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.


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.




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Uptime Energy, Bawls Guarana, Amp Energy Zero, and V8 + Energy: May Recap of Quick Reviews – Science of Energy Drinks

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: Uptime Energy, Bawls Guarana, Amp Energy Zero, and V8 + Energy.



uptime energy

Science Behind Uptime Energy drink: 3-Ingredients to Focus on:

⛾1-Angelica Root Ext (aka Danggui) is used for female reproductive disorders in Traditional Chinese Medicine. After 15 minutes on Pubmed & SciDirect I DON’T KNOW WHY it’s in here. (Dear science nerds, please help if you do).
⛾2-Bee Pollen has vitamins, polyphenols, and enzymes, and has shown health benefits in studies but ONLY WHEN USED IN GRAM AMOUNTS! This product’s whole “Power Base” combined is only 20% of a gram. [1 gram = weight of 1 paperclip].
⛾3-Caffeine is the only ingredient that (kind of) “produces energy” but this bugs me. (#stickler #rant #chemnerd) There’s 142 mg caffeine in here = ALMOST a Monster (160mg).

bawls guarana energy

LET’S TALK ABOUT GUARANA. BAWLS Ingredients include caffeine, HFCS, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural AND artificial flavor, caramel color. No B-vitamins, taurine, carnitine, or other stereotypical energy drink ingredients.

CAFFEINE CONTENT: from guarana and pure caffeine; 100mg Caffeine per can from all sources, according to the CAFFEINE INFORMER database. That’s LESS caffeine than 12 oz Red Bull (114 mg). The limit for those under 18yrs old is 100mg.

GUARANA is a vine from the rainforest bearing orange-red fruit with black seeds. Caffeine is in the seeds. Multiple studies show guarana improves cognitive performance, mental fatigue, and mood, and it is supposed to boost fat metabolism by encouraging the body to burn fat instead of protein and carbs. HOWEVER, the same benefits are true of caffeine in general and caffeine from green tea in particular. So these benefits are not specific to guarana… and this product gives you 50g sugar per can.

amp energy


EDTA, Sodium benzoate, and Sodium hexametaphosphate: All 3 are in this drink. Does a canned drink need so much preservation?
1. EDTA: the ingredient statement says “to protect flavor”…from WHAT? From metal ions of the can, which can oxidize and degrade the natural+artificial flavor and the B-vitamins.
PURPOSE: Chelating agent, meaning it binds metal ions to limit their deleterious effects; EDTA stabilizes food color, aroma, texture, inhibits oxidation of fats, oils.
SAFETY NOTES: Some sources say EDTA “robs the body of nutrients” but EDTA is safe to consume **up to 3 grams per day **and AMOUNTS USED IN FOOD are in the milligram per kilogram or parts-per-million range. CPSI puts this in the “Safe” column.
***FUN FACT: EDTA is actually used to treat people with heavy metal poisoning because EDTA can grab the heavy metals and escort them out of the body.

PART 2 of Amp Preservative review: WHAT does Sodium benzoate do?
Sodium Benzoate: “preserves freshness”… but it’s not like this is a fresh ripe watermelon right? Well, this IS an acidic drink…
PURPOSE: Prevents growth of microorganisms like yeast and mold; used for preservation of sour food pH 4 and lower, often used with other preservatives especially at low pH (meaning acidic food).
SAFETY NOTES: Consumers can ingest up to 5mg per kg of body weight of benzoic acid and its salts
***FUN FACT: Benzoic acid occurs naturally in cranberries, prunes, plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and most berries.

PART 3 of AMP preservative review: “Hexa-meta-huh?”
3. Sodium hexametaphosphate: “to protect flavor”… YOU’D THINK AMP’S FLAVOR IS LIKE GOLD with all this PROTECTION!!!
SAFETY NOTES: This ingredient is widely accepted as safe in many countries. It has the additive number E452. In controlled studies, it was not carcinogenic in rats, nor did it cause any reproductive or developmental toxicity symptoms. It’s fine if you consume a little bit every now and then, but consuming it regularly can have some negative effects due to mineral imbalances. MODERATION IS KEY!

v8 plus energy

Energy drinks are dangerous, right? V8 Energy, busting stereotypes since 2011! The caffeine in V8 Energy comes from green tea extract which provides a natural lift as well as the amino acid L-theanine which is believed to provide added focus. []
🔹️L-theanine can reduce anxiety and blood pressure increases in high-stress individuals (ie people more susceptible to biological changes when stressed)
🔹️This can contains 80 mg caffeine (as much as Red Bull) BUT…
🔹️ the Academy of Pediatrics says people <18 can have UP TO 100 mg caffeine per day.
🔹️With 34% juice, only 11 grams of sugar, and caffeine from green tea extract, this is one of the BEST healthy alternatives!
🔹️See V8 Energy Drink of the Month

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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, 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.  

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.

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


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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Energy Drink of the Month – April 2017: AvitaeXR

What if you could delay caffeine delivery and make it last longer? This month we review the newest addition to the “energy-drink-in-disguise” brand that continues to defy energy drink stereotypes. We discuss key ingredients, how it compares to other caffeinated beverages of the same strength, and when to consume it per Level of Fatigue.

The Energy Drink of the Month for March 2017 is AvitaeXR.


There are three flavors available, and all of them are refreshing and delightful, in my personal opinion. These flavors are Orange, Lemon Lime, and Mixed Berry.  They all have the same caffeine content, the same key ingredients, and the same number of Calories and grams of Sugar.

Key Ingredients and Benefits

The ‘Xtended Release’ beads of caffeine – ZUMXR Proprietary Energy Blend

This energy blend is what makes up those tiny little beads you see floating around in the clear can of AvitaeXR. These beads contain caffeine but since the caffeine is tucked inside the little ball, it delays the delivery of caffeine to your system.

Attention Science Nerds and Chemistry Buffs: How this delayed delivery works is worth a separate post (coming soon). If you’re a science nerd like me, we can geek out together over the magic of delaying (not preventing) digestion in the complex gradient of digestive juices and pH levels in the GI tract.


Natural Caffeine

For the rest of the Avitae line, the source of caffeine is green coffee beans. It’s safe to assume the ‘natural caffeine’ in this product comes from the same source.

To see the GreenEyedGuide reviews of Avitae caffeinated water and sparkling caffeinated water, see “Redefining ‘Energy Drink'” and Energy Drink of the Month – April 2015


Other ingredients

  • Carbonated Water – makes the beverage crisp and refreshing; Notably, carbonation slightly irritates the stomach, which slightly improves delivery of caffeine through the stomach lining
  • Cane Sugar
  • Citric Acid  – helps combat the bitterness of caffeine
  • Natural Flavors
  • Sodium Citrate – the sodium salt of citric acid; Used for flavor and as a preservative; has a sour-salty taste
  • Pectin – gives a little more mouthfeel (liquid thickness/heaviness)

Look for these in your convenience and drug stores

Caffeine Comparisons

It’s unusual to find an energy-drink-in-disguise so clean, ingredient-wise, and yet so powerful, caffeine-wise. Avitae has 250 mg caffeine per can, which is about the same as a can of Rockstar Energy (240 mg)!!! However, it’s crucial to note that with AvitaeXR you are only getting 125 mg of caffeine at a time: 125 mg free floating caffeine immediately in the liquid; 125 mg later once your body finally breaks open those little beads. This makes AvitaeXR almost more powerful than Rockstar because of its ability to last.

When to Consume = Fatigue Level 4

***Because this energy drink has an extended release of caffeine, you’ll want to avoid drinking this one if you plan on sleeping in the next 6 hours.***

During the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge (Day 6), we talked about how Fatigue Level 4 is for Energy Emergencies! This is Level 4 out of 5, and Level 5 is the point where no caffeine can save you. [watch the whole YouTube video]

For Fatigue Level 4, the caffeinated beverage you choose should have the following characteristics:

  • Carbonated or concentrated (energy shots)
  • Over 200 mg caffeine per serving (400 mg is the daily max for adults)
  • Does not have to be sugar-free

To learn more about how carbonation and juice play a role in a drink’s potency, visit the 5 Levels of Fatigue page. The 5 Levels of Fatigue system helps people reap the benefits of caffeine while avoiding addiction, dependence, tolerance, and toxicity,

Bottom Line

If you are entering an Energy Emergency and want something STRONG without having to settle for something super sugary and artificial, AvitaeXR is the solution.

Norm Snyder, Avitae President and CEO



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Energy Drink of the Month – March 2017: MATI Healthy Energy

This month we examine another energy-drink-in-disguise, the health benefits of the ingredients, and the caffeine comparisons to similar products. This product has one of the simplest ingredient lines I’ve ever seen, and it lives up to the “Healthy Energy” proclaimed on the label.

The Energy Drink of the Month for March 2017 is MATI Healthy Energy.


There are six flavors available, and all of them are delicious (though taste is subjective): Citrus, Cherry, Tropical, Peach Mango, Passion Fruit, and Berry Pomegranate. They all have the same caffeine content, 30% juice, and the same number of Calories and grams of Sugar. They vary in the fruit juices, but they all have guayusa leaves, apple juice, lime juice, and natural flavor.

Key Ingredients and Benefits


Guayusa is a natural source of caffeine. Pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”, this plant is the Amazonian cousin of yerba mate. While the leaves of guayusa are brewed like tea leaves, the lack of tannins means less of the bitter, astringent taste that’s characteristic of green, black and white teas.

Guayusa leaves contain twice the antioxidants of green tea, and MATI is equivalent to three cups of it, according to the “Nutritional Equivalents” on the can. Guayusa also contains essential amino acids, though the energy drink itself contains only 1 gram of protein. Traditional use of guayusa includes consumption before nighttime hunting trips, as the guayusa gave the hunters mental strength, courage, and focus. It’s not clear what “mental strength” is, exactly, but you can count on almost any caffeine source to increase stamina and focus.

Apple Juice

All six flavors of MATI include apple juice, which isn’t surprising when you realize fruit juices are solely responsible for the beverage’s sweetness. With no added sugar, you need a juice that is naturally sweet, like white grape or apple juice. But apple juice provides health benefits with its sweetness.

The main benefits of consuming apples comes from the antioxidants known as polyphenols. Apple juice concentrate contains approximately 20 ppm epicatechin, and 70 ppm chlorogenic acid. For context, 200 grams of apples contains about 21 milligrams of catechins. The largest group of polyphenol antioxidants in apple juice is the flavanols (50%), followed by the hydroxycinnamic acids such as chlorogenic acid (43%).

Apple consumption is linked to reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. These benefits are associated with the polyphenols in apples, but processing the apples into juice does reduce the polyphenol content. For example, some polyphenols like the flavanols have an affinity for the cell wall and thus get retained in the mash.

Other ingredients

  • Lime Juice – helps control pH and thus acts as a natural preservative in a beverage with only fruit juices and caffeine; controlling pH helps limit the growth of yeast, mold, and other bacteria that like to thrive in juice beverages
  • Natural Flavors – fruit juice can add a lot of its own flavor, but it may not be strong enough to cover the taste of guayusa; a natural flavor is great way to make sure the taste of the beverage doesn’t drift too much through the beverage’s shelf-life — in other words, a natural flavor will make sure the product tastes as yummy on Day 1 as it does the day before it expires


Caffeine Comparisons

MATI has 110 mg caffeine per can, which is slightly less than the caffeine in Red Bull 12-ounce Editions, and less than a Starbucks bottled iced coffee. MATI has slightly more caffeine than the similar drinks that contain 100 mg caffeine, such as Steaz, Nawgan, and Go Girl.


Mati Caffeine Comparison
Caffeine Informer Database


Fatigue Level 2

During the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge (Day 8), we talked about how Fatigue Level 2 is basically where all the healthy energy drink alternatives live. At Fatigue Level 2, you’re not just dehydrated-tired, but you don’t need a full-powered kick of a stereotypical energy drink. This drink fits Fatigue Level 2/Borderline Level 3 situations because is has the following characteristics:

  • Fruit juice-based (30% Juice)
  • Lightly carbonated
  • 110 mg caffeine

To learn more about how carbonation and juice play a role in a drink’s potency, visit the 5 Levels of Fatigue page. The 5 Levels of Fatigue system helps people reap the benefits of caffeine while avoiding addiction, dependence, tolerance, and toxicity,

Bottom Line

This energy-drink-in-disguise lives up to its Healthy Energy label. With only 45 Calories per can, 11 grams of sugar (all from juice), and 110 mg caffeine from guayusa leaves, this is an energy drink we can all get excited about.