Have you ever looked at an energy drink and thought, “Is this good for me?” Don’t laugh – this question is not rhetorical. In fact, I’ve studied energy drinks for almost 20 years and I get this question all the time. My friends, family, and fans will send me pictures and ask, “What about this drink?” Some drinks are DEFINITELY better than others. And so today we’re going to focus on the Science Behind Kill Cliff Ignite.
Hi there. I'm Caffeine Scientist, Author, and Speaker GreenEyedGuide. I help people beat burnout with caffeine science.
More than 90% of the population drinks caffeine every day. But when and how you drink your caffeine makes a huge difference in your health and well-being.I use my science background to help people drink caffeine strategically. In other words, I help people work better, sleep better, and feel better.
Picture the stereotypical cup of tea. Now picture the stereotypical energy drink. Could these images be any different? While tea represents a relaxed mood and health, energy drinks represent hyperactivity and danger. So what happens when you add energy drink ingredients to tea? When is tea more than “just tea”? When is green tea an energy drink?
For this exercise, let’s consider a specific drink. This drink is a blend of green tea, yerba mate, and green coffee beans. Sounds healthy, right? But how does it compare to plain tea? To Red Bull? We’ll go over that, plus the three criteria make this green tea an energy drink.
In This Post:
What is an “energy drink”?
When is green tea an energy drink?
Is green tea better than energy drinks?
Can I drink Marquis every day?
Hi there. I'm Caffeine Scientist, Author, and Speaker GreenEyedGuide. I use caffeine science to help people beat burnout.
Interesting and Unusual Ingredients In This Energy Drink
Isomaltulose is a natural sweetener found in honey and sugar cane extract. It has the same two “members” that make table sugar: glucose + fructose = sucrose. However the glucose and fructose are arranged (i.e., holding hands) in a different way than they do in sucrose. As a result of this arrangement, isomaltulose is only half as sweet as sucrose.
This energy drink contains JABUTICABA, which is basically a Brazilian grape. Jabuticaba fruit contains protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin C and some B vitamins.
Jabuticaba has polyphenol antioxidants like those in cranberries and grapes. These antioxidants have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties…in test tubes and lab rats. It’s difficult to prove these benefits outside of a controlled cell or rat cage because life is too complicated to prove a cause and effect of this magnitude. In other words, it’s extremely difficult to control for things like diet, stress, sunlight, exercise, the number of hours sitting down, etc. to conclusively prove whether polyphenols prevent cancer.
When Juice Becomes A Tool
Jabuticaba isn’t very high on the ingredients list, meaning there might not be enough of it in this drink to be an effective dose for those antioxidant health benefits. The same can be said for the other juices in here too: apple, grape, acai, and acerola. All of these juices offer some variety of health benefits related to the benefit of antioxidants. But the dosage makes a difference. So does the order.
Apple and Grape juice are the most predominant, and they are very sweet, which tells me this drink is using those juices more for flavor and sweetness than for health benefits.
Regardless, this is a healthier alternative to the stereotypical energy drink. This energy drink has 80 mg caffeine (same as Red Bull) from 3 leaf extracts: 1.Green Tea, 2.Guarana, 3.Yerba Mate. With 80 mg caffeine, this drink fits Fatigue Level 2. [See 5 Levels of Fatigue to see how to use this system to avoid caffeine toxicity, dependency, and tolerance]
You can find more about the science behind energy drink ingredients here at GreenEyedGuidecom and within 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” on Amazon (and now on Audible!!!).
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 →
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 GreenEyedGuide.com, 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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.