The name Irn-Bru is as well-known in Scotland as Coca-Cola is in the rest of the world. It is the top soft drink among the Scottish people.
In 2019, the company launched an energy drink with the brand name Irn-Bru, and the people are asking some questions regarding it.
One of these questions is if Irn-Bru Energy is gluten-free or not.
To answer your question briefly, the Irn-Bru Energy drink is completely free of gluten and is safe for gluten-intolerant people to consume.
In this article, I’ll be going into detail about the ins and outs of this new energy drink while evaluating whether all of its ingredients are as gluten-free as they claim to be.
So if that little answer wasn’t enough to satisfy you, then you should read this article to the end to find out everything you need to know about this drink
Irn-Bru: A Brief Introduction
Introduced in Scotland in 1901, the Irn-Bru soft drink became an instant hit among the Scottish folks.
The story of its creation goes like this: The steelworkers who were working on the Glasgow Central Station were consuming too much beer to alleviate their thirst, and as a result, their health was declining.
Seeing an opportunity, a local soft drinks company called AG Barr came up with a tonic-like drink for the workers that kept them up and working without the problems that came with drinking beer.
This was the start of the phenomenon called Irn-Bru. Flash forward to more than a century later, and the name Irn-Bru is among the most prominent in the UK.
This same brand has now stepped foot in the energy drink industry with the Irn-Bru Energy drink.
It has 120mg of caffeine, 153 calories, and 37 grams of sugar in a 330ml (11fl.oz) can. If the sugar contents worry you, then you can rest assured because there’s a sugar-free version as well.
Now let’s talk about the energy drink that shoulders the century-long legacy of Irn-Bru.
Gluten: Why is it bad for some?
Before we get into the ingredients, here’s a quick disclaimer on gluten. You can skip over to the fourth heading if you’re knowledgeable about gluten.
Gluten is a family of proteins that are found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It gives certain characteristics to food, such as the elasticity of flour-dough, and the chewy, porous texture of the bread.
Grain-based foods have been a culinary staple since the dawn of civilization, but some people are highly sensitive to the gluten in said foods.
This sensitivity is more akin to intolerance, and it can manifest itself in certain medical conditions. Some examples are:
- Celiac Disease
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
- Gluten Ataxia
- Wheat allergy
Want to confirm whether you’re gluten-intolerant or not? This Youtube video might be helpful for you:
People with such constitutions have to avoid all traces of gluten in their food, and hence follow a gluten-free diet, which I’ll explain in a minute.
Gluten-Free Diet Explained
A gluten-free diet, as you can guess from the name, is a diet that is completely free of gluten.
Such a diet has been getting a lot of popularity as of late, as people who don’t have any medical aversion to gluten are also giving up gluten-based foods.
Some examples of the food that contains gluten, according to The Mayo Clinic are:
- Cakes, pastries and some other bakery items
- French fries
- Sauces like soy sauce
- Malt-based products
- Salad dressings
Now here are some foods that you can safely consume on a gluten-free diet:
- Whole grains like millet, arrowroot, brown rice, etc.
- While Oats are naturally gluten free, they are sometimes processed with weat, which can lead to cross contamination.
- Vegetables and fruits (it’s better to double-check frozen, pre chopped, dried or canned fruits and vegetables, as they could be cross-contaminated)
- Meat and fish (Double check processed meat, and vegan alternative meat)
- Nuts and dry fruits
- Dairy products (not-including flavoured ones)
- Oils and fats
- Gluten-free beverages like energy drinks, coffee etc.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the ingredients of the Irn-Bru Energy drink.
Irn-Bru Energy’s Ingredients
A 330ml (11 fl.oz) can of Irn-Bru contains the following ingredients:
- Carbonated water
- Sugar (The sugar-free version has Acesulfame K and Aspartame as artificial sweeteners)
- Taurine (The sugar-free version has Quinine instead of this)
- Vitamins B3, B6, and B12
- Citric Acid
- Trisodium citrate
- Preservatives (Sodium Benzoate in the regular, and E211 in the sugar-free)
- Colours (Sunset Yellow FCF, Ponceau 4R)
Irn–Bru has nothing in its blend that is out of the ordinary for an energy drink, but that isn’t a problem as it’s sometimes better to stick with tradition.
Irn-Bru Energy Nutritional Facts
It is essential to see the nutritional facts of the food you’re consuming. That is because it helps you keep track of what goes into your body.
So, here are the nutritional facts of a 330ml (11 fl.oz) Irn-Bru Energy:
|Nutrient||Irn-Bru Energy||Irn-Bru Energy Sugar-free|
|Energy||153 calories||Approx. 25.5 calories|
|Of which saturates||0g||0g|
|Of which sugars||37g||0g|
Irn-Bru Energy has three essential vitamins in significant enough amounts that you can fulfill their daily requirements from one Irn-Bru Energy.
Caffeine In Irn-Bru Energy
An Irn-Bru Energy has 120mg of caffeine in a 330ml (11 fl.oz) serving, which in my opinion is a pretty nice amount to have in an energy drink, especially considering that its serving size is larger than the standard 250ml (8.4 fl.oz).
It’s not so low that people with somewhat high caffeine tolerance will not experience its effects, nor is it so high that caffeine-sensitive people will feel too jittery from it.
But that is just a vague estimate. You must consider your own caffeine tolerance when deciding on an energy drink to use for a long time.
Although 120mg by itself isn’t necessarily a very high amount of caffeine, it’s still a significant portion of the caffeine limit set by the EFSA, which is 400mg.
It goes without saying that making a habit out of drinking other caffeinated beverages along with a couple of cans of Irn-Bru Energy in a day is pretty risky.
The reason is that, while caffeine in the right amounts is a great drug, it can become a cause for some of these side effects:
- Irragularity in heartbeat
- Lack of sleep or insomia etc.
So you don’t want to have too much caffeine at once in your system, as it would actually have a counter-productive effect on your ability to focus and your energy.
Since Irn-Bru has a moderate amount of caffeine in it, you don’t have to worry about the side effects unless you drink more than two cans in a day.
Sugar in Irn-Bru
The standard version of Irn-Bru Energy has 37 grams of sugar in its 330ml (11 fl.oz) can, while the sugar-free version uses artificial sweeteners in place of sugar.
While anything that has a ton of sugar tastes great and has an uplifting effect on your mood, it can just as quickly drag you down by giving you a sugar crash.
This is why I like energy drinks that have no sugar in them, so I don’t have to face a decline in energy after its effects run out. This is why I would recommend that you consider the sugar-free version of Irn-Bru.
Another reason why it’s better to drink the sugar-free version is that the standard version’s 37 grams of sugar are a hazard to your health.
The NHS recommends that adults don’t have any more than 30g of sugar in a day. So ingesting 37 grams which is more than the limit, in a single beverage is very risky.
This is especially true because a large portion of the food we eat in a day hides a ton of added sugar in it. So it is best if you avoid large amounts of sugar in beverages.
Eating large amounts of sugar over a long time can lead to life-inhibiting problems and diseases like obesity or Type 2 Diabetes, and even in the short term, it can have some of these side effects:
- Brain fog/Lack of focus
- Drop in energy levels
- Teeth decay
- Depression or a downcast mood
Though if you feel like giving yourself a treat every so often, you can enjoy the sugary goodness of the normal Irn-Bru energy.
Calories in Irn-Bru
Irn-Bru Energy has 153 calories in the standard version and around 25 calories in the sugar-free version.
Now, you may be wondering whether having higher numbers of calories is in the favor of the standard version or if it isn’t.
The thing is, it depends. For active people who burn a lot of calories during their day, be it from workouts, sports, or any physical activity, it’s okay if they get some extra calories from a beverage.
The calories might even end up coming in handy as an extra reserve of fuel for the body.
On the other hand, if said person is a heavy eater then chances are they already have extra calories in reserve added calories may end up in them gaining weight over time.
Similarly, a person who lives a sedentary life or is trying to lose weight will find the sugar-free version to be the right fit for them (No pun intended)
Are Irn-Bru’s Ingredients Gluten-Free?
Now that we have covered the particulars of Irn-Bru Energy, how about we consider its main ingredients and see if they’re gluten-free?
Are B-Vitamins gluten-free?
Not just B-vitamins, but all vitamins are free of gluten. In fact, it is recommended that people with gluten sensitivity take Vitamin B supplements as part of their diet.
A clinical trial was done by PubMed.gov, and it showed that people with Celiac Disease who took B-vitamin supplements over a 6 month period were found to have a significant increase in well-being.
Is Caffeine gluten-free?
Caffeine is derived from coffee plants, tea leaves, etc or is synthesized in the laboratory. Hence, caffeine is free of any gluten.
Is Taurine or Quinine gluten-free?
Taurine is an amino acid that exists naturally in the human body, so there are no chances of it being unsafe for gluten-sensitive people.
Quinine is a drug that has been used for the treatment of Malaria for centuries. It is extracted from certain plants and is gluten-free as well.
Is Citric Acid gluten-free?
Citric acid and trisodium citrate are used as acidity regulators in Irn-Bru Energy and are gluten-free.
Are the additives in Irn-Bru Energy gluten-free?
Irn-Bru Energy has additional flavors, colors as well as preservatives in it.
While there might be some additives out there that aren’t gluten-free, whatever Irn-Bru uses in all of its products is gluten-free, as claimed by the company.
Is Irn-Bru Energy gluten-free?
After considering all of its main ingredients we can surely say that Irn-Bru Energy is gluten-free.
Not only are its ingredients gluten-free, but also the facility at which it is made must be gluten-free as well, otherwise the company wouldn’t be able to label it so.
So, my dear gluten-intolerant readers, you guys can drink Irn-Bru Energy and get a great energy boost without worrying about gluten.
How many Irn-Bru can I have in a day?
Irn-Bru Energy (Original/Normal version) may have a safe amount of caffeine in it, but the calories are a bit much, and the sugar is too much.
So if you’re choosing the normal version, I would strongly advise you to stay away from another can if you’ve already consumed one can of Irn-Bru that day.
That’s right. Having more than one Irn-Bru Energy in a day will be detrimental for you.
As for the sugar-free version, since it has no sugar and low calories, you can safely drink two cans daily, without worrying about the consequences.
Alternatives To Irn-Bru Energy
Here are some more energy drinks that have a moderate caffeine content and are gluten-free:
- 28 Black
- Guru Organic Energy
- Red Bull
- Monster Zero Ultra
Irn-Bru Energy is a very solid energy drink that comes from a well-established and trusted manufacturer.
It stands in the neutral middle ground when it comes to caffeine, which I really like. And to add the cherry on top, it’s gluten-free, which means I can recommend it to almost anyone.