I'm not a huge supplement person. This is partly because I'm terrible at sticking to any regimented nutritional schedule, partly because I internally rebel every time I hear someone tell me, "You should..." (I think to myself, "oh yeah, how do you know I should do that?!?") and partly because I'm a firm believer in plain ol' water and sound, solid foods. That said, I know there are times when supplementation helps ensure proper hydration and nutrition. So, when I was offered the chance to test out Coral, LLC's Cell EnerG about a month ago, I figured, "Hey, I'll give it a shot." Here's what you should know:
The basics: Coral, LLC Cell EnerG
I have to be honest, at first I was a little worried that Cell EnerG was an energy drink of some sort, and as a general rule, I stick to black coffee as my favorite energy drink option. But, it's really individually wrapped sticks of mineral- and antioxidant-infused powder that you add to water to help reduce the effects of free radical damage and improve hydration.
One of the tough things about supplements is that because they're not regulated by the FDA, you don't necessarily know that their claims will be accurate. So while the box says that Cell EnerG "may increase mental alertness, support athletic performance, recovery and allow your cells to function optimally," you can't necessarily take that claim at face value. Also, there's this well documented thing called the Placebo Effect (heard of it, anyone?), where you can actually see the effects you expected to see simply because you expected to see them. I'm not knocking the Placebo Effect, though - hey, I'll take improvements in performance any way I can get them! (any natural and legal way, that is!) So, rather than focus on the claims on the box, I turned to the ingredient label. This is what I found:
- 10 calories per packet
- 2 grams carbs and 0 grams sugar
- 500 milligrams Vitamin C (833% daily value)
- 400 IU Vitamin D (100% daily value)
- 300 milligrams calcium from coral minerals (25% daily value)
- 100 milligrams magnesium (25% daily value)
Other ingredients include:
- Citric acid
- Natural flavor
- Chicory root extract
- Beet powder
- 72 trace minerals from Eco Safe Coral Minerals
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Potassium carbonate
- Calcium lactate
All-in-all, I see vitamins and minerals that are, in fact, antioxidants. I see naturally-occurring ingredients that I know my body needs and that I know can be beneficial to performance. And, I'm well aware that if my body is deficient in some of these minerals, adding a supplement to my diet could, in fact, enhance performance and do all the things that are claimed on the box. So, while I'm not a registered dietician, and I always suggest that you do your own research prior to investing in a supplement, there's no overt reason to assume that any of Cell EnerG's claims are misleading.
The box states that you should empty the contents of a single packet into a glass and add between six and 32 ounces of water. The sodium bicarb and citric acid create a fast-dissolving fizz, so you want to wait for the foam to dissipate before drinking.
The first time I tried it, I added 32 ounces of water to the mix and could barely force myself to drink it. I honestly thought it tasted terrible. Before trying it I had read somewhere else that it would taste like a creamsicle, so I was expecting something creamier and maybe a little sweeter. What I got was a vague, watered-down creamsicle flavor with a strong mineral taste and a little bit of tanginess at the end. I was definitely disappointed.
My husband tried a sleeve at the same time, but he had added less water to the mix and he thought it tasted good, so, I decided to give it another shot. For the second trial, I only added eight ounces of water to the mix, and it was much, much better. This is probably in part because I knew what to expect and also because the flavor was much more tangy when I added less water, which I prefer. It ended up tasting more like Orange Tang when mixed this way. There was still a mineral taste to the mix, but honestly, what do you expect when you're drinking something that advertises its 74 Mineral mix?
I've since decided that I enjoy the mix more during and following workouts than I do at random times during the day. This actually makes sense from a physiological standpoint. I once sat in a lecture where the professor explained that if a person has been working out and sweating buckets, a glass of salt water won't taste nearly as salty and unappealing to them as it will to someone who has been sitting still for a few hours. When a person sweats out sodium, potassium and calcium (electrolytes), they need to replace those minerals, so a salt water mixture will hit the spot. It would make sense, then, that if I worked out and lost electrolytes and other minerals through sweat, a mineral-rich drink like Cell EnerG will similarly hit the spot. Just understand that when I say this, I'm extrapolating a bit.
Coral LLC's Cell EnerG really did grow on me, and I really do drink it after tough workouts. I drink it partially because I now like the taste and partially because I really like that it adds a number of vitamins and minerals to my diet. My big warning would be this: when you taste it for the first time, don't expect it to taste like one thing or another. It's like the first time I tasted a veggie burger - I expected it to taste like beef, but when it didn't, I was sorely disappointed. I now love veggie burgers, but I love them because they taste like veggie burgers, not because they don't taste like beef. Make sense? Just enjoy Cell EnerG for it's own taste and flavor without expecting it to taste like a creamsicle or Orange Tang. You'll be much happier that way!
(And I think there's a life lesson in there somewhere, too.)