Dissecting FRS Energy Drink – What Makes It Work?

frs healthy energy liquid concentrate

I’m a fan of the FRS energy drink. It tastes good, it works for me, and the “all natural” variety is healthier than the majority of energy drinks out there.

But… it’s expensive. And it’s not actually healthy when compared to health food (like fruits and vegetables.) And to top things off, many users are reporting poor customer service. I don’t doubt those claims, as I have received poor service from FRS myself. (And considering the number of people who type “FRS healthy energy scam” into Google each month, I bet a lot of people are in the same boat!)

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to look for a cheaper, healthier alternative to FRS Healthy Energy. In this article, I will dissect the FRS ingredients list and see what I can come up with.

(In this article I’m focusing on the ingredients in the all natural orange concentrate, which is my personal favorite of the FRS line.)

Dissecting FRS Healthy Energy

Here are the ingredients FRS contains which look important:

  • Water
  • Organic cane juice
  • Grape juice concentrate
  • Green tea extract
  • Vitamins A, C, E
  • B vitamins
  • Quercetin
  • Caffeine

Now to examine each of these in greater detail…

Water. This one’s easy – you should already get plenty of water in your diet. As long as you’re hydrated, the extra water you get from a glass of FRS shouldn’t matter much.

Next up, the organic cane juice and white grape juice concentrates are just forms of sugar, used as sweeteners, so we can skip them. They’re used in just about every other energy drink, anyway. If you want sugar, you can add honey to your diet and it will be a better option.

Orange juice concentrate is used for flavor. I’ve had plenty of orange juice in my life and it never gave me a big energy boost, so let’s keep going.

Green tea. FRS contains important compounds called EGCG and catechins thanks to the green tea ingredient. The label shows 100mg of catechins in FRS.

I would consider this important, but green tea is not exclusive to FRS. You can get green tea extract in capsule form and as a concentrated liquid (easily getting your 100mg,) or you can drink one or two glasses of green tea each day for the same effect.

Vitamins A, C, and E do look important, too. These are important vitamins that are also considered to be antioxidants.

However, these vitamins are easily found in a healthy diet that includes fruits and veggies. Also, they are present in virtually all multivitamins. The doses in FRS range from 25-200% of the DV, which is nothing huge, so let’s move on.

Next, B vitamins. If I had to pick a secret ingredient in FRS, I’d bet it was the B vitamins that are really to thank for the energy boost. It’s a well-known fact that B vitamins are helpful in increasing energy levels, and if you look around, you’ll see B vitamins in nearly all energy drinks these days.

FRS contains 6mg of B12 and 2mg of B6, as well as 1mg Thiamin, 20mg Niacin, 2mg Riboflavin.

But you can get B vitamins in many different ways; B-complex, B6, and B12 tablets, as well as B12 injections. I found a B complex pill with huge doses of all the B vitamins for a mere 13 cents per serving!

Now for FRS’s coveted ingredient, quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant found in certain fruits and vegetables, and some recent studies have shown that it may improve sports performance (by increasing endurance, etc.) FRS contains 250mg quercetin.

While the quercetin research is far from exhaustive, it does seem to have some merit, and it’s entirely possible that quercetin supplementation could improve performance. But FRS does not have a monopoly on quercetin; it also comes in capsule form, with doses ranging from 250-1000mg.

Note: here are a couple studies that show promise for quercetin when taken in certain doses over time:

Last but not least, caffeine. Caffeine is responsible for the kick from virtually all energy drinks. However, FRS contains a small amount (35mg) of caffeine, so I don’t believe it plays much of a role in FRS’s energy boost.

But it’s not a problem to get that much caffeine from your diet; if you drink a couple glasses of tea or a single cup of coffee, you’ll get plenty of caffeine.

Cheaper Energy Boost

In these tough economic times, we’re all looking for ways to cut costs. One thing you could do is cut out expensive energy drinks and bottled water.

To get the same effects as FRS ($1.25 per serving) without drinking it each day, here is what I have been trying:

What it boils down to is drinking green tea and then taking some Quercetin and B vitamin tablets. In theory, this would provide a long-lasting, natural energy boost.

I have been testing out the previously mentioned pills, along with this one called a Super Antioxidant – it contains lots of good stuff like A, C, E, and B vitamins, and even a bit of of quercetin and green tea – for just 34 cents per serving.

Here’s the price overview:

  • B12: $0.06 per serving
  • B complex: $0.12 per serving
  • Quercetin: $0.25 per serving
  • Green tea extract: $0.15 per serving
  • Green tea (brewed): $0.20 per serving
  • Antioxidant cocktail: $0.34 per serving

If any of this stuff works, even in combination, it could cut your energy drink costs in half!

Homemade Energy – It Might Just Work

Here is what I tried over the past couple months, along with my initial thoughts:

250mg Quercetin ($0.25) – I noticed no change in energy when I tried taking one quercetin pill per day. After a few days I tried two servings per day, but that produced no difference.

750mg Quercetin ($0.75) – This (three servings) produced the same lackluster result as just one serving.

Glass of green tea + 250mg quercetin ($0.45) – As with the plain quercetin days, there was no discernible energy boost.

Antioxidant cocktail ($0.34) – This was the real surprise from the bunch. One serving (two pills) was all it took, and I got a long-lasting energy boost. It was a pleasant boost and it lasted all day – nearly as good as FRS.

Glass of green tea + antioxidant cocktail ($0.54) – There was a good boost with this, but it was the same whether I had green tea or not.

500mcg B12 ($0.06) – When taking one of these tablets, I felt a good, light energy boost that lasted all day.

Glass of green tea + B complex + quercetin ($0.57) – noticeable energy boost?

Glass of green tea + 500mcg B12 ($0.26) – These days provided a good, light energy boost that lasted all day, but with the added enjoyment of the green tea flavor.

FRS concentrate ($1.25) – FRS has always worked well for me. There’s an instant kick (just a slight one, probably from caffeine,) but the real goodness is the light energy that lasts all day, even if I do a hard bike ride. It’s also easy to drink and the best tasting option here.

From my experience with my tests, it seems the common denominator in the energy-yielding supplements is some sort of B vitamin. No surprise – it’s pretty much undisputed that B vitamins give you energy. Some of my older relatives get B12 shots each month, and they swear by them for the extra energy.

The quercetin itself, which FRS claims will reduce your fatigue and bring energy, had no effect on me when taken in capsule form. No matter if I had one capsule (same amount as one serving of FRS) or three.

I’ve heard many people say “don’t overspend for FRS, just get quercetin pills.” Well, I bet anyone that followed that advice was sorely disappointed. It’s possible there are higher-quality sources of quercetin out there than the capsules I tried, but I think I would have had some sort of affect from what I tried.

The Super Antioxidant capsules fared much better. They contain B vitamins, which are probably responsible for the energy boost, but they also add CoQ10 and some other healthy goodies.

The antioxidants from drinking my own brewed green tea probably keep me healthy – and yes I plan to continue drinking tea – but don’t bring about extra energy.

My Energy Boost Recommendations

My recommendation, if you want to save money, consume less sugar, and still get an all-day energy boost, is to take a B complex or B12 vitamin each day. I also recommend drinking green tea for general health.

If you want to skip the B vitamin tablets and choose a capsule like the Super Antioxidant instead, that’s fine (and it’s what I’ll probably do most of the time.) As long as the capsule contains B vitamins in large doses, you should get the same affect.

However, sometimes when you order from FRS directly, you can get 30-50% discounts. If you order at those discounts, you get the good taste and convenience of FRS for the same price as this homemade solution.

So if FRS works for you, I’m not saying to abandon it. Really, just pick whichever option makes you happy. I feel good taking my B vitamins, and I always drink green tea, but I don’t see myself giving up FRS completely. It just seems to work too well for me.

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22 Comments so far

  1. Frank on August 5th, 2009

    OK, good one but you seem to take out of the equation the fact that you will need more time to get all the ingredients into your body. If you save let’s assume $1 for the exercise then it is in my opinion wasted time. It is actually a wash since you can use your time for more productive stuff than figuring out the perfect mixing of potions. I completely disagree with the money saving notion of your experiment. Time is money and in this case you are wasting lots of time. Buy the can of FRS and let the potion mixing be something that pros get paid for.

  2. Levi on August 6th, 2009

    @Frank

    Yes, obviously this is not a huge research study. It is not intended to be.

    But about wasted time… I’m wasting time by trying out new supplements and different combinations of nutrients to see what is best for enhancing my athletic performance?

    That’s part of my job and not something I plan to give up. Think about it – if I never tried new things, I would have never tried FRS.

  3. Mark on August 25th, 2009

    Coach,

    I found your initial FRS review and after reading it and noticing the FRS advertisement on the side of your page, I was a bit skeptical that your positive review may be influenced by FRS. Then I found this article of yours, which I found to be very informative. I appreciate that you went to this effort to break-down and test the components of FRS that actually cause the desired benefits. I also appreciate your candid and detailed writing style, which lends to a perception of honesty in your writing. Thanks!!

  4. Levi on August 26th, 2009

    @Mark

    Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. I put a lot of effort into my reviews because I value products that work, but I also believe you can do very well without expensive supplements. So I try to cover all the bases.

  5. Erik, NYC on August 26th, 2009

    Cool experiment. I always curious about the benefit claims of these ingredients. I am gonna try your Super Antiox recommendation.
    I am a recreational soccer player (35yo) and I tried the FRS chews before a match last week. I misread the directions and took 4 instead of 2 chews, 30min before the match. I felt great. Focus, the right amount of energy (not hyper), the whole package. Gonna try 2 before tonight’s match and see how that goes. Shame about the artificial sweetener- I feel like it’s gonna be shown one day that it causes cancer in lab rats or something- I always avoid if I can.

  6. Erik, NYC on August 26th, 2009

    This comment on the quercetin, from Amazon, was interesting…

    Bought based on article in Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 14, 2008
    By Luddite -

    I subscribe to the Nutrition Action Healthletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Page 8 of the December issue has an article titled “Manipulating Mitochondria.”

    This article states that the Department of Defense (DoD) (the agency being DARPA) sponsored research into the ability of quercetin to increase mitrochondria. DOD wanted to know if quercetin would reduce the number of colds and other viral infections of young men under intense physical stress (1000 MG per day which would be 8 of these chews). To quote from the article “In all these studies researchers used a high-purity quercetin called QU995. That’s the kind that’s also in FRS energy mixes drinks and chews.” I subtracted 1 star for all the other sugar related ingredients. Too early to tell if I will catch less colds, but willing to try to boost my mitrochondria in any case.

    Updated (7/20/09): There is one other manufacturer that makes similar energy chews. Both contain 30 chews and the prices are comparable. The difference is the other brand has twice as much QU995 Quercetin in each chew (250 MG versus 125 in each FRS chew). So based on this, FRS is overpriced for what you get.

  7. Levi on August 27th, 2009

    @Erik

    Thanks for the comments, good stuff.

    Testing plain quercetin is my biggest challenge because I’d like to be 100% sure I’m testing the good stuff, and it’s more of a long-term supplement, so it requires a longer test period.

  8. Jon on October 29th, 2009

    Thanks for the research and comments. I have been drinking FRS for two months in an attempt to combat nearly crippling fatigue. I never expected to drink two classes and jump around. I have plenty of alternatives for that. I cannot say if it is the placebo effect or genuine, but I do feel better after 8 weeks. The fatigue has lessened to a manageable level. I am not surprised that there is a much cheaper alternative. However, I was paying over two dollars per can for caffeine drinks, and what I am really paying for is the convenience, and I know that. I have tried your method with other vitamin supplements but I lack the daily discipline to manage all the different things to take, so I pay a dollar a day for them to manage them for me. I have also changed the auto delivery to suit my habits. Thanks again.

  9. Levi on February 8th, 2010

    @Jon

    Yes, it definitely is nice and convenient to just sit back and drink a glass of FRS each day, rather than fuss with the pills. Glad it’s working for you!

  10. JP on February 17th, 2010

    Thanks for the read. Regarding your conclusions, specifically, “if you want to save money, consume less sugar, and still get an all-day energy boost, is to take a B complex or B12 vitamin each day.” Unrelated to this article, I just started doing this, and despite hydrating regularly, which normally yields a very pale yellow or clear urine stream, it is now a bright yellow, almost neon. Is this normal when taking B complexes? The brand is “Nature’s Bounty” if that matters at all. Thanks again for the article.

  11. Levi on February 17th, 2010

    @JP

    I think that is normal. When using products containing B2 such as a B complex pill, you’ll pee out the excess your body doesn’t need that day, and it gives urine that neon yellow color.

    I have noticed that affect myself sometimes, depending on my source of B vitamins (FRS, B vitamin tablets, beef liver tablets, red meat, other energy drinks, etc.) Off the top of my head, it seems like I usually got the neon yellow color from the rare times I tried out energy drinks like Rockstar. I’m not sure if that says anything about the quality of the vitamin they use or not.

  12. Alexander on February 24th, 2010

    Yeah right – just take like 9 different pills and supplements instead of one drink or fruit chew – all to save a couple of cents. Treat yourself the extra 45 cents…seriously.

  13. AV on April 16th, 2010

    @Erik, NYC
    Hi Erik…you said -
    “Updated (7/20/09): There is one other manufacturer that makes similar energy chews. Both contain 30 chews and the prices are comparable. The difference is the other brand has twice as much QU995 Quercetin in each chew (250 MG versus 125 in each FRS chew). So based on this, FRS is overpriced for what you get.”

    can you let us know who is the other manufacturer… I think FRS is overpriced !

  14. Levi on April 30th, 2010

    @Alexander

    Yes, it’s much nicer to have a drink of FRS each day. But it’s fun to explore this stuff sometimes and experiment with different things.

  15. Kenny on May 27th, 2010

    Coach Levi,

    I found your article rather interesting. I had my first FRS energy drink the other day and noticed a nice alertness without the edge. It was a good feeling. I was giving it a try as I am getting ready to do a long trip and wanted a drink that would help keep me alert. I usually drank Red Bull on these trips. When I saw the add for FRS, I became interested. Like you, I though it was a little pricey; however, so it Red Bull. I did buy some Quercetin capsules with Bromelain. I understand the Bromelain helps the absorption of the Quercetin. It is also suppose to have good antihistamine and anti inflammatory properties. I need to go back to drinking green tea instead of coffee. Thanks for your research and posting it.

    Kenny

  16. Bob on August 21st, 2010

    I found your info interesting and informative. I have used FRS for 2 weeks now and I swear by it. It may be a little pricy compared to using several different individual ingredients but the convience is worth it. FRS gives me good energy and good mood for quite a long time, compared to the rush and crash of other energy drinks.

  17. Ryu on September 24th, 2010

    Dear Levi,

    I’m a 22 year-old college student aiming to compete in amateur boxing. My physical state and technique is above average, but I get tired very easily over a period of time. As the month of hard training goes on, I start getting more and more tired. Eventually, all of my punches become feeble and pathetic due to the lack of energy. I’m taking a three week break, and going back while being careful not to overwork myself.

    Several days ago, I tried using multivitamins. It helps clear my mind, but it doesn’t give me the energy boost that I require. I’ll experiment with B vitamins as well as antioxidant cocktails (I’m a bit skeptical about the latter giving me energy). It sounds a lot better than chugging a lot of Red Bull, so I might as well give it a shot.

  18. Mike on March 18th, 2011

    I have been using FRS for a couple of years. I love it. Yes it is a bit pricey. But if you get on the FRS VIP program(I think thats what it’s called) you’ll get your products at 50% off. I sometimes combine orders with friends and that offset the cost of shipping per item that much more…Thanks for the time and effort in breaking done FRS. If nothing else it is informative.

  19. john gall on October 11th, 2011

    Hi Coach,
    Nice article and full of good faith.
    But, you missed the science behind….The point is ,and try to search deep, there are several form,s of Quercetin.
    And, believe me, they use one that I do also use myself now for 4 years.I can tell you that it really is a energy booster and increases VO2,other than cells in our body.
    From B Agonists and anticholinergics (severe COPD) to Quercetin and other top antioxidant…and nothing else to be totally stable without any kind of exacerbations,nor a cold..in 4 years my friend ¡¡

    Good luck coach¡

  20. Levi on October 12th, 2011

    @John Gall

    Do you care to share the specific type of Quercetin that FRS uses? And do you know what companies offer which types in their products?

  21. Tony on April 17th, 2013

    FRS not really healthy? Seriously? Do you mean to tell me that this drink, from a company founded by former executives at Coke and Burger King, is not healthy? Good to know.

  22. Levi on April 18th, 2013

    @Tony

    I haven’t had a good sarcastic comment here in a while, thanks for picking up the slack! :)

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