In this blog post, I’ll review whether C4 Energy Drinks are healthy or not? Find out what this product’s nutrition pros and cons are, plus some better options to consider. For people following a clean eating diet, C4 cannot be considered a healthy product because it contains so many processed ingredients.

a can of watermelon burst C4 energy drink.

C4 Energy Drink Facts 

C4 Energy is an energy drink range made by Cellucor, an American company owned by the sports nutrition brand Nutrabolt.

Cellucor launched the C4 Energy Drink line in 2011 as a sugar-free, calorie-free energy drink that provides body and brain fuel for strenuous activities like exercise. 

Cellucor manufactures C4 Energy Drinks for active people who want to enhance their physical performance and endurance while maintaining mental focus.

The drinks are available in carbonated and non-carbonated options in the following variations:


  • C4 Performance Energy® 
  • C4 Smart Energy®
  • C4 Ultimate Energy™ 


  • C4 Smart Energy® Stick Packs
  • C4 Energy 
  • C4 Ultimate 

Depending on the option, the drink is available in various flavor options with a caffeine content of between 200mg and 300mg of caffeine.

The company also has a range of collaborations with other brands, including Starburst, Skittles, Ethika, Wounded Warrior Project®, and WWE®.

Depending on the drink variation and flavor option, C4 Energy Drinks contain carbonated or still water, various processed ingredients, non-nutritive sweeteners, caffeine in different forms, and several trademarked ingredients, most unique to the brand.

All C4 energy drinks are sugar-free and calorie-free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

C4 Energy Drink Main Ingredients 

C4 Smart Energy Drinks are made with carbonated water, malic acid, citric acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, cyanocobalamin, niacinamide, and caffeine, either from natural sources or caffeine anhydrous, depending on the product variation. 

The drinks also contain trademarked ingredients, including InnovaTea®, BetaPower®, Cognizin® and CarnoSyn®, and other ingredients like Acetyl-L-Tyrosine.

Trademarked Ingredients

C4 Smart Energy Drinks contain various trademarked ingredients: InnovaTea®, BetaPower®, Cognizin®, and CarnoSyn®.


According to the Cellucor website, InnovaTea® is a naturally derived caffeine source. It is derived from fermented green tea leaves and is non-GMO.

You can expect the same side effects of this product as any other source of caffeine if you’re sensitive to it or have too much of it. 


BetaPower® is an amino acid synthesized from sugar beet molasses.

According to Cellucor, it’s a purified form of betaine anhydrous. It helps maintain cellular hydration within muscles during strenuous activity and enhances sports performance. 

According to research from the Mayo Clinic, typical side effects of betaine anhydrous include digestive problems like diarrhea and nausea and changes to body odor.


Cognizin® is a patented form of Citicoline known for enhancing cognitive function.

According to Cellucor, it helps with muscle contraction and cognition, helps maintain cellular hydration, and raises dopamine levels. 


CarnoSyn® is synthesized, instant-release beta-alanine.

According to the CarnoSyn® website, it helps athletes improve performance gains like improving endurance, enhancing recovery, and building muscle. 

a woman lifting weights.

While these patented ingredients have excellent reviews and may benefit athletes and active people, they are processed.

C4 Energy would not suit you if you want to avoid processed ingredients as part of a clean eating diet.


Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is a dietary supplement commonly added to popular energy drinks. It can enhance cognitive function and focus while reducing fatigue and may help counteract jitters from consuming caffeine.

Natural tyrosine is available in meat, dairy, and other food sources. Although synthetic Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is considered safe by the FDA, some people experience side effects like headaches, fatigue, joint pain, heartburn, and anxiety. 


Some C4 Energy Drink variations contain natural caffeine, while others contain caffeine anhydrous.

The natural caffeine is derived from the company’s trademarked InnovaTea® formula, and caffeine anhydrous is a highly concentrated caffeine in crystallized powder form. It can be extracted from plant matter or synthetically produced using chemicals.

Caffeine anhydrous is commonly used in supplements and other products for athletes because it is a highly concentrated natural stimulant. Both types of caffeine in C4 Energy Drinks are highly processed forms of caffeine.

In moderation, caffeine has some potential health benefits. Research has proven that caffeine is neuroprotective and can help prevent and treat dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. It can also reduce the risk of liver cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

However, there are risks attached to consuming too much caffeine, and there are side effects worth noting. Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause headaches, anxiety, jitters, dehydration, and elevated blood pressure. Additionally, it is not suitable for children or women who are nursing or pregnant. 

High levels of caffeine or excessive consumption can also increase heart rate. For healthy adults this may be safe, but for people with heart conditions, it may not be safe. Please speak to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have questions about whether or not caffeine is safe for you.

Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium

Sucralose and acesulfame potassium are highly processed chemical sweeteners with no nutritional value and can cause health problems. Research has proven that, consumed over time, artificial sweeteners can cause chronic inflammation and increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Sucralose and acesulfate potassium both alter the gut microbiome and could harm gut health, among other potential health threats.

The scientific community has called for further testing of acesulfame potassium as a possible carcinogen. Research also suggests limiting the consumption of this product during pregnancy. 

Besides potential health risks, non-nutritive sweeteners may cause side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort and digestive problems. It is not recommended that people with stomach problems use this product. 

Nutrition Pros 

This product does not contain any sugar or artificial colors; it is vegetarian, vegan-friendly, and gluten-free. It also has zero calories and zero sugar.

It can be a convenient way to boost energy or have a more successful workout, which can be helpful for people who struggle with motivation to go to the gym or do other types of exercise. As a pre-workout drink, it may increase energy levels and improve athletic performance.

Nutrition Cons

C4 Energy Drinks are relatively expensive and contain various highly processed ingredients that may be unsafe to consume. These drinks are not suitable for people following an unprocessed food diet.

Non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame potassium may cause health problems and side effects and are unsuitable for people with stomach problems. 

One of the biggest nutrition cons of C4 Energy Drinks is the high caffeine content. Each serving has between 200mg and 300 mg of caffeine. Since the recommended daily maximum is 400mg, there’s a risk of consuming too much caffeine if you have more than one or two of these drinks – especially if you consume other products or foods that contain caffeine. 

If you are looking for a boost of energy or a pre-workout supplement, you may just consider having a balanced snack that includes carbohydrate and protein. An example would be a piece of fresh fruit with some protein like a piece of beef jerky (see my list of the best sugar-free jerkies).

It’s almost always best for your overall health to choose real food over processed foods, including a pre-workout energy drink like C4 or Red Bull. Consider the potential negative effects of these ingredients and the potential impact on your body over time.


Are there any potential side effects or risks associated with consuming C4 Energy Drink?

People sensitive to caffeine or non-nutritive sweeteners may experience side effects like jitters, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea, digestive problems, and more when using this product.
Even those who enjoy the health benefits and energy boost caffeine provides should limit consumption because of the high caffeine content of this product.

Is C4 Energy Drink suitable for people with diabetes or other dietary restrictions?

Possibly not. Caffeine can affect blood sugar and blood pressure, especially in those sensitive to it. Since non-nutritive sweeteners have been linked to type two diabetes, it’s best for people with diabetes or following a restricted diet to avoid this drink or limit consumption.

It’s unknown whether the other trademarked ingredients in this product may interact with medications or medical conditions. Generally, people with diabetes should opt for drinks like herbal tea or mineral water. If you need more clarification, check with your healthcare provider. 

How much caffeine is in a serving of C4 Energy Drink?

Depending on the variation, each serving of C4 Energy Drink has between 200mg and 300mg of caffeine. This equals the amount of caffeine in several cups of coffee.

C4 Nutrition Conclusions

C4 Energy Drink contains various processed and chemical ingredients that can’t be considered healthy for most people. However, occasionally having an energy drink will likely not cause health problems, and there are some benefits when you drink energy drinks before a strenuous workout. 

If you choose to drink this product, do so in moderation. Alternatively, drink water to hydrate or regular coffee if you need an energy boost before a workout. It’s important to note that C4 Energy Drinks are unsuitable for pregnant or nursing women or children because they contain caffeine.

Don’t forget to join my newsletter list to get exclusive clean eating recipes and tips. The newsletter is 100% free with no spam; unsubscribe anytime.

About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.