Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to energy drinks.
Celsius is one of the most popular energy drinks on the market. The brand positions itself as a healthier alternative to commercial energy drinks, describing its products as providing “functional energy” that’s “made with only the best ingredients” on the website’s homepage.
But is Celsius really healthier than older-generation energy drinks like Red Bull or are these just marketing claims? Does it have any questionable additive ingredients? Do you really need so many vitamins from an energy drink? And how does Celsius Heat compare to regular Celsius?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review every ingredient in Celsius and Celsius Heat, and compare the brand to older energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster.
Celsius drinks have a large Supplement Facts label which we’ll analyze in three separate sections: energy ingredients, vitamins and minerals, and inactive ingredients.
Celsius Ingredient Review - Energy Ingredients
Celsius contains a number of active ingredients meant to increase energy. These are listed in a proprietary (prop) blend called “MetaPlus Proprietary Blend.”
The first-listed ingredient is taurine, which is an amino acid. We haven’t come across any medical studies suggesting that taurine increases subjective energy levels. We recommend that children and adolescents avoid this ingredient in products that also contain caffeine (such as Celsius), because a medical review detailed that this combination may pose risks to the adolescent brain.
Guarana seed extract is the next-listed ingredient. We consider this an effective ingredient for increasing energy. A meta-study published in the PLoS One journal found that it provided additional stimulation beyond caffeine alone when the two ingredients were combined.
Caffeine is one of the most well-studied stimulants in the world. This ingredient is likely to increase energy at the 200 milligram (mg) dose in Celsius. This dose is equivalent to around two cups of coffee and may increase blood pressure and anxiety in some individuals.
Glucuronolactone is another stimulatory ingredient. While this compound is likely effective for improving energy and attention, we recommend avoiding it when it’s used in combination with caffeine and taurine (as in Celsius). A medical review published in the Journal of Nutrition caused negative changes to blood pressure and insulin sensitivity in healthy young volunteers.
We could only identify one animal study suggesting that ginger extract may increase energy, but this study included a dose vastly higher than that in Celsius. We’ll consider this ingredient ineffective.
Green tea leaf extract is another ingredient we recommend avoiding. A Health Canada review indicated that this ingredient may be linked with liver injury, so we recommend avoiding it, especially when its dose isn’t listed as in Celsius.
Celsius Ingredient Review - Vitamins & Minerals
The ingredient list above is from Celsius Strawberry Lemonade flavor, but the ingredients list is similar for all flavors so our comments stand for any Celsius energy drink.
Most of the active ingredients in Celsius energy drinks are vitamins and minerals. The brand has a number of vitamin and mineral additives such as biotin and chromium.
We disagree with the practice of energy drinks adding significant quantities of added vitamins and minerals, because we haven’t come across any medical evidence that random blends of vitamins and minerals improve energy levels.
We recommend that consumers avoid products with vitamin and mineral additive ingredients, because consuming these fortified products may be unhealthy for consumers with vitamin and mineral levels already in a normal range. A consumer with vitamin and mineral levels in normal ranges may achieve unsafe blood levels of certain nutrients by consuming fortified products.
As the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported in early 2022, a different wellness company had to recall their milkshakes because the added vitamins were causing toxicity in some consumers.
Celsius Ingredient Review - Inactive Ingredients
Celsius contains three inactive ingredients that we recommend avoiding.
The first is citric acid. A case report summary published in the Toxicology Reports journal detailed how this ingredient may cause whole-body inflammatory reactions in a small subset of patients. Citric acid can be derived from citrus fruit, but the majority of the citric acid used in food manufacturing is derived from a fungus called Aspergillus niger as detailed in the above-linked review.
Natural flavor is an ingredient we recommend avoiding because it fails to describe the specific chemical compounds used as flavoring agents. As we discussed in our recent article, is Naked Juice healthy, there have been medical studies suggesting potential toxicity concerns with some flavoring agents.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. A clinical trial found that this ingredient caused unfavorable changes to insulin levels in young and healthy adults.
Our Take: Are Celsius Drinks Bad for You?
Whether or not a food or drink is healthy is certainly relative, but we don’t consider Celsius to be healthy based on all of the questionable ingredients we highlighted in this review.
Celsius may not be actively harmful, but we certainly don’t recommend drinking it regularly.
Even with all of the questionable ingredients we highlighted in this review, we still consider Celsius to be healthier than commercial energy drinks like Red Bull.
Red Bull contains a significant amount of added sugar (26 grams – nearly as much as a Coke), as well as artificial flavors and artificial colors.
We also consider Celsius healthier than Monster Energy, which is arguably the most popular energy drink on the market and contains added sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and artificial colors.
Clean Energy Supplement Recommendations
Consumers typically use energy drinks to achieve two things: improved physical energy and improved cognition. There are natural compounds which are proven in medical literature to be effective in achieving these outcomes.
Ginkgo biloba extract is arguably the most well-studied nootropic supplement. It’s derived from the leaves of a tree native to China, and has been proven to improve memory, cognition and focus in hundreds of published medical research studies.
Ginkgo biloba has not only been shown effective in older adults but also in young, healthy adults which is impressive. A medical review published in the Psychopharmacology journal found ginkgo biloba supplementation to improve attention and cognitive performance in healthy, young adults.
Illuminate Labs sells a ginkgo biloba extract supplement which is standardized to the same potency as used in medical research, and which is third-party tested to ensure purity, potency and label accuracy. Interested consumers can check out ginkgo biloba extract at this link to its product page on our website.
Panax ginseng extract can be used to improve energy naturally, and doesn’t have the crash of traditional stimulants like caffeine. Panax ginseng has published clinical backing for its ability to reduce mental fatigue and reduce physical fatigue (1, 2); both effects that can benefit e-sports athletes and traditional athletes.
Illuminate Labs sells a panax ginseng extract supplement which is standardized to the same potency as that in medical studies, and which is third-party tested to ensure purity, potency and label accuracy. Interested consumers can check out panax ginseng extract at this link to its product page on our website.
For consumers who dislike supplements and prefer a drink, we would recommend black coffee as a healthy option for increasing energy. Three cups of black coffee would contain around the same caffeine content as Celsius Heat without any of the questionable additive ingredients.
Is Celsius Heat Healthy?
Celsius sells a different product line called Celsius Heat with a similar formulation to Celsius. We do not consider this product to be healthy either.
Celsius Heat has the same blend of vitamins and minerals that we recommend avoiding, as well as the same proprietary blend containing the ingredients caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone that we recommend avoiding in combination. It also has green tea extract.
The inactive ingredients that we find to be questionable from a health perspective are also included in this formulation: citric acid, natural flavor, sucralose.
The caffeine dose in Celsius Heat is 300 mg. This is equivalent to 3 cups of coffee, and we would recommend that consumers speak with a doctor prior to taking this high of a caffeine dose.