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If you’ve been on social media recently, you may have spotted a new drink popping up in your feed. Whether it slips into a morning vlog on TikTok or an Instagram post at the yoga studio, this brightly colored beverage appears to be a new health trend. It’s the Celsius drink, and it’s, well, everywhere.
Billed as a healthy energy drink, Celsius’s many listed benefits are impressive. On the can itself, it advertises that it provides a healthy energy boost, accelerates your metabolism and burns body fat. But are any (or all) of these claims true?
Since I live in a constant state of doubt over lofty health promises, I reached out to Shanon Whittingham, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and the owner of The Nourish Center in Brooklyn, New York, for her expert take on the ingredients in Celsius drinks—and an evaluation of its many lofty claims.
What exactly is in a Celsius drink?
Celsius offers five distinct products. The original Celsius contains green tea and guarana seed extracts, ginger root, vitamins B and C, and chromium (more on that later). Celsius Heat is touted as offering “performance energy” and contains L-citrulline. Celsius BCAA+ Energy adds BCAAs (of course), tart cherry, vitamin D3, and electrolytes. Celsius-Stevia includes, well, Stevia, and Celsius On-the-Go is a powered version of the original.
Whittingham says one of the first things that stood out to her about the Celsius drink’s can was the fact that it contains zero calories. She says that immediately signals to her that this drink is probably sweet, and hence, why it’s become so popular. “Generally, whenever something says ‘zero calories,’ there is an artificial sweetener in there or an artificial ingredient that adds sweetness,” she says. Generally, she says these additives are safe. However, for people with certain food sensitivity issues or gut health problems, she says these types of additives can negatively impact their digestive system. (Celsius does claim to contain no sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or artificial colors or flavors.)
How much caffeine is too much?
If you scroll through TikTok, you may catch a glimpse of someone sipping on a Celsius before they head to their hot yoga class, weightlifting session, or study cram session. There’s a reason for the connection between the drink and these particular activities. These activities may require the need for a quick energy boost. Whittingham says since Celsius doesn’t list the amount of caffeine included in its drinks, it’s hard to tell how much one of the beverages contains. Blogs estimate the amount of caffeine in Celsius drinks to be around 200 milligrams, which is within the ballpark of healthy daily consumption (Whittingham pinpoints it at 400 milligrams). However, if you’re someone who suffers from high blood pressure or anxiety, you may want to be more conscious of the amount of caffeine you’re consuming.
Can the Celsius drink really control your hunger?
Celsius drinks contain chromium, an essential trace mineral, which the brand claims helps control hunger. Whittingham says we need just trace amounts of this mineral, which can typically be achieved through eating certain meats, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. One Celsius drink contains over 100 percent of your daily Chromium needs, which alarmed Whittingham. She says it’s vital that consumers don’t view these drinks (or similar supplements) as a replacement for whole foods that offer the same benefit.
So given the ingredients, should I try a Celsius drink?
It depends. Whittingham says she would recommend this drink to high-performing athletes who are working out multiple times a day. These athletes burn high amounts of calories and need to replenish their bodies on a regular basis. However, Whittingham says it’s critical to speak to a dietitian or a nutritionist about your body’s particular needs. For example, she may not recommend this drink to an athlete with gut issues or high blood pressure.
What about those of us who aren’t working out multiple times a day? “For everyday people, I would say if they want to have this from time to time, in moderation, OK,” she says. “Not every single day.” Even though a lot of the ingredients are water soluble, she says overconsumption of these drinks can potentially cause diarrhea and nausea.
What’s an alternative to Celsius drinks?
If you’re looking for a way to gain energy and fuel, but aren’t sure about Celsius drinks, Whittingham recommends a list of whole foods that can give you a similar energy boost. Oatmeal and bananas are some of her favorites in the hours before a tough workout. “Fruits are a great source of immediate energy before any workout,” she says. “Apples, oranges, watermelon, peaches, blueberries—all of those are great to give you that natural energy spike right before any exercise or physical activity.” Looking for a food to enhance muscle recovery? She suggests trying sweet potatoes, which have vitamin C, vitamin E—and can help repair cell damage. Yes, this means now you finally have an excuse to go out and order some sweet potato fries (well, kind of).