Celsius energy drinks have come pretty far in their fifteen years on the market. Formed in 2004 and bringing out their first drinks in 2005, Celsius is now offered in four different varieties. They have won over a dozen international awards for health, innovation and branding.
They even sponsor Tough Mudder.
Sounds like they’re doing something right – but what?
Winning awards for packaging and positioning is great for the marketing team. But what about the product itself? If I’m buying a drink for an energy boost before a workout, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or just an alternative to a cup of coffee, I want to know that I’m making the right choice.
Celsius makes a few bold claims, the boldest being that merely drinking a can will burn over 100 calories. Sounds almost too good to be true – the secret, exercise-free weight-loss formula we’ve all been waiting for, right? It’s like they’re marketing themselves as a fitness drink that does all the fitness for you!
Well, not quite. Let’s take a closer look.
Celsius energy drink currently comes in four varieties. All contain the brand’s proprietary “MetaPlus” blend.
- Originals – the signature Celsius variety, the first on the market. It comes in a range of (pretty delicious) flavors, carbonated and non-carbonated versions.
- Sweetened with Stevia – this version is naturally sweetened and naturally caffeinated. It’s also available in sparkling or ‘flat’ flavors.
- On-the-Go – the grab & go option, Celsius is available in powder form, designed to dissolve into water when you’re on the move. It’s a pretty handy item to have in your backpack (just like another powdered energy drink we can think of).
- HEAT – the “Trainer’s Grade” edition, formulated for serious fitness enthusiasts. It contains 300mg of caffeine and 2000mg L-citrulline.
Celsius like to make a lot of noise about their “powerful, proven, proprietary MetaPlus blend”. Marketing 101 – alliteration helps to make statements sound pretty punchy.
It’s a good trick to mask the fact that there isn’t really anything new here – many brands trademark their own formula.
Celsius MetaPlus formula (1.81 grams in total) contains:
• 200mg of caffeine
• Taurine (amount not specified)
• Guarana extract (amount not specified)
• Glucuronolactone (amount not specified)
• Ginger extract (amount not specified)
• Green tea leaf extract (amount not specified, but “standardized” to 15% EGCG)
Each of these ingredients has been independently found to have weight-loss properties, and are commonly found in other energy drinks. Taurine and guarana in particular are darlings of the energy drink market. But, it’s important to note that the amounts aren’t specified. Legally, they don’t have to be, either. So there’s no way of knowing whether these amounts are anywhere near the threshold required to be effective. The benefits are directly connected to the dosage, and we just don’t know what that is.
But hey, their statement sounds cool.
Check this out for a closer look at the Celsius energy drink ingredients.
IS CELSIUS A PRE-WORKOUT?
Celsius markets itself as “a fitness drink that accelerates metabolism, burns body fat and provides healthy energy*”.
Sounds like a good option for a pre-workout to me.
With 200mg of caffeine per can, it’s hard to imagine what else you’d want (or need) to drink it for. Staying up for a full week ahead of finals? Building a house with your bare hands?
Celsius also have a drink that’s specially formulated for fitness – CELSIUS HEAT, the “Trainer’s Grade” version. It contains 300mg of caffeine – I’m amazed the can doesn’t explode. It’s probably carbonated by the caffeine alone.
The higher caffeine content version of Celsius, “HEAT” is marketed as a thermogenic – thermogenesis being the process of increasing your body heat (I see what you did there with the name, Celsius) to raise your metabolism and your heart rate. Even a tiny increase in body temperature can make a big difference in burning calories.
With a whopping 300mg of caffeine per can, Celsius Heat ranks amongst the strongest energy drinks on the planet.
It also contains 2000mg L-Citrulline which is said to improve power output, oxygen consumption, and exercise performance. L-Citrulline is an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide helps to relax your arteries and therefore improve blood flow throughout your body. Now obviously, better blood flow to the muscles can only be a good thing when we’re talking about exercise, and animal research says L-Citrulline might improve muscle protein levels.
However, research shows that L-Citrulline doesn’t really help high-performing athletes perform any better. Seeing that Celsius is marketing almost exclusively to these prime physical specimens, the exercise elite, the kings (and queens) of the gym – well, er, what’s the point of it then?
Sure, it’s a proven vasodilator, which is going to get nutrients around the body faster, but doesn’t sound like it makes a great deal of difference for those people who Celsius insist need it most.
It’s worth remembering that consuming all this carbonated caffeine won’t make a bit of difference if not combined with a healthy diet and at least moderate exercise. And it’s pointless taking CELSIUS HEAT if you’re not planning on picking up every plate in the gym.
It should certainly be avoided if you have any kind of heart condition or are particularly sensitive to caffeine.
*Although, their packaging clearly states that none of these statements have been approved by the FDA. Hmmm …
DOES CELSIUS BURN CALORIES?
This is Celsius’ big selling point, the claim to fame – that their proprietary blend is so potent and effective that merely drinking a can will burn 100 calories.
They’re pretty confident in that claim, citing six separate studies on their website as proof that their proprietary MetaPlus blend will boost your metabolism sufficiently to burn these calories. Here’s a short summary:
- Metabolic response: a single serving of Celsius was found to have more thermogenic properties than a single serving of diet soda. A 12% increase in metabolic response was found over a three-hour period. (Er – maybe I’ve been spending too much time around energy drinks, but that shouldn’t require research. A can of Diet Coke isn’t a high bar to set for this kind of comparison, surely …)
- Acute effects on changes in energy expenditure and markers of lipolysis: participants who took one serving of Celsius burned 100 more calories over three hours than those who took placebos.
- Efficacy and safety over 28 days: over a four-week testing period, participants continued to burn an average of 100 more calories a serving without any adverse side effects.
- Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition: research found that chugging a can of Celsius before exercise led to more fat loss compared to those taking placebos.
- Weight Loss in Overweight Women: a serving of Celsius made significantly better fat losses and muscle mass gains for overweight women compared to those who only exercised.
- Sedentary Men & Activity Endurance: sedentary men who drank Celsius before a moderate exercise program (five days a week) experienced 78% greater fat loss than those who only exercised.
No doubt, some pretty impressive results in some pretty impressive research papers – which, by the way, Celsius paid for.
It looks like Celsius does have a strong effect on triggering weight loss when taken before exercise. But that’s the thing – “taken before exercise”. You can’t get away with drinking a couple of cans and considering your calorie count cut in half for the day.
It’s also worth noting that when reading the studies the researchers themselves note that the observed effects are typical of what they would expect to see from caffeine alone. Meaning there’s nothing particularly special about the Celsius proprietary blend.
Besides, burning 100 calories a day only adds up to about 10 pounds a year. Sure, progress is progress, but you can choose to shave these extra calories off in so many different ways without committing to a daily can containing 200mg of caffeine. Even swapping your bagel for brown bread will cut your calories at breakfast by the same amount.
Celsius can certainly be an effective addition to a pre-workout plan, but in my opinion, it’s marketed too hard as a miracle cure. Bottom line – to fitness enthusiasts, 100 calories isn’t really a big deal, and to sedentary customers looking to cheat their way to weight loss, it won’t make a difference.
IS CELSIUS ENERGY DRINK HEALTHY?
Celsius energy drink is healthy.
At least, it sounds very healthy.
It contains zero sugar, no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Not a trace of high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Celsius is Certified Vegan. Celsius is Gluten Free. Celsius is Kosher. Celsius is Non-GMO.
Celsius is the Bob Ross of energy drinks – delightfully inoffensive.
But, always remember not to overdo it with any energy drink. Moderation is key to avoiding potential side effects.
CELSIUS DRINK TASTE
Celsius tastes pretty awesome, actually.
This is where Celsius Energy Drink earns my money. I tried the Sparkling Orange and Wild Berry flavors and was a huge fan of both. Crisp, refreshing, light, without any sickly or cloying flavor that you find in a lot of energy drinks. Sparkling Orange tastes like a classy orange soda – if you’ve ever tried Orangina, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Some people have described a slightly chemical or artificial aftertaste, but I didn’t pick up on that. I definitely prefer it to the likes of Monster or Rockstar. It does seem that there is a huge difference of opinion among customers when it comes to an overall favorite flavor (although, there are many to choose from).
Some swear by sparkling, some can’t stand carbonated, others will only drink one flavor. I guess you’ll have to try for yourself.
CELSIUS ENERGY DRINKS REVIEW: EFFECTS
I actually chugged both cans in quick succession and could have happily shotgunned a third. Luckily I didn’t have one, because I would have been bouncing off the walls. The caffeine content in Celsius is very high (200mg) per can, and it’s not recommended to have more than two servings in a day.
I don’t consider myself that sensitive to caffeine, but definitely felt the effects of this. In good and bad ways, in fact – I was hyper-alert, without being jittery, but did find it a little hard to focus. And while I didn’t come crashing down to earth, it wasn’t a smooth ride down either.
Shameless plug: REIZE’s formula is specially formulated to get you in the “optimal zone” for focus and performance, with no crash or aftereffects.
CELSIUS ENERGY DRINKS REVIEW: PRICE
When I checked, Celsius was selling on Amazon at the following prices. However, I recommend checking the current prices because there are sometimes better deals to be had.
- Originals 12-pack- $20.96
- Originals Variety 12-pack – $30.13
- Sparkling Fuji Apple Pear 12-pack – $25.99
- Sparking Kiwi Guava 12-pack – $22.68
- Sparkling Wild Berry 12-pack – $22.79
- Sparkling Watermelon 12-pack – $20.99
- Sparking Cola 12-pack – $20.89
- Sparkling Grape Rush 12-pack – $20.99
- Peach Mango Green Tea 12-pack (non-carbonated) – $21.60
- Raspberry Acai Green Tea 12-pack (non-carbonated) – $20.35
- Sparkling Cola 24-pack – $42.13
- Sparkling Orange 24-pack – $50.94
- Sparkling Kiwi Guava 24-pack – $47.76
- Sparkling Wild Berry 24-pack – $41.94
- Raspberry Acai Green Tea 24-pack – $40.70
- Peach Mango Green Tea 24-pack – $43.20
- Sparkling Grape Rush 24-pack – $41.98
- Orangsicle 12-pack – $26.53 (usually $29.99)
- Blueberry Pomegranate 12-pack – $27.02 (usually $34.99)
- Apple Jack’d 12-pack – $25.73
- Cherry Lime 12-pack – $27.02 (usually $34.99)
- Inferno Punch 12-pack – $27.02
- Strawberry Dragonfruit 12-pack – $27.65 (usually $32.28)
- Variety 12-pack – $34.40
- Tangerine Grapefruit 12-pack – $39.99
SWEETENED WITH STEVIA
- Sparkling Grapefruit 24-pack – $44.06
- Pineapple Coconut 24-pack – $43.23
- Watermelon Berry 24-pack – $50.88
- Sparkling Cucumber Lime 24-pack – $43.23
- Orange 14-pack – $11.22
- Berry 14-pack – $11.46
- Coconut 14-pack – $11.27
- Cranberry Lemon 14-pack – $11.47
You’re looking at roughly $2 a can (on average, across the range) right alongside the likes of Red Bull, and about $1 a powder stick. It’s not bad – but we have a cheaper alternative.
You can get REIZE energy drink delivered to your door on a monthly basis for around $1 per drink.
CELSIUS ENERGY DRINKS REVIEW: FINAL VERDICT
Overall, Celsius actually places pretty highly on my personal list of favorite energy drinks. It contains natural ingredients, tastes good, and, although high, has the kind of caffeine content you’re looking for in a good pre-workout drink.
However, proceed with caution – 200mg of caffeine in a single serving is pretty significant. It’s more than Monster (160mg) and Red Bull (80mg), and CELSIUS HEAT, at 300mg, is one of the most highly-caffeinated energy drinks available on the market today.
However, there is something that leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth – and it’s nothing to do with the flavorings or ingredients. It comes down to the ‘marketing as a miracle cure’ I mentioned earlier.
It’s no surprise that Celsius have won awards for innovation in their packaging, positioning and design. Between 2007-17 they began to rebrand themselves very deliberately and strategically as a fitness drink, and introduced the sleek, sexy, silver design to match.
It’s certainly managed to convince the market that they mean business. Reviews are generally very good, and you’ll find quite a few YouTube videos singing their praises. Their marketing team are a well-oiled machine, clearly.
And their biggest stroke of genius is avoiding the conversation about caffeine entirely.
Yes, the ingredients in the MetaPlus blend are shown to aid in weight loss, metabolism boost, etc. But all the talk is about these powerful proprietary ingredients (even though there’s nothing new there) – and not a mention of the fact that Celsius packs some of the highest caffeine content on the market.
Personally, I think it’s the caffeine that’s doing most of the work when it comes to burning calories. It’s a thermogenic too, after all – and there’s lots of it in Celsius.
And you don’t need to look too closely at the can to see all the asterisks crowding around the big bold statements. None of their claims are approved by the FDA.
Overall, I think Celsius is a good option for the price they charge, however there are better options out there in my book.
More on that below…
I don’t really care much about the fancy (potentially misleading) marketing messages, I just like the taste and think it gives me a good energy boost.
Other products like Celsius drink
In my personal experience, it’s a great-tasting beverage that’s a good option for pre-workout. But then again, so are many other alternatives on the market.
Here’s a few products that are similar to Celsius that are worth investigating if you’re not already familiar with them:
• Red Bull
• Rip It
And some powders (I find them more convenient):
• REIZE (my all-time favorite)
REIZE, as an example (wink wink) contains great ingredients, a more manageable dose of caffeine than Celsius, tastes great, and won’t give you the jitters. It’s also sugar-free and contains around the same amount of calories as Celsius energy drink.
REIZE is also a much cheaper option, shipping to your door for about $1 per drink.
Give REIZE a try today and you might just find that you prefer it to Celsius.