For Day 3 of the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge, we discuss the Friday Night Dilemma: what do you do when you get tired at 10 pm but you want to enjoy a night on the town and have an alcoholic beverage?
It’s an energy drink so powerful, just looking at it will get you pumped.
I always get excited when I come across a new energy drink, but when it’s by a company I have never heard of, that excitement is interwoven with suspicion and hesitancy. Though I am cautiously optimistic by nature, I am a scientist; I am trained to ask several questions before I form an opinion. All that hesitancy flies out the door when it comes to new flavors from a brand I know and trust. In this case, I didn’t even have to open the can to feel hyper.
The Energy Drink of the Month for March 2015 is a tie between Red Bull Total Zero Cherry and Orange Editions.
THREE REASONS TO GIVE RED BULL ANOTHER LOOK
ONE—Red Bull is Number One
One of the major reasons Red Bull deserves to be the energy drink of the month is that March is Caffeine Awareness Month.Did you know that Red Bull is the number one selling brand of energy drinks? Did you know that its caffeine content is less than the second and third top-selling brands? Compare Red Bull’s 80 milligrams per 8.4 ounce can with Monster’s 140-160mg/16oz and Rockstar’s 160-240mg/16oz. Two huge benefits Red Bull has over these other two brands are its smaller size and lower caffeine content. Together, these two details make Red Bull better options for those looking to keep their caffeine content in check. Though Monster’s zero sugar versions feature about 70mg per serving, the standard size features two servings per can. This packaging decision can make many consumers feel obligated to consume the whole thing, which can lead to caffeine over-consumption.
TWO—Bull, meet Elephant (in the Room)
What do Red Bull and March have in common? They both involve heavy consumption of alcohol. Another reason Red Bull deserves to be Energy Drink of THIS particular month is that St. Patrick’s Day is associated with copious amounts of alcohol. The same can be said for Red Bull.
It’s hard to deny that drinks like Vodka Red Bull are partially responsible for Red Bull’s amazing sales figures. An excerpt from Caffeine Informer’s article “Alcohol and Energy Drinks: The Dangers of Mixing” summarizes why this combination is such a bad idea:
A study out of Wake Forest Medical Center has been looking into this energy drink mixed with alcohol fad in order to see what negative effects it has created. The study revealed the following;
Students who drank the mix were likely to become more intoxicated and become intoxicated twice as often.
Students were twice as likely to be injured on this concoction.
They were twice as likely to ride with a drunken driver.
They were also twice as likely to be taken advantage of sexually or take advantage of someone else.
The researchers believe that the high doses of caffeine mask your body’s natural ways of letting you know you’ve consumed too much alcohol, therefore, people tend to drink way more than they should.
Every good bartender knows giving caffeine to a drunk just makes them a wide-awake drunk, not any less impaired (or annoying). Your body has a built-in safety mechanism: when you’ve had too much to drink, you pass out.This is the body’s way of saying, “You’ve had ENOUGH!” When you throw caffeine in the mix, you bypass this safety mechanism and can literally drink yourself to death. Part of Caffeine Awareness Month is knowing when NOT to have caffeine.
For some, the strongest disincentive to combine alcohol and caffeine is that it impairs the reflexes as much as non-caffeinated alcohol would, but the caffeine masks the fun parts of being tipsy– the dizziness, the giggle-fits, the false sense of confidence, etc. In other words, combining caffeine and alcohol is a waste of alcohol (and caffeine!).
THREE—Inspiration from Rags to Riches and Wi-ings
Though there are plenty of great stories behind other energy drink brands, the story behind Red Bull’s creator is one I relish. Chaleo Yoovidhya was born into poverty but died in March 2012 as the third-richest man in Thailand. As the co-creator of Red Bull, his rise to success brings new meaning to the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”. As we approach “Bonus Season” and “Tax-Refund Season”, some people start thinking about their financial situation and how to change it. This month of financial re-calibration is a great time to think about the man who co-created Red Bull, and his escape from poverty.
While Red Bull does not have the cleanest, most natural ingredient line like some of the other Energy Drink of the Month picks, Red Bull is the best pick for Caffeine Awareness Month. Its size and caffeine content make it a better option than some of the other popular energy drinks, as long as it is never, ever, EVER combined with alcohol.
I am writing this in a car. Seriously. Remember when you were a kid and December meant a few weeks off school? Then you get a job and December means all your weekends are booked. Solid. Of course, your downtime and stress level vary by your religion, the size of your family, the proximity of your home to your work, and other things. It is this crazy level of business that inspired my pick for this month.
The Energy Drink* of the Month for December 2014 is Mio Energy.
*Technically this is not an energy drink, nor is it a shot. Consuming this as-is would be a horrible idea, and is strongly discouraged. Small enough to fit into a purse or a large pocket, this is THE essential holiday tool to help you keep your energy level up through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This portability is why Mio wins December.
5 Fast Facts About Mio Energy
ONE— Mio Energy is only a few ounces more than the most popular energy shot, but instead of 2 servings, you get almost 20. You’re supposed to add it to water, so if you’re smart about your squirts, you can make one Mio container last a whole month (which is exactly how long you’re advised to keep it once it’s been opened).
TWO— Mio Energy features no ordinary caffeine warning label. Like other energy shots and drinks, Mio warns the consumer about using caffeine in moderation and drops the novel idea of talking to a doctor if you’re pregnant. But then Mio goes one step further. I applaud Mio for specifying that the product is not to be combined with alcohol. Combining alcohol and caffeine is another awful idea, and it’s one of the reasons energy drinks get reported as more dangerous than they truly are (See the DAWN Report — Energy Drinks and the ER). It’s also interesting that the Mio warning label specifies “For Adult Use Only” because other energy companies have been accused of marketing to kids and teens. Mio is watching its back. It’s worth noting:
…the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a caffeine limit of 100 milligrams per day for adolescents…Canada’s caffeine recommendations are even more strict: the daily limit is 60 milligrams for 7-9 year olds and 85 milligrams for 10-12 year olds. Health Canada recommended 400 milligrams per day as the maximum dosage considered safe for ages 13 and up. — Excerpt from Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely. (available here)
THREE— Mio doesn’t exactly have a clean label, but what do you expect from something that’s the flavor of “Green Thunder”? Now don’t panic when you read the label. Don’t avoid any ingredients out of fear; get the FACTS first. In Mio Energy’s case, most of the ingredients are either vitamins or extracts associated with ergogenics. It takes a few ingredients to preserve this wonderful caffeine concoction, one or two to make it that gorgeous green color I love so much, and another one or two to keep the whole thing homogenous. Since caffeine, guarana and B-vitamins can taste bitter on their own, it also helps to have a few sweeteners in the mix.
FOUR— Mio means “mine” in Italian and Spanish, and it’s precisely this customization that Mio was intended for. Mio represents innovation, from the name to the size to the method of launching the product. If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes strategy, I highly recommend this article:
FIVE— Mio is simultaneously one of the safest and most dangerous energy products available. How is this possible? Consumer responsibility. As Caffeine Informer points out, Mio contains 60mg caffeine per 0.5 teaspoon (the recommended dosage), or 1,080mg caffeine per bottle. Some will say, “now who would be silly enough to try to consume the whole container at once?” And yet, I have asked myself that same question about those 20 oz energy drinks, and THERE ARE people who consume that in one sitting. Caffeine safety IS a matter of product design, but it is also a matter of personal responsibility.
* The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report doesn’t include any data on how much caffeine was consumed prior to the emergency room visit, or over what period of time it was consumed “…for the healthy adult population, moderate daily caffeine intake at a dose level up to 400 mg day(-1) (equivalent to 6 mg kg(-1) body weight day(-1) in a 65-kg person) is not associated with adverse effects…”Published Study: Effects of caffeine on human health
* DAWN project leader Albert Woodward poses a crucial question: if it’s the high caffeine from the energy drink causing the trips to the ER, why don’t people who’ve consumed high caffeine intakes from coffee come in to the ER? This is the million dollar question, because we don’t know if the people admitted to the ER have had multiple energy drinks or energy shots in a short amount of time or if they were using the product as directed. How long does it take to drink one energy shot? How long does it take to make/brew/buy coffee?
Are those admitted to the ER an indication that energy drinks (including energy shots) have some inherent danger that isn’t apparent from the Generally Recognized As Safe ingredients on the label, or should we suspect these people are not using the product as intended – like a small child that likes the taste of vitamin gummies so much they eat half the jar? Would limiting energy drinks to single-serving containers alleviate the problem? (Perhaps, but go ask a New Yorker how much they like it when you try to limit their sodas to single-serving size)
No one knows whether energy drinks are inherently dangerous when used as directed, because the people making the news aren’t always following the instructions and warnings on the label. We should be cautious of using and abusing these products. We should keep monitoring the situation and collect as much data as possible about all the circumstances involved.
Remember these words from the “Father of Toxicology”, Paracelsus: All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.
Or, as the band Circa Survive put it, “The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is In The Dose.”