Are Ghost Energy Drinks Bad For You? A Dietitian Review

With more and more energy drinks claiming to be a healthier alternative to others, I’ve been getting this question a lot: are ghost energy drinks bad for you?

I’m Jamie, a Registered Dietitian and I’m here to give you my professional answer.

In this article I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of Ghost energy drinks, the ingredients, the potential risks and whether or not this popular product is worth grabbing for a quick energy boost.

A can of Ghost Energy drink on a table.

What’s in Ghost energy drink?

To start, let’s take a closer look into what this popular energy drinks actually contains.

Ghost energy ingredients: 

  • Carbonated Water (bubbles!)
  • Citric Acid (flavoring and a preservative)
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCl
  • Taurine (one of the amino acids commonly found in energy drinks)
  • Natural Caffeine (from Coffee Beans)
  • Sucralose (an artificial sweetener)
  • Alpha-GPC (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline 50%)
  • Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
  • Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
  • Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)
  • Acesulfame Potassium (an artificial sweetener)
  • Neurofactor Coffee (Coffea arabica) Fruit Extract
  • Astragin (10:1 Astragalus membranaceus and 50:1 Panax notoginseng) Root Extracts (nootropics aka supposed cognitive enhancers)
  • D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine HCl, Thiamine HCl, Folic Acid, and Cyanocobalamin (all B vitamins)

Each can of Ghost Energy has 200 mg of caffeine.

There are several flavors and they all contain similar ingredients.

This energy drink is free of sugar and artificial colors, which is what appeals to some folks and why it has the reputation of being a “healthier” energy drink.

It’s even marketed as “Feel Good Energy” and claims to have authentic flavors with zero sugars and “no BS”. 

No proprietary blend

This is actually something I appreciate about this product. A proprietary blend is something that brands will often do so that they don’t have to disclose the exact ingredient amounts in their “secret formula”.

Ghost energy drinks list their ingredients (some are grouped together) with the amount of milligrams per can which is a bit more transparent than most. 

How much caffeine does Ghost have?

Ghost energy drinks have 200mg of caffeine per can.

Up to 400mg of caffeine a day seems to be okay for most healthy adults, which is about 4 cups of brewed coffee. If you drink coffee in addition to consuming energy drinks, this is definitely something to keep an eye on to avoid potential side effects (more on that in a minute).

Is Ghost a healthy energy drink?

The Ghost energy drinks are a sugar-free energy drink, making them a potentially healthier choice if you’re currently choosing high sugar energy drinks.

With that being said, energy drinks in general are not a necessary addition to a healthy lifestyle and for many, may actually have the opposite effect on our health. Excessive consumption comes with potential health risks due to their high caffeine content.

It’s also worth noting that high caffeine intake can affect sleep patterns, which play a crucial role in your overall health as well. So while you may think you’re making a healthy choice, you could be impacting your health in other ways.

Ghost energy drinks have added ingredients like nootropics for supposed benefits to cognitive function and focus and B-vitamins which may be appealing to some, but the reality is that the effects are questionable.

As with most nutrition-related topics, the “how” and “how much” you’re drinking energy drinks such as these matters over everything. In moderation they’re likely okay for healthy adults with no health conditions, but I wouldn’t group them into a “healthy beverage” category.

A shot of the top of energy drink cans.

Is it okay to drink 2 Ghost energy drinks a day?

Two Ghost energy drinks in one day would put you at the max caffeine dosage recommended by the FDA (400mg). To avoid negative effects, it’s probably a good idea to stick to just one especially if you’re including these in your day to day.

Too much caffeine can have detrimental effects, so it’s important to be aware of foods and drinks that have large quantities, like energy drinks.

What does energy actually mean?

I think it’s also helpful to clarify what “energy” actually means. 

The term “energy” is often used interchangeably with alertness, but these are actually two different things. 

Energy comes from carbs, fats, and protein. 

We measure energy in terms of calories. So, a low-calorie lunch is not going to give you as much energy to power through your afternoon as one that is balanced and enough. 

Caffeine makes you feel more alert and feels like a quick pick me up, but it doesn’t provide you with true energy.

Nor do any of the vitamins. B-vitamins are often touted for their “energy boosting” effect, but unless you have carbs, protein, and fat, the B-vitamins are not going to fuel you by themselves.  

How much caffeine is too much?

It is definitely possible to overdo it with caffeine. 

As mentioned, the FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. If you’re pregnant, the recommendations are usually to keep caffeine under 200 mg per day (always check with your doctor for personal recommendations, this is not medical advice).

Exceeding this limit can lead to a range of symptoms from increased heart rate and blood pressure to digestive upset and even anxiety attacks.

Even worse, there have unfortunately been reports of caffeine-induced deaths, serving as an ominous warning to consume with caution.

With more and more foods and drinks that have added caffeine, it can be easy to go overboard, without even realizing it.

From Panera’s “charged” lemonades to caffeinated chewing gum and a zillion different energy drinks (read my review on Celsius here), there are a lot of options to get a caffeine boost outside of a cup of coffee.

I appreciate that their can has a pretty hefty disclaimer that it’s only for healthy adults 18 years and older and shouldn’t be consumed with other sources of caffeine.

Coffee beans with a caffeine molecule image.

Are ghost energy drinks bad for you?

For most healthy people (adults, not kids), Ghost energy drinks are likely okay in moderation.

It’s important to note that 200mg of caffeine is fairly high and the cans even come with a caution: “This product is only intended for healthy adults 18 years of age or older. Do not consume if you are sensitive to caffeine, or in combination with caffeine or stimulants from other sources. Too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and occasionally rapid heart rate. Not for use by women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant. Consult a licensed, qualified healthcare professional before consuming this product. Do not use if you are taking any prescription drug and/or have any medical conditions.”

If you’re experiencing any unwanted side effects from caffeine like headaches, insomnia, anxiety or increased heart rate, you may want to rethink your options.

And always always check with your doctor before incorporating high caffeine drinks into your day. Energy drinks can absolutely cause health problems in some, so it’s important to be aware so that you can make an informed decision.

A dietitian’s thoughts:TLDR

Caffeine isn’t “good” or “bad;” it’s the dose that matters as well as what else comes with your dose of caffeine. Too much caffeine and you’re at risk of some serious consequences. 

Is Ghost Energy drink actually healthy? That’s debatable. If you ask me if any energy drink is “healthy”, my answer is probably going to be no.

Yes, this drink has no added sugar content and doesn’t have artificial dyes.

On the other hand, it has half of our recommended daily caffeine max in each can and does have artificial sweeteners in it, which some are sensitive to. 

Let’s explore a quick analogy: if we think about a hefty slice of the most delicious chocolate cake, no one is thinking about the health benefits of cake as they enjoy bite after decadent bite. It isn’t supposed  to be healthy: it’s cake.

But what if we added a multivitamin to the mix – is it healthy now?

Not really. We just have a delicious cake with a multivitamin in it.

For a lot of products on the market these days, it feels like they’re just trying to healthify something that isn’t all that healthy to begin with. 

As a dietitian, enjoyment does need to be a part of the decision process. It’s OK to drink Ghost Energy drinks once in a while as your caffeie source just because you like them. Not everything we eat and drink needs to be the picture of perfect health. 

Just don’t assume that because something is marketed as healthy that it actually is. 

Personally, I just prefer regular old coffee (click here for my homemade brown sugar syrup!). 

Regardless, nutrition and wellness recommendations should be highly personalized. We all have different priorities, taste preferences, and budgets. 

A woman taking a sip oof a coffee.

Alternatives to boost your focus

As much as I’m a coffee-loving gal, I also know that there are healthier options to give yourself a quick boost without always reaching for a caffeine-laden drink. 

It’s important to consider why you might be feeling tired and sluggish before you just zap yourself with more caffeine.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Have you been sleeping well (and enough)?
  • Are you drinking water throughout the day?
  • Are you nourishing yourself regularly with balanced meals and snacks?

Not every afternoon slump needs to be solved with caffeine. 

For example, a brisk walk, a brief yoga session, or even a few sets of squats can do wonders for your energy levels, and benefit your overall health to boot.

Grab that trendy water bottle and take a big glug. If you’re dehydrated, you’re going to feel more sluggish, no matter what amount of caffeine you drink. 

Keep in mind that true energy comes from calories: the carbs, fats, and protein that we talked about earlier. If you’re not feeling energetic enough, I’d ask you to reflect – have you eaten enough lately? Are your meals and snacks balanced? 

Remember, in the grand scheme of things, balance is the key.

Other reviews

As a dietitian, I get a LOT of questions about supplements, products, and diets. If this review was helpful for you – I’m so glad! I have a few other reviews for you to check out as you continue to navigate what healthy and fun mean for you. 

Should you give up the Ghost?

In an age of perpetual hustle and bustle, turning to energy drinks has become almost common practice. Ghost energy drinks are billed not just for their energy punch but also for their seemingly healthier ingredients. 

Determining Ghost energy drinks’ healthfulness hinges not just on individual ingredients, but more on the big picture as well: how often would you like to drink it? 

For someone in good health, drinking a can once in a while is not a big deal. However, drinking these energy drinks on a regular basis does come with some risks, including potential adverse effects on your cardiovascular health, anxiety, and sleep.

In the end, a balanced approach to boosting energy and vitality should still be anchored in a solid nutritional foundation, rather than relying on ‘quick-fix’ drinks that promise the world but deliver few real nutrients.

If you’re struggling with your nutrition and habits, I’d love to help you. If you’d like to take the guesswork out of healthy eating habits and build a solid foundation, grab The Balanced Basics Handbook here! 

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It's me, Jamie!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you break free of the all-or-nothing dieting with balanced and realistic healthy eating.

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Meet Jamie

I’m a Registered Dietitian and I’ve been exactly where you are, right now. The all or nothing dieting, the constant food guilt, the scale obsession, absolutely no balance with food…. Sound familiar?