many calories from it; it’s 600x sweet as sugar, and unlike most of the alternative sweeteners above, Sucralose (“Splenda”) can be used in baking without it breaking down; It’s used in baked goods, desserts, dairy products, canned fruits, syrups and condiments – FROM IFIC Food InsightEverything You Need to Know About Sucralose
  • SAFETY NOTES: Approved by FDA in 1998, and it’s considered safe by government/regulatory agencies worldwide; CSPI puts this in the “Caution” category
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight “Everything You Need to Know About Sucralose


Companies should not be criticized for making clean-label commitments like this. However, consumers would benefit much more from moves like this if the companies are more transparent about WHY each ingredient is coming out, and what that ingredient was doing in the food in the first place.


Here & NowDoes Removing Artificial Ingredients Mean Healthier Food?

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, talks with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti about what these additives are, and why more and more companies have been making moves to eliminate them in foods.

Science Meets FoodRenouncing Pronounce-ability

It’s important to ask questions about your food, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it.

Response Part I to Panera’s No-No List