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 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. Read more
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.
- 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.
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:
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.
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”
- HELP ME TURN MY BOOK INTO AN AUDIO BOOK – 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
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. Read more
How do you describe a beverage that is a hybrid of juice, water, and tea? This month we’ll review a beverage that aims to give you the health benefits of tea, the hydration of water, and the flavor of fruit juice. While the caffeine content is negligible, there is tea in it, and Fatigue Level 1 is dehydration! We’ll review WHO IT’S FOR (per diet/lifestyle and ingredient preferences), WHAT’S IN IT (key ingredients), and WHEN TO CONSUME IT (per caffeine content and the 5 Levels of Fatigue).
*Spoiler Alert* I’ve got three minor Food Scientist pet peeves with this beverage, and I would love to hear your thoughts on these observations.
The Energy Drink (alternative) of the Month is Core Organic Pomegranate Blue Acai.
Other flavors available include Peach Mango, Watermelon Lemonade, Orange Clementine, Coconut Colada, and Orchard Pear. If you’re familiar with my Energy Drink of the Month series, you know I almost always pick the pomegranate blueberry flavors.
WHO IT’S FOR
This Core Organic “fruit infused beverage” is certified Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, low glycemic, and Vegan.
- PET PEEVE #1: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
- Why would any of those be in a fruit-infused beverage? Does anyone else feel like Core Organic is trying to win consumers by tapping into that fad?
This beverage could appeal to you if:
- You are limiting your sugar intake and your “liquid calories” – This drink has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving and only 5 Calories per serving (10 Calories per bottle)
- You are avoiding artificial sweeteners – This drink is sweetened with Stevia and Organic erythritol (we’ll review this below)
- You are avoiding artificial colors and/or flavors – The color comes from Organic vegetable juice and fruit juice, and the flavor comes from a combination of natural flavors
- You are not really a tea drinker but still want the benefits of drinking tea – This drink has 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants, which is “the antioxidants of half a cup of blueberries or cherries” according to the press release in BevNET
WHAT’S IN IT
- PET PEEVE #2: This is a “fruit infused” beverage but the fruit juice doesn’t play a very big role.
There’s only 4% juice per serving. The FDA does consider coconut water a juice, but since it’s behind erythritol in the ingredient’s list, we know there’s more erythritol than coconut water in this drink.
The Organic lemon juice is behind the Stevia extract, which is very telling! Since Stevia is something you can’t use in large amounts, there can’t be more than one lemon’s worth of lemon juice in here. Since the lemon juice comes before citric acid, it seems both the lemon juice and the citric acid are in this drink to control acidity. If you want to keep mold out of your fruit juices, you have to either control the acidity or use preservatives.
The last two fruit juices are the last two ingredients in the list, meaning they’re the smallest portions of the recipe. There’s fruit juice used for color, and Maqui berry juice powder used to deliver antioxidants.
White Tea, Maqui Berry, and Polyphenol Antioxidants
The good news is consumption of polyphenol antioxidants is associated with improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of cancer. Consumption of green and white tea is associated with lower risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The bad news is white tea is such a small portion of this recipe, and Maqui berry is literally the last/most sparse ingredient!
Maqui berry is a “Chilean blackberry”, according to a paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. It might have a lot of antioxidants in nature but one paper suggests the juice making process results in a “substantial loss” of the polyphenol antioxidants in Maqui. If you can figure out how to minimize these losses, there are some encouraging (but still uncertain) health benefits. A group of antioxidants called “anthocyanins” extracted from Maqui berry improved fasting blood sugar levels in (wait for it) obese diabetic mice.
“Animal research can be useful, and can predict effects also seen in humans. However, observed effects can also differ, so subsequent human trials are required before a particular effect can be said to be seen in humans. Tests on isolated cells can also produce different results to those in the body.” – see the Compound Interest infographic on Scientific Evidence
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.
WHEN TO CONSUME
- PET PEEVE #3: There is no such thing as a standard cup of coffee or cup of tea.
- It’s not clear how much caffeine is in this product, but we should assume the content is negligible. The white tea is the only source of caffeine, and white tea is not a very prominent ingredient.
Core Organic is not promoting itself as a drink that would give you energy, but since it includes white tea extract, I wish they could include some caffeine information on the label.
Dehydration is Fatigue Level 1, so picking a beverage with negligible caffeine content is a great way to ensure you don’t reach for the caffeine too soon. If you always reach for the same caffeinated beverage, and if caffeine is always your first solution when you’re tired, there will come a day when the caffeine no longer works for you. This is precisely why I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue!
This water/juice/tea hybrid is not marketed as an energy drink, but it’s a good solution (pun intended) for beating the fatigue that comes with dehydration. While you will not get the full benefits of drinking plain tea, you still get the benefits of the 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants per serving.
- Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database
- Need help with quitting caffeine? I HIGHLY recommend this guide: Awake: How to Quit from Caffeine for Good
- Want MORE GreenEyedGuide?
- 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”