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 – September 2013: Rize

It’s the beginning of football season, and the end of the regular baseball season. It’s the end of summer and the beginning of colder months, all which coincidentally end with a “burr” (Octoburr, Novemburr, Decemburr).

September is a curious month. As the song lyrics go, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” — to many people, the beginnings and ends September brings are significant.

Like the trajectory of a Red Bull flugtag contraption, many people start September with an optimistic lift of energy and determination…before losing momentum and dropping quickly to the ground.

I have to plan for Halloween already?!? The sun has set already?!? Midterms, already?!?

Don’t give into the fall, rise. You may be powerless to stop the evening fog from rolling in, but you can combat the fog that creeps into your mind – rise.

The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2013 is Rize.

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Sept 2013 Energy Drink of the Month

Designed by a biochemist with a passion for athletic events ranging from Mud Runs to Marathons, Rize is not your typical “energy drink”. In fact, one would dare to say Rize symbolizes the New Era of energy drinks.

Rize is just one of the products you could use as a counterargument to one of my favorite blanket statements, “Energy drinks are bad.”

 

The Science Behind Rize Energy Drink

Like most energy drinks, Rize contains caffeine (*SHOCKER*) and B-vitamins. However, there are three major ingredients that set this drink apart from the other 500 products marketed as “energy drinks”.

Yes, 500. This is neither an exaggeration nor a typo. According to Forbes Magazine, there were over 500 energy drinks on the market worldwide in 2006. This vast collection of products is precisely why the blanket statement, above, irks me so.

1 – Trehalose

Trehalose sounds like it’s a fort you’d build in the limbs of a tree but trehalose (“trey-ha-lohs”) is a special kind of sugar. Don’t panic, it’s nothing foreign to your body. Trehalose is made from two regular glucose molecules. (glucose is the most basic building block of carbohydrates) In trehalose, however, the two glucose molecules are holding hands in a different way than two glucoses normally would (say, in a starch molecule). This tiny deviation from the norm is enough to change taste and metabolism.

Here’s the important part: trehalose doesn’t create blood sugar spikes like other simple sugars would. Trehalose has a unique sweetness that’s different than sugar but not metallic like Stevia. Also, it’s free of the controversies surrounding aspartame and sucralose. In essence, trehalose provides the yummy part of sugar, without the rise and fall of blood sugar levels. The result is sustained energy, the natural way.

2 – Green Tea Extract and Green Tea’s caffeine

The following is an excerpt from the book ARE YOU A MONSTER OR A ROCKSTAR: a guide to energy drinks:

Green tea is probably the healthiest drink on the planet, second to water. Loaded with antioxidants and other phytonutrients you’ve probably never heard of before, green tea is continuously glorified for its health benefits. Plus, it just looks healthy with that green hue, doesn’t it?

The only downside to consuming green tea is that it’s only good for you if you drink it, and the bitter taste is a deal-breaker to many, including yours truly. If you can’t stand the bitterness of green tea, green tea extract seems like the next best thing. Green tea extract is an isolated, purified version of the major antioxidants in green tea. Green tea has more nutrients than green tea extract, but green tea extract has all the star players, like the 25-man roster in baseball.

So how does green tea extract work? What, exactly does it do in the body? How do green tea extract and caffeine interact? For these answers and the rest of this discussion on the amazing benefits of Green Tea Extract, check out this handy guide.  Rize contains both green tea extract and caffeine from green tea, giving it an advantage over the stereotypical “energy drinks”.

3 – Huperzine

Not only is Huperzine a fun word to say out loud, it’s the X-factor that distinguishes Rize from all the other “energy drinks”. Supposedly, this natural compound helps memory, focus and cognitive function. There are even double-blind clinical studies to prove it. These cognitive function studies gave huperzine to people over a period of 8 weeks. So to get the same benefit, you’d have to consume Rize for 8 weeks straight.  Consuming the same energy drink every day for several consecutive days in a row goes against the 5 Levels of Fatigue

Rize is Fatigue Level 2 beverage

The 5 levels of Fatigue is a system which categorizes fatigue into levels of severity, then outlines which particular ingredients to look for to best suit that particular level.

For example, someone who needs a jolt in the morning should not be drinking the same product as someone who needs to pull an all-nighter. Rize is a Level 2 product, meaning it has up to 100 mg caffeine per serving, so you should drink it when you’re tired enough to need caffeine (as opposed to water) but not so tired you need a strong jolt of caffeine. You want to save those high-powered drinks for when you absolutely need them.

See this page to learn more about how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue.

BOTTOM LINE

Trehalose is not a new discovery, but it’s not the most affordable ingredient out there in the world of sugars and sweeteners. As a product developer and food scientist, when I see a company using trehalose it makes me believe these guys are willing to pay for quality. They could’ve stuck with green tea and brain-boosting Huperzine, but they decided it was worth it to use trehalose as well. Not only does this earn my respect as a food scientist and fellow biochemist, it makes the product unique in sweetness.

The two biggest drawbacks are availability and ambiguity. Thus far, this product is only available in the eastern half of the US, in Meijer stores: ee the Rize Store Locator. Of course, you could always order a case and get it shipped to you, but it’s not as convenient as purchasing a competitive product from your local supermarket or gas station. Furthermore, this product does not disclose the amount of caffeine per can and it’s ridiculously difficult to find this information online. Fear not, it’s only a matter of time before Caffeine Informer comes to the rescue.

***UPDATED: 9-16-2013:
Caffeine Informer assessment of this product:
Caffeine Informer on Rize Energy Drink