Friday, February 21, 2014

Review for Energems (Chocolate, Mint, and Peanut Butter)


25 mg/gem


I received these as samples, and as of yet, I’ve only seen these available for purchase online.


The individual flavors of Energems come in sharp-looking, matte black boxes that from the start have a way of raising your expectations; the packaging really is nice enough to make you anticipate a premium product.  My personal favorite lookwise is the mint flavor (light green + black = <3), but the others are in their own way satisfactory as well.  One tiff I have is the fact that the caffeine content is not listed on the individual boxes (though I’m not sure if that’s because they’re not supposed to be bought as individual boxes); I had to look on the outside of the variety pack I received from the company to determine the exact amount.  I’m the type who vastly prefers concrete information in this area; the whole “cup of coffee” thing (about three gems, for interested parties) is getting really tiresome.


It might not be Swiss, but in terms of texture, flavor and general agreeability, the chocolate flavor is at the very least on par with 95% of the impulse buy chocolates that you find by the cash register of just about every grocery/convenience lingerie store in the nation—the most meaningful thing I could say here is that I like them light years more than M&M’s.  Once or twice in the two boxes of this flavor that I tried out I found a small granule of energy blend that proffered a transiently bitter experience when I bit into it, but this minor annoyance was extremely easy to overlook, and only just worth mentioning.


If I have any complaints about any of the Energems, it might be that the mint/chocolate balance might be slightly off on this one—I like my minty chocolate to be a bit more on the minty side of things (think mint chocolate chip ice cream), and that thought kept coming to mind as I made my way through the supply I had been sent.  That being said, I don’t think that my own preference took away from the actual experience; if you like mint chocolate blends you’ll like these.


Now, just answer me this: how can you freaking go wrong with the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate?  From my experience, you really can’t, and this smart mix (equal parts chocolate and peanut butteryness, if a concrete description is desired) just goes to reaffirm my belief that the two are a match made in heaven.  It’s the one flavor where I had a hard time controlling my intake; I would open up a box with the intent of eating two or three to get my day started and would just keep going until the entire box was gone.


The really, really awesome thing about this product is the ability to choose your own kick—kind of like those “choose your own adventure” novels you read when you were a kid, only with chocolate and caffeine.  On days where I just needed something to clear away the cobwebs in the morning and allow me to distinguish between the toothpaste and the antifungal cream, two Energems (50 mg caffeine total) works as well as anything I’ve had before.  On the other end of the spectrum, a full box of nine Energems (225 mg) is enough to give just about anyone a buzz to keep them awake through anything.  I’d personally recommend stretching out your supply and limiting it to two or three at once—lots of energy products out there will make you jittery, but I’ve found few products out there that are better suited for a light early morning boost than these.


Ranges from an hour of perceptible effects with two Energems to about four and a half hours from nine.


Buy and try Energems—that’s all I really have to say.  I’ll emphasize again that my favorite use for them is for the light morning boost you get from eating two or three (though again, you run the risk of eating more than you intended with the peanut butter flavor); following these guidelines a single box will last you a few days and provide a delicious, effective, and economical* alternative to other energy products.

*—Somewhat.  My personal favorite way to start off a day is with one of the zero calorie Rockstars (Zero Carb, Pure Zero, Xdurance, etc.), which I can get for $1.50 each.  A box of nine Energems is $2.99, so every two I consume costs me about $.99.


KEYWORDS: Energems energy candy review

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review for Tweaker--Berry




Pops up at odd gas stations from time to time.  Just keep your eyes peeled.


Even if it’s not the flashiest energy shot in the world, Tweaker is attractive and different enough from other shots to grab and keep your attention.  The main selling point in my book is the use of the tall 2 oz. bottle as opposed to the standard, squat version—sure, you still know on sight that it’s a 5 Hour Energy clone, but at least it looks different enough to make you do the double-take needed to make you stop and consider purchasing it.  Also worthy of note is the name of the shot, which I like—now, the website claims that the formula was ‘tweaked’ so many times that they started calling it “Tweaker” and the name stuck…but I’m going to call that BS; there’s no way in the world that I’m going to believe that an energy shot called “Tweaker” is not so named so because of its association with methamphetamine (also a stimulant) users.  Lastly, I’m docking a point for failure to disclose the caffeine content anywhere, either on the bottle or the Internet.


If something could be done about the gosh-awful medicinal aftertaste here this might actually have been a respectable energy shot.  The first thing that’s apparent is that this doesn’t taste like your run-of-the-mill 5 Hour Energy clone—the berry flavor is full and thick, and I was just barely beginning to appreciate it when I was hit with a barrage of medicinal aftertastes (bitter, sour…you name it, it was there), which was about as bad as I’ve ever tasted in an energy shot, and necessitated that I take it down sip by sip.  It’s not just the palate that doesn’t appreciate it, my stomach isn’t happy with me, either—it’s been about five minutes since I first downed it, and I still have a slow burn going down in my midsection.


I think the “6X The Kick!” declaration on the bottle may be a bit of an exaggeration, but at the same time it is a pretty decent shot powerwise—it took all of ten minutes before I was buzzing through my organic chemistry in record time, plenty alert and jittery enough that had a marathon house-cleaning session after I was done was in order.


The peak lasted about an hour, then decreased incrementally over the course of the next two and a half hours.  No crash, though I’m more than ready for bed.


Works really well, but it’s nasty—so it’s more or less the same as most every other shot out there.  Maybe worth the kick if you can stomach it.


KEYWORDS: Tweaker Berry energy shot review, zero carbs, zero calorie, zero sugar, diet

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review for Endorush--Fruit Punch Fix


420 mg


Only one place around here that sells these locally—and it’s a high-end grocery store with a reasonably good section dedicated to fitness supplements.  Seeing as I haven’t seen this sold in any other such chains, however, I’d recommend checking out supplement stores like GNC or The Vitamin Shoppe, both of which sell this in their online store.


One look at Endorush will tell you that it is not geared towards casual consumers, which tend to be attracted to things like glowing green Ms, hardcore lettering and catchphrases that become cheesy when you think about them too long.  The red bottle with the iridescent label is certainly attractive enough to grab your attention, but what holds it is the way Endorush plays it straight—everything is readily legible, attitude is kept to a minimum, and from this understatement it becomes apparent that it is a very potent beverage that deserves to be treated with serious respect.  The only thing I would change is to make the ample warning labels a bit more legible—they’re so small that with the iridescence I can hardly read them without straining.  But I suppose as explicit as they are, they’d need a bigger label for that.


This came as a surprise—I’m really not into the crap fruit punch flavor; any number of my reviews can tell you that.  This, however, is one of three fruit punch flavored beverages I’ve had recently that pulls it off.  Something about how tart it is, how much the flavor is emphasized over sweetness makes it very hard to stick to the recommended ½ bottle…which, as it turns out, is recommended for a very, very good reason.


I got cocky with Endorush.

I’m not proud to admit it—any moron could have told you that it was a bad idea to drink the whole thing at once.  I did, however, and can tell you that you had better dang well follow the serving insructions!

Last time I had a beverage this intense, it was Spike Hardcore Energy—The Original.  I was so unaccustomed to such high doses of caffeine that drinking it just about flipped my lid, and I gave it an unprecedented “OVERKILL” rating.  The entire bottle of Endorush, however, gave me such an enormous caffeine rush that I’m almost tempted to do the same thing for it—except 1) I experienced it contrary to the label’s instructions, and 2) it’s not so much the rush that tips you off, it’s how it ends that lets you know you overdid it.


Half a bottle (had the grape flavor also—review coming soon) should give you about six hours of energy.  The whole dang thing—at the very least ten.  These were ten blissful hours for me, but after it was all over, I felt like a gym towel that’s been used by hundreds of different people and washed in the hot/heavy cycle countless times over the years—worn almost threadbare.  My nerves were so frayed that when I went to bed I slept about ten hours (as opposed to my usual eight) and was so put off by the idea of further energy drinks that it was about a week before I was willing to try anything else.  As I’ve said before—stick with half the freaking bottle.


Follow the instructions, and I can assure you that Endorush won’t let you down.  It’s got an excellent flavor and a great rush suited for just about any high-endurance (i.e. physical) energy requirement.


KEYWORDS: Endorush Fruit Punch Fix energy drink review, low carb, low calorie, zero sugar

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review for Monster Energy--Ultra Red


140 mg


Another Monster beverage found absolutely nowhere for the first few months after I heard about it, then suddenly showed up everywhere overnight.  If you’re having a hard time finding it—check the same place tomorrow.


Ultra Red follows in the footsteps of the original Zero Ultra in terms of aesthetic appeal; I only wish Ultra Blue hadn’t had those cheesy M’s integrated into that otherwise brilliant frost pattern…three 10/10’s would look nice on the shelf next to each other.  Anyway, this can features the same familiar texture as the other two, this time with a deep red an a paisley pattern to the side—which somehow works exceptionally well with the red.  I don’t know how that works…something about red and paisley just looks elegant.  Now I’m just waiting for Monster to introduce an “Ultra Green” with a green apple flavor—then 1) I could really look forward to enjoying a green apple energy drink, and 2) I could use cases of all four flavors as decorations when Christmas rolled around.


Something that I’ve discovered with repeated indulgences of Monster’s Ultra line is that repeated drinking makes good energy drinks better and bad energy drinks worse.  The same holds true here—my first experience with this drink was good, but not the best; the cranberry flavor of the namesake “Ultra Red” is mellowed out to about the level of the base citrus flavor profile familiar to those who have tried Zero Ultra, and at first the homogeny seemed incomplete, and that the cranberry had taken a back seat to the citrus and was not allowed to reach its potential.  Well, I’ve had it a number of times sense (every opportunity I’ve had to buy an energy drink, actually) and I can safely say that I love Ultra Red.  The discrepancies between the two flavors mellow out with repeated drinkings, and before I was wondering if this wondrously balanced beverage was the same one I had drank that first night heading home from Twin Falls.  Bottom line—buy this drink, and do it multiple times.  Chances are by the third time you won’t be able to get enough.


Monster has kicked back on the caffeine a little bit in their Ultra line, and it shows—this isn’t as potent as, say, Lo-Carb or the Rehab line.  One can should be enough to wake you up and put some spring in your step, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t actually buy just one when I’m buying an Ultra beverage—and two of these back-to-back makes for a heckuva fun ride, an easy 9/10 that will suffice for virtually any energy-requiring situation and on top of all that be a joy to guzzle.


One can: around three hours.  Two: five hours, easily.  No crash in either case!


As if you can’t tell, I love this drink—enough that I will be reworking my top 10 list soon to accommodate this and the other Ultra beverages.  I’m exceptionally pleased, and don’t doubt other consumers, be they Monster loyalists or newcomers to the energy scene, will be as well.

KEYWORDS: Monster Energy Ultra Red energy drink review, zero carbs, zero calories, zero sugar, diet

Review for Great Value Energy--Blueberry Acai


120 mg/packet


It’s the Wal-Mart brand, so unless you live in, say, West Yellowstone, Montana, you should be golden.


Great Value Energy doesn’t look all that great—but who cares?  People that go for this sort of thing are going to look for the word “Energy” on the box, and then their eyes will go right down to the price tag—which will ultimately determine whether they will buy it or not.  So is it aesthetically appealing?  No.  Does it matter?  No.


In contrast to the other Great Value energy mixes, this one is exceptionally finicky.  Too much water and you wind up with something like bland Gatorade, devoid of any real nuance of flavor.  Too little, and it’s foul—bitter and pungent and overwhelming (don’t even think about mixing in two packets at once).  Get it just right, though, and it is, in fact, very good—you can actually discern the flavors of both the blueberry and the açaí, something that you rarely get with either flavor, and what’s more, Wal-Mart actually nails them pretty good.  My advice: fill up a mason jar most of the way with water, mix it in, add six ice cubes.  Add more water if there’s room left in the jar.  It’s taken me almost all ten packets to figure that out, but now that I’ve nailed it, I’m happy to pass on the knowledge.


This’ll give you an average boost without too many jitters—fairly run-of-the-mill stuff.


Three hours.


Even though the kick’s nothing worth getting enthused about (can you tell that’s how I feel about it?) it tastes pretty good as long as you can get the quantity of water right, and I suspect it will do for about 99% of the general caffeine-consuming population.


KEYWORDS: Great Value Blueberry Açaí energy mix review, zero carbs, zero calories, zero sugar, diet

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review for Xtreme Shock--Fruit Punch


200 mg


Best bet is to buy this online or check out your local nutrition centers (the GNC kind, not the natural/whole foods kind).  The supply is otherwise spread pretty thin.


I don’t feel the need to go over this four more times with the other flavors, so I’m just going to copy and paste my evaluation (with a few edits) from the first review below.  If you’ve read that already, just move on to the flavor evaulation.

I’m not really sure what to make of this one.  First off, the label is energy drink to the core—bold font and colors, lots of lightning, etc.  But the label really isn’t the first thing that catches your attention—it’s more the fact that there’s a bottle sitting on the shelf which looks uncannily like the one my favorite teriyaki sauce comes in, only filled with a liquid that looks like a translucent version of that dreadful Hog Wash garbage my son likes from time to time (I usually get him the sugar free stuff).  The result is a generally befuddled look that grabs your attention quicker than any aesthetic appeal it might have, and I’m not sure that inducing perplexity in consumers is really the way to go when selling your product.


I’m not sure what it is—I’ve hated the fruit punch flavor for years, but in the last couple of months, I’ve found not one but three that were done in such a way that I quite enjoyed them (I’m behind on my reviews…hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on those soon, but don’t count on it too much).  In the case of this drink here, you get a triple threat to trump all other crap fruit punch drinks—1) it’s not sickeningly sweet, owing to the sparing use of artificial sweeteners, 2) it’s plenty sour, balancing the sweetness nicely, and 3) the flavors are actually distinct—cherry, mango, etc.—rather than the indistinct homogeny of fruity flavors that most fruit punch beverages settle for.  Still might not drink it for the flavor alone, but if you’re into energy/beta alanine supplements and like a good fruit punch, this might very well be a drink for you.


As far as a pre-workout boost, this drink is excellent—the initial energy jolt is impressive, and I did notice that my fatigue levels were considerably lower over the course of my workout.  Still, my favorite use of this energy drink is as a workout recovery beverage—courtesy of the beta alanine (if the article I read is not mistaken), which has been shown in clinical trials to decrease fatigue in athletes (I’m paraphrasing here).  Unfortunately, it’s also the reason I don’t think I’ll ever go back to these beverages now that I’ve tried out all the flavors—the beta alanine makes me really freaking itchy.  Sometimes it’s just the hands and forearms, but gets extremely noxious extremely quick once it spreads to my trunk and scalp (the last of which is particularly maddening).  So if you need a boost and have had beta alanine supplements before and don’t mind the high price, this might be the way to go.  Otherwise, I’d shy away.  It’s just not worth the itch, especially when I’m already satisfied with my current pre-workout supplement (Cellucor C4—review coming soon, I hope).


Just shy of four hours, no crash.


I like this drink—don’t get me wrong—but like I said, it’s not something I’ll be revisiting.  If you’re the sort that’s been longing for a caffeine and beta alanine-loaded fruit punch for your workout, then congratulations—this is absolutely your beverage.  I’ll be sticking with my C4, though.

KEYWORDS: Xtreme Shock Fruit Punch energy drink review, beta alanine supplement, zero carbs, zero sugar, zero calories
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