A standard latte has one shot of espresso, a macchiato calls for two, but Panera's Charged Lemonade? A single 20-ounce cup of it is equivalent to more than four shots of espresso. That's news to most people, despite the fact that the chain's line of lemonades has been out since April. "I feel like the Hulk!" content creator @sarahebaus shared in a recent viral TikTok after mindlessly consuming multiple refills of the beverage. Other people have echoed her sentiments, commenting that the lemonade kept them up for over 24 hours.
Customers have compared taking one sip of Charged Lemonade to Fergie doing cartwheels and Winnie the Pooh having an out-of-body experience — and as someone who's actually tried it, the memes are hardly an exaggeration. I went with the Strawberry Lemon Mint flavor, and by the time I was finished with my drink, I was completely wired. Despite the fact that Panera's Colombian Dark Roast Coffee contains about the same amount of caffeine — 214 milligrams versus the Charged Lemonade's 260 milligrams — I felt significantly more energized than I usually do after a cup of coffee.@sarahebaus
@Panera Bread this drink should come with a warning because it’s delicious and will lead to my cardiac arrest #panerabread #mangoyuzucitrus #remotework♬ original sound - sarahebaus
According to registered dietitian Wendy Lord, that's due to the fact that Panera's Charged Lemonade contains four different sources of energy. In addition to caffeine, coffee extract, and guarana extract, the Strawberry Lemon Mint flavor also contains a whopping 65 grams of sugar (the other two flavors, Fuji Apple Cranberry and Mango Yuzu Citrus, have 65 grams of sugar and 82 grams of sugar, respectively). "It gives you a quick energy boost, but as soon as the sugar level goes down, you feel low," Lord explains of its effects. For this reason, NYC-based registered dietitian Leyla Shamayeva says Panera's Charged Lemonades are more like "energy drinks with added caffeine" than they are actual lemonade. The sugar content, Shamayeva says, is "right on par with sugar counts in 20 ounces of regular Red Bull, and it's more sugar than the American Heart Association recommends per day."
Although Panera's Charged Lemonades are accurately advertised as "clean" and "plant-based" since they don't contain artificial flavors, the truth is they have little nutritional value, which is pretty unfortunate considering how tasty they are. They're fruity and refreshing, and they do taste like lemonade, however, both dietitians agree they're filled with so many empty calories that you're better off just drinking regular lemonade. Panera's drinks are best enjoyed in moderation, so if you're planning to sip all day, Lord and Shamayeva recommend two healthier yet equally energizing alternatives. To make Lord's cherry lemonade or Shamayeva's strawberry mint lemonade, read on for all the ingredients and steps.
IngredientsFor strawberry mint lemonade:
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup green tea
1 sprig mint
2 strawberriesFor cherry lemonade:
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup green tea
1/2 cup cherry juice
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup seltzer water
Agave nectar, to taste
For strawberry mint lemonade:
For cherry lemonade:Combine brewed green tea with cherry juice, coconut water, seltzer water, agave nectar, lemon juice. Blend or serve with ice, and enjoy!