Energy Drinks 101

Looking for your perfect energy beverage, the one that delivers on the mental and physical benefits you seek, isn’t so straightforward anymore. To top it off, finding one without the extra sugar and calories just made this hunt even more difficult.

Now, when it comes to understanding the energy drink world, you’ve got questions – and we’ve got you covered. We’ve mapped out the answers to your most pressing energy drink questions, whether you’re looking for the best energy pick-me-up to take your day to the next level, on a fitness journey, or simply looking for a way to gain that extra mental edge at work. We got you.


What is an Energy Drink?

Energy drinks are crafted to boost focus and help push you forward both mentally and physically. Your typical energy drink often contains the stimulant caffeine, and usually in larger quantities than you would get from your typical cup of coffee or tea. Depending on the brand, your energy drink may also contain sugar and/or sugar free sweeteners, natural extracts, amino acids, and artificial or natural flavors.


Coffee vs Energy Drinks?

Coffee is, of course, the original energy drink. While it still remains a staple component of most morning routines, it often lacks some of the benefits that energy drink consumers have come to love. When you’re looking to push through a longer workout, or a heavy workday – energy drinks can often provide the necessary fuel.

While your ordinary caffeinated beverages might help get that blood pumping and make you more alert, a beverage like C4 adds clinically studied performance ingredients that have been demonstrated benefits for physical and mental performance. So, not only are you getting that desired energy boost – you’re getting enhanced support for the body and mind.


Are Energy Drinks Good for You?

C4 Energy and C4 Smart Energy are formulated to provide physical and mental benefits that far exceed the typical caffeine hit. Powered by clinically studied performance ingredients, C4 is built to help maximize any moment.

For instance, the ingredient CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine, has been clinically shown to help support muscular endurance and fight fatigue while BetaPower® Betaine Anhydrous (also known as Trimethylglycine), is a patented extract from the superfood, Sugar Beets, that supports hydration and physical performance. As for C4 Smart Energy, there’s InnovaTea®, a naturally derived version of caffeine from green tea leaves, plus Cognizin® Citicoline, a clinically studied brain-booster that helps to support focus, attention, and recall.

From work to play, gaming to studying, or partying to planning – the C4 lineup contains ingredients that leave your typical energy drink in the dust.


But Aren't All Energy Drinks Bad for You?

Here's the deal:

As is the case with many beverages, energy drinks may have harmful effects if you drink them in excess. Large quantities of caffeine can lead to undesirable side effects such as insomnia, and can also contribute to other undesirable conditions, such as a temporary rise in blood pressure.

In addition, many of the leading energy drinks also contain sugars in the form of sucrose and/or glucose, which results in consuming quite a few calories as well. However, C4 Energy and C4 Smart Energy are formulated to contain zero sugars, zero carbs, and zero calories.


How Long Do Energy Drinks Last?

You can feel C4 working within minutes of consumption, and it will provide an energy boost for several hours. For those who might be more sensitive to caffeine and stimulants, they’ll likely feel the effects for even longer.


How Many Energy Drinks Can You Drink A Day?

This question truly depends on an individuals caffeine sensitivity, physical condition, and stimulant intake from sources outside of energy drinks. Most people are looking for a numerical threshold of caffeine intake when asking this question. It is widely recommended that healthy adults ages 18 years or older do not exceed 400mg of caffeine within a 24-hour period. Each 16oz can of C4 Energy or C4 Smart Energy contains 200mg of caffeine, which is 50% of the recommended value.


How Do Energy Drinks Work?

Energy drinks are intended to wake up the mind and body, and often rely on stimulants such as caffeine. But many leading energy drinks also contain a significant amount of sugar, both to sweeten the drink as well as provide a stronger energy boost (akin to a sugar high). However, this is why one can feel a sudden “crash” after consuming these types of energy drinks.

Rather than relying on the mixture of caffeine and sugar, the C4 lineup is built with science-backed ingredients to prime your body for physical and mental performance. Let’s take a look at these ingredients!


Energy Drink Ingredients

Now let’s do a deeper dive into the ingredients contained in C4 energy drinks, because as we said, these aren’t your typical stimulant and sugar combinations. Let’s crack ‘em open and look inside.



Caffeine is a stimulant that you probably know best as the most important part of your morning brew, but it’s also a common ingredient within the world of energy drinks. Most energy beverages contain between 140mg and 300mg of caffeine in a 16oz. can. Therefore, proportionally, the amount of caffeine in an energy drink is usually higher than the corresponding volume in coffee. With that said, not all caffeine is created equally, so let’s talk about two particular kinds that are contained in C4 Energy and C4 Smart Energy.

Caffeine Anhydrous is a highly concentrated caffeine powder. (Anhydrous translates to “without water.”) One teaspoon of caffeine anhydrous is the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee but rest assured that a can of C4 energy only has 200mg of total caffeine or about 1/25th of a teaspoon.[i] That’s about 2 cups of coffee, or a touch more with a light brew. Caffeine Anhydrous also helps boost metabolism and aid in fat burning. For all of these reasons, we love it as the foundation of C4 Energy!

InnovaTea® Caffeine, which we use in C4 Smart Energy, is an extremely high-purity naturally derived caffeine sourced from green tea. InnovaTea® is also Non-GMO Project verified so it complies with best practices for GMO avoidance. Every can of C4 Smart Energy contains 200mg of clean caffeine directly from InnovaTea®.




Beta-Alanine reduces anaerobic muscle fatigue to help support muscular endurance for longer workouts. This amino acid is a key component in the synthesis of another amino acid called carnosine. What does carnosine do? It buffers lactic acid buildup in skeletal muscles. (Remember that “burning” feel in your muscles as you work towards exhaustion? THAT’s lactic acid!) As it builds up in our muscles, it causes our muscles to tire and increases the likelihood we’ll cut a workout short. Carnosine acts as a lactic acid buffer allowing us to push our limits for longer before fatigue sets in.

Every can of C4 Energy proudly contains the world’s most studied and premium form of beta-alanine, CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine! CarnoSyn® has conducted over 50 human clinical studies on this ingredient, and it is widely used by athletes across the globe!

One of our favorite studies indicates that CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine may increase strength as well. A 5-week study of 30 men found that cumulative beta-alanine consumption increased squat strength 7% more than the placebo group, so it can help you bang out those extra muscle-building reps.[i]



Betapower® Betaine

BetaPower® Betaine is a clinically studied form of betaine that’s derived from the superfood, beets. Beets have grown in popularity in recent years for their superfood qualities, and it’s not surprising. Betaine supports the body’s hydration process as well as helping to improve physical performance, and it's known to be naturally found in several other health foods, including whole grains and spinach. Hydration, performance, strength, and a perfect fit for C4 Energy!

Another favorite study of ours examines the efficacy of 15 days of betaine supplementation on muscle endurance, power performance and rate of fatigue in active college-aged men, specifically related to an increased quality of repetitions during squat exercises.[i]  


Learn more about C4 Energy in this video:

Cognizin® Citicoline

Cognizin® is a proprietary form of citicoline that is clinically studied to support mental energy, focus, and attention. But what is citicoline? Citicoline contains choline, which is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in brain development, muscle movement, metabolism, liver function, and nervous system function. Choline is found in many common foods like eggs, salmon, and beef, in addition to some vegetables like brussels sprouts, but most people don’t get enough of it in their regular diet.

Whether you’re studying for a big test, prepping an important presentation, or going hard at World of Warcraft, Cognizin® in C4 Smart Energy provides that extra mental edge to make you sharp and focused.



N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine provides an amino acid substrate for important cellular neurotransmitters involved in processes related to mental alertness and cognitive health, particularly during periods of physical stress (like when you’re working out).

This version is the more soluble form of L-Tyrosine, which allows the ingredient to live happily in a liquid form. It’s considered a nootropic ingredient which aids in the production of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and dopamine, which, in addition to boosting the reward centers of our brains, also help with mental focus and acuity.

Learn more about C4 Smart Energy in this video:


L-Citrulline is an amino acid that supports blood flow and performance by boosting nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps your arteries relax by opening your vascular vessels, which improves blood flow. L-Citrulline is also contained in some common foods like watermelon.



Alpha-GPC, or Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine, is a nootropic ingredient that supports memory and learning. It’s an additional cognitive enhancer that’s included in C4 Ultimate Carbonated.


Added Sugar vs Sugar-Free

Ever wonder why you crash after drinking your average energy beverage? Leading energy drinks can contain more than 50 to 60 grams of sugar or more per 16 fl. oz. can. Measure that out, and it’s more than an entire shot glass of pure sugar! (For comparison, that’s almost as much sugar as an entire 20oz. bottle of soda.)

That’s why more energy drinks are turning to sugar-free formulations, though not all sugar-free energy drinks are built the same. Many are made with artificial sweeteners, which have a more concentrated sweetness compared to natural sweeteners and are generally favored when attempting to cover up the unsavory taste of performance ingredients.


Performance Energy

Our competitors’ “innovation” started as our very foundation. In 2011, C4 was born from a desire to raise the stakes and redefine performance energy. We wanted something that could push us further, with ingredients that were rooted in evidence rather than hype. This became the C4 DNA – building products for the outperformers and the overachievers. Those who were looking beyond the typical energy drink to deliver daily results. Our beverages are proudly powered by clinically studied ingredients to drive energy alongside our legendary physical and mental performance experience.

Whether you’re taking your workout to the next level, going hard for an important presentation, or crushing the competition in COD, the C4 lineup has got your back – with zero sugar, and zero compromise.


The C4 Flavor Process

C4 Energy and C4 Smart Energy drinks go through a robust tasting process to dial in our flavors for maximum deliciousness. We treat our flavoring process like refining a wine. Every flavor we develop goes through multiple rounds of taste testing where we examine it for several characteristics, including balancing the sweetness level and a taste consistency from upfront to finish.

We target specific flavor profiles to give our Electric Sour the right pucker and Peach Mango Nectar the perfect lightness on your taste buds. In every round of development, C4 considers the finish, mouthfeel and texture, and overall drinkability of our flavors. You don’t make compromises on your goals and we don’t make compromises on flavor.


Which Energy Drink Is Best?

Call us biased, but we’re partial to C4 Energy and C4 Smart Energy. With zero calories, zero carbs, and zero sugars, it’s already primed to lead the pack, but add in our carefully formulated recipe with science-backed ingredients and obsessively developed flavor profiles, and you’d be hard pressed to find something better. We know because we tried. That’s why we created C4.