Ashwagandha and antioxidants in an Energy Drink? Science Behind Crunk!!! – Energy Drink of the Month (Jan 2018)

In January we face the difficult task of setting goals for the year. We aim high. Sometimes we fall short. But as Brene Brown taught us, sometimes we have to look at the attempt itself as the victory. It’s far easier not to try and play it safe. Thus, in the spirit of Daring Boldly, let’s talk about the energy drink that strives to break the mold. If you avoid energy drinks because you’re afraid of health risks, consider the science behind Crunk!!! Energy. Read more

Science Behind Dark Dog Organic energy drink – Quick Review

The world of energy drinks is vast, and there isn’t enough time to give every drink the full “Energy Drink of the Month” deep dive review. In my attempt to guide my fans through this world of energy drinks, I like to share the science behind the various caffeinated beverages I come across in my travels.

Science Behind Dark Dog Organic energy drink

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5 Quick Facts About VoloVitamins: ingredients, food science, and caffeine

VoloVitamins is an energy supplement that comes in a powder. For this quick review, I share five quick facts about the energy supplement from a food scientist perspective.
  1. Vitamin B12 is the number-one most common energy drink ingredient (caffeine is third!) [Source, Caffeine Informer and Innova Market Insights’ Database]   and VoloVitamins has over 41,000% of the Daily Value of vitamin B12!

    caffeine informer top 5 ingredients
    Source: https://www.caffeineinformer.com/energy-drink-ingredients
  2. For most B-vitamins, you don’t have to worry about ingesting too much because you’ll just pee out the excess. This is NOT TRUE for vitamin B6 and niacin aka vitamin B3, which CAN give you upleasant symptoms if you have too much. The vitamin B6 in VoloVitamins is not high enough to cause any of these symptoms, but the amount of niacin is high enough to cause “niacin flush” in some people.
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  3. VoloVitamis contains 17 different fruits in powder form. Since the overall amount of the whole serving isn’t very big, it’s safe to assume the amount of each fruit is miniscule. That means VoloVitamins is not a replacement for whole fruit in the diet and does not provide sufficient amounts of fruit polyphenols and antioxidants to make any health claims. But fruit powders add flavor.
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  4. The caffeine content is not stated outright on the product but it’s compared to a cup of green tea. Comparisions like this are always tricky because it’s not a standard reference: an 8 ounce cup of green tea may have a little at 12 mg or as much as 48 mg caffeine according to the Caffeine Informer database.
    For VoloVitamins, the caffeine comes from guarana extract and green tea extract.
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  5. VoloVitamins conains NO artificial flavors or sweeteners. The color comes from grape seed extract. The sweetness comes from the natural sweetener stevia. Malic and citric acid also contribute some sourness to the taste, though they serve multiple roles in this formula: they are not just added for taste.

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Energy Drink of the Month – June 2017: Guru Organic Energy

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Compound Interest Acids
Check out the full article for Common Fruit Acids at Compound Interest

 

  • 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
  • Panax Ginseng
    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.

 

Capture
Source: Caffeine Informer

 

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 100 milligrams 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:

Bottom Line

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.

GURU SITES:

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Energy Drink of the Month – May 2017: Zevia Zero Calorie Energy

Sometimes we just want life to be simple. In high school, life was not simple, but at least my schedule was predictable. Each hour was dedicated to a specific subject; a chiming bell was enough to break my To Do list into neat little blocks of time. With graduation season upon us, many will leave their predictable schedules and somewhat-organized world for the unpredictable chaos that comes with adulthood. As a tribute to that unavoidable complexity, this month we review (yet another) energy drink with clean, simple ingredients. If you’re familiar with my mission on GreenEyedGuide.com, you know I love nothing more than busting the energy drink stereotype.

This month’s pick is another “energy drink in disguise” that doesn’t fit the water, juice, tea, or soda category. With 120 milligrams of caffeine per can, it’s undeniably an energy drink but also undoubtedly not “a deadly concoction of caffeine and sugar”.  

The Energy Drink of the Month for May 2017 is Zevia Zero Calorie Energy.  

20170311_145122
Zevia’s new energy drink line

At the time of this post, there were four flavors available: Grapefruit, Kola, Mango/Ginger, and Raspberry/Lime. They all have 120 milligrams of caffeine per can, zero Calories, zero grams of sugar, zero vitamins, zero preservatives (not counting the acids), and nearly identical ingredient lists. As you might’ve guessed from our other Energy Drink of the Month winners, I’m a berry person, so my favorite is Raspberry/Lime.

20170311_145146
Zevia energy facts panels

Key Ingredients 

Carbonated Water

We’ve talked about carbonation many times before, so here’s some refreshing (pun!) insight from Popular Science’s article on why humans like fizzy drinks

“Chemically, adding CO2 to water creates carbonic acid, which is tasted by sour-sensing taste cells. Research has suggested that a certain enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, sits on those cells and reacts with the acid to cause carbonated water’s familiar popping sensation. (Fun fact: climbers who take altitude-sickness drugs that block the enzyme, then drink champagne, report the bubbly as having a dishwater-y taste.”

Citric Acid and Tartaric Acid

The Kola flavored Zevia Zero Calorie Energy has tartaric acid and citric acid, whereas the other three just have citric acid. This excellent infographic from our friends at Compound Interest explains the science behind these two popular acids.

 

Compound Interest Acids
http://www.compoundchem.com/2016/02/25/a-guide-to-common-fruit-acids/

 

Stevia Leaf Extract

Finding a high-quality stevia extract is no simple task. Oh sure, we know what molecule is responsible for the sweetness, but isolating that molecule and delivering it is far more complicated than producing table sugar. Sugar is sugar is sugar, right? But water doesn’t always taste the same, even if it’s just water. The same goes for Stevia. In fact, tasting Stevia samples was one of the tasks I dreaded most while I worked as a product developer for a major supplement company. One bad sample, and you’d be experiencing a bitter metallic aftertaste the rest of the day (or week: See “A Food Science Horror Story”).

It turns out that some people are Stevia Super Tasters so they will get a bitter metallic aftertaste with Stevia when many others would taste only sweetness. This bitter metallic aftertaste is why stevia is often paired with another natural sweetener, erythritol.

Caffeine Comparison 

The top three best-selling energy drink brands are Red Bull (80 mg caffeine per 8 oz can; 114 mg caffeine per 12 oz can), Monster Energy (160 mg caffeine per 16 oz can), and Rockstar Energy (240 mg caffeine per can, most flavors). Since Zevia Zero Calorie Energy is an “energy drink in disguise” that breaks the energy drink stereotype, it makes more sense to compare its caffeine content to similar products, other healthy alternatives.  Below are the caffeine contents listed in the Caffeine Informer database:

When to Consume = Fatigue Level 3 

When it comes to caffeine content, 200 and 400 are special numbers. Quoting from the “Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine” from the European Food Safety Authority:

“Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine, providing advice on caffeine intakes, from all dietary sources that do not give rise to concerns about adverse health effects for the general healthy population and subgroups thereof. Possible interactions between caffeine and other constituents of so-called “energy drinks”, alcohol, p-synephrine and physical exercise should also be addressed. Single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg (about 3 mg/kg bw for a 70-kg adult) do not give rise to safety concerns. The same amount does not give rise to safety concerns when consumed < 2 hours prior to intense physical exercise under normal environmental conditions. … Habitual caffeine consumption up to 400 mg per day does not give rise to safety concerns for non-pregnant adults…” 

The 5 Levels of Fatigue is a system I developed during my years of researching energy drinks. The 5 Levels of Fatigue helps people find the product most appropriate for how tired they are, thus minimizing caffeine dependence, toxicity, and tolerance. Anything with more than 200 milligrams caffeine should be saved for more dire energy emergencies like Fatigue Level 4. A product with 100-200 mg caffeine belongs with Fatigue Level 3. Since this product has 125 milligrams of caffeine per can, this product fits Fatigue Level 3. It is a carbonated product, which usually means the caffeine would feel stronger than a non-carbonated equivalent like the caffeinated (still) water from Avitae due to carbonation’s effects on the stomach.

Bottom Line 

If you are looking for a strong, sugar-free, artificial-free carbonated energy drink Zevia is a great option. You don’t have to fret about “the dangerous of energy drinks” with this product. Zevia Zero Calorie Energy is simple. Life is complex enough.

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