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 ScienceMeetsFood.org, 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 ScienceMeetsFood.org

“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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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.

 

Capture
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.

GURU SITES:

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Review the entire ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH SERIES

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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

 

PART ONE: WHAT DOES EDTA DO?
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

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Energy Drink Guide Audiobook Sneak Peak for GreenEyedGuide Patreon Supporters

Most people consume caffeine because they’re tired, busy, or need a boost. Assuming many of those people don’t have time to sit down and read a book, I’ve started the process of turning my Energy Drink Guide into an audiobook. It thrills me to think my book will be available to people who drive for a living and people who struggle to stay awake on long road trips. Many of my newest fans come from outside the US and speak English as their second language. While I prefer books in solid form and relish the action of flipping pages, they prefer books in audio format. Publishing the audiobook is going to be (almost?) as exciting as the day I first held my own book in my hands. (Need a refresher? Here’s that original post.)

After 10 years of collecting data, reading labels, watching the news, reading research and talking to numerous scientists, health professionals and other experts in the field of beverages and supplements, my guide to energy drinks is finally ready for public consumption. – GreenEyedGuide

If you would like updates on the production of this book, as well as a sneak peak audio sample, you can become a GreenEyedGuide Patreon supporter for as little as $1.

Audiobook Sneak Peak on Patreon

Thank you for your support! Stay tuned (pun intended) for more!

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Do you need energy drinks in your 20s? [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post provided by Walter Hurley, who works as a freelance writer for https://eduzaurus.com/There are several good points here, and I am one of those people who would not have made it through college and grad school without the help of energy drinks. Balancing multiple jobs and rigorous studies in biochemistry, “get more sleep” was not an option. 

Why Drinking Energy Drinks Is Important in Your 20s

walter-hurley-guest-post-photo

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/drinks-supermarket-cans-beverage-3008/

When you’re in your 20s you have a lot on your plate, whether it is going through the rigors of college or graduate school, playing sports, raising a young family, or all of the above. With such high demands on your body, it is essential that you supplement your diet with natural products that increase your alertness and overall physical performance. One thing you might not have known is that consuming energy drinks can be a healthy, beneficial way to achieve these results for both men and women. Energy drinks tend to get a bad rap, but with the right knowledge, you will see that they really can make a positive difference. But don’t just take our word for it; the research is in and energy drinks are the way to go.

Essential Nutrients

The website Livestrong.com provides a review of four important ways in which energy drinks can act as a booster whether you’re in an office or at the gym.

  • CARBOHYDRATES. A typical 8-ounce can of energy drink contains between 18 and 25 grams of carbs [according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Sports Medicine Advisory Committee]. Carbs are important for replenishing your body’s energy levels and the result can include better performance and recovery.
  • CAFFEINE. Caffeine is a common ingredient in most energy drinks that is good at boosting performance. While caffeine content can vary from brand to brand, the top-selling energy drink contains 80 milligrams of caffeine [according to Caffeine Informer]. The recommended daily limit of caffeine consumption is 400 milligrams for healthy adults.
  • ELECTROLYTES. As your body sweats, you lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are nutrients that serve a variety of important functions such as regulating your heartbeat and allowing your muscles to contract. Electrolytes also help keep your body hydrated. For best results, seek out energy drinks with 460 to 690 milligrams of sodium per liter.
  • SIMPLE SUGARS. You are typically told to avoid simple sugars because of their negative side effects such as raising unhealthy blood sugar levels. However, when you are loading up on carbs before highly intensive athletic activities, simple sugars are key. Unlike complex sugars, the simple forms of sugar are devoid of fiber, which is good because, as you are exercising, fiber can cause digestive problems. The liquid form of simple sugars is an easy, instant way to gain the benefits, which is yet another reason why energy drinks can be beneficial.

walter-hurley-guest-post-photo-2

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/runner-track-athlete-relay-race-1544448/

Good for the Heart

The European Society of Cardiology found concrete evidence that consuming energy drinks can improve heart function. This study, which involved subjects with a mean age of 25, found that drinking energy drinks containing caffeine and taurine improved left and right ventricular functioning one hour following consumption. The amount of energy drink that each participant consumed was based on their body surface area, which amounted to 168 ml/m2. Taurine serves as one of the beneficial ingredients in energy drinks because it regulates the flow of calcium, which is necessary for a healthy heart.

Improves Physical and Mental Performance

A study published in the medical journal Amino Acids also discovered some good news involving energy drinks. In this particular case, Red Bull Energy Drink (which contains caffeine, taurine, and glucuronolactone – a naturally occurring chemical that contributes to the structure of connective tissues)  was measured against non-energy control drinks. The study found that subjects who drank Red Bull saw improvements both physically and mentally. The physical benefits were found after having the participants ride cycle ergometers: those who drank 500ml Red Bull saw increases in aerobic endurance (the ability to maintain a high heart rate) and anaerobic performance (maintaining maximum speeds). The indicators of higher levels of alertness included better reaction time, concentration and memory. This is not to say that Red Bull is the best energy drink, although its aforementioned key ingredients are common among other energy drinks.

Of course, there are many energy drinks that contain higher and lower amounts of caffeine, some that are sugar-free, and even caffeine-free energy drinks that contain ginseng, acai berry and other ingredients that can increase alertness and energy levels. Ultimately, which energy drink is the best for you comes down to your own lifestyle choices and what you seek to achieve in terms of physical and mental benefits.

Consume Energy Drinks in Moderation

Of course, the main thing to note is that just like everything in life, when consuming energy drinks, you would want to make sure to do it in moderation. It goes without saying that high levels of caffeine and sugar are bound to have negative health consequences, so always keep to the daily recommended levels as espoused by the medical experts and use energy drinks as part of an active lifestyle. So go out there and choose the best, healthy energy drink that is right for you!

This guest post is provided by Walter Hurley who works as a freelance writer for https://eduzaurus.com/.

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Learn how to find the best energy drink using the 5 Levels of Fatigue

Review the entire ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH SERIES