By now, you've likely heard of Bang energy drinks. Whether it's the crazy flavors, interesting can design, or scantily clad models on their Instagram.
Bang is seemingly everywhere, so we thought we would investigate if the drink is actually worth drinking. Is there a better energy drink out there?
Here's a list of the ingredients in a 16 oz. can of Bang:
- 0 calories
- 0 grams of fat
- 0mg of cholesterol
- 40mg sodium
- 85mg potassium
- 0 grams of carbohydrate
- 0 grams of fiber
- 0 grams of sugar
- 0 grams of protein
- 50% DV of Vitamin C
- 25% DV of Niacin
- 25% DV of Vitamin B6
- 25% DV of Vitamin B12
- 2% DV of Magnesium
Sucralose is a sweetener found in sugar-free versions of Rockstar and Monster. Despite being around since the 1990s, there has not been a ton of human research done on the effects of sucralose. There have been sucralose studies conducted on rats showing damage to gut bacteria. There have also been studies linking sucralose to a higher risk of cancer with the mice.
Most people would look at this list and think "no calories, fat, or sugar? Sounds great." That does sound great until you take a look down at the ingredients list and see Bang is sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K).
Sucralose, otherwise known as Splenda, is a popular artificial sweetener.
Like sucralose, Ace-K is a calorie-free sweetener used in many diet products, including sugar-free versions of Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster. Similar to sucralose, Ace-K has been tested against mice. The research showed that Ace-K has been linked to cancer, thyroid issues, and changes in brain function.
Ingredients like Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine), Creatine, and Caffeine are intensely bitter in their natural form. Often energy drinks and pre-workout drinks that contain these ingredients use tons of artificial sweeteners to mask the bitter taste. In this case, Sucralose and Ace-K are the chosen ingredients. While they zero-calorie sweeteners, they also create an unhealthy blood sugar spike.
Creatine and BCAAs
You'll notice in bold on the ingredients label is SUPER CREATINE. This is Bang's patented version of creatine. If you try to find the amount of SUPER CREATINE in the drink, you won't be able to find it. It's not on the label or the company website. When you consume drinks that are preloaded with creatine, you will lose control of the quality and source of creatine included in the product. Since creatine is a dietary supplement not regulated by the FDA, quality standards and potency of the supplement often vary widely. This is certainly a drawback to drinking Bang.
Creatine affects everyone differently. If you are taking Creatine in the recommended dosage, you are unlikely to experience any side effects. Exceeding the recommended dosage may lead to the following side effects:
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Kidney stones
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive problems
- Compartment syndrome
Bang also claims to have BCAAs and CoQ10 (coenzyme 10), but like creatine, they don't list how much of each of these ingredients are found in each drink. While these can be beneficial ingredients, it's hard to determine how much value they are bringing to each drink without knowing how much of each you are consuming.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids, aka BCAAs, are essential proteins found in your foods. Your body receives energy as your muscles burn these amino acids. The three amino acids that make up the branched-chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are essential amino acids, meaning your body cannot produce them.
These three BCAAs are found in Bang energy drinks. While these sound like a great addition to a drink, they're not 100% necessary.
"If you're eating an overall healthy diet and you're balancing your protein throughout the day, you really don't need to take BCAAs in supplement form," says Joy Dubost, RD and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
These are some foods that can BCAAs from:
- Whey, milk, and soy proteins
- Beef, chicken, fish, and eggs
- Baked beans and lima beans
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, and cashews
- Pumpkin seeds
While they can do a lot of good, they can also lead to some negative effects. An issue with BCAA consumption is that they fight for absorption with other important amino acids.
High doses of BCAAs can reduce serotonin production. This is ideal for exercise as serotonin increases fatigue, but it can also be dangerous as serotonin is essential for regulating anxiety, mood, and depression-like symptoms.
With Bang being an energy drink, it obviously has caffeine. Unsurprisingly, Bang has a LOT of caffeine, 300mgs in 16oz. to be exact.
According to studies, the most caffeine an adult should consume in a day is 400mg. With Bang containing 300mg, you are coming dangerously close to your caffeine limit with just one drink. For all you coffee drinkers out there, you could only drink one cup of coffee and one Bang a day to stay under the healthy caffeine consumption limit.
One of the lesser-known facts about caffeine is that there are many sources of caffeine. Some of the sources are natural, plant-based caffeine while others are synthetically produced.
Synthetically produced caffeine from Chinese pharmaceutical plants is the most popular caffeine source in soft drinks and energy drinks. Synthetic caffeine is quickly absorbed into your body, giving you the energy you crave faster than that of a naturally sourced caffeine. However, synthetic caffeine will lead to a much quicker crash.
Where does Bang source their caffeine from? Great question. Their ingredients page is misleading. They include the quote "Caffeine is naturally present in more than 60 plants and is contained in many foodstuffs such as coffee, tea, and chocolate." This would make you think that Bang is sourcing its caffeine from one of these natural sources, right? Well, we're not sure, as Bang does not mention specifically in their ingredients list where their caffeine is sourced from.
If you scroll up, you'll see where Bang has its caffeine listed simply as "Caffeine" on their ingredients list. Generally, products that use natural caffeine will call that out and list that source specifically in their ingredients list, as KILL CLIFF does with our green tea extract. Products that don't use natural caffeine tend to simply list "Caffeine".
Are there better alternatives to the sugar and caffeine in Bang?
Of course, there are alternatives!
Erythritol and Stevia are two natural sugar alternatives that can be used instead of the dangerous artificial sugars. These sugar alternatives are generally found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables.
Erythritol only has 6% of the calories of sugar but retains 70% of the sweetness. Erythritol doesn’t spike your blood sugar or insulin, so this makes it a great sugar substitute for diabetics. Studies have shown that erythritol acts as an antioxidant, reducing blood vessel damage that has been caused by high blood sugar levels. Erythritol also will not cause your teeth to decay, unlike sugar and other artificial sweeteners.
Stevia also makes for a great natural sugar substitute. Stevia has no calories and is 200x sweeter than sugar. Studies have shown that stevia has the potential for treating diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Antioxidant compounds, including kaempferol, can be found in Stevia. Studies have shown that kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23%.
Green Tea caffeine is a naturally sourced caffeine that your body metabolizes differently than coffee, meaning it will affect you differently.
What could be THAT much different? It’s all caffeine, right?
Well, it’s actually something pretty beneficial. The caffeine found in Green Tea sticks to the antioxidants in the tea. This causes the caffeine to be absorbed slower by your body. As a result, you will not get the immediate caffeine rush you would with synthetic caffeine. Instead, your caffeine will slowly release over time, giving you more sustained energy.
Caffeine is also known to give people the shakes or jitters. With Green Tea caffeine, that is absent due to one of the antioxidants called L-Theanine, which is an antagonist to caffeine.
Does Bang help sports performance?
The answer is tricky, but it's mostly no. Let us explain.
Drinking a caffeinated beverage, such as an energy drink, will stimulate your nervous system. This stimulation will give you a temporary energy boost. With the right dosage, your mental performance will also receive a boost.
Studies have shown that your cognitive functions can improve as a result of drinking energy drinks. This will allow you to get more done in a short amount of time.
But wouldn't you rather have a longer-lasting energy boost than a just a short energy spurt? If so, look for a drink with naturally sourced caffeine rather than the typical energy drink with synthetic caffeine.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it will cause you to urinate, leading to possible dehydration. With 300mgs of caffeine in the 16oz can, Bang does not have any electrolytes to help hydration and prepare you properly for any sort of exercise.
Is there a healthy alternative to Bang?
Yes! Here at Kill Cliff, we love a good energy drink, but we're aware of the possible dangers of the many unnatural ingredients that many popular energy drinks contain. We wanted an energy drink with a strong caffeine buzz coming from a natural source, with no artificial sweeteners.....so we made one.
KILL CLIFF Ignite is a sugar-free, naturally sweetened energy drink that delivers the jolt you crave with 150 mg of naturally-sourced green tea caffeine (about a cup and a half of coffee). Additionally, KILL CLIFF Ignite includes only FDA-regulated ingredients in its specialized blend of B-vitamins and electrolytes. It provides you with 10% of your daily values of magnesium and potassium, which helps regulate hydration and blood flow.
So, whether you want sustained clean energy to help you through your day, or you want a natural alternative pre-workout drink...or you want to get fired up for a long night of playing Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption, KILL CLIFF Ignite is your go-to option! Check it out!