Are C4 Energy Drinks Vegan? (Ingredients Analysis)

C4 Energy Drink

In 2018, C4 On The Go carbonated energy drink became the newest addition to the long-running Cellucor brand. The brand is the creation of Nutrabolt, a life science company, that extended its business from pre-workout supplements to energy drinks.

Made from a similar formula as C4 Original, C4 On The Go presents you with a powerful blend to energize your active lifestyle, be it during physical training, studying, driving or for any of your other regular routines.

But if veganism is your way of life, you’ll want to know whether this drink is vegan friendly or not before you even think of grabbing a can for yourself.

Well here’s some great news for you: According to its official website, C4 On The Go is vegan. 

But wait. Don’t head off just yet though. 

Let’s take a closer look at what goes into these explosive energy drinks to see how well they’ll actually complement your vegan lifestyle.

What Are The Ingredients In C4 Energy Drinks And The Available Flavors?

C4 “Original” Carbonated

Ingredients

Every 16 fl.oz drink contains:

  • 0 calories
  • 1g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugar
  • 250mcg folic acid
  • 85mg potassium
  • 6mcg vitamin B12
  • 500mcg vitamin B6
  • 30mg niacin

The drink contains 5mg of Explosive Energy Blend that has:

  • Beta alanine
  • Arginine nitrate (NO3-T)
  • 200mg caffeine anhydrous
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine

The drink has trace amounts of these ingredients too:

  • Water
  • L-Tartaric acid
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • FD&C Red #40

Flavors

  • Sour Batch Bros
  • Cotton Candy
  • Midnight Cherry
  • Orange Slice
  • Purple Frost
  • Strawberry Watermelon Ice
  • Frozen Bombsicle
  • Twisted Limeade
  • Tropical Blast
  • Cherry Limeade
A can of C4 energy drink.
You’ll get an extra energy kick from the 5mg of Explosive Energy Blend that’s found in C4’s Original product range.

C4 “Smart Energy” Carbonated

Ingredients

One 16 fl.oz serving has:

  • 200mg caffeine
  • 0 Calories
  • 0g otal fat
  • 0g total carbohydrate
  • 0g total sugar
  • 0g protein
  • 0mg sodium
  • 30mg niacin
  • 6mcg vitamin B12

Other ingredients that you’ll find in the drink include:

  • Carbonated water
  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Cognizin citicoline
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Sucralose
  • InnovaTea green tea leaf extract
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Natural flavors
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • Sodium citrate

The drink does not contain sugar, artificial colors or dyes.

Flavors

  • Freedom Ice
  • Electric Sour
  • Cotton Candy
  • Peach Mango Nectar

C4 “Ultimate” Carbonated

Ingredients

One 16 fl.oz can contains:

  • 0 calories
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugars
  • 1g taurine
  • 500mcg folic acid
  • 110mg potassium
  • 70mcg vitamin B12
  • 1mg vitamin B6
  • 60mg niacin
  • 3.2g CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine
  • 2g Betapower Betaine Anhhydrous
  • 6g Citrulline malate
  • 1g Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate

The drink contains 708g of C4 Ultimate Energy & Focus Blend that is made of:

  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • 300mg caffeine anhydrous
  • Alphasize A-GPC (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline)
  • Zembrin (Sceletium Tortuosum) Aerial parts extract
  • Rauwoflia Vomitoria root extract
  • Huperzine A (from Toothed Clubmoss/Huperzia Serrata Aerial parts extract)

There are also trace amounts of:

  • Water
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Sucralose (sweetener)
  • Acesulfame potassium (sweetener)
  • FD&C Yellow #6 (coloring)

Flavors

  • Sparkling Arctic Snow Cone
  • Sour Batch Bros
  • Sparkling Tropical Blast

C4 “Energy Natural Zero” Carbonated

Ingredients

A 12 fl.oz drink has:

  • 0 calories
  • 120mg natural caffeine from CoffeeBerry
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugars
  • 0g total fat
  • 0g protein
  • 250mg cognizin citicoline
  • 1g taurine
  • 0.5g tyrosine

It also contains trace amounts of:

  • Carbonated water
  • Natural flavors
  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Stevia leaf extract
  • Coffeeberry Energy fruit extract

Flavors

  • Cherry Lime
  • Strawberry Coconut
  • Blueberry Lemonade

How Much Caffeine Is In C4 Energy Drink?

You’ll find caffeine content ranging from 120mg to 300mg in your C4 energy drink, depending on which variety of the product you’re consuming.

You can scroll back up to my earlier section on C4 ingredients if you want to know the details as I had listed it previously. 

Personally, I think that any energy drink that has between 200mg to 300mg of caffeine per serving is going to potentially trigger some side effects.

After all, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tells us that the daily caffeine intake for an average healthy adult should not exceed 400mg.

This requires you to take into account all of your other caffeine sources and not just your energy drinks. For example, this includes things like chocolate, tea, soda drinks, protein bars, and many more.

Be very careful about not exceeding the daily caffeine limit set by the FDA whenever you decide to drink C4 as you might face some of these health risks if you don’t:

  • Muscle tremors
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heartburn
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension
  • Slower fetal growth in pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Death (Very rare)

Since most C4 energy drinks have relatively high caffeine content, they may not be suitable for you if you have any sensitivity to caffeine.

You’ll know that this affects you if you experience any of the following symptoms whenever you consume caffeine:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Headache
  • jitters
  • Nervousness or anxiousness
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Increase in urination
  • Upset stomach
  • Intense adrenaline rush

Is There Sugar In C4 Energy Drink?

You needn’t worry about sugar as you won’t find any in your C4 energy drink. 

C4 is sweetened by low-calorie sugar substitutes, sucralose and acesulfame potassium (also known as ace-K). 

Compared to sugar, these artificial sweeteners are kinder to your health, although they do pose health risks of their own. 

Sucralose

Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar. It may increase your risk of contracting these health issues: 

  • High blood glucose and insulin levels
  • Leukemia
  • Cancer

The recommended acceptable daily intake (ADI)  for sucralose is 5mg per kg of body weight.

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K) 

Ace-K is 200 times sweeter than sugar. 

Some research findings claim that ace-K has the potential to cause these health problems

  • Cancer
  • Impacts the development of a baby during pregnancy

But there hasn’t been sufficient evidence to conclusively decide on this matter so far. 

The ADI limit for ace-K is 15mg per kg of body weight. 

Both sucralose and ace-K have already undergone rigorous safety evaluations and have been approved for use by many regulatory bodies across the globe such as the FDA, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). 

So as long as you are drinking C4 moderately and not exceeding the ADI as advised by the FDA, there shouldn’t be any issues from its sucralose or ace-K content as it won’t be that significant in quantity. 

Are C4 Energy Drinks Vegan?

Yes, C4 energy drinks are vegan. And that’s based on information available from the brand’s official website.

But you might need more assurance on the matter. 

So, here’s a breakdown of the major ingredients in C4 energy drinks for you to analyse how vegan this beverage truly is.

IngredientsPurposeCommercial SourceIs it vegan?
Arginine nitrateImproves blood flow
Usually from vegetables.Typically yes.
Folic acidHelps in metabolism and the forming of red blood cells.Typically fungal or synthetic, but can also be derived from animals or vegetables.Possibly not.
L-Tartaric AcidAntioxidant, flavoring.VegetableYes
Malic AcidFlavoring, acidifier.Mostly synthetic.Yes
Citric AcidFlavoring, preservative.Vegetable, bacterial, fungal, or mold.Yes
N-Acetyl-L-TyrosineEnhances concentration, improves memory, aids learning.Animals or plants.Possibly not.
Potassium sorbatePrevention of  yeast and mold.Synthetic (from minerals).Yes
Acesulfame KArtificial sweetener.SyntheticYes
Vitamin B12Aids formation of red blood cells, ensure health of nervous system.Synthetic, bacterial or fungal.Yes
NiacinSupports nervous system functions.SyntheticYes

While a majority of the substances I’ve listed above can be assumed as vegan, please take note that there are some which may be a little ambiguous.

So unless you were to clarify with the manufacturer for yourself, you won’t be able to be 100% certain of the vegan status of C4 energy drinks since they don’t come with any certification.

If you’re in doubt, then perhaps consider some of the other alternatives to C4 energy drinks that I’ve highlighted towards the end of this post.

Are C4 Energy Drinks Suitable For A Keto Diet?

Yes, C4 is suitable for a keto diet.

All C4 energy drinks are sugar-free. In place of sugar, these drinks contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame K.

With low-calorie and zero-sugar to its name, the C4 energy drinks will keep you in your ideal ketosis state as long as you want.

Even if you’re not a keto-practitioner yourself, you can indulge in this calorie-free beverage as it will help you stay away from health concerns like Type 2 diabetes, skin aging, heart disease and many more.

Label on C4 energy drink
Sugar-free C4 energy drinks don’t break keto diet rules.

Are C4 Energy Drinks Gluten-Free?

Yes, C4 energy drinks are gluten-free, according to a response given by a rep of Nutrabolt on the brand’s official Amazon page.

Do a quick check on the ingredients list for C4 and you’ll see no wheat or grains like rye and barley included there.

So, if you’re one who’s practising a gluten-free diet, C4 energy drinks are alright for you.

But while gluten isn’t an active ingredient in the beverage, the company did point out that there are chances that trace amounts of gluten did seep into the product. They usually say this because the product might have been manufactured on the same equipment that handles other products which are gluten-based. 

So with that in mind, it’s really up to you whether you’d like to pick up that can of C4 after all. 

Nutritional value on C4 energy drink
C4 energy drinks are generally free of gluten products.

Does A Vegan Diet Affect Your Gym Results?

No, a vegan diet doesn’t affect your gym results as long as you get your necessary protein supply. 

Some may say that animal proteins like red meat, chicken, fish and eggs are essential to build and maintain the muscle mass in your body. But I’m here to tell you that it’s a misconception that exists in the gym community which needs to be debunked.

Vegans are fully capable of body-building by using adequate amounts of plant protein to ensure they meet their daily nutritional requirements.

In fact, here are some high-protein plant-based foods which can be consumed for this purpose:

  • Lentils and beans (e.g. kidney beans, lima beans, black beans)
  • Tempeh, tofu, edamame, and soy products
  • Seeds (e.g. chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Whole grains( e.g. rice, barley, quinoa, oats)
  • Nuts (e.g. almonds, pistachios, cashews)

With that in mind, here are some delicious pre-workout vegan snacks you can consider having:

  • Cup of soy milk/ soy yoghurt
  • Low-fat muesli with soy or coconut yoghurt
  • Banana, mango, or grapes
  • Banana ice cream made of blended frozen banana and plant milk
  • Cooked sweet potato/ potato
  • Overnight oats made from almond or soy milk
  • Jacket potato
  • Fruit smoothie from soy milk
  • 1 or 2 slices of whole grain or sourdough toast
  • Salad and soy-cheese sandwich

And if you’re the kind that likes to make your own snacks, you can check out these recipes:

Loading up on carbs and some protein will do wonders for your energy levels before gym routine. So munch on these snacks around 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.

Also, here’s a big shocker: Research has proven that observing a vegan diet can actually enhance your fitness results and aid your recovery time.

This is due to the high content of antioxidants from your vegan diet that will reduce inflammation in the body much quicker as compared to if you were on a non-vegan diet.

Now, isn’t it great to know that your dietary choices are going to help in healing your achy muscles after an intense workout session at the gym?

On top of that, as a vegan, your body has enough energy stocked in it to last your whole session as plant-based foods are high in carbs, which when consumed, will turn into glycogen.

So, there’s really no need to get discouraged thinking your veganism will get in the way of you gaining that much coveted set of six packs. It most certainly won’t. 

There are pros out there who have done it, and so can you.

See how the pros do it!

Are C4 Energy Drinks Harmful To My Health?

No, C4 energy drinks aren’t harmful as long as they are taken in moderation and only when you are truly in need of an energy boost.

It might be worth mentioning at this point that Cellucor released a life threatening product before. 

Does the name C4 Extreme set off any sirens in your head?

Cans of C4 energy drinks
Fret not. C4 energy drink isn’t blacklisted like its sister product, C4 Extreme.

Cellucor advertised the product as “the most explosive pre-workout intensifier” with a high content of creatine nitrate. So, it doesn’t come off as a surprise that the product created such a buzz amongst the athletic community.

In 2010, 24 football players from an Oregon high school were hospitalized due to suspected cases of creatine poisoning. Medical professionals diagnosed the condition as ‘compartment syndrome’.

The students suffered severe swelling and cramping, of which three of them underwent surgery.

While C4 energy drinks don’t contain any creatine supplements, it’s always important to take precautions. 

Whenever you see any unfamiliar ingredients in your C4 energy drink (or any processed food or drink, for that matter). you’re doing yourself a big favour by taking the trouble to find out what it’s there for and how it impacts your health.

Keep a lookout on this site because I’ll be putting up a post with a more detailed analysis of the ingredients found in C4 energy drinks soon.

Can C4 Energy Drinks Burn Fat?

No, C4 energy drinks can’t help you burn fat.

It’s more or less a myth that any energy drink could possibly burn fat. But I don’t blame anyone for getting the wrong idea from the many misleading marketing campaigns that are going round nowadays.

Certain devious energy drink brands like to fool unsuspecting consumers into thinking that their energy drinks will help drinkers shed extra pounds fast.

Well, do your background checks, guys, because if you do, you’ll realise that relying on energy drinks alone to burn fat with no exercise or a balanced meal plans factored in will gets you nowhere near your ideal body weight. And that’s been proven scientifically by a study by The BMJ.

Once you’ve got your body pumped up after consuming an energy drink, you’ll need an output to convert the energy into a fat burning mechanism before it will do you any good. A good 30 to 45 minutes session in the gym will do the trick.

According to Columbia University, the caffeine you ingest may boost metabolism by less than 100 calories per day. So it’s worthwhile having a can of energy drink before your workout to get you going throughout the routine.

Just remember to always stick to the daily recommended caffeine intake as advised by the FDA which tells us not to take caffeine beyond 400mg per day. 

So keep this in mind as taking multiple servings of energy drinks within the same day can potentially cause you to go over the limit and become a threat to your health.

Alternatives To C4 Energy Drinks

You’ll never run out of options when it comes to finding an energy drink to suit your needs because there are so many out there in the market. Here are some ready-to-drink varieties that you can consider:

If you love exploring something beyond the ordinary, you try other caffeinated products like Make it Mio by Kraft or Vivarin caffeine pills. These products provide you with the energy boost you need minus any added sugars or any unnecessary additives.

Powder-based energy drinks are also gaining popularity these days. And it’s easy to see why that’s so. These kinds of energy supplements give you more versatility and convenience, especially when you’re on the go. 

Here are some you can try: 

REIZE Energy Drink

With a reasonable 50mg of caffeine, REIZE gives you the option of enjoying a light and refreshing energy boost wherever you are and in whatever way you like. 

Simply add a 4g sachet of REIZE to water, juice, tea or soda and you’ll have your energy drink ready in seconds.

REIZE is a great every day energizer, even for vegans.

Besides being sugar-free, REIZE also offers you tons of great nourishing ingredients at the same time like taurine, B vitamins, and ginseng. 

As a vegan, you won’t have to worry either because there are no animal-based ingredients used in REIZE. 

For just $1 per drink, you can have REIZE shipped right to your doorstep, with delivery expenses all covered. 

Give REIZE a shot today and you’ll see why it’s a great choice for everyone, including vegans.

Last Updated on

Marty Spargo

I started my own energy drink brand in 2014 and am passionate about educating people about energy drinks so that they can properly understand the ingredients, benefits and risks without being influenced by the marketing messages put out by some brands. You can read my full bio here.

Recent Content