Interesting and Unusual Ingredients In This Energy Drink
Isomaltulose is a natural sweetener found in honey and sugar cane extract. It has the same two “members” that make table sugar: glucose + fructose = sucrose. However the glucose and fructose are arranged (i.e., holding hands) in a different way than they do in sucrose. As a result of this arrangement, isomaltulose is only half as sweet as sucrose.
This energy drink contains JABUTICABA, which is basically a Brazilian grape. Jabuticaba fruit contains protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin C and some B vitamins.
Jabuticaba has polyphenol antioxidants like those in cranberries and grapes. These antioxidants have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties…in test tubes and lab rats. It’s difficult to prove these benefits outside of a controlled cell or rat cage because life is too complicated to prove a cause and effect of this magnitude. In other words, it’s extremely difficult to control for things like diet, stress, sunlight, exercise, the number of hours sitting down, etc. to conclusively prove whether polyphenols prevent cancer.
When Juice Becomes A Tool
Jabuticaba isn’t very high on the ingredients list, meaning there might not be enough of it in this drink to be an effective dose for those antioxidant health benefits. The same can be said for the other juices in here too: apple, grape, acai, and acerola. All of these juices offer some variety of health benefits related to the benefit of antioxidants. But the dosage makes a difference. So does the order.
Apple and Grape juice are the most predominant, and they are very sweet, which tells me this drink is using those juices more for flavor and sweetness than for health benefits.
Regardless, this is a healthier alternative to the stereotypical energy drink. This energy drink has 80 mg caffeine (same as Red Bull) from 3 leaf extracts: 1.Green Tea, 2.Guarana, 3.Yerba Mate. With 80 mg caffeine, this drink fits Fatigue Level 2. [See 5 Levels of Fatigue to see how to use this system to avoid caffeine toxicity, dependency, and tolerance]
You can find more about the science behind energy drink ingredients here at GreenEyedGuidecom and within 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!!!).
So many puns… Does your energy come from an Organic source or is it an innate, inherent, organic burst of energy? If Organic Chemistry is the study of carbon-based molecules and coal is combustible compressed carbon matter, can we call coal “organic energy”? Can we call a beverage Organic if it’s carbon-ated? All puns aside (for now), let’s talk about a carbonated energy drink that is certified-Organic.
Gjalla and the Energy Drink of the Month – June 2017
Energy Drink of the Month – June 2017
Gjalla and the Nutrition Facts of theEnergy Drink of the Month – June 2017
The Energy Drink of the Month for June 2017 is Guru Organic Energy.
Guru has other energy drinks to offer, but for this month we’ll focus on the original. As with any energy drink, we need to discuss the WHO, WHAT, and WHEN:
Who is this for? What ingredient phobias and preferences does it cater to?
What are the key ingredients and what do they do?
When should someone drink this, based on caffeine content and the 5 Levels of Fatigue?
Who It’s For: Ingredient Preferences and Phobias
Guru is certified-Organic, gluten free, non-GMO Project Verified, and artificial free. The drink is sweetened with Organic cane syrup and also Organic white grape juice concentrate. In total, there are 30 grams of sugar.
This is an energy drink without the stereotypical energy drink ingredients that strike fear into the hearts (bad pun, #arrthymia) of those that think all energy drinks are more dangerous than coffee. Guru Organic Energy does not contain taurine, carnitine, glucuronolactone, or any B-vitamins. It does contain guarana though, but we’ll get to that. Don’t panic.
Did you know the word “Organic” has more regulations around it than the words “energy drink”? You can’t use the word “Organic” on the label unless the product meets specific regulations, and that compliance is confirmed through certification. Of course, these regulations are not without flaw and Organic products are not immune to consumer confusion about the implications of the term.
Guru Organic Energy Nutrition Facts – Energy Drink of the Month for June 2017
Guru Organic Energy ingredients
What’s In It: Key Ingredients and Functions
Citric Acid and “Apple Acid”
“Apple acid” is a synonym for malic acid, but perhaps “malic acid” sounds more chemical-y to some people. The genus for apple is Malus, and malic acid is what gives apples their characteristic tart taste. Both citric and malic acids are organic acids that occur naturally in fruits like lemons and apples. Some sugar-free energy drinks get carried away with the use of citric acid because it can provide a tartness that makes up for a lack of sugar. However, too much citric acid can sting the tongue. That’s not a problem for Guru, fortunately.
Green Tea Leaf Extract
Green Tea Leaf Extract is the predominant source of caffeine in Guru Organic Energy. In addition to the caffeine, green tea extract also provides health benefits in the form of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This mouthful of an antioxidant is one of the reasons green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet (second only to water).
The catechin and polyphenol content in this beverage are not claimed, so Guru cannot be called an “antioxidant beverage”. Nonetheless, the more green tea you can get in your diet, the better (the same cannot be said for caffeine, however). The benefits of green tea extract are vast — especially in isolated cells, test tubes, and lab rats. Green tea’s benefits for humans are harder to prove but, to quote from this informative and delightful article by our friends at Compound Interest,
“…the combination of L-Theanine and caffeine can improve speed, performance and accuracy in cognitively demanding tasks – put simply, L-Theanine ‘smooths out’ the stimulating effects of caffeine. – Compound Interest, The Chemistry of Tea
Guarana Seed Extract
Guarana has a lot in common with Snape, oops, I meant Professor Snape. When energy drinks first came out, people were afraid of guarana and claimed it was dangerous and devious. Now it’s an ingredient people are proud of and happy to see.
Way back in the mid-2000s, (before I started this blog, unfortunately) guarana was considered bad because of the additional caffeine it provided. Drinks that had both caffeine and guarana were thought to be the most dangerous of all because of the cumulative caffeine content. Note, this was before energy drink companies started putting “Caffeine from All Sources” on the labels. With the whole food and artificial free movement, guarana became more acceptable and appreciated because it is a natural source of caffeine
Did you know that not all ginseng offers the same health benefits? Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng, is the good kind. Siberian ginseng doesn’t contain any of the characteristic chemical compounds, called ginsenosides, that make ginseng “Ginseng”. When harvested, ginseng can be dried and bleached to become white ginseng, or steamed and air dried to become red ginseng.
If you were a lab rat, ginseng might improve memory. With humans, the data is less convincing. Ginseng allegedly helps reduce stress but that’s only when it’s sipped warm or when the root is chewed. How convenient that the act of holding a warm object is also attributed to stress reduction. So is the act of mastication. Suffice to say I’m not sold on the power of ginseng…but it either doesn’t help you or it does. Nothing suggests it’s going to hurt you, especially in the amounts found in energy drinks.
When To Consume: Caffeine Content and the 5 Levels of Fatigue
This product contains 142 milligrams of caffeine from the green tea extract and the guarana seed extract combined. As a reminder, people under 18 should have no more than 100milligrams of caffeine a day, and healthy non-pregnant adults should have no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.
This may be an Energy Drink in Disguise, but it has almost as much caffeine as a Monster Energy (Guru: 142 milligrams, Monster, most flavors, 160 milligrams). That makes this FATIGUE LEVEL 3! This is not a drink you want to drink every day because you want to save the stronger caffeinated beverages for when you are more than just dehydrated or a little tired.
We talked about Fatigue Level 3 during the 10 Day Caffeine Challenge. Here’s a refresher about why this level is special:
Guru Organic Energy is a great alternative to stronger caffeinated beverages like Monster Energy. With 142 milligrams of caffeine, this is not something you want to consume every day. However, with its artificial free, certified-Organic, Non-GMO, gluten free ingredients, this is a beverage you can be proud to drink.
How do you describe a beverage that is a hybrid of juice, water, and tea? This month we’ll review a beverage that aims to give you the health benefits of tea, the hydration of water, and the flavor of fruit juice. While the caffeine content is negligible, there istea in it, and Fatigue Level 1 is dehydration! We’ll review WHO IT’S FOR (per diet/lifestyle and ingredient preferences), WHAT’S IN IT (key ingredients), and WHEN TO CONSUME IT (per caffeine content and the 5 Levels of Fatigue).
*Spoiler Alert* I’ve got three minor Food Scientist pet peeves with this beverage, and I would love to hear your thoughts on these observations.
The Energy Drink (alternative) of the Month is Core Organic Pomegranate Blue Acai.
Other flavors available include Peach Mango, Watermelon Lemonade, Orange Clementine, Coconut Colada, and Orchard Pear. If you’re familiar with my Energy Drink of the Month series, you know I almost always pick the pomegranate blueberry flavors.
WHO IT’S FOR
This Core Organic “fruit infused beverage” is certified Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, low glycemic, and Vegan.
PET PEEVE #1: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Why would any of those be in a fruit-infused beverage? Does anyone else feel like Core Organic is trying to win consumers by tapping into that fad?
This beverage could appeal to you if:
You are limiting your sugar intake and your “liquid calories” – This drink has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving and only 5 Calories per serving (10 Calories per bottle)
You are avoiding artificial sweeteners – This drink is sweetened with Stevia and Organic erythritol (we’ll review this below)
You are avoiding artificial colors and/or flavors – The color comes from Organic vegetable juice and fruit juice, and the flavor comes from a combination of natural flavors
You are not really a tea drinker but still want the benefits of drinking tea – This drink has 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants, which is “the antioxidants of half a cup of blueberries or cherries” according to the press release in BevNET
WHAT’S IN IT
PET PEEVE #2: This is a “fruit infused” beverage but the fruit juice doesn’t play a very big role.
There’s only 4% juice per serving. The FDA does consider coconut water a juice, but since it’s behind erythritol in the ingredient’s list, we know there’s more erythritol than coconut water in this drink.
The Organic lemon juice is behind the Stevia extract, which is very telling! Since Stevia is something you can’t use in large amounts, there can’t be more than one lemon’s worth of lemon juice in here. Since the lemon juice comes before citric acid, it seems both the lemon juice and the citric acid are in this drink to control acidity. If you want to keep mold out of your fruit juices, you have to either control the acidity or use preservatives.
The last two fruit juices are the last two ingredients in the list, meaning they’re the smallest portions of the recipe. There’s fruit juice used for color, and Maqui berry juice powder used to deliver antioxidants.
White Tea, Maqui Berry, and Polyphenol Antioxidants
The good news is consumption of polyphenol antioxidants is associated with improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of cancer. Consumption of green and white tea is associated with lower risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The bad news is white tea is such a small portion of this recipe, and Maqui berry is literally the last/most sparse ingredient!
Maqui berry is a “Chilean blackberry”, according to a paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. It might have a lot of antioxidants in nature but one paper suggests the juice making process results in a “substantial loss” of the polyphenol antioxidants in Maqui. If you can figure out how to minimize these losses, there are some encouraging (but still uncertain) health benefits. A group of antioxidants called “anthocyanins” extracted from Maqui berry improved fasting blood sugar levels in (wait for it)obese diabetic mice.
“Animal research can be useful, and can predict effects also seen in humans. However, observed effects can also differ, so subsequent human trials are required before a particular effect can be said to be seen in humans. Tests on isolated cells can also produce different results to those in the body.” – see the Compound Interest infographic on Scientific Evidence
Erythritol is one of my favorite sweeteners, and we’ve talked about it before in other reviews. Erythritol makes Stevia better when they’re combined. Some people get a bitter-metallic sensation with Stevia extract, but erythritol masks the unfavorable attributes of Stevia. Erythritol is 60-70% as sweet as sucrose and has a very similar taste. It does not raise blood glucose levels and it delivers a cooling effect. While it’s non-caloric like Stevia, it has a molecular size that gives it more mouthfeel. Think fruit juice versus fruit smoothie: the fruit smoothie has a heavier “mouthfeel”.
Erythritol occurs naturally, like monk fruit and Stevia. It’s made through natural fermentation. It’s a sugar-alcohol, like the Xylitol often used in sugar-free gum. With xylitol, however, too much of it can really upset a person’s stomach. With erythritol, a person could consume twice as much – at least 0.66 grams per kilogram of body weight – before they started getting same stomach issues. Additionally, erythritol has been proven through clinical studies to reduce plaque build-up.
WHEN TO CONSUME
PET PEEVE #3: There is no such thing as a standard cup of coffee or cup of tea.
It’s not clear how much caffeine is in this product, but we should assume the content is negligible. The white tea is the only source of caffeine, and white tea is not a very prominent ingredient.
Core Organic is not promoting itself as a drink that would give you energy, but since it includes white tea extract, I wish they could include some caffeine information on the label.
Dehydration is Fatigue Level 1, so picking a beverage with negligible caffeine content is a great way to ensure you don’t reach for the caffeine too soon. If you always reach for the same caffeinated beverage, and if caffeine is always your first solution when you’re tired, there will come a day when the caffeine no longer works for you. This is precisely why I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue!
This water/juice/tea hybrid is not marketed as an energy drink, but it’s a good solution (pun intended) for beating the fatigue that comes with dehydration. While you will not get the full benefits of drinking plain tea, you still get the benefits of the 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants per serving.
While Kickstart Recharge and Kickstart Hydrating Boost offer mostly the same ingredients, there are some non-trivial differences that show they target fatigue in different ways. To understand these differences in these caffeinated beverages, we need to review the connection between hydration and fatigue, and the relationship between fatigue and vitamins C and E.
But first, a closer look at the ingredients
Kickstart Recharge and Kickstart Hydrating Boost are very similar in terms of ingredients. They both contain 68 milligrams of caffeine per can, which is less than the caffeine in a can of Red Bull. There are more Kickstart flavors available, but let’s focus on two flavors from the Recharge group and two from the Hydrating Boost group. As shown in the table below, all four have the same first three ingredients. After that, the Recharge group differs from the Hydrating Boost group, but the two Hydrating Boost products have identical ingredients lists.
Blood Orange has blood orange juice, Blueberry Pomegranate has blueberry juice, but Watermelon has no watermelon juice, and Strawberry Kiwi has no strawberry juice. Unlike the Recharge group, the Hydrating Boost group has to rely entirely on the added flavors to make it taste like the fruits it’s named after. This seems to explain why the Hydrating Group has both natural and artificial flavors. Natural flavors are usually less potent and less permanent than artificial flavors. Perhaps natural watermelon flavors were not enough in the absence of any watermelon juice.
Hydration and Fatigue – The Hydrating Boost Strategy
Hydrating Boost aims to give you energy by giving you coconut water to fight fatigue from dehydration.
“By the time a person loses 1% to 2% of body weight in fluids, he or she will be thirsty. Even this small water deficit can cause one to feel tired. At 4% loss of body weight, muscles lose significant strength and endurance”
[Straus, L. The Liquid Diet: Role of Water. Introduction to Human Nutrition BILD 22. 2006;8:126].
There’s a reason the solution (pun intended) for Level 1 in my 5 Levels of Fatigue system is water! If you’re tired, you should reach for water before you reach for any caffeine. If you’ve already tried that, perhaps a caffeinated hydration beverage will do?
If you’re doing moderately strenuous activity for at least one hour or high-intensity activity for at least thirty minutes, an electrolyte beverage is preferred to plain water. Ironically, the strongest arguments for electrolyte beverages over water have to do with the fact that electrolyte beverages taste better. Athletes only replace about half the water lost during exercise [Noakes, T. Fluid replacement during exercise. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 1993; 21:297]. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that the increased fluid intake using flavored electrolyte beverages is probably beneficial [American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics 2000; 106:158-59]. The important thing is you’re drinking more fluids, even if the electrolytes aren’t needed.
Keep in mind Kickstart Hydrating Boost only has 10% juice, and coconut water isn’t even one of the three most prominent ingredients. If you feel Kickstart Hydrating Boost’s coconut water (and caffeine!) gives you energy by keeping you hydrated, I will respect your opinion. Then I will encourage you to drink one glass of water for every can of Kickstart. When the Kickstart can is empty, maybe you should fill it with water and drink it all before you recycle the can.
Vitamins C + E and Fatigue – The Recharge Strategy
Kickstart Recharge aims to give you energy by giving you antioxidants to fight muscle damage. Endurance exercise increases the amount of oxygen we breathe. This increased exposure to oxygen means an increase in free radicals.
“…free radicals can cause damage by joining with other body chemicals and changing their character, sometimes even producing a chain reaction by creating new free radicals that carry on.”
[YouTube video, “Oxygen, Antioxidants, and Free Radicals” watch here]
Free radicals are involved in fatigue and damage to muscle cells. Antioxidants like vitamin E attract these free radicals, slowing down the chain reaction and thus limiting the damage. In the process, vitamin E becomes a radical. Vitamin C can restore vitamin E so it can go back to attracting more free radicals. In turn, vitamin C can be restored by niacin (vitamin B3), which is also included in Kickstart Recharge at 60% of the Daily Value.
Clinical trials providing antioxidants to treat or prevent various diseases have largely been unsuccessful. But don’t discount the Placebo Effect. If you believe that, for you personally, Kickstart Recharge’s antioxidants (and caffeine!) are giving you energy by limiting muscle fatigue and free radical damage, I won’t debate you.
If you haven’t already, read the Energy Drink of the Month review for Kickstart Hydrating Boost. That should help you determine whether or not Kickstart is for you. If it is, you can use the power of science to determine whether you like the Hydrating Boost or Recharge fatigue busting strategy better.
Bai Antioxidant Infusion is one of those “energy drinks in disguise” I love reviewing because it breaks the norm AND withstands a food scientist’s ingredient scrutiny. Bai Antioxidant Infusion (HENCEFORTH ‘B.A.I.’) is an “energy drink in disguise’ with only 35 mg caffeine, and a novel blend of white tea, polyphenols, and coffeefruit extract. Coffeefruit is not an ingredient many people have heard of, but its story of discovery is a shining example to those concerned about food waste. After reviewing the food science of B.A.I.’s most interesting ingredients, we’ll compare the “healthiness” of this product to other tea-based beverages and similar energy drinks.