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: 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
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
If caffeine is best for PREworkout and protein is best for POSTworkout, what do you do with a CAFFEINE+PROTEIN COMBO?
🤓 DRINK IT!
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
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. 🤓💚🔬⛾
✔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
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
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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Are you setting new resolutions for a new school year, trying to get used to a new schedule, or just trying to get in shape before the holiday season? This month’s pick is dedicated to September, and all the changes it brings.
The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2016 is Six Star Pre-Workout Explosion.
One serving is one scoop of powder, delivering 135 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Though this is a dry powder and not a Ready-To-Drink (RTD), we’ll review the Who, What, and When as we do for every Energy Drink of the Month.
Who is this for? Target Audience
As it says right on the label, Six Star Pre-workout Explosion is for active men and women, bodybuilders, and strength athletes. But to find out if this product is worth a try, ask yourself these questions:
Do you workout for more than 20 minutes? Does your workout exceed the intensity where you find it hard to talk normally / find yourself out of breath?
Are you more concerned about limiting sugar and calories than avoiding artificial colors and sweeteners?
How much caffeine can you handle?
What is in it? Ingredients and Function
Six Star Supplement Facts GreenEyedGuide.com
The key ingredients in this product include caffeine (duh), beta-alanine, arginine and citrulline, creatine, vitamin C, and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Arginineand citrullineare ingredients we’ve reviewed in depth during for the Ingredient Focus series. In general, citrulline and arginine help the body remove biochemical waste, and they help improve blood flow. For more detail, see the Ingredient Focus three-part series on citrulline: What It Is, What It Does, Dosage and Side Effects.
Creatineand beta-alanine are both ingredients intended to help build muscle and increase muscle strength. In both cases, total doses of 3-6 grams per day are needed on a regular basis to have an effect. Beta-alanine has some fascinating studies behind it (nerd alert!), especially since one brand (CarnoSyn) owns the market and has been responsibly proactive about proving this ingredient’s benefits. In general, beta-alanine is claimed to increase muscle strength and power output. However, the specifics on how much one really needs and how exactly this ingredient works is worth further investigation. Beta-alanine will be our Ingredient Focus pick for this month, so stay tuned for that!
Niacinis like the person everyone wants at their party. Did you know that niacin participates in over 200 reactions in the body – most of them used to produce ATP (the chemical form of energy)? Did you know that niacin deficiency symptoms include the three Ds: dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis? Niacin is one of my favorite vitamins to talk about, especially since it disproves the idea you can never have too much of a water-soluble vitamin. It’s a popular vitamin in energy drinks, and yet with a 35 mg dosage, some people experience “niacin flush”.
During grad school, when I was doing research on energy drinks and their ingredients, I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue. This system is designed to match the type and potency of caffeinated beverage with one’s true level of fatigue. In short, if you always reach for the strong stuff when you’re bored (not tired), it won’t work when you really truly need it.
This product contains 135 mg caffeine per serving, but the label of this product encourages people to have TWO servings! While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day. According to the 5 Levels of Fatigue, this product is Fatigue Level 4. In short, this Pre-Workout Explosion may be too powerful for some people (and there’s no shame in that!).
While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day.
There’s a good reason Caffeine Informer considers pre-workout supplements one of the 8 Most Dangerous Caffeinated Products. This is a large dose of caffeine per serving — not larger than what is considered safe in one sitting, but large enough to warrant careful consumption by the user.
I’ve been using this product as my pre-workout for about one month (*individual results may vary*) and I have found I don’t need any other source of caffeine the rest of the day. What helps most is that I add one (non-heaping) scoop to a 20 oz water bottle, and it takes me the full 90 minutes of my morning workout to get through the whole drink. Moderation and pacing are critical to consuming caffeine safely and effectively.
The Energy Drink (in powder form) of the Month is Beachbody Performance Energize. We discuss its caffeine content and the food science behind its key ingredients. I also discuss why I’ve chosen a powder for the first time in the nearly three years I’ve been doing this series. Follow the “Energy Drink of the Month” series right here on GreenEyedGuide.com
PS- I’m wearing my Invisalign like a good girl. ;D
This month I thought I’d switch it up and talk about the products I DON’T recommend. What they are and what they stand for bothers me. Some of the following products may be outdated, their formulas revamped or phased out entirely. Yet, my concern over these products is still valid as their wannabe’s still live among us.
4 Products That Put the “NO” in November
The Alcoholic Energy Drink
When you drink too much alcohol, your body has an automatic safety feature: you fall asleep. This is your body’s way of saying “Stop drinking, Doofus!” When you have caffeine with your alcohol, that safety feature doesn’t work anymore, and you can literally stay up and drink yourself to death. To make matters worse, when you doget rushed to the ER, people write stories about the Dangers of Energy Drinks (see “Energy Drinks and the ER”), and you ruin energy drinks for the rest of us. Don’t do that.
The Green-Eyed Guide Solution — Have caffeine first
Look, I’m not an old lady yet but I’m usually ready for bed around 10 pm (and ready to wake up, without an alarm clock, by 7 am). If I’m going to enjoy the night with friends, I’m going to need some form of caffeine. If I’ll be drinking any alcohol at all, the caffeine needs to come first. Sticking to a 100 mg caffeine limit and consuming zero caffeine with or after the alcohol makes it easier to enjoy the buzz. Combining caffeine and alcohol either mutes the tingly feeling that you’re buzzed, or makes you go from zero to plastered without warning. Also, this combo poses a greater risk to everyone because it makes people wrongly assume that their reflexes are not impaired.
For a longer, more detailed and more colorful rant discussion on alcoholic energy drinks, check out the Energy Drink Guide.
The Caffeine-Loaded Pre-Workout Supplement
Caffeine may actually help someone get a more efficient workout, or muster up the energy to NOT skip the gym. However, too much caffeine before a strenuous workout may push the body too far, too fast. Think of how many times a super-set or a cardio-combo has left you winded. Caffeine can definitely make that worse. Caffeinated workout supplements are the THIRD Most Dangerous Caffeinated Product, according to Caffeine Informer.
The Green-Eyed Guide Solution — Know how much you’re lifting and consuming
You wouldn’t walk over to the weight rack and pick up any weight without checking the number on the side, would you? Probably not. So why would you do that with your workout supplement?Many caffeinated products nowadays list the amount of caffeine per serving. Even if they don’t, you can check the amount of caffeine in Caffeine Informer’s caffeinated workout supplement database – here. Just like with bicep curls, the answer to “How much is enough?” will vary from person to person. Keep in mind that a healthy, non-pregnant/nursing adult can have up to 400 mg caffeine per day. Try not to max out all in one shot.
The Dehydration-Hydration Combo, aka Caffeinated Coconut Water
I can’t stand the taste of coconut water — it reminds me of the first time I stood up on a surfboard and subsequently got a mouthful of ocean water. If you do like coconut water, don’t let me change that, just let me say that I don’t understand combining something that is known to be a (mild) diuretic, with something that’s supposed to enhance hydration.
The Green-Eyed Guide Solution — Pick one: coconuts or caffeine
If you’re someone that sweats profusely when you workout, coconut water can be a good substitute to the sugary sports nutrition drinks. However, many companies have taken advantage of the fad — beware of products containing a wee-bit of coconut water and just as much sugar as the more popular sports drinks. Also keep in mind that if you ARE dehydrated, (Fatigue Level 1), try hydrating yourself BEFORE you have any caffeine (save the caffeine for Fatigue Level 2 and above).
The Caffeine Toxicity Challenge
If you’re you’re not pregnant, nursing, sensitive to caffeine, under 18, or Canadian (see #5 here), you can have up to 400mg caffeine per day. This number isn’t arbitrary, it comes from a carefully designed scientific study [See “Effects of Caffeine on Human Health“]. It’s up to the consumer to know their own limits and keep track of how much caffeine they’ve had in one day. That’s personal responsibility. HOWEVER, it irks me to no end when a company decides to provide a day’s worth of caffeine in one container.At this point, personal responsibility shifts from the person consuming that product to the person who said it was okay to put that much caffeine in one handy little bottle. “But we have clear instructions that say you should only consume half.”
The Green-Eyed Guide Solution — Learn how to find the caffeine on the label
Due to the political controversy involving energy drinks many companies are now including caffeine content on the label. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn how to find the caffeine on the label. If you want to learn how to read a label like a pro, check out this video, or use the “How To” section in your copy of the Energy Drink Guide. If all else fails, Caffeine Informer’s database lists the caffeine and sugar amounts of thousands of food, beverage and supplement products.
This info-graphic from Compound Interest helps put things in perspective. Disclaimer, this article is about the amounts consumed all at once. Nonetheless, it’s a great resource.
Know your limits, know how to read a label, learn to love (and use) the 5 Levels of Fatigue, and you’ll be a living, breathing example that it’s possible to consume caffeine safely.
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