Energy Drink of the Month – Oct 2016 : Bing Crisp

Winter is coming. Do you need a little help keeping your energy up as the day winds down? How about a caffeinated beverage that doesn’t have the same stereotypical cocktail as the typical energy drink? How about something you can feel good about drinking – something with a little pizazz, or dare I say a little BING…

The Energy Drink of the Month for October 2016 is Bing Crisp.

It has apple and cherry juice, but there is also Bing original (cherry) and Bing Black (blackberry). The green one is my favorite (shocker), but your taste preference may vary.

Between the three flavors shown and mentioned above, the WHO, WHAT, and WHEN is consistent, but I will refer to the ingredients of Bing Crisp specifically.

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Who is this for? Target Audience

Bing Crisp contains 100 milligrams of caffeine per serving / per 12 ounce can. This is about the caffeine content of a tall Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, or an 8 ounce Red Bull. Unlike the PSL, Bing Crisp only has 8 grams of sugar – which is nice and low. Ingredients include cane sugar and sucralose, but there are no other sweeteners. Of course, apple juice does contribute its own sweetness, though.

There are no artificial colors, nor artificial flavors, and the preservatives used include consumer-friendly, CSPI-approved potassium sorbate. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been accused before of fear-mongering and cherry-picking scientific studies, so if THEY say potassium sorbate is okay, that’s a great sign. (We’ve talked about potassium sorbate before during the Panera KNOW-No Project)

What is in it? Ingredients and Function

This drink contains caffeine and an insignificant amount of ginseng (see PS at the end). Unlike typical energy drinks Bing Crisp also has beta glucan, grape skin extract (as resveratrol), and cherry juice. SPOILER ALERT: The amounts aren’t enough to really change your life, but enough to make this a better choice than other energy drinks.

Beta glucan from oat fiber has been proven to reduce cholesterol and to reduce the risk of heart disease. To see this health benefit, you’d have to consume 3,000 milligrams of beta glucan a day, and Bing Crisp only contains 10 milligrams.

“Because oat beta glucan is a soluble form of fibre it dissolves inside the digestive tract where it forms a thick gel – a bit like wallpaper paste. This gel is able to bind to excess cholesterol and cholesterol like substances within the gut and help to prevent these from being absorbed into the body. The gel and the cholesterol is then excreted as part of the body’s waste.”  – Health UK Fact Sheet – Beta Glucan

Grape Skin Extract and… STORY TIME

Have you ever thought about what happens to grape skins during wine making? The total tonnage of grape skin waste generated might make you sad. When I was in grad school, my thesis project was to prove you could use those wasted grape skins to get antioxidants which you could then use to prevent fruit from turning brown.

YOU’D SAVE FOOD WASTE AT BOTH ENDS!

Sadly, I never got the antioxidant extraction quite right (it’s hard to prove that a food isn’t turning brown from spoilage if you’re using a brownish-purplish coating to preserve it but that’s a story for another day). Bing DOES use grape seed extract, but only for coloring purposes and not in amounts large enough to mean anything in terms of antioxidant potential.

Cherry juice has some interesting real-world research behind it. Cherry juice has been associated with reduced gout symptoms, improved arthritis, and boosted immune support. The research that interests me most involves running. Have you ever gone for a run and felt your throat get sore and dry afterward?

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Prolonged and exhaustive exercise can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms – in other words, all that heavy breathing of polluted air with your mouth open can irritate your throat! Cherries have been shown to reduce that irritation because of the kinds of antioxidants they contain. [Reference – JISSN article]

If you’re the kind of person that only runs because you have to, the cherry juice in Bing might help your post-run dry mouth. However, if you’re a legitimate runner, you probably need legitimate, straight cherry juice.

When to take it? 5 Levels of Fatigue

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During grad school, when I was doing research on energy drinks and their ingredients, I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue. This system is designed to match the type and potency of caffeinated beverage with one’s true level of fatigue. In short, if you always reach for the strong stuff when you’re bored (not tired), it won’t work when you really truly need it.

According to the 5 Levels of Fatigue, this product, with its 100 mg caffeine per serving, is Fatigue Level 2. Fatigue Level 1 is when you’re only tired because you’re dehydrated. Level 2 means you’re tired enough to need real caffeine, but not so tired that you need something with a big kick. Note – Different Bing flavors may have more caffeine, for example, Bing (cherry) and Bing Black (blackberry) have about 120 milligrams of caffeine, while Bing Crisp (reviewed here) and Bing Raz (not shown) have 100 milligrams caffeine.

Bottom Line

Bing has some interesting ingredients that make this a healthier option than the more stereotypical energy drinks. If you’re someone that has to have caffeine every single day, you can feel good that the grape extract, beta glucan, and cherry juice are contributing to your health through a long-term, additive effect.

PS – If you’re a nerd like me and you want to learn more about what ginseng does (allegedly) and why it’s so hard to prove its health benefits, check out 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”

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Energy Drink of the Month – October 2013

 Name as many famous spiders as you can – GO.

Let’s see, there’s Charlotte, Aragog, the “her” from LOTR, the ones John Goodman had to fight in Arachnophobia, the one that freaked out Little Miss Muffet…What other spiders did you come up with?

How about this one – Spider Energy. With a head nod towards Halloween, this month’s pick is Spider Energy.

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.
Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Anyone can review a beverage and tell you how they like the flavor, or how the ingredients affect them. I find these reviews helpful and steer you toward those reviews when I can. However, ultimately my goal is to give you the tools so you can go beyond someone else’s review and determine, just by looking at a can, how the product might affect your own body in your particular condition of fatigue.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. 

 

Green-Eyed Insight on Spider Energy

 

1 – Caffeine.

This product has 240 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounce can, and this information is kindly included on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Keep in mind those under 18 should have less than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and those 18 and up should keep daily intakes below 400 milligrams, the maximum dosage considered safe by Health Canada and the US FDA. All of this assumes you aren’t pregnant or nursing or have a pre-existing condition that makes you sensitive to caffeine.

To see how this energy drink compares to others, Energy Fiend is ALWAYS a great resource:

Energy Fiend on Spider Energy (caffeine content is the same for all flavors)

2 – Servings per Container.

At one point, Spider Energy was two servings per can (see the picture from my collection, below). Nowadays, Spider Energy labels indicate one 16 ounce can is one serving, but always confirm the number of servings per container before making any judgments on any other nutrients. We’ve all seen the super-sized muffins that are supposed to be three servings, right? If you consume one whole 16 ounce can, you’re getting 240 milligrams of caffeine, which is not a small dose, but nothing obscene or potentially hazardous like some of the other energy products out there. Remember that you are not legally or morally obligated to drink the entire can in one sitting – the label is not the boss of you. This product is not weak so there will be days when half the can will do. Remember the words of Paracelsus: the difference between medicine and a cure is the dosage (this is also a song by Circa Survive).

3 – Carbonation and/or Juice.

Carbonation slightly irritates the stomach lining, speeding up caffeine absorption. Energy drinks with fruit juice are usually non-carbonated or lightly carbonated so those products might be better suited for those seeking a milder pick-me-up. When you want to take advantage of this nifty trick, check the ingredient list: in this case carbonated water is the very first ingredient, so there’s your answer.

Note this can from my collection says 2 Servings per Container and uses a Supplement Facts panel - this product has been reclassified as a beverage so current products feature a Nutrition Facts Panel, and the label has been updated to say 1 Serving per Container. Note all the Green-Eyed Insight here applies to both the previous and the current product.

Note this can from my collection says 2 Servings per Container and uses a Supplement Facts panel – this product has been reclassified as a beverage so current products feature a Nutrition Facts Panel, and the label has been updated to say 1 Serving per Container. Note all the Green-Eyed Insight here applies to both the previous and the current product.

4 – Vitamins.

Vitamins help your body perform reactions that can generate energy, but vitamins are not the source of energy. This is why you should be cautious of products that promise to deliver heaps of energy in the form of vitamin mega-doses. Even some water-soluble vitamins like niacin (vitamin B3) or vitamin B6 can lead to side-effects when you consume too much, so it’s always good to double-check the label for those particular vitamins.

B6 – Side-effects for B6 start at 100 milligrams so even if you did chug the whole Spider Energy, you’re only getting 8 milligrams (twice the Daily Value) of vitamin B6.

Niacin Flush – For this particular product, the amount of niacin per SERVING is 100% Daily Value, which is 20 milligrams. At 35 milligrams, some people experience a “niacin flush” – mild itching and flushing of the skin. Drinking the whole can provides 40 milligrams of niacin, enough to cause the niacin flush in some people. But, if you’re smart and if you’ve been listening to my advice all this time, you know better than to chug the whole can in one sitting. Better yet, perhaps you’ve met Mr. Swift and Mr. Thrift in Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: a guide to energy drinks, so you know how manipulating the speed of consumption can alter the ways caffeine affects your body, giving you, literally, more bang for your buck.

5 – Sugars.

In one 16 ounce can, there are a whopping 30 grams of sugar. For those of us limiting added sugars, there are sugar-free versions of Spider Energy. Then there are some people who might actually benefit from the sugar – people working a swing-shift with no time to eat, bartenders working the Vampire Schedule with no lulls to get real food…you know who you are. In this product, the sugar comes from sucrose (literally, table sugar) and glucose. Skimming the ingredient list all the way through shows no HFCS (if you care about that and if you’ve forgotten that regular sugar can be just as bad in excess as HFCS). Moreover, this product is sweetened with Sucralose (Splenda), and Ace-K but not aspartame (good news for those with PKU). Again, it all comes down to making the best decision for you – your body, your situation, your call.

 

Other Aspects to Consider:

This product calls out the amounts of other popular energy drink ingredients like ginseng, green tea extract, guarana and taurine. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had some quick little reference guide that explained in plain English what these ingredients do and how much is too much to consume?”

Here’s Your Sign…and your guide to energy drinks

BOTTOM LINE:

Enjoy with caution. The amount of caffeine per container, carbonation and sugar content put this product at Level 4 in the 5 Levels of Fatigue:

Level 0 – Energizer Bunny

Level 1 – Magic 8 Ball Says “Fatigue Forthcoming”

Level 2 – Too Tired to Go It Alone

Level 3 – Lethargic and Struggling

Level 4 – For the Long Nights and Rough Fights

Level 5 – Barely Alive

For a complete breakdown of these levels and how to use them to maximize caffeine’s effects while minimizing your intake, check this out: 5 Levels of Fatigue.

 

Other Resources:

Spider Energy Main Site

Caffeine Informer – Spider Energy Review and Caffeine Content

Spider Energy on Facebook

-Green-Eyed Guide