Science Behind Runa Clean Energy

When it comes to food, I’m not a fan of the term “clean energy”. I get what this term is trying to convey, but as a food scientist, the term makes me laugh inside. Same thing with the concept of a “zero-calorie energy drink” (because a calorie is a measurement of energy). “Food Science v Marketing” rant over, let me tell you about a new source of “clean energy”.

The Energy Drink for the Month of February is Runa Clean Energy.

Energy Drink of the Month GreenEyedGuide Runa
Energy Drink of the Month — February 2015

The Berry flavor is my favorite (shocker, if you’ve been following my other monthly picks). I prefer not to drink my calories, but I much prefer the sweetness of the Berry flavor than the zero-calorie version. I tried the “Original Zero with a hint of lime” and, my word, it has an interesting flavor profile. It starts with a carbonated zing akin to citric acid, then the hint of lime shows up, followed by some earthly botanical notes that are reminiscent of iced tea but slightly different, and not unpleasant. The berry flavor is much more my style – short, sweet, and subtly strong.

5 Reasons to Recharge with Runa Clean Energy

ONE — Alternative Energy

Ever heard of guayusa? 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.

This new source of caffeine has two benefits: First of all, yerba mate and guarana have developed negative connotations due to their use in energy drinks (and the controversy surrounding them). If you want to avoid the bitter taste of tea and the “save-your-liver” lectures from those who believe all energy drinks are bad for you, this new source of caffeine is your answer. The second benefit to guayusa is that because it’s novel, there are less people trying to source it and thus, more of it to go around. When demand of ginkgo biloba started to skyrocket, so did the cases of economic adulteration. Not enough supply to meet demand? Someone’s going to start providing knock-offs to reap those unmet sales requests. Finding new sources of America’s favorite drug (caffeine), means there’s less chance of depleting natural resources.

TWO — Caffeine with a Cause

I love energy drinks with a good story. There are some energy drinks that donate proceeds of each sale to charity, and then there are those who give back in other ways. Runa is fair-trade certified, and supports the small farmers and local communities to build a sustainable supply chain. To learn more about the Runa Foundation, see below.

Runa Foundation

THREE — Guayusa Your Way

A big part of consuming caffeine safely is about slowing your rate of consumption. In the Energy Drink Guide, Mr. Swift and Mr. Thrift demonstrate that nursing your caffeine instead of chugging it makes the effects of caffeine last longer, and helps mitigate an energy crash. While Runa Clean Energy comes in an 8.4 ounce can, there’s also a bottled version. If you’re trying to wean your caffeine intake, you can take a sip, reseal the bottle, and try to make one serving last a whole day (or two). Note – the glass bottles show a bit of particulate at the bottom so if you’re a “no-pulp” person like me, the cans might be a better option. You could also get fancy with your brewing and try the pyramid infusers or looseleaf tins, or just go the traditional route and get a box of tea bags.

Runa Clean Energy and Other Guayusa Produts
The Runa Family –

FOUR — Polyphenols (antioxidants), Amino Acids, and Liquid Courage

While isolated antioxidants have failed to show the same health benefits in the human body as they do in a test tube, there’s plenty of credible evidence on the health benefits of drinking green tea. Guayusa contains twice the antioxidants of green tea, according to the Runa website. The “super-leaf” also contains essential amino acids (though the energy drink itself contains zero grams of protein). If none of that encourages you to try Runa Clean Energy, perhaps this will: traditional use of guayusa includes consumption before nighttime hunting trips, as the guayusa gave the hunters mental strength, courage and focus. Who doesn’t want more of that?

FIVE — 5 Levels of Fatigue = Level 3.99

Knowing your Level of Fatigue will help you find the right energy drink for your situation. Always reaching for the same caffeine concoction is a good way to build a tolerance or habitual craving. Furthermore, you can mitigate caffeine over-consumption by NOT reaching for caffeine when you are tired due to dehydration, or when you’re so tired that only sleep will save you. This is the 5 Levels of Fatigue system, and each level matches a specific set of recommendations.

Caffeine Informer Runa Clean Energy
If this is too much caffeine for you, the bottled versions have less caffeine and can be re-sealed and saved for later.

Runa Clean Energy provides more caffeine than the most popular energy drink of this size. If 80 milligrams of caffeine isn’t enough for you, or if you want something that tastes a little more like tea and less like over-sweetened juice, Runa Clean Energy is a good option. However, it is on the very cusp of Level 3. Caffeine contents greater than 120 milligrams per serving are considered Level 4, but the lack of carbonation is the reason Runa Clean Energy is still on the high end of Level 3. Carbonation irritates the stomach lining slightly, allowing caffeine to get absorbed that much quicker. You’ll want to save those Level 4 drinks for energy emergencies like all-nighters, swing shifts, and long road trips.

Bottom Line

Runa Clean Energy is not the energy drink you should reach for when you are bored or dehydrated. With 120 milligrams of caffeine per serving, it is best saved for those Monday mornings when you would give up $100 if it meant sleeping one more hour. It’s no coincidence Runa means “fully alive”. Runa Clean Energy is an energy drink you can feel good about drinking, not just because it’s rich in antioxidants, but because the makers of Runa are actively supporting the guayusa farmers to ensure fair-trade and sustainable growth. Finally, when someone inquires about that beverage you’re drinking with the healthy looking leaf on the can, you’ll get encouraging nods (or blank stares) instead of concerned frowns when you respond, “It’s ‘gwhy-you-sa’ “.

— Green-Eyed Guide

References and Related Reading:

Caffeine Informer on Runa Clean Energy

National Geographic: “Ecuador’s ‘Superleaf’ Tea: Could it Replace Your Afternoon Coffee?”

Runa Main Site and Runa Facebook Page

Caffeine Safe Limits: Determine Your Safe Daily Dose

5 Most Shocking Risk Assessments (***including ginkgo biloba***)

Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely

Energy Drink of the Month Reviews – Year 1

It was one year ago that I first held it. I pinched it, turned it over, smelled it. Deciding that it was real, I laughed heartily and did a little dance of victory. My first book had finally been published. My quest to help people see energy drinks like I do, to explain the tricks and tips to consuming caffeine safely, and to introduce my 5 Levels of Fatigue system for picking the right product had finally materialized into a green paperback. Ten years of research, experimentation and late-night writing all in less than 200 pages.

Energy Drink of the Month — A Year’s Reflection

To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of what I still consider my first child, I’d like to take a look back at a year’s worth of posts about the Energy Drink of the Month. Each of them is highlighted for a different reason and almost none of them matches the typical energy drink you’d hear lambasted on the news.


[June 2014] – Neuro Sonic:

neruo SONIC
I love it when energy drinks have lids!

With a twisty-cap for easy caffeine moderation, this energy-drink-in-disguise features an amount of caffeine perfect for tough mornings. With 100 milligrams of caffeine, carbonation, and no fruit juice (except for color purposes), this product suitable for Fatigue Level 3. Read More: 3 Levels and 3 Reasons

[May 2014] – vitaminwater Energy:

vitaminwater energy
Energy Drink of the Month – May 2014

With the best caffeine warning label I’ve ever seen, vitaminwater Energy is perfect for road trips, those on a budget, and those looking for a very mild caffeine boost. Read More: 3 Pros and Cons of vitaminwater® energy drink – from a Food Science, Product Development and Quality Perspective

[April 2014] – Avitae caffeinated water:

caffeine water natural label
Caffeine : Water : : Beet Powder : Lemonade

As far as energy drinks go, it doesn’t get much cleaner or simpler than this. With three levels of caffeine available, this product line is suitable for Level 2, 3 and 4 of the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Also note that since it comes in a bottle you can sip it and reseal it, regulating your caffeine intake in ways that aren’t possible with an open can or a hot coffee. Read More: Redefining “Energy Drink” – 5 Qs with Avitae

[March 2014] – FRS Healthy Energy:

Energy Drink March 2014 Healthy Energy

Champion of the consumer-friendly label, this product is weak-sauce when it comes to caffeine content, but features intriguing “alternative-energy” ingredients like Quercetin. What is Quercetin and what does it have to do with Harry Potter’s mom? Read on my friends. Read More: 5 Reasons to Pick FRS Healthy Energy

[February 2014] – Starbucks Refreshers:

Starbucks Refreshers GreenEyedGuideFinding a soul-mate for Valentine’s Day is hard. Finding a Starbucks is easy. With this green-coffee-powered energy-drink-in-disguise, you can still hit on the baristas in the green aprons without buying a source of caffeine that has to be chilled or consumed within the hour. Read More: 5 Reasons Refreshers Deserve Your Love

[January 2014] – V8 V-Fusion + Energy:

EDM_v8Starting the year with PIGs and POAs (Plans, Ideas, Goals and Plan of Actions)? Start the year strong by swapping a Red Bull for a V8. By the way, they have the same amount of caffeine – 80mg/can, which is less than a tall latte from Starbucks. Read More: 7 Little Known Facts about V8 V-Fusion

[December 2013] – Red Bull Editions:

CAM00055-1I confess I’m friends with the Monster, and I may or may not party like a Rockstar on New Year’s Eve. But making it through the holiday season requires a special energy drink. How special? Special edition…Read More: How Red Bull Editions Beat the Competition in 5 Different Categories

[November 2013] – Go Girl:

Go Girl ED of Nov 2013This energy drink is one of the few who donate a percentage of their sales to a charitable donation. Like its caffeine content, the charitable contributions are not overwhelming, but not negligible. Read More: 3 Insights on Go Girl

[October 2013] – Spider Energy:

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.
Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Encouraging consumers to “drink what you fear”, this product could have been among the first to challenge notions that all energy drinks are toxic. Some caffeinated products are certainly worse than others, but enjoy this one with caution. The amount of caffeine per container, carbonation and sugar content put this product at Level 4 in the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Read More: Green-Eyed Guide Teaches Man to Fish with Spider

[September 2013] – Rize Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - September 2013Like the trajectory of a Red Bull flugtag contraption, many people start September with an optimistic lift of energy and determination…before losing momentum and dropping quickly to the ground. I have to plan for Halloween already?!? The sun has set already?!? Midterms, already?!? Don’t give into the fall, rise. You may be powerless to stop the evening fog from rolling in, but you can combat the fog that creeps into your mind – rise. Read More: 3 Ways Rize Helps Body and Brain

[August 2013] – Archer Farms Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - August 2013With the end of summer comes three specific energy-zappers. Caffeine is not the only solution but it can certainly help, as long as you pick the right product. Read More: Why The End of Summer is Tiring and What You Can Do About It

[July 2013] – Nawgan Mandarin Orange:

Energy Drink of the Month - July 2013This energy-drink-in-disguise was the first product I ever picked for Energy Drink of the Month. This product doesn’t even call itself an energy drink but it’s got more caffeine than the top selling energy drink in the nation. Choosing to avoid or enjoy an energy drink is not as black and white as it seems, but anyone can learn the 10 steps of consuming caffeine safely. Read More: How to Read a Caffeinated Product’s Label in 10 seconds.


Remember, knowledge is power, and the dosage makes the difference between a poison and a cure. Thanks for the support, the comments and all the shares! ~ Green-Eyed Guide

Click this link to get your copy of Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely (also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and more! Check Goodreads for your favorite source, or just ask your local bookstore)

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