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: Bai Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion, Cocaine Energy, and Monster Ultra Violet.
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: Cool Blue Revitalizer, Red Bull (sugarfree) Purple Edition, Iconic Protein Coffee Drink, Monster Hydro Mean “Green” (more like yellow), F’Real Frappe Coffee, and West Coast Chill (caffeine free!) energy drink.
Cool Blue Revitalizer
- Caffeine Content 100 mg = Fatigue Level 2
Science Behind Cool Blue Revitalizer: This drink makes a big deal about 3 natural ingredients but it’s UNNATURALLY blue.
✔1. “Real Sugar” – true, but it ALSO has sucralose.
✔2. “Natural Flavor” – I guess BLUE drink =BLUE-berries? To me this drink tasted like CITRIC ACID OVERLOAD!!! WOAH BUDDY!
✔3. “Natural Caffeine” – From where? The label doesn’t specify but it’s 100 mg caffeine [#fatiguelevel2]
🤓PET PEEVE: 1 container= 1.3 Servings? Really…you couldn’t change your formula or can size?
🔬SODIUM BENZOATE— Did you know that benzoate salts like this one prevents growth of microorganisms like yeast and mold; it’s used for preservation of sour food (pH 4 and lower) and is often used with other preservatives especially at low pH (acidic food).
🔬SODIUM BENZOATE SAFETY NOTES — Consumers can ingest up to 5mg per kg of body weight of benzoic acid and its salts according to European Commission – Scientific Committee on Food. There are safety concerns suspected but unconfirmed for benzene formation from benzoic acid with ascorbic acid. However, this risk “cannot be reliably assessed on basis of data available” per BfR Expert Opinion. [More Info on the “Panera KNOW-No List“]
Red Bull Purple Edition (sugarfree)
- Caffeine Content 114 mg = Fatigue Level 3
The Science Behind RED BULL PURPLE EDITION: Red Bull has less caffeine and fewer ingredients than Monster and Rockstar. No guarana, carnitine, glucuronolactone, ginseng, or ginkgo; NO PRESERVATIVES! NO SUGAR!
🤓Since Red Bull has been around a long time there are mounting scientific studies testing its effectiveness
🤓Red Bull is not only the NUMBER ONE SELLING ENERGY DRINK BRAND on the PLANET, they also set the standard for energy drink industry SAFETY GUIDELINES. Red Bull was the FIRST ENERGY DRINK Company to list caffeine content on their cans several years ago, paving the way for other companies to follow suit.
🤓FURTHERMORE Red Bull has been open about their commitment to food safety and quality – you can read all about that HERE: ⚡ Red Bull on Caffeine Safety and Transparency ⚡
✔This MAY NOT BE FOR YOU IF you are trying to avoid artificial flavors and/or sweeteners – This drink has Sucralose and Ace-K but I am more concerned about the KNOWN effects of high sugar intake than the DEBATABLE effects of these two sweeteners.
✔Ace-K has been USED AROUND THE WORLD for 15 years and used in the US since 1988.
✔Sucralose was approved by FDA in 1998, and it’s considered safe by government/regulatory agencies worldwide.
✔As far as caffeine interactions that (maybe?) make energy drink more dangerous than coffee, I enjoy Red Bull’s simple ingredients, sugarfree options, and moderate caffeine content. 🤓💚⚡⛾⚡🔬⚡
Iconic Protein + Coffee Drink
- Caffeine Content 180 mg = Fatigue Level 3
If caffeine is best for PREworkout and protein is best for POSTworkout, what do you do with a CAFFEINE+PROTEIN COMBO?
🤓 DRINK IT!
But seriously, here’s what you should know:
✔ This drink has 180 mg caffeine per container. That’s as much as a Monster Energy (160 mg)
✔Caffeine doses of 3-6 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight are the best for pre-workout. That’s the range used in “[X] Til Exhaustion” studies (cycling, running, rowing…)
✔ Protein doses of 20-25 grams* protein taken in the 30 min window after workout is ideal for muscle growth but overall protein consumption matters too. *NOTE bigger protein doses don’t mean bigger results
✔ONLY 3 GRAMS SUGAR from Agave. Sweetness also comes from MONK FRUIT (aka Luo Han Guo) & STEVIA! I LOVE seeing these natural sweeteners used in caffeinated beverages 🤓💚🔬➕⛾➕🏋️♀️
Monster Hydro Mean Green
- Caffeine Content 125 mg = Fatigue Level 3
As the GREENEyedGuide I’m bummed “Mean GREEN” is yellow.
As a Food Scientist, I know artificial green is hard to keep green and natural green often involves spirulina, which has the slightest seawater taste. I don’t normally talk about taste in my reviews bc it’s subjective, but this tasted like flat Moutain Dew or old lemonade to me. 🤓💚🔬⛾
✔Sugar sources include sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and artificial sweetener sucralose. 23g! Not awful but <10g is my sweet spot (food pun!)
✔NO GUARANA OR TAURINE OR CARNITINE so really different than the typical Monster Energy Blend.
✔125 mg caffeine per bottle, compared to 180mg in most flavors of Monster Energy.
Is Monster Hydro a healthier alternative to Monster Energy?
YES in terms of lower caffeine content and FEWER Caffeine-(other ingredient) INTERACTIONS, which some people* think make some energy drinks more dangerous than coffee.
*I’m on the fence about this. Caffeine-Taurine-glucuronolactone combos are fine but no data for or against caffeine-carnitine combos yet.
F’real Frappe Coffee
- Caffeine Content not disclosed – Unknown Level of Fatigue
That Moment When you want to hide your CAFFEINE CONTENT so badly, you COMPARE yourself to something AMBIGUOUS. “2x caffeine as leading frozen coffee”
Who is the leading FROZEN coffee and HOW MUCH caffeine do they have? It is FALSE to assume a cup of coffee has a standard amount. 1 cup at Starbucks doesn’t equal 1 cup at Pikes or 1 cup at your hotel.
Neat concept with the DIY F’Real Blender machine but if we’re going to GET REAL (or “f’real”) ABOUT CAFFEINE SAFETY we need EVERYONE to report caffeine content.
Have you ever seen a bottle of ALCOHOL that DID NOT disclose the %?
PS – sixty-one grams of sugar y’all. Sixty. One. But look at how clean and simple the ingredients are. Too bad simple doesn’t = healthy. 🤓💚⛾🔬
West Coast Chill (caffeine free energy drink)
- Caffeine Content = ZERO! Fatigue Level 0-1 Energy Drink
An energy drink with NO CAFFEINE?!? Does the term “energy drink” mean anything anymore!?!
Let’s inspect it: 🤓💚⛾🔬Active ingredients include:
🤓Ribose – a compound that participates in an odd (pun) energy producing reaction called the Pentose phosphate pathway. Promising science, just hasn’t caught on yet.
🤓Ginseng – be skeptical of benefits!
🤓Arginine – amino acid with important jobs in the body (Urea Cycle Waste Removal). HOWEVER the BEST way to supplement arginine is to TAKE Citrulline!
🤓B-vitamins AND minerals – minerals aren’t usually in energy drinks. Curious… 🤓💚🔬⛾📚
Click HERE to learn more about how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue.
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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.
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?
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
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.
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”
Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database
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.
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
This 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.
- 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.
- Sugar – Only 6 grams, and just plain sugar, not any of its acronyms.
- 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]
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
Mate Bros main site: http://matebros.com/
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Soggy spinach, crunchy chips, moist bread – texture is as important as flavor in consumer acceptance. For the fifth and final part of the Panera KNOW-No project, we review the food science of the texture modifiers on the No-No List.
In May 2015, Panera published a list of ingredients that would be removed from their food. Several other companies have made similar commitments to simplify their ingredients, but it’s rare these announcements address why the ingredient was in the food in the first place. This is a missed opportunity to celebrate the food science. Thus, this was my inspiration for this project. 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. [For Part I, Overall Response, Part II, Sweeteners, Part III, Color/Flavor Enhancers, and Part IV, Preservatives, see previous posts].
Part V of V – Texture Modifiers (and remaining miscellaneous ingredients)
[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.] Ingredients discussed in this post are red. Read more