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. http://wp.me/p3SHzu-It

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. [CaffeineInformer.com]
🔹️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 http://bit.ly/2p5yykZ

Let’s connect!

Panera Know-No List — Part II: Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

Panera, among other food companies, has announced a commitment to removing certain ingredients from their products. While many in the food science industry have mixed feelings about this decision, this is an opportunity to help consumers understand what is in their food (and why).

At the time of this post, there are numerous sites dedicated to presenting information on food ingredients, but some of those sites seem more about fear than food science. There have been several insightful articles on Panera’s initiative [See Related Reading, below, for my favorites], but to date, no site has accumulated the credible information and assembled it to directly correspond to the ingredients on the Panera No No List. Until now.

For each ingredient on Panera’s list, I’ve* collected the pertinent information about why that ingredient is used in food in the first place. For each ingredient, you’ll find a brief explanation of its purpose, safety concerns if any, and whether a natural counterpart can perform as well or better.

*This list has been a collaborative effort, and I thank all who have helped me compile this information. See “FOR MORE INFO” for resources and contact me on Twitter @GreenEyedGuide for the opportunity to join them in completing and improving this project.

Part II of V – Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.] Ingredients discussed in this post are red.


Acesulfame K, Acesulfame potassium, or “Ace-K”

  • PURPOSE: Low-calorie sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in combination with other low-calorie sweeteners to enhance taste of food products like baked goods, frozen desserts, beverages and dessert mixes
  • SAFETY NOTES: Has been used around the world for 15 years; used in the US since 1988
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’sEverything You Need to Know About Ace-K



  • PURPOSE: Low-calories sweetener made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid; 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in confections, desserts, canned fruits and dressings
  • SAFETY NOTES: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published an opinion on aspartame safety (spoiler: deemed safe),
  • FOR MORE INFO: Compound Interest has published a thoroughly informative infographic, which I cannot praise strongly enough, reviewing the chemistry and safety of Aspartame.
Compound Interest on Aspartame
Read the whole article and see the infographic in full at http://www.compoundchem.com/2015/04/28/aspartame/

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

  • PURPOSE: Invented in 1960, fructose syrups start out as plain corn or potato syrup and go through an enzymatic conversion that converts some of the glucose sugars into fructose sugars (glucose is the simplest sugar; fructose is glucose, slightly rearranged in the way you might rearrange a Mr Potato Head). Since fructose is slightly sweeter than glucose (thanks the rearrangement, which is more easily detected by sweetness receptors), less total syrup is needed to get the same sweetness sensation. ***NOTE: Sucrose (table sugar) is 50/50 glucose and fructose; HFCS has the same approximate sweetness to sugar and are usually around 55/45 glucose and fructose (yep, there’s more glucose than fructose in HFCS)
  • SAFETY NOTES: Studies comparing high fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption in men and women have found no significant differences in outcome measures of metabolism (Am J Clin Nutr)
  • FOR MORE INFO: One of the most entertaining scientific papers I’ve ever read is by John White; FREE ACCESS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Hydrogenated Starch

  • PURPOSE:  Hydrogenated starches are common sugar alcohols. “Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol, but they don’t contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do.” – FROM IFIC Food Insight Sugar Alcohols Fact Sheet
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL COUNTER-PART: Unlike high-intensity sweeteners like Stevia or Aspartame, sugar alcohols can provide similar bulk/mouth-feel as regular sugar.
  • SAFETY NOTES: The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recommends to cut back on hydrogenated starches because they aren’t completely absorbed (which is why they’re less calories than sugar), but, “As with most sugar alcohols, eating significant amounts of HSH may cause intestinal gas and diarrhea.”
  • FOR MORE INFO: See this review of polyols from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)


  • PURPOSE: Neotame is Aspartame that’s been modified to be 7,000 – 8,000 times (!!!) as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: CSPI put Aspartame in the “Avoid” category, but put Neotame in the “Safe” category.  Neotame was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2002 and the European Union in 2010, but is still rarely used.
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’s “Facts About Low-Calorie Sweeteners”


  • PURPOSE: The first alternative sweetener, 300 times as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: (when rats get fed WAY too many cans of soda, it’s a fascinating turn of events) CSPI put Saccharin in the “Avoid” category, and notes:http://cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#saccharin
  • FOP MORE INFO: CSPI on Sacchrin


  • PURPOSE: Sucralose is a sugar molecule that’s been slightly tweaked so our bodies don’t absorb as many calories from it; it’s 600x sweet as sugar, and unlike most of the alternative sweeteners above, Sucralose (“Splenda”) can be used in baking without it breaking down; It’s used in baked goods, desserts, dairy products, canned fruits, syrups and condiments – FROM IFIC Food InsightEverything You Need to Know About Sucralose
  • SAFETY NOTES: Approved by FDA in 1998, and it’s considered safe by government/regulatory agencies worldwide; CSPI puts this in the “Caution” category
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight “Everything You Need to Know About Sucralose


Companies should not be criticized for making clean-label commitments like this. However, consumers would benefit much more from moves like this if the companies are more transparent about WHY each ingredient is coming out, and what that ingredient was doing in the food in the first place.


Here & NowDoes Removing Artificial Ingredients Mean Healthier Food?

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, talks with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti about what these additives are, and why more and more companies have been making moves to eliminate them in foods.

Science Meets FoodRenouncing Pronounce-ability

It’s important to ask questions about your food, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it.

Response Part I to Panera’s No-No List