Kickstart Recharge versus Kickstart Hydrating Boost: Two strategies to fight fatigue

While Kickstart Recharge and Kickstart Hydrating Boost offer mostly the same ingredients, there are some non-trivial differences that show they target fatigue in different ways. To understand these differences in these caffeinated beverages, we need to review the connection between hydration and fatigue, and the relationship between fatigue and vitamins C and E.

But first, a closer look at the ingredients

Kickstart Recharge and Kickstart Hydrating Boost are very similar in terms of ingredients. They both contain 68 milligrams of caffeine per can, which is less than the caffeine in a can of Red Bull. There are more Kickstart flavors available, but let’s focus on two flavors from the Recharge group and two from the Hydrating Boost group. As shown in the table below, all four have the same first three ingredients. After that, the Recharge group differs from the Hydrating Boost group, but the two Hydrating Boost products have identical ingredients lists.


Blood Orange has blood orange juice, Blueberry Pomegranate has blueberry juice, but Watermelon has no watermelon juice, and Strawberry Kiwi has no strawberry juice. Unlike the Recharge group, the Hydrating Boost group has to rely entirely on the added flavors to make it taste like the fruits it’s named after. This seems to explain why the Hydrating Group has both natural and artificial flavors. Natural flavors are usually less potent and less permanent than artificial flavors. Perhaps natural watermelon flavors were not enough in the absence of any watermelon juice.


Hydration and Fatigue – The Hydrating Boost Strategy


Hydrating Boost aims to give you energy by giving you coconut water to fight fatigue from dehydration.

“By the time a person loses 1% to 2% of body weight in fluids, he or she will be thirsty. Even this small water deficit can cause one to feel tired. At 4% loss of body weight, muscles lose significant strength and endurance”
[Straus, L. The Liquid Diet: Role of Water. Introduction to Human Nutrition BILD 22. 2006;8:126].

There’s a reason the solution (pun intended) for Level 1 in my 5 Levels of Fatigue system is water! If you’re tired, you should reach for water before you reach for any caffeine. If you’ve already tried that, perhaps a caffeinated hydration beverage will do?

If you’re doing moderately strenuous activity for at least one hour or high-intensity activity for at least thirty minutes, an electrolyte beverage is preferred to plain water. Ironically, the strongest arguments for electrolyte beverages over water have to do with the fact that electrolyte beverages taste better. Athletes only replace about half the water lost during exercise [Noakes, T. Fluid replacement during exercise. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 1993; 21:297]. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that the increased fluid intake using flavored electrolyte beverages is probably beneficial [American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics 2000; 106:158-59]. The important thing is you’re drinking more fluids, even if the electrolytes aren’t needed.

Keep in mind Kickstart Hydrating Boost only has 10% juice, and coconut water isn’t even one of the three most prominent ingredients. If you feel Kickstart Hydrating Boost’s coconut water (and caffeine!) gives you energy by keeping you hydrated, I will respect your opinion. Then I will encourage you to drink one glass of water for every can of Kickstart. When the Kickstart can is empty, maybe you should fill it with water and drink it all before you recycle the can.



Vitamins C + E and Fatigue – The Recharge Strategy

Kickstart Recharge aims to give you energy by giving you antioxidants to fight muscle damage. Endurance exercise increases the amount of oxygen we breathe. This increased exposure to oxygen means an increase in free radicals.

“…free radicals can cause damage by joining with other body chemicals and changing their character, sometimes even producing a chain reaction by creating new free radicals that carry on.”
[YouTube video, “Oxygen, Antioxidants, and Free Radicals” watch here]


Free radicals are involved in fatigue and damage to muscle cells. Antioxidants like vitamin E attract these free radicals, slowing down the chain reaction and thus limiting the damage. In the process, vitamin E becomes a radical. Vitamin C can restore vitamin E so it can go back to attracting more free radicals. In turn, vitamin C can be restored by niacin (vitamin B3), which is also included in Kickstart Recharge at 60% of the Daily Value.


Clinical trials providing antioxidants to treat or prevent various diseases have largely been unsuccessful. But don’t discount the Placebo Effect. If you believe that, for you personally, Kickstart Recharge’s antioxidants (and caffeine!) are giving you energy by limiting muscle fatigue and free radical damage, I won’t debate you.

Bottom Line

If you haven’t already, read the Energy Drink of the Month review for Kickstart Hydrating Boost. That should help you determine whether or not Kickstart is for you. If it is, you can use the power of science to determine whether you like the Hydrating Boost or Recharge fatigue busting strategy better.

Related Posts:







Energy Drink of the Month – June 2016: WTRMLN WTR

What’s going on? Why is WTRMLN WTR on an energy drink blog? Because dehydration causes fatigue, and the solution (pun intended) for Level 1 of the Five Levels of Fatigue is water. With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time to review the ingredients, hydration power, and food science behind this watermelon hydration drink.

The Energy Drink of the Month for June 2016 is WTRMLN WTR. Energy Drink of the Month for June 2016 is WTRMLN WTR. Energy Drink of the Month for June 2016 is WTRMLN WTR.

Yes, this is literally the water from a watermelon, not water that’s been enhanced with fruit juice extracts or add-ins. Food Waste is a growing concern among food scientists (and consumers!) so I was overjoyed when I learned that this product is made from watermelons that would otherwise be discarded. Read More:


WTRMLN WTR Nutrition Facts and Ingredients - GreenEyedGuide Energy Drink of the Month June 2016
WTRMLN WTR Nutrition Facts and Ingredients – GreenEyedGuide Energy Drink of the Month June 2016

This drink is a little bit sneaky with its serving size. One bottle is actually one AND A HALF servings, and the Fact Panel pretends you’re only going to drink two-thirds of the container (8 of 12 ounces). This is a pet peeve of mine, but the new FDA food labeling regulations should resolve this.

One reason this serving size decision bothers me is that the label compares the sugar and electrolyte content of WTRMLN WTR, orange juice, and coconut juice. These comparisons are “per serving”, but that is not helpful because the serving size is arbitrary. If you Googled “what is one serving of fruit juice”, you’d find the American Heart Association explain that one serving of fruit is one whole medium-sized fruit or one-half cup (4 ounces!) of fruit juice. And yet one whole 12 oz bottle of orange juice can also be labeled one serving.

With this inconsistency, it’s better to compare the nutrients per ounce than per serving.

WTRMLN WTR vs Gatorade vs Vita Cocoa vs Tropicana Orange Juice
Nutrient comparisons per ounce, not by serving size — Gatorade vs VitaCocoa vs Tropicana Orange Juice vs WTRMLN WTR

Hydration Power

WTRMLN WTR label GreenEyedGuide Energy Drink of the Month June 2016
WTRMLN WTR lays out the people and situations this product is suited for…

The ideal hydration beverage has 6-8% carbohydrates, according to the research review article, “The effectiveness of commercially available sports drinks.” In the table above, Gatorade falls in that ideal range – shocker – but so does WTRMLN WTR. When are these hydration beverages most effective? According to this same research review article:

  • Consumption during short duration high-intensity exercise may enhance performance
  • Consumption during prolonged intermittent exercise can improve performance
  • Consumption during prolonged exercise (meaning 1-4 hours) may enhance performance

For more interesting hydration comparisons, see the “Guide to Hydration Beverages” I wrote for The Scientific Parent

Food Science – What is Citrulline?

WTRMLN WTR What is Citrulline - GreenEyedGuide Energy Drink of the Month
Did you notice the “bedroom” claim on the label? Citrulline has some pretty interesting use cases involving the Urea Cycle, Nitric Oxide Metabolism, and muscle fatigue!

The more I read about citrulline, the more I wanted to learn about it. A “deep dive” on this ingredient is forthcoming later this month, but here are some key facts you should know.

  1. Citrulline is also known as watermelon extract.
  2. Citrulline gets its name from watermelon – watermelon’s Latin botanical name is Citrullus vulgaris.
  3. One average watermelon contains 2.1mg citrulline per gram
  4. In the sports supplement world, people take citrulline (as L-citrulline or citrulline malate) to increase the levels of amino acid arginine in the body
  5. The kidneys turn citrulline into arginine, which is supposed to delay muscular fatigue [’s Complete 2016 Supplement Guide rates this ingredient/function claim as “Great: Inconclusive findings but anecdotal evidence is favorable and the ingredient is considered safe for use”

Comparisons and Conclusions

How does this drink hold up to plain old water? Well, it’s certainly tastier, and potentially more expensive. If you’re one of those people that have a hard time drinking enough water throughout the day, this product could be one way to drink more.

How does this drink hold up to orange juice? Comparing ounce-per-ounce instead of tripping over serving sizes, WTRMLN WTR has fewer calories and fewer grams of sugar. It also has less Vitamin C.

How does this drink hold up to other watermelon beverages we’ve reviewed at GreenEyedGuide? Well, WTRMLN WTR is not caffeinated, so if you’re one of those people who need help getting up for your 5 am workouts, WTRMLN WTR may not be the best pre-workout drink.

My initials are DR but I’m not a doctor, so take my insight with a grain of salt and take all caffeinated beverages with a tall glass of water.



Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database

Visit the Energy Drink Guide Facebook page (Woo-hoo!!! 100 Likes!)
Follow the GreenEyedGuide on Twitter
Follow GreenEyedGuide-the-NPC-Figure-Athlete on Instagram and Tumblr

Get your copy of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”

Energy Drink of the Month – Jan 2016: Cran-Energy

If your New Year’s Resolution is to consume fewer energy drinks, you may be looking for some healthy swaps. How healthy is fruit juice, really? Obviously, it’s not as healthy as whole fruit, but usually healthier than soda. This energy drink (alternative) of the month is a healthy alternative to the stereotypical energy drink, but it is also an example of how “healthy” and “good for you” is a matter of context and perspective.

The Energy Drink of the Month is Cran-Energy Cranberry Energy Juice Drink.

On their own page, Ocean Spray’s clever distinction, “energy JUICE drink” highlights the ambiguity of how to classify this product. Since this product walks the line between the JUICE category and the ENERGY DRINK category, we’ll compare how healthy this product is relative to other products in each category.

Is it Juice or an Energy Drink? Product Category Confusion

If it was your job to tally the annual sales of different types of beverages, would you put this in the “energy drink” category or the “juice” category? In their article “Juice Gone Wild”, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has effectively put this in the juice category. However, on their own site, Ocean Spray compares this product to “other energy drinks”. Furthermore, BevNet’s product assessment definitively puts this drink in the energy drink category as this product was specifically designed to give people energy.

Cran-Energy versus the stereotypical ENERGY DRINK

Since Red Bull is the number one selling brand in the ENERGY DRINK product category, we’ll compare Cran-Energy to Red Bull.


Click here to open and download the Cran-Energy vs Energy Drink DATASHEET

Against a stereotypical energy drink, Cran-Energy IS a healthy swap. The 2015-2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends sodium intake not exceed 2300 mg per day. With such a low limit, the lower sodium of Cran-Energy is a healthier option than Red Bull.

Furthermore, the 2015-2016 DGA recommendation is to limit intake of added sugars (like those in the Red Bull) to less than 10% of total calories per day [Source –].  It’s also important to note that since the sugars in the Cran-Energy come from grape and cranberry juice, they’re not TECHNICALLY “added sugars” because they’re natural in grape juice. (Though grape juice isn’t naturally added to cranberry juice, is it? Hello, loophole!)

But what about the Sucralose in Cran-Energy? The 2015-2016 DGA agrees with leading global authorities including the European Food Safety Authority that sweeteners like sucralose are safe to consume, though the DGA does note that “replacing added sugars with high-intensity sweeteners may reduce calorie intake in the short-term, yet, questions remain about their effectiveness as a long-term weight management strategy.” [Source –].

Cran-Energy versus Cranberry JUICE

To the rushed shopper, Cran-Energy might pass as fancy cranberry juice. Comparing Ocean Spray’s Cran-Energy to Ocean Spray’s Cranberry 100% Juice, Cran-Energy IS NOT a healthy swap.


Click here to open and download the Cran-Energy vs Cranberry 100percent Juice DATASHEET

While the Cran-Energy offers a cluster of B-vitamins, it also contains artificial colors and sweeteners that aren’t in the Cranberry 100% juice. Furthermore, consider the juice content itself! Looking at the front of the label, you might think Ocean Spray Cranberry 100% juice is 100% cranberry juice when in fact other fruits like grape, apple, and pear are also used to make this 100% juice. (When you can’t add plain sugar, grape juice is a very sweet natural source) Cran-Energy is only 23% juice and is mostly filtered water. If you wanted to reap the benefits of cranberry juice, Cran-Energy is not going to help you.


It’s short-sighted to call anything (even 100% juice) healthy because a term like this deserves context. With proper context, we can see that Cran-Energy IS NOT a healthy swap for 100% juice (let alone whole fruit), but it IS a healthy swap for the stereotypical energy drink.



Support the GreenEyedGuide on Patreon
Visit the Energy Drink Guide Facebook page (sooo close to 100 Likes!)
Follow the GreenEyedGuide on Twitter
Follow GreenEyedGuide-the-NPC-Figure-Athlete on Instagram and Tumblr

Get your copy of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”

Energy Drink of the Month – December 2015: Mate Bros

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.

Mate Bros Yerba Mate
[ 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

20151213_100642This 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Sugar – Only 6 grams, and just plain sugar, not any of its acronyms.
  3. 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]

    Caffeine Informer Mate Tea
  4. 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:
    Yerba Mate from the Energy Drink Guide by Danielle Robertson
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

Related Links:

Mate Bros main site:

Support the GreenEyedGuide for one-cent-per-milligram-of-caffeine-in-this-product on Patreon