I’ve been getting this question more and more lately, in my IG DMs, from friends, and in my emails. Everyone wants to know: is Celsius bad for you? Is it actually a healthy energy drink?
I’m a Registered Dietitian, and I’m here to give my professional answer. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through what it is and if you should be worried about drinking it.
What is in Celsius energy drink?
Celsius is a popular energy drink with a stacked ingredient list and lots of claims of positive health benefits (1). Among the ingredients are green tea extract, guarana seed extract, caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, ginger extract, and green tea leaf extract.
One drink has 10 calories and 0g of carbohydrates. There’s also vitamin C and a bunch of B vitamins, too. Let’s separate fact from fiction as we investigate some of the most notable ingredients in the lineup.
Green tea extract
Green tea leaf extract offers caffeine for a mood and faux-energy boost, as well as a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short). EGCG is an antioxidant, which means it helps your cells to stay healthy on a daily basis (2).
Why faux for the energy boost? Our body runs on fuel, measured in calories – we get calories from carbs, fat, and protein. Caffeine stimulates our brain and makes us feel more awake, but it doesn’t actually provide any calories (or any true energy).
Guarana seed extract
Guarana is a plant that is from the Amazon rainforest and like coffee, contains caffeine and other active compounds (3).
The current research on guarana extract is still pretty slim; the caffeine content has been the main focus of our research to date. Very little is known about the safety or efficacy of the many other compounds in this plant (4).
Ginger (or ginger extract) is not just for cookies and other desserts; this spiced, flavorful root also offers anti-inflammatory potential, when you have the right amount of it (5). We’ll talk more about dosing in a moment – stay tuned.
There are several “B” vitamins and they often work together in our body, so vitamin supplements sometimes group them together and refer to them as “B-complex vitamins” (6).
The different B vitamins have many jobs in your body, and releasing the energy from your food is one of them. So, B vitamins don’t give you energy directly, but they’re part of the process of getting the energy that comes from carbs, fats, and protein.
More is not necessarily better: if you’re deficient in these vitamins, taking a supplement might make you feel like you have a quick energy boost. If your body has enough, additional supplements aren’t going to do much besides burn through some of your cash.
Next question to address: just how much caffeine is in there?
How much caffeine is in Celsius?
Celsius Energy Drinks vary in their caffeine content. The original Celsius contains 200 milligrams of caffeine per 8.4-ounce can. In their lineup of products, the caffeine content ranges from 100-300 mg per serving (7).
Keep in mind though that when we are talking about a cup of coffee, we’re talking about a true, 8 oz cup of coffee. Most of the mugs in our kitchens are WAY bigger than that, and those Stanley mugs of iced coffee are even bigger.
If you order a grande cup of coffee from Starbucks, we’re looking at 310 mg of caffeine – a lot more than the 95 mg of caffeine that is often cited (10). But, even so, the high caffeine content in Celsius drinks might be too much for those with caffeine sensitivity.
It’s also super important to note that if you’re drinking other caffeine sources (coffee, tea, soda) in addition to these energy drinks, you’re looking at potential side effects like shakiness, headaches, fast heart rate, and anxiety from excessive caffeine consumption.
These energy drinks have no added sugar, but they do use artificial sweeteners, specifically sucralose in most of them. They have a line that uses stevia, if sucralose isn’t your thing.
Now that we know what is in Celsius – what’s the verdict? Is this drink good for you? And do the claims hold up? Let’s dive into the science, together.
Is drinking Celsius good for you?
Like any trendy food or drink, there are a lot of claims about Celsius. Are any of these claims rooted in real science, or are they too good to be true?
Right on the front of the can Celsius claims to provide “essential energy, accelerates metabolism, and burns body fat”. Those are some pretty exciting sounding claims!
Celsius does have some peer-reviewed research to back up some of the claims that they make on their website – let’s take a peek at their research studies.
Does Celsius Boost Your Metabolism?
Celsius may actually boost your metabolism a bit. There is a small study from 2010 that explored how Celsius impacted sedentary men in their experience with exercise. Basically, the group of men was either given Celsius to drink or a placebo drink and instructed to exercise or not for ten weeks.
The study found that the men who exercised and drank Celsius had more improvement in their physical fitness than the men who did not have Celsius (11).
This is definitely interesting! But, it’s important to note that your metabolic rate is impacted by a lot of different things, and an energy drink is likely not the cure to your worries about how yours is functioning. PS- I have an entire blog post about metabolism, here!
Does Celsius Improve Performance?
Yes, a bit, but this is not unique to Celsius.
Any time you have some caffeine prior to exercising, your performance may increase a bit and your pain tolerance may be a bit higher as well (12).
So, if you’d rather have a a cup of coffee as your “pre-workout” , that’s a reasonable choice that might cost less than Celsius and have less added ingredients, too.
There are a few things to note about all of the studies listed on the Celsius website. While I admire that the company is funding research, we do have to keep in mind that the studies are small.
The big picture is that drinking a drink is just one of the many choices that you make in a day that impacts your health.
No single drink will represent your whole potential for weight loss or wellness; what you eat the rest of the time matters, as do your other wellness habits such as movements, stress reduction, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Are Celsius drinks bad for you?
For most healthy individuals (healthy adults, not kids), Celsius is likely okay in moderation.
But it’s important to note that there’s a pretty high amount of caffeine in all Celsius drinks. The can even comes with the warning “Do not exceed (2) servings per day. Not recommended for people who are caffeine-sensitive. Children under 18, or women pregnant or nursing.”
If you have any health conditions, especially heart conditions, I’d pass. Either way, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding in any type of caffeinated drinks or supplements that have proprietary blends (especially if you have health issues).
They’re marketed as sports drinks, but the benefits may not outweigh the risks (or the cost – more on that in a hot sec). Marketers are there to sell products – they’re not health professionals.
The biggest piece of missing information is not just what is in the can, but how much.
What does proprietary blend mean?
We’ve chatted through what some of the main ingredients are in Celsius energy drinks but we haven’t yet covered one important factor in determining how well an energy drink can boost your metabolism or athletic performance: how much of these ingredients are in each can?
What should be a simple answer, isn’t.
In short: we don’t know how much of these ingredients are in the can because they’re a “proprietary blend” which means that the manufacturer keeps their secret recipe, well, a secret.
This helps to prevent other companies from mimicking their product, but it also prevents us from knowing if these drinks are actually safe or effective for what they claim to do.
Think about this: if someone told you that they put money in your bank account, you’d be excited. Right? But the benefit of their gift is going to be really different if they put twenty bucks in vs. two thousand dollars. Yes, in either case, that “ingredient” is in there, but the amount really does matter.
Same with these energy drinks – yes, ginger is in there, but is it enough to actually have any meaningful impact on your body’s inflammatory response? We can’t say, because we don’t know if the dose of ginger is enough.
How much do the drinks cost?
At my local Target, a 12-pack of Celsius energy drinks will run me nearly $24, so almost two bucks per can when you buy in bulk. If you just bought a single can, it is about $2.50.
For any of us, that’s a pretty expensive habit over time if your goal is to drink one daily to support your metabolism and weight loss journey (13). Saying bottoms up to a can of Celsius each day would add up to over $700 per year, and that’s if you’re buying in bulk.
I can think of a lot more frugal ways to support your health and wellness (and I walk you through them in my Balanced Basics comprehensive guidebook – check it out, right here.)
What about that lawsuit?
Celsius’ position is that the ingredient is not included in the drink as a preservative, but rather as a flavoring. But regardless, it is a preservative, even if they aren’t adding it for that purpose.
It is worth noting that citric acid is incredibly common in our foods and drinks; originally it was extracted from lemons. These days, it is more common to be cultivated using fungi because the process is more economical (16).
Celsius has now updated its labeling with a note after its ingredient list stating that the citric acid is there for flavoring, not as a preservative.
In the end I don’t see this as a big deal, but does highlight how many brands choose to market their products to be the most appealing, even if it’s a little bit confusing to consumers.
TLDR: there are no magic bullets
As frustrated as we can all be when we are trying to manage our health, eating, and weight, I completely understand the desire for a quick fix. Marketers know that too, which is why they’re so creative and careful in how they promote products… “this is the one thing you’ve been missing!”
But the truth is, there are no magic bullets. Health and wellness is the sum of all of your habits, positive and not-so-positive.
This is good news: there is wiggle room in health to enjoy those fun foods. Health and wellness (and even weight loss) is not all about deprivation or forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t like. We get to enjoy our eating, too.
If the Celsius energy drink is something that you like, you enjoy the caffeine boost, and it fits in your budget – go for it, in moderation.
If you don’t really like them, prefer to get your caffeine from good old-fashioned coffee, and don’t want to spend a good chunk of your grocery budget on this drink – skip it. You don’t need it to improve your metabolism or your workouts.
I’m here to protect you from misinformation. This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed products that folks are talking about online and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Here are a few other products that I’ve reviewed lately:
- Debunking Enzyme Coffee for Weight Loss: Does it Help?
- Are Greens Powders A Waste Of Money? A Dietitian’s Review
- AG1 Athletic Greens – Review from a Dietitian
That’s a wrap
These celsius beverages are not weight loss, fat-blasting, metabolism-boosting magicians.
Drinking this drink, in combination with exercise, might just turn the metabolic dial up a tad, but you definitely don’t have to have this drink in order to be successful with your weight loss or fitness efforts. It is just a modest tool with a bigger price tag.
If you do choose to drink Celsius – enjoy! Just have realistic expectations for what one choice of many can do to make or break your health and wellness goals (and keep tabs on your overall caffeine intake for the day).
Ultimately, any gains from drinking Celsius will depend on how you leverage them alongside a healthy nutrition and fitness plan for optimal results.
PS if you’re new around here, hi! My name is Jamie and I’m a Registered Dietitian for nearly ten years. I help my clients find real health and ease around food without getting sucked into trendy false promises.
Don’t waste your time and money chasing after miracle products. Instead, focus on the basics of good nutrition and regular physical activity to start feeling the real benefits of your hard work.
If you’re wanting to learn more about creating a nutritious lifestyle, why not purchase your very own copy of the Balanced Basics Handbook? With its easy-to-follow steps and simple meal-prepping advice, it may very well be the gateway to unlocking your long-term health goals!