Do energy drinks give you a boost?

How to be the best consumer you can be.
Sept. 20 2005 5:54 AM

Booster Shot

How well do those energy drinks work?

(Continued from Page 2)

8.3 oz./130 calories
Touts: Vitamins B-5, B-6, and B-12, taurine, caffeine, D-ribose, L-carnitine, ginseng, inositol, milk thistle, guarana.
Warns: "Not recommended for children, pregnant women or persons sensitive to caffeine."
Tastes: Like sweet tea with a dash of cough syrup. The only drink aside from Rock Star Cola that isn't completely overwhelmed with the strong citric acid.
Effects: No ill effects. I have strong Boggle scores and two bang-up games of Hoop Fever on this bad baby, scoring 63 and 64 points. Importantly, when I drink a can on an empty stomach, I get neither a headache nor tummy ache.

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Verdict: Decent flavor, and the small dose kept me from feeling like I had the attention span of a terrier. One of the better finds. What I'd recommend for people who dislike energy drinks.

8.3 oz./140 calories
Touts: Vitamins A, B-3, B-5, B-6, and B-12, caffeine, inositol, taurine.
Claims: "Improves performance, increases concentration, improves reaction speed, increases metabolism."
Warns: "One serving contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Not intended for young children and persons sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine, or for use with products that may contain stimulants such as medications for allergy, asthma, cough/cold, decongestants, or certain pain relief products. Do not use if pregnant or lactating."
Tastes: Like fizzy, sweet grapefruit juice. Pleasant.
Effects: Boggle scores are mediocre, and after a few minutes, I notice my handwriting deteriorate. But it does sit well when called into duty: I drink it just before playing basketball but after I've imbibed a pint of beer and a happy-hour whiskey. My stomach feels hot with the drink as soon as I start running, and I experience a moment of wooziness. But I recover and hit clutch shots in a game of three-on-three, with enough stamina to hustle on defense at the end.

Verdict: A nice flavor, and it earns plaudits for its slim size; 16 ounces of anything carbonated is too much before a run. Given the apparent boost it gave me in basketball, this drink is what I'd reach for if feeling sluggish before a jog.

16 oz./240 calories
Touts: Vitamins B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-12, and C, caffeine, taurine, guarana, inositol, milk thistle.
Claims: "Party like a rockstar."
Warns: "Not recommended for children or those sensitive to caffeine."
Tastes: Pleasantly metallic. Like a cross between Coke and pennies.
Effects: I drink a can while on deadline. I'm keenly focused, and I'm typing sentences almost too quickly, spitting them out before I finish evaluating them in my head. Meanwhile, my foot bounces on the floor. With a little more verve than usual, I drop to the floor and pound out 15 push-ups in the time usually required to do five. The Boggle scores are on the low side, but no vitamin or caffeine headache accompany this beverage. In fact, it's kind of fun.

Verdict: Better for you than a can of Coke, and it doesn't leave that squeaky residue on your teeth. Out of the dozens of cans I mowed through, Rockstar Cola is the only drink that offers that feeling of physical exuberance you expect from an energy drink. And it's the only one I'd actually want to consume again anytime soon. To me, coffee remains king for a pick-me-up, but among this group, Rockstar rolls.

Sam Eifling is an itinerant freelance writer and editor.

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