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mizducky

Those danged energy drinks

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I'm not sure how the hell it started, but I've developed a bit of an energy drink habit. Even though I've looked at the figures online (scroll down for the table) and seen that such drinks usually don't have any more caffeine per volume than a cup of regular coffee, somehow there's a weird attraction there. Maybe I'm simply more of a marketing fool than I'd like to think I am. Maybe I'm just bored with the usual round of soft drinks. Whatever it is, I keep buying the damn things. Anyone else?

(For what it's worth, my current favorite is Rockstar, the sugar-free or no-carb versions.)

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I can't stand the taste of most of them, but recently I happened upon Enviga which is a fizzy green tea drink. That's pretty good (the plain version at least; the peach and berry flavors do not appeal to me).

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I really like red bull when it came out, cause it tasted a lot like bacchus (a korean energy drink). Now I never buy it cause it's overpriced and I guess I'd rather drink water.

i also used to like redbull and vodka, but now I hate pretty much all mixed drinks and prefer beer


BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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Can't say I was ever sucked in. For starters, I'm very sensitive to caffiene, even the little bit in Crystal Lite iced tea, is enough to keep me tossing and turning, if I drink enough of it. I drink caffiene free diet sodas, for the most part. Secondly...the taste. A friend of mine was into the sugar free Red Bull, so I had a swig. Not god-awful, but nothing I would go out of my way for. Recently, at Costco, they were giving away samples of the Monster energy drink...dear God, it took me 45 minutes to get the slick-vinyl-fake cherry-achingly sweet taste out of my mouth.

At work, we did an energy drink study, sampling a 'flight' of half a dozen energy drink prototypes every day over the course of a week. Some were really REALLY good, like a very natural sparkling tart orange flavor, like someone captured what sunshine would taste like. Some were really really REALLY bad, like fake banana/cherry in a thin, milky flavored base. It was so bad, I thought it was gonna give me a bloody nose, or something.

That's been my exposure to them, and it's been harsh enough to steer me away from those tall, expensive cans. I get buzzed enough from tea.

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I'll slam one down when I stop for gas while traveling, and I want some caffiene but don't care to consume a large volume of liquid.

I'll usually grab Red Bull because it comes in the smallest can.

SB (trys to coordinate the capacity of his kidneys with that of his car's fuel tank :biggrin: )

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A glass of fresh fruit juice washing down a NoDoz tablet should work just as well.

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For the 5(ish) hour drive (usually at night) from Chicago to my parents' place in southeast Michigan, I usually bring at least one Red Bull. I like the taste, but I don't want to drink it regularly. It turns out Red Bull has less caffeine that a cup of coffee!

I had Mountain Dew's energy drink once from the a vending machine at a rest stop on the way to Mich. Oh, too sweet! Couldn't finish it.

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Oh dear. No, I wouldn't, but not because it's an energy drink, but because the combination of tomato and clam juices gives me The Fear. :wacko:

The drinks I tend to prefer go for a sort of grapefruity flavor reminiscent of Fresca. I think I'm saved from the problem of the sickly-sweet energy drinks by virtue of the fact that I stick to the low cal/low carb ones. That does mean I'm getting a dose of artificial sweetener with my other chemicals, but then I haven't been able to shake the diet soft drink habit either.

Hey, I'm not saying it's gourmet--I'm not even saying it's logical. But for whatever reason, I find myself drinking the darn things.

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I don't drink near as many of these as I used to but there was a point when I pretty much used to mainline these on the line. My favorites were the sugar free Sobe Adrenaline Rush, the Tab energy drink, and the Jolt energy drinks in those giant cans.

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Apologies for the long post that is about to follow but as will be seen, I have some pretty strong feelings about so-called "Energizing Beverages" and this is a piece I wrote some years ago.

=========

Over-Energized and Over-Touted

A few days before the end of the millenia, I wrote in one of my newspaper columns that we could anticipate the continued massive introduction of the so-called energizing drinks that have become so enormously popular in the last five years in England, Scandinavia and the United States. To my great sadness, in the intervening months (not enough as far as I am concerned), I have sampled beverages with the catchy names of Red Bull, Silver Spike, Silver Speed, XTC (an obvious tip of the hat to the popular but dangerous drug Ecstacy), El Sol, Black Booster, Reanimator, Dynamite, Red Kick, Magic, Semtex, Battery, Dark Dog, Lipovitan and Flying Horse, all of which we are told are good for us, will give us a necessary mid-day energy boost and taste good. I anticipate with a grimace the appearance in the not-too-distant future of other beverages, some as outrageously named as Orgasm, Climax, Teen Sex and Go-For-It, Baby. Considering the millions of dollars, Euros, francs, and even drachmas that are going to be spent promoting these items, perhaps the time has come to examine the claims of these beverages that they are good for us, give us a needed mid-day energy boost and taste good.

The Ingredients

Perhaps the first thing that potential buyers should know is that there are not all that many differences between these beverages, nearly of which contain a remarkably similar combination of ingredients. In one form or another, and in various combinations, nearly all contain fruit flavorings or fruit juice, caffeine, ginseng, panatonic acid, carbonated spring water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, taurine, extracts of guarana and yerba mate, glucuronolactone, inositol, a variety of B vitamins and sometimes, Vitamin C.

Taurine: for the uninitiated (probably about 99.98% of the population of the planet), taurine is a colorless, crystalline compound (NC2H2SO2) that is found in nature in red meat and fish as well as in the bile of mammals and is easily reproduced in the laboratory. Taking its name from the mythological bull Taurus, as produced by the body, taurine is an amino acid and is one of the components of taurocholic acid, the major purpose of which is to promote the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Several of the producers of these energizing beverages claim that taurine enhances the effects of caffeine but to date there have been no studies performed to confirm this statement. On the negative side, there are several studies that show that excessive amounts of taurine introduced artificially to the body tend to suppress the activity of the central nervous system.

Guarana (also known as Paullinia Cupana): This ingredient, categorized as an herb, comes from the seed of a plant found in the Amazon regions in Brazil.Brazilian Indians have used Guarana for hundreds of years as a stimulant, either chewing it or making tea with it. The Guarana fruit is harvested when ripe, after turning bright red or yellow. The gathered fruit yields a small round black seed which is crushed into a paste that is easily soluble in water. The claim of several producers is that Guarana contains some substances that slow down the uptake of caffeine in the body, thus making the effects of their beverages last longer than from coffee or caffeine tablets. Here again, there have been no medical or other studies to confirm this. What is known, however, is that guarana is one of the most caffeine rich sources known and it has been very well documented that caffeine stimulates the nervous system, fights fatigue and helps the body use fats for fuel. Like caffeine, guarana is also a thermogenic compound, and what that means is that it raises the body temperature.

Caffeine: In addition to guarana, most manufacturers add pure caffeine to their products. To read the labels of these beverages one cannot help but notice that the amount of caffeine in a 250 ml. container of these energizing beverages is even less than it would be in a double espresso. That is an illusion, however, for the combination of guarana and caffeine together means that every 250 ml. container of energizing beverage you consume will contain the equivalent caffeine as will be found in as many as six - ten cups of coffee.

Glucuronolactone: A rumor has been circulating, largely on the internet, to the effect that glucuronolactone is "an artificial stimulant developed in the early 1960's by the American government in order to make soldiers in Vietnam more aggressive". This is simply nonsense. Glucuronalactone is

a naturally occurring metabolite, a carbohydrate produced by the human system that is found in the liver when glucose is metabolized. The producers of several energizing drinks say that this is supposed to stimulate the basal metabolic rate but no-one seems overly concerned that there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

B-Vitamins: B2, B6, B12, Niacin and Pantotherat: There is no question but that the B-Vitamins play a major role in the body's ability to generate energy from nutrients provided by the foods we eat. Most dieticians and medical experts agree, however, that supplementing foods with B-Vitamins is useful only for those who have a natural deficiency in them. Many also concur that over-consumption of B- vitamins may even have the negative effect of reducing the body's ability to use body fat as fuel.

Ginseng: A dried root that is a member of the Araliacea (ivy) family, Ginseng contains many different substances, several of which have impacts on the body similar to various hormones. Although ginseng can have a positive impact on energy levels, largely in elderly people after long term use and in relatively high doses, the amount used in energy drinks is so small (largely because ginseng is so expensive) that most medical studies say that it could not possibly produce a noticeable effect.

Inositol: An enzyme produced and used by the body primarily to assist the liver with digestion. Produced naturally by the body, inositol is also known to aid in the breakdown of fats and to reduce blood cholesterol. Several studies show, however, that when added artificially to the body it has no effect whatever, and there is no research at all to back up the claims that inositol helps to heal cirrhosis of the liver, stimulate hair growth or prevent baldness.

Putting Them All Together

Put all of these ingredients together and what you have is beverages that are said, in one form or another, to give an energy punch or boost. Nearly everyone I have spoken with who has tried this stuff felt that drinking a 250 ml. can gave them an energy boost. Frankly, after sampling each of the beverages available locally and some that are on their way here now, even I found that to be true.

Being realistic, however, if we feel an effect from energy drinks it is doubtless from the caffeine and large amounts of sugar in them, the sugar probably having even more of an impact than the caffeine because most of these beverages actually contain less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Most researchers feel that the other ingredients could not possibly have any noticeable effects on our long-term energy status. As to the overall impact of these beverages on our health and well-being, one cannot help but wonder precisely why the Surgeon General's office in the United States has advised against overindulgence in this and similar beverages and why there is a major movement now gaining momentum to ban these beverages in England, France and several Scandinavian countries. Also worth our consideration is that these beverages are contra-indicated (even by several of their producers) for children, people with sensitivity to caffeine, diabetics, those taking certain categories of psychiatric medications or during pregnancy.

Who then are the potential consumers for these beverages? Although the initial target market was for young and trendy people who participate in the club scene and in extreme sports, the market has now broadened and includes anyone feeling the need for an energy-kick or mental-boost. For better or for worse, many long-distance runners have tried and given up on these beverages, finding that they leave them psychologically depressed and with feelings of muscle ache; many students have found that after a while they need more and more cans of this stuff to keep them going (one may notice that the need for increased dosages to maintain the same level is one of the definitions of addiction); and according to recent studies in Scandinavia, some 10 - 15% of the general population shows allergic reactions one or more of the combinations of ingredients in some of these drinks.

As to taste and potential drinking pleasure, after a series of recent re-tastings, I could not help but conclude that regardless of which fruit additive is used, every one of these beverages tasted surprisingly alike, was too sweet and left my mouth with the odd, fuzzy feeling that comes about after sucking on peach pits. Tasty? Definitely not. An energy boost? Probably, but whether the energy boost received from these beverages is any more than one receives from a cup of coffee or a tin of Cola remains open to question. As to me - I intend to avoid these beverages, not so much because I think they will do us any real harm but because they seem too much like New-Age nonsense and at the outrageous prices that are being charged for these things, they seem considerably too dear for whatever dubious plusses they may contain. My guess is that I'll stay with coffee for caffeine, fine Belgian chocolate for sugar and my body to produce whatever other chemicals are needed to keep me going.

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My overwhelming take on these things is that they are just gaggingly sweet. But I am NOT a soda/pop person. We never had it around when I was growing up, and I'll take water or iced tea any day over any kind of soft drink. Even the non-diet stuff leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and does nothing for my thirst. Diet sodas are even worse, I've never tasted one I could drink.

Like some of the other posters, I'll stick with coffee or chocolate for my caffeine rushes, with the occasional (very occasional) Pepsi.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I am a real sucker for these things, my personal mainstay being Monster Ripper, though I will try out any energy drinks I come across I haven't tasted yet. Most of them taste like overly sugared ass, but it is weird obsession for me.

That said a small comment on Daniel Rogov's piece, the idea that sugar will give you energy is bull, sugar can function as a fuel, but it has been disproven to have any effects on the psyche, which is what you are talking about when you're discussing a "(mental) boost". Though I agree with the rest of his article, the stuff is horrible crap, but then again it really isn't the worst thing I'm putting in my body.


"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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On "Event Day" (I work for a caterer), I have been known to grab whatever sugar-free/low-carb energy drinks are on the "2 for $4" shelf at my local gas stop. Usually it's the sugar-free NOS ones. Not too bad, and probably alot healthier then what my old chef used to drink. He'd mix Mountain Dew and Red Bull together. I'm pretty sure that causes heart palpitations after the first sip!

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On "Event Day" (I work for a caterer), I have been known to grab whatever sugar-free/low-carb energy drinks are on the "2 for $4" shelf at my local gas stop. Usually it's the sugar-free NOS ones. Not too bad, and probably alot healthier then what my old chef used to drink. He'd mix Mountain Dew and Red Bull together. I'm pretty sure that causes heart palpitations after the first sip!

Heh, I love crazy caffeine cocktails like that, my own personal version is dropping guarana tablets in strong coffee made with caffeinated water, then boiling it all down until it starts to be rather viscous at that point I either gel it with some gelatine or rehydrate it with some more caffeinated water.

Almost every geek I know has a weird ass recipe like this for surviving 24 hour lan-parties or night time coding.


"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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I tried a Red Bull once, after a late night out and early class. I got the worst soaring headache and sure did not feel refreshed in any which way, but the sticky taste lingered way past it's halftime....

They gave out free monster drinks once at a show, figured what the hey and got one. Big mistake. There's a reason that incredibly sweet stuff was free, sucking on sugar cubes is more pleasant (and I haven't done that since I was maybe 6). Just plain awful. Black can with green writing, went right into the trash after one terrible sip.

I'm not much for sweet things with some exceptions, but that was just vile, way too sweet and a bunch of plasticy artificial flavors lingering on.

Tried a 5 hour energy thing recently, soapy fake citrus taste, not quite as crazy sweet, but nothing compared to a good cup of nice fresh coffee in my book.

Of course I wish I'd have come up with Red Bull, that (Austrian I think) guy is rolling in dough, sure gave him wings! And cars and mansions and first class international travel and who knows what...


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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The new husband is single handedly keeping Costco in business by buying cases and cases of this stuff and keeping it out in the fridge in the shop. I swear if I could ever get a word in edgewise of his constant amped-up blathering I might tell him to think about maybe reining it in a little. Lord. I personally don't drink this stuff because somebody in this relationship needs to be level headed and in possession of a working super-ego and able to say, "No, dear, that is most certainly not a good idea."

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When I first started working on the house, I drank three of the things a day -- even though they taste like carbonated cough syrup.

Then I switched to iced coffee and iced tea -- I know what goes in that, because I make it myself. I've found no difference in the "energy boost." Plus, I'm 1000% certain that iced oolong tea is better for me than "Joker Brand Energy Drink."


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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