The challenge with Energy Waters is two-fold. First of all, water, by itself, is a boring beverage. But it’s important to drink water, so we start adding things to it to make it more enticing: lemons, cucumbers, flavoring… The second challenge becomes trying to define when something is no longer a “water” because of all the additions.
If you’ve tried other energy waters and wanted more flavor, more sweetness, maybe a little more color, then I’ve got a beverage for you. This month’s pick is a little more than an Energy Water, but it’s still a healthier alternative than the stereotypical energy drink. We’ll review how to tell if this drink is for you, what the key ingredients do, and how the caffeine compares to other energy drinks.
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!!!).
In this short video, I answer questions from fans and followers about energy drinks and caffeine. What makes a drink an “energy drink” and how does a person know how much caffeine they can have? Tune in below:
Yes, I recorded this Q&A session in portrait (not landscape) on purpose because it works better for some of the apps I use for my fans in Germany and Sweden.
If you would like to submit a question for the next GreenEyedGuide Q&A or contact GreenEyedGuide about guest speaker opportunities, please use the comment field below or use the About/Contact link here.
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: Bai Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion, Cocaine Energy, and Monster Ultra Violet.
The Science Behind BAI Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion: A healthy (weak) energy drink! I LOVE how they have the caffeine content, not JUST the “like a cup of green tea”, which can be ambiguous/misleading for some consumers. (not all green tea has the same content).
I also LOVE the stated amount of polyphenol antioxidants. I did my master’s thesis on polyphenols and THE MORE YOU CAN CONSUME, THE BETTER! (Note: Benefits are generic, like reduced risk of cancer)
Finally, the caffeine comes from COFFEE FRUIT EXTRACT. Not coffee beans, the whole fruit/pulp surrounding the coffee bean. DYK this fruit pulp USED TO BE considered food waste until one day someone realized a way to extract valuable nutrients from it?
In terms of caffeine content, this is WEAK SAUCE! One step up from plain water, #FatigueLevel2. It’s HALF a RED BULL but hey, that might be EXACTLY what you need sometimes, just a lil’ boost from a “clean” and natural source.
NATURAL sweeteners (stevia & erythritol), NATURAL flavors (plus the lil’ bit of juice), NATURAL color (but it’s in a dark can so not sure why there needs to be any color). NATURAL(ly occurring) preservatives and acidulants (acidity controllers) malic acid, citric acid, sodium citrate.
These pictures were sent to me to review. Not wild about the name of the drink but it’s not the worst energy drink I’ve come across.
✔280mg Caffeine per container is MORE THAN a can of ROCKSTAR and MORE THAN the 200mg limit per occasion recommended by the EFSA and other regulatory bodies. 👎 At least it is LESS THAN the 400mg caffeine/day limit 👍
✔18mg sugar is not great but it is LESS THAN the 36g limit and 25g limit for added sugars for men and women, respectively, from the American Heart Association
✔Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative that fights yeast and mold in acidic beverages (pH<4). Not sure where the “damages cells” fear-mongering comes from. Adults can eat 5mg PER KG OF BODYWEIGHT of sodium benzoate and be fine. [See my “Panera KNOW-No List for more: http://bit.ly/2hcPw23 ]
What do TAURINE & CARNITINE DO? Science Behind Monster Purple (Ultra Violet)
✔ Taurine is a 🚕Taxi Cab🚕
✔CARNITINE a doorman,
✔taurine & carnitine are in an “ENERGY BLEND” and
✔how much caffeine is in Monster (relative to safety limits for caffeine ingestion).
Click HERE to learn more about how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue.
Subscribe to GreenEyedGuide on WordPress, Instagram, and Facebook to see more of these “Science Of” quick reviews!
We associate caffeine with being hyper and tea with being calm, so what happens when a person has caffeine and theanine together? I reviewed a paper by the Department of Psychology at Tufts University in which they gave 36 people caffeine, theanine, or both. These participants had to watch disturbing episodes of Band of Brothers to get them all emotional, then take tests to rate their mood and attention. The results indicate just how well theanine and caffeine play together (or against each other).
But first… Materials and Methods
On the day of the experiment, study participants were given one of four treatments:
Neither the scientists nor the participants knew which treatment they were getting because the caffeine and theanine were given in pill form. This is what’s called a double-blind, repeated-measures design. The way the study went, each participant went through all four treatments on different days. This is important because people react to caffeine in different ways, so you can’t base your experiment results on the assumption that people react to caffeine the same way. Instead, you want to compare how a particular person handled all four different treatments.
When people got the C + T pills, they reported increased tension, depression, anger, confusion, and total mood disturbance compared to the placebo. This result is surprising because it suggests the calming influence of theanine was totally overshadowed by the effects of caffeine. In fact, the only mood profile where theanine made a difference was vigor. For whatever reason, people who took the C+T pills reported feeling less vigor than the people who took the caffeine pills.
TWO: GLOBAL VERSUS LOCAL ATTENTION
Other studies before this one have found caffeine increases our attention on the big picture while theanine increases our attention on the details. This is called global processing bias and local processing bias. Global processing bias means you might pay more attention to the size and shape of a mountain while local processing bias means you might pay more attention to the jagged cliffs and random tree clusters on that mountain.
In this study, the caffeine pills gave the participants a bias toward global attention, and the theanine pills gave the participants a bias toward local attention…just like the other experiments in the past had suggested.
*Scientists high-five! the experiment worked as it was supposed to*
When the participants had the C+T pills, the caffeine and theaninecanceled each other out, and the attention bias was no different than placebo!
THREE: ANTS and ARROWS
Imagine you were holding a picture where one medium-sized arrow was pointing left, but it was surrounded by dozens of smaller arrows pointing right. This is a rough description of the Attention Network Test (ANT). The ANT measures a few different types of attention. One of those is called the Executive Control Network Function.
Executive Control Network measures the extent to which incongruent-relative-to-congruent arrows interfere with determination and response.
I wonder if it’s called “Executive Control” because if you were an executive of a company you’d have to ignore lots of bad ideas surrounding one good idea and act upon it quickly…
When participants had the caffeine pills, they showed the best executive control. Having theanine (without caffeine) gave the participants the worst executive control. When participants had T+C pills, caffeine and theanine canceled each other out, and the result was no different than placebo.
Does that mean if you’re an executive or someone who needs to have a strong BS meter, you should avoid theanine…?
Apparently being in an emotional state really makes a difference whether theanine helps or hinders your executive control. In calm situations, theanine can help the same way mindfulness and meditation improve Executive Control scores. However, this was not a calm situation. The participants in this study were all triggered into an emotional state beforehand, and, in this state, the calming effects of theanine can be counterproductive. Theanine in stressful situations is like listening to a slow-dance song while you’re sprinting.
All results from this study came from stressful situations. There was no second round of trials where the participants were fed caffeine, theanine, or C+T pills and allowed to sit quietly for their tests.
How great would it be to redo this study and show these same participants episodes of Bob Ross?
Ideally, we could compare the way C+T pills affect people’s moods when they are stressed out and emotional versus when they are calm and happy. But this study only looked at the stressful situation, and other similar studies have only looked at calm situations.
FIVE: COMPARISON TO OTHER STUDIES
Yes, cheating is bad, but it’s kind of a big deal when one scientist is able to copy another scientist’s experiment AND get the same results. When an experiment is reproducible, it suggests the results of that experiment are not a fluke. This is why scientists talk about what other scientists have done when they’re sharing their own results.
There have been other experiments on the effects of caffeine and theanine on attention and cognitive processes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re inconsistent. Here are some of the findings from other studies:
50 mg caffeine + no theanine improved attention task switching compared to placebo
50 mg caffeine + 100 mg theanine reduced errors on sustained attention tasks, but only caffeine reduced response times
150 mg caffeine + 250 mg theanine reduced response times but only caffeine reduced errors
Wait, what? So does theanine really help or is it caffeine doing all the work? Those last two contradict each other! AHHH! How come TV-show scientists never have this problem?
The takeaway message here is that the interactions of caffeine and theanine aren’t always consistent. This study shows that in stressful situations where emotions are running high, theanine is not going to counter the increase in tension, anger, and confusion. Theanine is not going to help you pause the situation, calm down and think. In fact, theanine might make your thinking and reactions worse than if you just had caffeine alone.
What are your thoughts? How do caffeine and theanine combinations affect you?
You can share your comments below or chat me up on Social Media.