What Niacin Does – Book Excerpt of the Week 

Niacin is my FAVORITE vitamin! Niacin doesn’t “give you energy” like caffeine, but if caffeine is the Iron Man of Energy Drink Ingredient Avengers then Niacin is Captain America.

Niacin is like that person everyone wants at their party. It participates in hundreds of reactions and thus is welcome all over the body.

The body loves niacin so much it creates a little bit on its own, just in case you don’t get enough from the diet.

Corn loves niacin so much, there’s a protein in corn that has niacin on lockdown.

In previous book excerpt posts, we proposed that if B-vitamins were all superheroes and you were assembling your dream squad for an energy drink, you’d want riboflavin and thiamin in the mix.

Thiamin is a crucial part of how the body turns glucose into energy.

Riboflavin feeds a giant beast of a reaction in the body which leads to the release of huge amounts of energy.

Thiamin and riboflavin are great, but niacin is even better. Here are two strong reasons why:

1.Niacin is even better than thiamin and riboflavin because of the sheer number of reactions in which it participates. Niacin is part of over 200 reactions in the body, most of them involving the production of ENERGY.

2.Niacin helps with the first step of alcohol metabolism. This is the step where ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde via the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. Niacin is a coenzyme, which means it’s a key part of the enzyme or machine that completes this reaction. This reaction/conversion is partly why booze depletes your B-vitamin stores and thus why energy drinks with caffeine, milk thistle and NIACIN are good HANGOVER REMEDIES! [For more info, see this post I wrote about energy drinks and hangovers on BroBible for more]

To learn more about niacin and the other B-vitamins, stay tuned for next week’s book excerpt as we continue our page-by-page exploration through the Energy Drink Guide.


Let’s connect!

GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge Day 3/10 – Alcohol and Caffeine (Friday Night Dilemma)

For Day 3 of the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge, we discuss the Friday Night Dilemma: what do you do when you get tired at 10 pm but you want to enjoy a night on the town and have an alcoholic beverage?

References in the video - FoodNavigator on the DAWN report and Caffeine Informer on alcohol and energy drinks

March is Caffeine Awareness Month – Join the Caffeine Challenge!

Through this challenge, you’ll learn how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue to reap the benefits of caffeine while avoiding addiction, dependence, tolerance, and toxicity.

PLAY ALONG – post a picture of your WAKE-UP tool/trick on Instagram and tag @GreenEyedGuide, or add your pictures to the Caffeine Challenge Event page at Facebook.com/GreenEyedGuide/events

Ironman and Hulk demonstrate why mixing alcohol and caffeine is so bad

Attention all Marvel and/or science nerds: Can you help me spread this message? You know that scene in “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron”, where Hulk is destroying a city under the influence of Scarlet Witch? Ironman in the Hulkbuster suit tries to punch Hulk out so he can’t cause anymore damage,”Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!” But that doesn’t work, so the ruckus continues…

To refresh your memory…



Passing out when you’ve had too much alcohol is your body’s way of making sure you don’t die. When you have caffeine, it overrides this built-in safety mechanism.


Mixing alcohol and caffeine isn’t new – there were Irish Coffee concoctions long before Vodka-Red Bull and Jager Bombs. But this combination messes with the senses – it can make someone feel like they’re “not that drunk”, so they will be more likely to keep drinking or drive under the influence. This is how people get hurt.

Not to mention, when you get admitted to the hospital because of alcohol poisoning from mixing caffeine and alcohol, these count as “energy drink hospitalizations” and you ruin it for the rest of us who DO drink caffeinated beverages responsibly! Not cool! See the “DAWN” report –> and this letter to Time Magazine…

If you absolutely must have some caffeine because otherwise you’ll be too tired to party, you must give yourself AT LEAST a 30 minute window between your last sips of caffeine and your first sips of alcohol. The caffeine will stay in your system for another 4 hours or so, but caffeine takes 20 minutes to take effect so at least you’ll feel that caffeine buzz before you start getting buzzed.

To learn more, check out this article by Caffeine Informer.  Caffeine Informer has compiled all the research studies and reports that helped us arrive at the conclusion bartenders have known ages ago: Giving a drunk person coffee just makes them a wide-awake drunk. It does not make them any less impaired (or obnoxious).

To learn more about the science of alcohol, see this awesome video by ACS Reactions:

Want more science-nerd meets comic-nerd meets caffeine-lover posts? Let me know in the comments below. Shout-outs on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are always appreciated. 



Energy Drink of the Month – December 2015: Mate Bros

What if you had the power to forge connections? I’m not talking “mad networking skillz” or a love potion. I’m talking about that feeling you get when the person you’re talking to gets you, like ‘YES, we are on the same page’ and seeing eye-to-eye. This month’s pick offers “connective energy”, which seems appropriate for the holiday season.

The Energy Drink of the Month for December 2015 is Mate Bros Yerba Mate.

Mate Bros Yerba Mate
[ Mate Bros Yerba Mate
This is the Energy Drink of the Month because of the expression “connective energy” on the label. I don’t know what that is, or what it means, but it’s a nice concept for the Christmas spirit. It’s another “energy-drink-in-disguise” because it could also pass for tea due to the label claim “Natural Energy Brew” and the fact that it’s yerba mate.
[Where to find it – click here]

Inspecting the Ingredients

20151213_100642This product has only six ingredients. SIX! That should certainly win some people over. These six ingredients are water, sugar, lemon juice from concentrate, yerba mate leaf extract, reb A (stevia), and natural flavor.

  1. Water – Note this is a non-carbonated product, which is more akin to tea than the stereotypical energy drink. This also knocks it down a rung in the 5 Levels of Fatigue system.
  2. Sugar – Only 6 grams, and just plain sugar, not any of its acronyms.
  3. Lemon Juice from Concentrate – This is the source of the 10% vitamin C and the 8% juice on the facts panel. In this case, lemon juice is not just for flavor, it’s a natural preservative. The acidity of the lemon juice makes it hard for bacteria and mold to grow. Note the absence of any other preservative in the ingredients list. [For food science of other preservatives, see the KNOW-No List Part IV]

    Caffeine Informer Mate Tea
  4. Yerba Mate Leaf Extract – It’s a good thing this is a leaf extract. Leaf extracts tend to have less microbial and heavy metal contents than their leaf powder counterparts.
    The Yerba Mate provides 99 mg caffeine per serving (per can) according to the label. This is in line with the content of Mate Tea, according to Caffeine Informer’s massive databaseTo learn more about Yerba Mate and why traditional consumption is linked with throat cancer, check out the Energy Drink Guide:
    Yerba Mate from the Energy Drink Guide by Danielle Robertson
  5. Reb A (Stevia) – Stevia is a natural sweetener, and Reb A is the actual molecule extracted from the leaf of the Stevia plant that delivers the sweetness. Stevia can be tricky for product developers because it’s critical to find a good source. Not all Stevia tastes the same, and a poor quality source may leave some people with Stevia’s characteristic bitter-metallic aftertaste.
    To many people, including yours truly, Stevia is preferable to alternative sweeteners like Acesulfame Potassium (“Ace-K”) or Sucralose. Not that there’s anything wrong with those sweeteners, as we’ve reviewed the food science behind them in the Panera Project KNOW-No List. If you’re trying to limit exposure to artificial ingredients, this drink will help you do that.
  6. Natural Flavor – Since there is no indication on the label what flavor this product is supposed to be, I have no idea what this natural flavor is…maybe lemon?
    When BevNet reviewed this product, they gave it 3 out of 5 stars and expressed disappointment that there was only one (ambiguous) flavor variety available.

BOTTOM LINE and Final Thoughts

With the amount of caffeine in this product and the very simple ingredient list, this is a very nice substitute for a weaker energy drink. Note, Red Bull has 80 mg caffeine per 8 oz can, and this product has 99 mg. What a nice healthy swap, right?

I like the Mate Bros logo with the hand-holding and the resemblance to the recycling logo, superimposed over a leaf that looks like a Celtic knot trinity symbol. It plays perfectly with the notion of “Connective Energy”. So my advice to this brand is run with THAT.

This is NOT a performance drink so, in my opinion, they should get rid of any performance-enhancing implications. Change the Beachbody-esque tagline (which is “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”) to just say CONNECT, and change,  “Healthy and great tasting energy tea to fuel performance connection.” I LOVE the notion of empowering connection, and I feel like this drink should be the official sponsor of SDI Training:

Related Links:

Mate Bros main site: http://matebros.com/

Support the GreenEyedGuide for one-cent-per-milligram-of-caffeine-in-this-product on Patreon

Energy Drink of the Month – July 2013: Nawgan

Partially inspired by the movie Iron Man 3 and partially due to this summer’s hot weather, I’ve chosen Nawgan Mandarin Orange as the Energy Drink of the Month for July 2013.

For any caffeinated beverage, the following 10 attributes are key to assessing the drink’s potency and value. Let’s go through this exercise with Nawgan’s Mandarin Orange.

Caffeine content is stated on the label – 100mg caffeine per can (11.5 ounces)
This is amount is less than the amount of caffeine in a tall iced coffee from Starbucks (120mg).
 Energy Fiend Complete Guide to Starbucks Caffeine

One serving is one whole can, which makes it easy to regulate the amount of caffeine one consumes.

This product has a Nutrition Facts panel, which means it’s a beverage, not a supplement. That means this product is subject to food/beverage regulations, not the supplement regulations (What? Supplements are regulated? Yes, despite what you may here elsewhere, supplements ARE regulated by the FDA, just using a different rule book than the one used for food/beverage products).
Since this has a Nutrition Facts panel, you know all the ingredients used within are either GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) or approved food additives.

Since this product is a beverage, not a supplement, it’s unusual to find Recommended Usage or Warning information. Some caffeinated beverages still bear the Warning Label, but this beverage does not. With only 100mg caffeine, this isn’t surprising.

The first ingredient in this product is filtered water, not carbonated water. Carbonation irritates the stomach lining which speeds up the absorption of certain molecules like alcohol and caffeine. This is why champagne seems to affect one’s sobriety more rapidly than beer does.

This product has 11 grams of added sugar so those of you watching your sugar intake may want to opt for the sugar-free Nawgan products.  This product also has Erythritol, a sugar alcohol that’s captured the interest of food scientists for its reported ability to improve oral health.
New clinical trial indicates erythritol’s superior dental benefits
Notably, this product is also sweetened with Stevia, not any artificial sweeteners.

7.  VITAMIN B-12:
Vitamin B-12 plays a key role in maintaining healthy cells and DNA throughout the body. This product has 50% of the Daily Value of B-12, a respectable amount. There is no known upper intake level for B-12, meaning you can’t ever have too much, but there’s no reason anyone without a clinically diagnosed B-12 deficiency or absorptive disorder needs over 100% DV in one product.

Vitamin B-6 participates in over 100 chemical reactions in the body, most of them involving amino acids and proteins. This product has 50% of the Daily Value of B-6, which is a good amount. A deficiency in B-6 makes it harder for blood cells to carry oxygen properly, so it’s important to get enough of the vitamin every day. However, intakes over 100 milligrams ( 5,000% DV) can cause nerve damage.

9. FOLIC ACID – This product has no folic acid, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It would only be bad if the product had more than 100% DV folic acid because that could mask a B-12 deficiency.

10. NIACIN – This product has no niacin, which isn’t a bad thing either. It would only be bad if the product had more than 35 milligrams of niacin (175% DV) because that could bring on the “niacin flush” – symptoms of flushing and itching.

This drink gets bonus points for the ingredient that makes it (and all other Nawgan beverages) special. Citicoline has been used in numerous studies assessing cognitive health and especially cognitive decline with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. A double-blind, placebo controlled (aka legit) study involving healthy participants showed that daily supplementation with citicoline improved cognitive function and performance. That study can be found here:
Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women

The amount of caffeine in this product and the lack of carbonation make this product a good match for Fatigue Level 3 (Read more about the 5 Levels of Fatigue in ARE YOU A MONSTER OR A ROCK STAR: a guide to energy drinks).

This drink is perfect for those mornings when a cup of tea or a glass of water isn’t enough to wake you up, but you don’t need a high-powered shove of caffeine to push you through an all-nighter or a graveyard shift. Moreover, whether or not this citicoline brain-booster actually works, the drink is energizing, sweet and refreshing – perfect for a hot summer day.

Nawgan.com: Mandarin Orange – product page