Update Energy Drinks: A Viable Caffeine Alternative?

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Update Energy Drinks are a new caffeine and sugar-free alternative to traditional energy drinks. But how can something provide “energy” without caffeine? As a caffeine (coffee) addict myself, the formulation piqued my interest so I decided to dig a little deeper, and here’s what I found.

What are Update Energy Drinks?

06/19/2024 12:11 pm GMT

Rather than using caffeine in their energy drinks, Update uses a new ingredient called paraxanthine along with some vitamins and nootropics (brain-boosting compounds). It is sweetened with monk fruit and has zero calories and zero sugar. 

The drinks come in four flavors: Berry, Lime, Mandarin, and Peach. Each can is 12 ounces.

Upon visiting their website, I was impressed to see a REAL white paper to back up their product’s claims. Since I had not heard of paraxanthine before, this gave me a nice jumping-off point to learn more and do my own digging into the research. 

Ingredients in Update Energy Drinks

The ingredients in Update Energy Drinks claim to provide energy without the jitters or side effects of caffeine. Here is a rundown of the ingredients and what they do:

Paraxanthine

This is the main “energy boosting” ingredient in Update. I was surprised to learn it is a metabolite of caffeine. When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is broken down into three compounds- paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline. 

The “jittery” feeling one can experience after drinking caffeine is typically caused by theobromine and theophylline. These metabolites are responsible for increased heart rate, headaches, and insomnia when consumed at high doses. 

On the other hand, the research seems to indicate that paraxanthine has a similar stimulant response as caffeine, with little to no toxic side effects. Some research indicates that it may be even more effective than caffeine at promoting alertness. Win-win!

Each can of Update contains 300 mg of paraxanthine. There is no established “optimal dose”, although most of the research I looked at said 200 mg was considered safe.

Nootropics in Update Drinks

Update contains a variety of nootropics, or ingredients that have a positive impact on brain health. Based on the label it is unclear how much of each of these ingredients it contains.

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine 

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is a form of the conditional amino acid L-tryrosine, one of the building blocks of protein. It is used by the body to make neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It plays a role in concentration, mood, and communication between nerve cells. L-tyrosine is also needed by the body in greater amounts during times of high stress.

Alpha GPC

Alpha-GPC is a precursor to acetylcholine, required for active memory, attention, and brain health. It may also play a role in muscle function and performance. There are not many human studies to support its overall benefit for improving cognitive health.  

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is the amino acid found in green tea. It is responsible for the “alert but relaxed” feeling you get after drinking the tea due to the effect it has on certain compounds in the brain. It may also help support better sleep. 

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid commonly found in energy drinks. It has many potential benefits for the brain, heart, liver, and vision. It also has calming effects. 

5-HTP

A type of tryptophan, commonly known as the relaxing amino acid found in turkey, 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin. It helps you relax, improves sleep, and supports a healthy mood. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that plays a role in energy metabolism, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. 

Other Ingredients in Update Drinks

Update Drinks contain additional ingredients in smaller quantities. These include:

  • Vitamin C: a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in skin and immune health
  • Monk fruit and steviol glycosides (Stevia): two natural calorie-free sweeteners
  • Natural flavors: added for taste, made from a “natural” source, brands do not need to disclose what this is exactly
  • Citric acid: a common preservative

Overall, the ingredients in Update other than the paraxanthine are fairly common in energy drinks. Most are amino acids or vitamins commonly found in food with no significant downsides to note. 

Should You Try Update Drinks?

If you are sensitive to caffeine but need a pick-me-up or are looking for an energy drink alternative, Update Energy Drinks may be worth trying. 

There are several potential upsides to trying this energy drink alternative:

  • Potential for fewer negative side effects
  • No sugar or calories
  • Naturally sweetened by monk fruit and stevia
  • Provides additional brain-health benefits

The main downside is the cost. One can of Update is around $3.30, whereas some of its competitors are about half that price. But Update contains a unique ingredient that is more costly to produce than regular caffeine. Typically, it is not uncommon for “healthier” beverages to be more costly due to the higher quality ingredients. 

Overall, Update is riding the trend of consumers looking for healthier or cleaner sources of energy with fewer side effects. Providing an alternative to the highly caffeinated energy drink is a great option for those who are caffeine-sensitive. 

Since my interest was piqued by this review of Update and the discovery of paraxanthine, I decided to look for coffee that contains this ingredient. And I found one! Stay tuned for a review of the coffee coming soon!

In the meantime, check out our other articles on various trending drinks and beverages