Walking through the aisles of my local convenience store, I was struck by the number of refrigerated cases that were now dedicated to new-fangled energy drinks – a substantial percentage of the refrigerated space available, as it turns out. There are many different brands of these potions, some produced by the soft drink giants and others from smaller outfits, but they all have similar ingredients:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Sugars (although there are sugar-free and “low-carb” varieties)
- B Vitamins
Being the selfless person that I am, I decided to pick up a couple of handfuls of these babies – most come in 16oz kegs – to give ‘em a test and report my results.
The good news is that after the test, the EMTs were able to restart my heart without much difficulty. That is, of course, after they peeled me off the ceiling of my office. Prior to consuming several of these drinks cavalierly, I should have realized that they are no more than legalized liquid speed. The exotic sounding South American and Asian herbs and amino acids are simply amphetamines in a different, “natural” wrapper. Not surprisingly, though, the key ingredient to these formulations of nitrous oxide for the human metabolism is caffeine.
Interestingly, none of the containers detailed exactly how much caffeine is confined within each of the cylinders-o-power. It’s a secret until the stimulants are unleashed into your body, causing every nerve and synapse to fire simultaneously. After I came off my high, I hit the web to find out the comparative strength of each elixir and stumbled upon Energy Fiend, an extremely informative sight that explained why I felt I could do an IronMan in the time between when I dropped my kids off at school and my scheduled lunch meeting.
My only conclusions, so far, are that they appear to work and most of them taste like crap. If you’re already an espresso junkie and are pumping 100mg of caffeine into your bloodstream 2 ounces at a time many times throughout the day, these energy drinks aren’t gonna give you loads more energy. If you’re a guy like me though, whose average caffeine intake is about 50mg/day, drinking 16 ounces of this stuff will make you feel like NASA just filled you up with liquid nitrogen. The moon just doesn’t seem that far away . . .
On the taste part, I envision a bunch of product marketing guys at Coca-Cola sitting around saying something like: if we make it taste too good, they won’t think it’s a serious energy drink and we’ll just rob sales from the good tasting soft drinks – let’s make it taste lousy so people will think it sorta medicinal. The taste is acceptable for most of these drinks, but it certainly isn’t great.