Energy Drink of the Month – September 2017: Guru Energy Water

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

Is V8 Really an Energy Drink? A Primer on the Science of Energy Drinks in Disguise [GreenEyedGuide on ScienceMeetsFood]

In this article I wrote for, I address the problem behind the term “energy drink” and the science behind energy drinks in disguise. (There’s also a Guardians of the Galaxy metaphor!) It’s a great primer if you’ve never heard the term “energy drink in disguise”, or if you never realized that V8 and Ocean Spray make energy drinks. Read this article in its entirety at

“I’ve been studying energy drinks since 2003 and they continue to both fascinate and horrify me. They fascinate me because I’m a biochemistry major, or maybe it’s the other way around. Energy drinks are the reason I pursued my masters in food science (and the reason I survived grad school). Metabolic biochemistry is the closest I’ll ever come to engineering – for me, studying biochemistry is studying the secret rules to how things work.

Energy drinks horrify me because it feels like people with no science background are behind some of the products you can buy online. Sometimes I’ll read a label and think, “What are they doing? Who thought this was a good idea?” The most concerning aspect of energy drinks is we don’t have a proper nomenclature to classify them properly. (#WhatWouldIUPACDo?) Using the term “energy drink” the way we do is like calling pure ethanol “booze”. Let’s talk about why the lack of classification is a problem.

Is V8 Really Energy Drink
Read this on ScienceMeetsFood


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5 Quick Facts About VoloVitamins: ingredients, food science, and caffeine

VoloVitamins is an energy supplement that comes in a powder. For this quick review, I share five quick facts about the energy supplement from a food scientist perspective.
  1. Vitamin B12 is the number-one most common energy drink ingredient (caffeine is third!) [Source, Caffeine Informer and Innova Market Insights’ Database]   and VoloVitamins has over 41,000% of the Daily Value of vitamin B12!

    caffeine informer top 5 ingredients
  2. For most B-vitamins, you don’t have to worry about ingesting too much because you’ll just pee out the excess. This is NOT TRUE for vitamin B6 and niacin aka vitamin B3, which CAN give you upleasant symptoms if you have too much. The vitamin B6 in VoloVitamins is not high enough to cause any of these symptoms, but the amount of niacin is high enough to cause “niacin flush” in some people.
  3. VoloVitamis contains 17 different fruits in powder form. Since the overall amount of the whole serving isn’t very big, it’s safe to assume the amount of each fruit is miniscule. That means VoloVitamins is not a replacement for whole fruit in the diet and does not provide sufficient amounts of fruit polyphenols and antioxidants to make any health claims. But fruit powders add flavor.
  4. The caffeine content is not stated outright on the product but it’s compared to a cup of green tea. Comparisions like this are always tricky because it’s not a standard reference: an 8 ounce cup of green tea may have a little at 12 mg or as much as 48 mg caffeine according to the Caffeine Informer database.
    For VoloVitamins, the caffeine comes from guarana extract and green tea extract.
  5. VoloVitamins conains NO artificial flavors or sweeteners. The color comes from grape seed extract. The sweetness comes from the natural sweetener stevia. Malic and citric acid also contribute some sourness to the taste, though they serve multiple roles in this formula: they are not just added for taste.

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Get your copy of my book on the science behind energy drink ingredients, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


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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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