Buzz Swill

By Anna Sachse

Posted June 4, 2009 in Mind Body Spirit

With the sticky, sexy days of summer less than three weeks away, the ideal way to ensure your stamina keeps going strong is to get eight hours of sleep a night, exercise, limit your alcohol intake, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein, and low in saturated fat, sodium and preservatives.


But what fun is that? Wouldn’t you prefer your energy in the form of a neon-colored liquid that tastes like Lysol and is delivered in a can featuring artwork that looks like a WWE wrestler logo? Venom, Monster, Full Throttle, Amp, Bawls, Crunk—everybody has their favorite energy drink. Up until May 25, when the government ordered a recall and ban, folks in Germany probably preferred Red Bull Cola, thanks to the trace amounts of cocaine that were found in the beverage.


Cocaine?” you may ask? And then your next question is probably, “Where can I get me some of that?” 


Well, I’m sorry to inform you that Red Bull claims the illegal cocaine alkaloid is removed from the coca leaf extracts they use before they’re even shipped out of South America; however, there is plenty more nasty shit in most energy drinks, including whopping doses of caffeine and varying amounts of unregulated stimulants such as guarana (functions similarly to caffeine) and ginseng (a controversial stimulant that has been compared to ephedrine). 


So, which are the best and which are the worst? That all depends on your definition, i.e. do you want something that merely keeps you from yawning, or would you actually prefer something so powerful that it makes your teeth crack? 


Think it over. But in the meantime, here are the highs and lows of a few that are sure to put a little pep in your step.



Brain Toniq: No caffeine, synthetic vitamins or fake chemical sweeteners, and it’s actually kosher-certified. In addition to organic agave nectar, an 8.4-ounce can contains only five ingredients, including two Russian roots, two naturally occurring brain compounds (choline and DMAE) and blue green algae, a mood enhancer. Even kids can drink it. Available at Whole Foods.


Guru: 100 percent natural, certified organic and flavored with fruit juice and herbal extracts, a 12-ounce can contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or taurine, a standard energy drink additive that isn’t currently considered harmful, but hasn’t been studied long-term. It still has guarana and ginseng.


Verve: It has reasonable levels of typical energy ingredients like guarana, inositol and taurine, but an 8.3-ounce can is also loaded with vitamins like A, the Bs, C, D, E and folate, as well as a pile of minerals, antioxidants and ingredients like aloe vera and green tea which naturally curb appetite and boost energy. Only available online.



You should probably avoid Wired X-505, Cocaine, Upshot, Spike or any other drink that has excessively high levels of caffeine, guarana and ginseng packed into limited liquid.

But the scariest products on the market seem to be those offered by Redline. All these toxic cocktails are supposed to make you both shiver (theoretically it will burn fat in an effort to keep the body warm) and sweat in five minutes flat. Here are the highlights:


Redline Power Rush: 350 mg of caffeine in a tiny 2.5-ounce can.


Redline XTreme: 8 ounces have 250 mg of caffeine as well as yohimbine, an African tree bark extract, sold here to treat impotency, dilate pupils and stimulate fat loss. It can also mess with your heartbeat and blood pressure and lead to dizziness, headaches and vomiting.  


Redline Concentrate: Go over 5 ml (0.17 ounces) and you overdose. The warning label is 409 words long. 


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