June 19, 2024

If you’ve been on TikTok this month, you may have heard people talking about a viral new drink on offer at Panera Bread called Charged Lemonade. It comes in three flavors, each of which includes enormous amounts of caffeine and added sugar.

Content creator Sarah Baus posted a video about the Mango Yuzu Citrus flavor on December 8, and shared the effect the drink had on her. In the video, Baus explains that she likes doing work at Panera Bread—which, notably, offers free refills on drinks—as opposed to working from home. She goes on to say that, during recent work sessions, she’s found herself getting “four or five” refills of Charged Lemonade. But after learning what, exactly, is in the drink, she was floored: “This should be illegal,” she says in the video.

So…what’s the deal with Charged Lemonade? The Mango Yuzu Citrus and Strawberry Lemon Mint varieties each contain a whopping 260 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per 20-ounce serving, while the third option, the Fuji Apple Cranberry flavor, comes in at a mere 259 mg. (To put that into context, an 8-ounce cup of coffee typically contains anywhere between 80 to 100 mg of caffeine. An 8.4-ounce Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine, while other energy drinks can typically go up to 250 mg per serving.) 

Additionally, the Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade contains 82 grams of sugar; the other two flavors contain 65 grams. (FYI: The max amount of added sugar a person should aim to have in a day is 25 to 36 grams, per the American Heart Association.)

Keep in mind that these numbers account for one 20-ounce “regular” serving of Charged Lemonade—if Baus really did drink five regular-size cups of the Mango Yuzu Citrus flavor in a row, she’d have consumed a staggering 1,300 mg of caffeine and 410 grams of sugar. For reference, you’d have to drink more than eight tall Americanos from Starbucks to consume that much caffeine and eat nearly three pints of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream to take in that much sugar. “I decided I’m going to water them down,” Baus jokes after explaining what she learned about Charged Lemonade. “I feel like the Hulk.”

While drinking Charged Lemonade isn’t necessarily dangerous, per se, it could be brutal if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, Keri Gans, a New York–based registered dietitian nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, tells SELF. “It’s very individualized,” Gans says, explaining that caffeine affects people differently. For example, some people have to cut themselves off after two small-ish cups of coffee each morning, but other people can drink coffee well into the evening and still manage to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.  

The same goes for the caffeine content in Charged Lemonade, according to Gans. “Some people, that one serving will have no effect on them. Other people could definitely get the jitters; they could get anxious,” she says. You should try to cap your caffeine intake at 400 mg per day, per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that if a single Charged Lemonade is the only caffeinated drink you have in a day, you’ll probably be fine (unless you know you’re highly sensitive to caffeine). But if you get a refill and/or have a few cups of coffee before or after you down one, you might be overdoing it. 

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