In October 2017 a news story surfaced that a man suffered a severe brain injury because of excessive consumption of energy drinks. Biochemist and Energy Drink Guide author GreenEyedGuide explains what consumers should take away from this news story.
Following your passion requires vision, commitment, persistence, and long hours. October challenges your vision and commitment because it brings shorter days, midterms, the distractions of a looming Holiday Season, and the time crunch to meet End of the Year company objectives. This month, we review an energy drink-in-disguise designed to “complement your work hard/play hard lifestyle” with green coffee beans, monk fruit, erythritol, and coconut water. Read more
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.
The Science Behind Bang Energy
THIS DRINK IS A PARADOX!!! The caffeine content means you should not have this every day, but the ingredients suggest this drink is trying to be an everyday workout supplement. Read more
The year I started college, Monster and Rockstar were just hitting US markets. Welcome to September 2017, where Red Bull is older than the people entering college this fall. Whether you’re a student, a parent of school-age kids, or an adult savoring the last days of summer, September can bring changes that drain your energy. It’s a great time to consider a new energy drink, but one that won’t blow your summer body, one that keeps you hydrated and refreshed through the summer heat, and one that isn’t too strong. After all, you want to save those strong energy drinks for finals week and Black Friday shopping.
The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2017 is Guru Energy Water.
Guru offers three flavors of Energy Water: grapefruit, lime, and pomegranate. Guru has other energy drinks to offer too, which can all be found at Guru’s Products Page.
Who It’s For: Ingredient Preferences and Phobias
There are so many energy drinks available these days that no one should have to compromise their ingredient preferences and phobias. Not a fan of carnitine? That’s okay. Not sure you trust artificial colors or flavors? That’s fine too! There are plenty of energy drinks on the market to meet all kinds of ingredient combos you may be seeking.
Does Guru Energy Water have the ingredients you’re looking for?
Like with Guru Organic Energy Drink, Guru’s Energy Water is certified-Organic, gluten-free, non-GMO Project Verified, and artificial free. Unlike Guru’s Energy Drink, the Energy Water is Calorie free and sugar-free.
- Guru’s Energy Drinks (both regular and Lite) are sweetened with Organic cane syrup, Luo Han Guo, and Stevia, but Guru Energy Water is sweetened by Stevia and erythritol
X Artificial sweeteners
X Artificial flavors
X Stereotypical energy drink ingredients such as taurine, carnitine, glucuronolactone
What’s In It: Key Ingredients and Functions
Guru Energy Waters offer a simple ingredient list: carbonated (or “sparkling”) water, erythritol, flavor, green tea extract (the source of caffeine), juice concentrate, and Stevia. Do you know what these ingredients do?
DID YOU KNOW:
- Beverages labeled as containing “sparkling water,” “seltzer water,” “soda water,” “tonic water,” or “club soda” aren’t included as bottled water under FDA’s regulations. These beverages are instead considered to be soft drinks. [Source: Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping It Safe]
Green Tea Extract
- Regardless of whether caffeine comes from green tea extract, coffee beans, or caffeine anhydrous, it works the same way. The difference between getting caffeine from synthetic sources and getting it from natural sources and getting it from synthetic sources is like getting a diamond versus getting a diamond from a Tiffany bag. In other words, you’re not just getting the benefits of the caffeine, you’re getting the benefits of the whole package.
- Green tea leaves (the kind in nature, before they’re processed) are rich in a type of antioxidants called polyphenols. One family of these polyphenol antioxidants is the catechins.
- Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active. [Source: Green Tea, University of Maryland Medical Center]
Drinking an energy drink or energy water made with green tea extract is not the same thing (health benefit-wise) as drinking plain green tea, but when you get your caffeine from green tea extract, you’re getting some of those antioxidants too. Green tea antioxidants have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, and cancer.
RELATED READING: Should you drink green tea or coffee when you’re emotionally triggered? GreenEyedGuide on caffeine theanine interactions
Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the leaf of a plant. There is a particular molecule, nicknamed “REB A” that is responsible for the sweetness. This is why you’ll sometimes see brands or ingredient lists that call out REB A specifically – Stevia purity is a big deal.
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.
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.
Natural Flavors and Juice Concentrates
The natural flavors used in the energy waters match the flavor of the beverage itself. For example, the Pomegranate Energy Water has natural flavor from, you guessed it, pomegranate. The same goes for the Juice Concentrates – the Grapefruit Energy Water features a teeny bit of grapefruit juice concentrate and the Pomegranate Energy Water features pomegranate juice concentrate. The exception is the Lime Energy Water, which has with natural lime flavor but lemon juice concentrate. All flavors and juice concentrates are Organic.
When to Consume: Caffeine Content and Level of Fatigue
This is another energy drink that breaks the stereotype that all energy drinks are dangerous concoctions of caffeine and sugar. However, this energy drink is not “weak sauce”. It has 100 mg of caffeine per can, which is the limit of caffeine consumtpion per day for those under 18 years old. For healthy adults, that limit is 400 mg caffeine per day.
With 100 mg caffeine per can, this product fits FATIGUE LEVEL 2. Fatigue Level 1 is when you’re tired because of dehydration and need (uncaffeinated) water. Fatigue Level 2 is home to several other “energy drinks in disguise”, healthy alternatives that are as strong as an 8-oz Red Bull but seem so much cleaner and healthier.
This doesn’t taste like an energy drink because it’s an energy water. If you’re looking for something with Organic ingredients, low-moderate caffeine levels, light flavor, no Calories, no sugar, no artificial colors or flavors or sweeteners, this is another “energy drink in disguise” you can feel good about drinking.
Review the entire ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH SERIES
- Get your copy of 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”
- Love what I do? – SUPPORT ME ON PATREON
- Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database
- Need help with quitting caffeine? I HIGHLY recommend this guide: Awake: How to Quit from Caffeine for Good
- Love energy drinks/ coffee/ caffeine? Visit Facebook.com/energydrinkguide
- Love Fitness + Caffeine? Visit Facebook.com/greeneyedguide
- Energy Drinks + Fitness/Bodybuilding on Instagram
- Share your can on Twitter
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.
Bai Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion
Caffeine Content 45 mg per can = FATIGUE LEVEL 2
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?
*READ “Coffeefruit extract – a food waste triumph” here: Energy Drink of the Month – Feb 2016: Bai Antioxidant Infusion
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.
Cocaine Energy Drink
Caffeine Content 280 mg caffeine = FATIGUE LEVEL 4
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 ]
Monster Ultra Violet (“Monster Purple”)
Caffeine Content 160 mg per can = FATIGUE LEVEL 3
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).