Overclock Your Body With Geek Cuisine

Potions, Powders, Pills, and... Chips?

Not all energy boosters come in tall aluminum cans. Here are four alternative ways to amp up your mind and body.

Living Essentials 5-Hour Energy (Berry)
Taste: 8
Energy: 8

You've probably seen these little bottles at the corner store by the register and wondered if they were any good. Wonder no more--they're not bad. They taste less medicinal than I had expected, and they go down in one or two gulps. The liquid concoction hit me with eye-opening speed, lifting the morning fog with gale-force winds. This clean-burning fuel has also only 4 calories, one-fiftieth of the load of a typical 16-ounce energy-drink can. But it should be called 3.5-Hour Energy--that's when the Sandman shuffled softly back my way.

TwinLab Choline Cocktail
Taste: 4
Energy: 10

Holy smokes: This stuff tastes terrible! Sickly sweet and thick to boot--four tablespoons of this powder could make a spoon stand up in water, and the potion never loses its unpleasant, vitamin-laced flavor. A giant of a bygone era, Choline Cocktail was at the forefront of so-called smart drinks in the '90s, and inveterate supplement-takers are accustomed to chugging ill-flavored drinks--back then, it tasted relatively good. But Choline Cocktail's assaultive flavors aside, a laundry list of vitamins, plus choline, DMAE, ginkgo, and guarana, grab you by the ears and shake you into razor-sharp alertness. And it does taste better than most laundry.

Now Brain Elevate
Taste: N/A
Energy: N/A

The one stand-alone tablet I tested for this story is devoted solely to mental enhancement, so I added it of a small cup of coffee. Brain Elevate recommends a regimen of a single pill one to two times daily. The vegetarian, mostly herbal formula contains choline, ginkgo, rosemary leaf extract, and gotu kola. It doesn't stimulate the central nervous system, but I did notice a sense of increased clarity and vigilance. And though it's pricey at $22 per 60-capsule container, one bottle can last for 30 to 60 days of regular use--and longer if you skip it on the weekends.

Engobi Energy Go Bites
Taste: 5
Energy: 7

Got a problem with drinking? Then stop spilling coffee in your lap and get your caffeine fix in a solid, crunchy form. Engobi Bites come in two flavors: Lemon Lift and Cinnamon Surge. Regrettably, both flavors offer the savor and texture of deep-fried cereal, with a Splenda aftertaste. Promotional material on the bag--obviously meant to replicate the trust-me enthusiasm of an unsolicited endorsement--says, "Prepare to get wired. I mean really wired," and it's not far off the mark. [Editor's note: He's not kidding. These things taste like pure, fried sucralose, and they gave me a lasting case of the jitters in my fact-checking tests.] Scarfing down a package left me a bit twitchy and uncomfortable (but by no means tired). Occasional grazing through an afternoon might be a good way to keep your caffeine level up, especially if the company proceeds with its plans to produce a savory version of the chips. Now that would be crunchtastic!

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