Energy Drinks Gain or Lose

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Energy drink claims are certainly enticing – from Redbull’s power to “give you wings” to Arizona Green Tea Energy Drink’s “explosive caffeine energy” – who is to say that Enviga can’t “invigorate your metabolism”, too?  There is no denying that the energy drink market is burgeoning with hundreds of innovative “functional food” products; however, the one caveat is that the health claims in this beverage category are currently not strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  With a public hungry for quick energy and easy weight loss potions, these beverages promise a magical solution. But weight loss is never that simple.
Enviga/$1.29 to $1.49 per can
(www.enviga.com)
• a carbonated green tea beverage
• contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (100 mg per 12 oz. can) plus 200 mg of calcium
• Enviga’s so-called superior calorie burning properties are primarily rooted in green tea’s anti-oxidant epigallocatechin (EGCG) – with 90 mg per can. EGCG is purported to speed up metabolism and promote fat burning.  Thus, the claim is that polishing off three cans a day would result in burning an additional 60 to 100 calories a day. Each 12 ounce can contains 5 calories.
The research was a brief, three-day intervention of Enviga’s calorie burning potential on 32 lean or normal weight people.  Although the findings revealed that metabolism was boosted by about 100 calories a day, the nutrition science community is skeptical at best. NAASO scientists, as well as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, are concerned that this product is sending consumers the wrong message about weight loss. The 100-calorie burn is just too insignificant in the weight loss scheme.
The bottom line: Why not just drink plain brewed green tea – it’s virtually calorie-free, costs less and may have other health benefits, too.
CoffeeSLENDER®/~$6.00 for 21 packets (www.coffeeslender.co.uk)
• a powdered instant coffee beverage
• contains a green coffee bean extract called Svetol®
• claimed to induce weight loss if consumed regularly after meals.  Svetol is believed to be the primary weight loss agent as it does not allow excess blood sugar to be stored as fat.  The CoffeeSLENDER theory of weight loss is that if you reduce your blood sugar “peaks” after meals and eliminate the carbs before the body has time to turn them into fat, weight loss will occur.
To date, there have been four human studies performed: three with Svetol alone and one using CoffeeSLENDER.  The Svetol research does point to positive weight loss (up to 5.4 kg) in overweight individuals with BMI > 25.
The one caveat is that the ‘maker’s instructions’ require that people drink CoffeeSLENDER after every meal “to make your diet twice as effective”.  They also strongly recommend a calorie-controlled diet (1200 – 1500 calories).
The bottom line:

Sipping CoffeeSLENDER after every meal might work if it substitutes for a decadent chocolate dessert or crème brulee, but the bottom line is about calories in versus calories out.  If you are following a calorie-controlled eating plan, you will lose weight regardless of if the magic ingredient, Svetol, is present or not.

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD

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