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

Let’s connect!

Energy Drink Spottings in New Zealand

On a honeymoon to New Zealand, I couldn’t help myself. I dawdled at every store looking for energy drinks and caffeinated beverages I’d never seen before. I only found a few, but I’ve shared my gallery below. I was only there for a week or so, but I was surprised how seldom I saw any energy drinks at all. In Southern California, I spot people drinking energy drinks on a daily basis, or spot the crushed empty cans in a trash can. My fascination for energy drink habits in other countries is not a new interest, but it certainly is growing. If you’ve got a story to tell about energy drink habits in your neighborhood, I’d love to hear it. (See below for all the ways you can connect with all-things-GreenEyedGuide and share your stories with me)

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Let’s connect!

Review the entire ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH SERIES

Energy Drink of the Month – December 2016: Core Organic

How do you describe a beverage that is a hybrid of juice, water, and tea? This month we’ll review a beverage that aims to give you the health benefits of tea, the hydration of water, and the flavor of fruit juice. While the caffeine content is negligible, there is tea in it, and Fatigue Level 1 is dehydration! We’ll review WHO IT’S FOR (per diet/lifestyle and ingredient preferences), WHAT’S IN IT (key ingredients), and WHEN TO CONSUME IT (per caffeine content and the 5 Levels of Fatigue).

*Spoiler Alert* I’ve got three minor Food Scientist pet peeves with this beverage, and I would love to hear your thoughts on these observations.

The Energy Drink (alternative) of the Month is Core Organic Pomegranate Blue Acai.

Other flavors available include Peach Mango, Watermelon Lemonade, Orange Clementine, Coconut Colada, and Orchard Pear. If you’re familiar with my Energy Drink of the Month series, you know I almost always pick the pomegranate blueberry flavors.

WHO IT’S FOR

This Core Organic “fruit infused beverage” is certified Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, low glycemic, and Vegan.

20161213_232927

  • PET PEEVE #1: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
    • Why would any of those be in a fruit-infused beverage? Does anyone else feel like Core Organic is trying to win consumers by tapping into that fad?

This beverage could appeal to you if:

  1. You are limiting your sugar intake and your “liquid calories” – This drink has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving and only 5 Calories per serving (10 Calories per bottle)
  2. You are avoiding artificial sweeteners – This drink is sweetened with Stevia and Organic erythritol (we’ll review this below)
  3. You are avoiding artificial colors and/or flavors – The color comes from Organic vegetable juice and fruit juice, and the flavor comes from a combination of natural flavors
  4. You are not really a tea drinker but still want the benefits of drinking tea – This drink has 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants, which is “the antioxidants of half a cup of blueberries or cherries” according to the press release in BevNET

core-organic-pomegranate-blue-acai-ingredients

WHAT’S IN IT

Fruit Juice

  • PET PEEVE #2: This is a “fruit infused” beverage but the fruit juice doesn’t play a very big role. 

There’s only 4% juice per serving. The FDA does consider coconut water a juice, but since it’s behind erythritol in the ingredient’s list, we know there’s more erythritol than coconut water in this drink.

The Organic lemon juice is behind the Stevia extract, which is very telling! Since Stevia is something you can’t use in large amounts, there can’t be more than one lemon’s worth of lemon juice in here. Since the lemon juice comes before citric acid, it seems both the lemon juice and the citric acid are in this drink to control acidity. If you want to keep mold out of your fruit juices, you have to either control the acidity or use preservatives.

The last two fruit juices are the last two ingredients in the list, meaning they’re the smallest portions of the recipe. There’s fruit juice used for color, and Maqui berry juice powder used to deliver antioxidants.

5-in-1 weight loss supplement combo IS effective, but thanks to WHICH combo?

White Tea, Maqui Berry, and Polyphenol Antioxidants

The good news is consumption of polyphenol antioxidants is associated with improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of cancer. Consumption of green and white tea is associated with lower risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The bad news is white tea is such a small portion of this recipe, and Maqui berry is literally the last/most sparse ingredient!

Maqui berry is a “Chilean blackberry”, according to a paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. It might have a lot of antioxidants in nature but one paper suggests the juice making process results in a “substantial loss” of the polyphenol antioxidants in Maqui. If you can figure out how to minimize these losses, there are some encouraging (but still uncertain) health benefits. A group of antioxidants called “anthocyanins” extracted from Maqui berry improved fasting blood sugar levels in (wait for it) obese diabetic mice.

“Animal research can be useful, and can predict effects also seen in humans. However, observed effects can also differ, so subsequent human trials are required before a particular effect can be said to be seen in humans. Tests on isolated cells can also produce different results to those in the body.” – see the Compound Interest infographic on Scientific Evidence

Erythritol

Erythritol is one of my favorite sweeteners, and we’ve talked about it before in other reviews. Erythritol makes Stevia better when they’re combined. Some people get a bitter-metallic sensation with Stevia extract, but erythritol masks the unfavorable attributes of Stevia. Erythritol is 60-70% as sweet as sucrose and has a very similar taste. It does not raise blood glucose levels and it delivers a cooling effect. While it’s non-caloric like Stevia, it has a molecular size that gives it more mouthfeel. Think fruit juice versus fruit smoothie: the fruit smoothie has a heavier “mouthfeel”.

Erythritol occurs naturally, like monk fruit and Stevia. It’s made through natural fermentation. It’s a sugar-alcohol, like the Xylitol often used in sugar-free gum. With xylitol, however, too much of it can really upset a person’s stomach. With erythritol, a person could consume twice as much – at least 0.66 grams per kilogram of body weight – before they started getting same stomach issues. Additionally, erythritol has been proven through clinical studies to reduce plaque build-up.

Core Organic beverage nutrition facts ingredients caffeine content
Caffeine content is “about the same as a cup of decaf coffee”, so does that mean 45mg? There is no standard for this!

WHEN TO CONSUME

  • PET PEEVE #3: There is no such thing as a standard cup of coffee or cup of tea.
    • It’s not clear how much caffeine is in this product, but we should assume the content is negligible. The white tea is the only source of caffeine, and white tea is not a very prominent ingredient.

Core Organic is not promoting itself as a drink that would give you energy, but since it includes white tea extract, I wish they could include some caffeine information on the label.

Dehydration is Fatigue Level 1, so picking a beverage with negligible caffeine content is a great way to ensure you don’t reach for the caffeine too soon. If you always reach for the same caffeinated beverage, and if caffeine is always your first solution when you’re tired, there will come a day when the caffeine no longer works for you. This is precisely why I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue!

Bottom Line

This water/juice/tea hybrid is not marketed as an energy drink, but it’s a good solution (pun intended) for beating the fatigue that comes with dehydration. While you will not get the full benefits of drinking plain tea, you still get the benefits of the 75 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants per serving.

Core Organic main site

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ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH YEAR IN REVIEW (YEAR 1 AND YEAR 2…year 3 coming soon…)

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Energy Drink of the Month — Jan 2015: Steaz Organic Iced Green Tea

Do you believe in destiny? I’m not talking about “That wizard came from the moon” Destiny; I’m talking about strange coincidences that catch you by surprise and make you smile. This month’s pick happens to be the source of such a surprising coincidence. It’s a product I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, but was waiting for the right opportunity. Little did I know the stars would align when that opportunity came along.

The Energy Drink of the Month for January 2015 is Steaz Blueberry Pomegranate Organic Iced Green Tea.

Steaz Organic Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea Energy Drink of the Month
Steaz Organic Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea Energy Drink of the Month

Other flavors are available, but I’m always a sucker for the blueberry and pomegranate flavors. Steaz also makes an unsweetened iced tea, but I prefer a little sweetness to cover the bitter tannin tea notes.

NOTE – this product only has about 15 milligrams of caffeine, so it’s a very weak energy drink, Fatigue Level 1 for sure. Steaz also has an energy drink line (100 mg caffeine per 12 oz can), but I’m not a huge fan of their energy drink line and I’ll explain why later.

5 Reasons to Love Steaz Iced Green Tea

ONE- When the Stars Align

Aside from being a potentially great tattoo or necklace charm, the Steaz logo has an intriguing story. See for yourself.

Steaz LogoSince I write the Energy Drink of the Month blogs the weekend before the 13th, I just happened to be watching the NFL Division Playoffs all weekend. That’s when I saw it:

Three quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs are #12!!!
Three quarterbacks in the NFL 2014-15 playoffs are #12!!! From http://www.nobodywinsontheblue.com/2012/12/121212-brady-rodgers-luck.html

Since three of the four quarterbacks playing for a spot in Superbowl XLIX wear number 12, I find the significance of number twelve in the Steaz logo highly amusing. But there are other, more significant reasons to like Steaz.

TWO-Green Tea-based Beverages

Chemically speaking, caffeine is caffeine is caffeine. The molecule itself and the effect this molecule has on the body does not change based on the source of that molecule. However, there are “food matrix effects” that can have their own influence on the body. Think of all those little creatures that attach themselves to sharks and whales. Like the shark, certain molecules don’t just float around all by themselves, they form attachments to other molecules, which can change the behavior of each. This is one reason it’s so hard to prove the health benefits of antioxidants – take them out of a food and it’s rare to see the same physiological effect. Eating concentrated blueberry powder is just not the same as eating whole raw blueberries.

The food matrix effect is why I prefer to get my caffeine from green tea. Of course, coffee provides a plethora of health benefits, but tea is the second healthiest beverage on the planet, second only to water. The health benefits of coffee and tea are beyond the scope of this post, but you can learn more about these health benefits and read the “Coffee Vs. Tea” comparison in the Energy Drink Guide.

THREE-Organic, Natural Ingredients

FACT: Every ingredient put into a food or beverage product must be GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”) or an approved dietary additive. I don’t believe a lot of the fear campaigns about artificial ingredients, but I choose to limit them in my diet. Steaz does not use artificial ingredients, which earns them a point.

FOUR-Body, Mind, and Soul

FairTrade SteazySometimes when I travel for work, my options for caffeine are limited, and I feel compelled to say an apology to my body for what I’m about to put in it. I hate when the only energy drinks available are the super-sugary ones, or when the only freggie smoothies available have more sugar than a half-pint of ice cream.  I feel good when I drink Steaz, not just because of its ingredients, but because of the company’s commitment to its farmers, its CO2 footprint, and to Fair Trade.

FIVE-Flavor and Sugar

Steaz Nutrition Facts and IngredientsI can’t deny my sweet tooth, but I try to limit added sugars wherever and whenever I can. I don’t like to drink my calories unless it’s a protein shake for breakfast en route to the gym. The blueberry pomegranate iced tea product has only 10 grams of sugar per serving, or 20 grams of sugar per can. That’s the perfect range for me, just enough sugar to make it enjoyable to drink, but not so much sugar I feel guilty about it. Plus, I make it a point to never finish a whole can in one sitting.

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The Less-Than-Stellar Side of Steaz

There’s a reason why “marketeers” and food scientists can’t always get along. Marketing will want to say what the consumers want to hear, and scientists often don’t speak the same language as everybody else. Now if we could all just embrace a little more science (and the metric system?), what a wonderful world it would be.

ISSUE A: Steaz energy drinks have 23 grams of sugar per 8 ounces. For a lot of consumers, that’s too much. There is a zero-sugar energy drink, but I have yet to find it anywhere I’ve found the other Steaz teas. When I’m anything more than Fatigue Level 1, the Steaz teas aren’t going to cut it.

ISSUE B: Meaningless marketing claims drive me crazy! “Clean energy”? Just say “sustainably sourced”. As a Quality Assurance professional for a billion-dollar supplement line, I’ve rejected too many green tea leaf powders for heavy metal and food micro issues to swallow the “clean” claim. Sustainability means much more to me, and I can’t be the only consumer who feels this way.

Chemical Free with IL

ISSUE C: Fear-mongering marketing claims also drive me crazy. “Chemical free”? Everything in the Ingredient Line has a chemical bond, and doesn’t Sodium Citrate sound like a chemical to most people? Spreading fear of chemicals is a slippery slope that puts the emphasis on the wrong arguments. A claim like “no artificial ingredients” seems much more meaningful to the average consumer. (related post: Fear and FACTS)

BOTTOM LINE

If finding healthier sources of energy is part of your New Year’s Resolutions, give Steaz a try. Oh, and don’t be afraid of “chemicals” because your entire body is naturally comprised of them.

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REFERENCES AND OTHER RESOURCES 

Healthy Energy Drinks — Is Organic or All-Natural Really Better? By Caffeine Informer

Steaz About Us

Steaz FAQ – including caffeine amounts, store locator, ingredient concerns and more

Caffeine Pop Quiz — YouTube

How to Spot a Bad Product – 5 Signs