Review Energy Drinks Nutrition

C4 Energy Drink Reviews (2024)

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at both C4 Performance Energy and C4 Ultimate Energy, which both offer different amounts of caffeine and active ingredient profiles. We’ll also be comparing them with C4 Pre-Workout powder later on. This way you can decide if C4 energy drinks will work for you!

C4 Energy Drink Reviews

C4 Energy Drink Reviews: Quick Summary

C4 Energy Drink

C4 Energy Drink
  • Item Form: Pre-Mixed Drink
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue
  • Flavor: Ultimate (Arctic Snow Cone, Fruit Punch, Orange Cream), Performance (Frozen Bombsicle, Strawberry Watermelon Ice, Orange Slice, Cherry Limeade, Arctic Snow Cone, Midnight Cherry, Grape Frost, Starburst, Skittles, Popsicle)
  • Caffeine: 200mg for Performance, and 300mg for Ultimate
  • Special Ingredients: Performance contains Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and L-Citrulline
  • Package Information: 12 Pack
  • Serving: 473ml
  • Company Founded: 2002
  • Recommended by Athletes: Brittany Ann, Scott Mathison, Demi Bagby

C4 Energy offers 2 main energy pre-mixed drinks in the form of C4 Ultimate and C4 Performance. The fact that these are convenient, pre-mixed drinks is a major plus.While these are similar formulas, C4 Ultimate has more caffeine and Alpha-GPC, while C4 Performance contains the active ingredients Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and L-Citrulline. 

c4 energy drink in hand

C4 Performance’s ingredient doses aren’t clear, so it’s impossible to say if they’re dosed correctly. However, based on CarnoSyn’s website, C4 supplements do appear to have between 3.2-6.4g of beta-alanine per serving, which is effective, although exactly how much is unclear. 

Overall, the milder dose of caffeine and more affordable price make Performance a decent option for an energy drink. With that being said, if you’re looking for a stronger hit of caffeine, C4 Ultimate may be a better choice.

44.5 EXPERT SCORE

C4 supplements appear to have between 3.2-6.4g of beta-alanine per serving, which is effective, although exactly how much is unclear.


Ingredient Breakdown:0
Stimulation:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Conveniently pre-mixed
  • High stimulation
  • Convenient alternative to pre-workout
  • Comes from a well-established brand

Could be better:

  • Active ingredient doses aren’t clear
  • Fairly expensive

Who and What is C4 Energy Drink For?

These C4 energy drinks are ideal for anybody looking for a solid hit of stimulation while on the go. These could be a great alternative to pre-workout if you’re unable to mix it for whatever reason. 

It’s worth noting that both these drinks have high amounts of caffeine with 200mg in Performance and 300mg in Ultimate respectively. Remember the maximum recommended daily amount of caffeine for most adults is ~400mg. So, especially with Ultimate, we only recommend using these energy drinks if you’re experienced with high doses of caffeine. 

Because of the high caffeine content, C4 drink side effects may include anxiety, headaches, jitters, and insomnia. Especially if you’re caffeine sensitive, either of these C4 energy drinks may trigger these symptoms, so be cautious when using them. 

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C4 Energy Drink Review

Below we’ll be taking a closer look at both C4 Ultimate and C4 Performance so you can get a good idea of what to expect from both of these energy drinks. As you’ll see, aside from caffeine, neither of these supplements has especially effective active ingredient breakdowns. 

1. Ingredient Breakdown

While C4 Performance and C4 Ultimate aren’t too different, their formulas both contain some unique ingredients which we’ll be looking at below. 

ingredients of energy drink

• Performance (Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline, & Betaine)

While the Performance formula contains less caffeine than Ultimate, it contains more active ingredients in the form of Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and L-Citrulline.. 

These are all common pre-workout ingredients with slightly different effects. Beta-Alanine is mainly used for fatigue reduction and needs to be taken daily for several weeks before there’s any noticeable effect. Betaine is used for endurance performance and force production, and similar to Beta-Alanine, it needs to be taken daily for best effects. Citrulline is also used for endurance performance and is the only active ingredient here that has some acute effects. 

While all of these ingredients are effective, there are a few problems here. First, C4 does not list the ingredient dosages on their package, so it’s hard to say whether they’re effectively dosed or not. However, Cellucor is listed on Carnosyn’s website, which implies that their products do contain between 3.2-6.4g of Beta-Alanine, which is an effective dose. 

Because these ingredients aren’t clearly dosed, it’s difficult to recommend these products for the specific effects of active ingredients like Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, and Betaine.

Also, even if they were effectively dosed, with Beta-Alanine and Betaine, you’d need to use this energy drink every day for weeks to get any noticeable effects. 

• Ultimate (Alpha GPC, Cognizin Citicoline, BrainBerry, TeaCrine)

Ultimate has a much simpler formula, with the main additional active ingredient being Alpha GPC. Overall, 200mg of Alpha-GPC does appear to have some benefits for certain physical and mental tasks, although further research is needed for more definitive conclusions about its use. Once again, C4 does not list the dose of Alpha-GPC included, so it’s difficult to say if a clinical dose of 200mg+ is included here. 

C4 Ultimate also contains several other active ingredients. First is Cognizin Citicoline, which appears to improve psychomotor performance and working memory. Next is BrainBerry (or Aronia Berry) which may also be beneficial for cognitive performance. Finally is TeaCrine which is meant to reduce the side effects of caffeine. Because the doses also aren’t included, it’s difficult to say if any of these ingredients are dosed effectively. 

2. Stimulation

Each of these energy drinks contains a solid hit of caffeine. C4 Ultimate has 300mg per serving, while C4 Performance has 200mg. While C4 Performance is still strong, it will be better suited to those not used to high doses of caffeine. We only recommend C4 Ultimate to those experienced with pre-workout supplements or other energy drinks. 

3. Taste/Flavor

From our experience, both C4 energy drinks are sweet and slightly sour, sort of like lemonade. They don’t have the same strong taste that many other energy drinks have. Overall, it’s pleasant, although there is still a mild chemical taste to it. C4 Energy drink reviews are also largely positive suggesting a great flavor. 

c4 energy drink in glass

C4 Ultimate comes in 3 basic flavors, as well as offering several more variations through partnerships with Wounded Warrior Project and WWE. Meanwhile, C4 Performance has 7 basic flavors, as well as several Starburst, Skittles, and Popsicle flavors as well. 

4. Nutrition Label Transparency 

As mentioned above in our ingredient breakdown, C4 does not have very good nutrition label transparency. Doses of all the main active ingredients are not listed anywhere, making it impossible to say if they’re dosed effectively or not. Additionally, C4 doesn’t appear to have any third-party certifications verifying the quality and potency of its products. 

5. Value for Money

C4 Performance will cost you ~$2.33 per can when buying a 12-pack. C4 Ultimate, meanwhile, is significantly more expensive at ~$3.33 per serving. Because of this, we believe C4 Performance is the much better deal, although C4 Ultimate may still be worth it to some. 

Overall, buying a powder-based pre-workout will likely be more cost-effective than either of these energy drinks, although they’re still a convenient alternative. 

How Do You Use C4 Energy Drink? 

Because both C4 energy drinks are high-caffeine, we only recommend these products to people who are used to taking large doses of caffeine at once. If you’re caffeine sensitive, high-stim energy drinks like these will very likely lead to unwanted side effects. 

For the use of caffeine as a training supplement, we recommend taking it ~1 hour before training. Also, don’t take it after 4pm to avoid any sleep disturbance. 

With pre-workouts, we often recommend taking a half serving if you’re concerned about caffeine. Because these are carbonated beverages, this may not be as appealing an option. However, drinking half a can at a time may be a good way to moderate your caffeine intake. 

bottle c4 energy drink

Also, regardless of your caffeine tolerance, be sure you’re not using these energy drinks within several hours of going to bed as this will more than likely disrupt your sleep. 

Overall, C4 Performance should be suitable for most people while still providing a strong hit of stimulation. Meanwhile, C4 Ultimate should be reserved for those who are confident in their caffeine tolerance, and want a serious boost of caffeine. 

C4 Energy Drink Alternatives

Below we’ll be comparing C4 Energy to a few other alternatives so you can decide which one is best for you. 

C4 Performance Energy DrinkC4 Ultimate Energy DrinkC4 Original Pre-Workout PowderReign Total Body Fuel
Price Per Serving~$2.33~$3.33~$1.17~$3.37
Caffeine200mg300mg200mg300mg
Other Ingredients- Beta-Alanine
- Betaine
- Citrulline
- Alpha GPC
- Cognizin Citicoline
- BrainBerry
- Teacrine
- Beta-Alanine
- L-Citrulline
- L-Arginine
- Creatine
- BCAAs
- CoQ10
- Electrolytes

1. C4 Energy Drink vs C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder

C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder

C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder

First, let’s take a look at C4’s original pre-workout powder. It contains 200mg of caffeine, making it similar to C4 Performance energy drink. In terms of active ingredients, you can expect 2g of beta-alanine, 1.2g of l-citrulline, 1.2g of l-arginine, and 1g of creatine. Overall, all of these ingredients are likely dosed too low to provide any noticeable effects. 

nutrition c4 original powder prepared

Each serving will cost you ~$1.17 also making this a significantly cheaper option than C4 Energy drinks, although you may be sacrificing some convenience. 

2. C4 Energy Drink vs Reign Total Body Fuel

Reign Total Body Fuel

Reign Total Body Fuel
  • Serving Size: 16 Fl Oz
  • Price per Serving: ~$3.37

Next is Reign Total Body Fuel, which is most similar to C4 Ultimate as it also contains a whopping 300mg of caffeine per serving. As a result, we only recommend Reign for those confident in their caffeine tolerance. In terms of active ingredients, Reign also contains BCAAs, along with several other ingredients like CoQ10 and electrolytes, which are unlikely to have any major effect. 

Overall, Reign is a very similar product to C4 Ultimate, although it could be a good alternative if you want to try something a little different. 

FAQ

Is a C4 Energy Drink Good for You?

Overall 200mg of caffeine is an average dose for many lifters. However it won’t be suitable for all people. This energy drink may lead to unwanted side effects like anxiety, jitters, and insomnia. Beyond this, C4 also contains several artificial ingredients which some people may prefer to avoid. 

Is C4 a Powerful Energy Drink?

Yes, with 200-300mg of caffeine per serving depending on which type you buy, C4 offers some of the strongest energy drinks out there. Because of this, we recommend considering your level of caffeine sensitivity before using these energy drinks, as they may very well be too strong for you. 

How Long Does C4 Energy Drink Take To Kick In?

Caffeine will typically kick in within about 30 minutes after consumption. Drinking caffeine on an empty stomach may lead to a quicker energy boost. So, if you’re using C4 as a pre-workout, we recommend drinking it within a 30-60 minute window before going to the gym to enjoy the maximum stimulating effects. 

What’s the Difference Between C4 Powder vs. Can?

While we covered their canned energy drinks today, C4 is likely better known for its pre-workout powders. For reference, C4 Original Pre-Workout contains 200mg of caffeine and a similar active ingredient breakdown. They also offer C4 Ultimate Pre-Workout with 300mg of caffeine. 

Overall, C4 pre-workouts have the same doses of caffeine formulas as their energy drink. They also both appear to have more complete active ingredient profiles, although most of the ingredients (L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Creatine, etc.) still aren’t effectively dosed. The pre-workout powders will also be significantly cheaper than the energy drinks, although they may be less convenient for you as well.

Is C4 Energy Drink a Pre-Workout?

No, these are better classified as energy drinks rather than pre-workouts. Pre-workouts are typically powders you mix yourself, while these are pre-mixed drinks. Also, pre-workouts will typically have more complete formulas with effective doses of additional active ingredients. 
With that being said, does C4 energy drink work to provide energy? Absolutely, and because of this, it will still work as a decent pre-workout. With 200-300mg per serving, you’ll still get a solid hit of stimulation from these energy drinks, even if they’re missing solid active ingredient profiles.

Conclusion

Both C4 Ultimate and C4 Performance are high-stim energy drinks ideal for those who want a strong hit of caffeine. Just keep in mind that their active ingredient breakdowns aren’t great, and they are both fairly pricey for what you’re getting. If you want better value for money and slightly better doses of active ingredients, you may be better off choosing one of C4’s pre-workout powders instead. 

Have you ever tried any of C4’s products? Are you planning on trying either C4 Performance or C4 Ultimate? Let us know your thoughts below!

References:

  1. The Nutrition Source, “Caffeine,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/caffeine/ (Accessed Mar. 19, 2024)
  2. Julie Y. Culbertson, “Effects of Beta-Alanine on Muscle Carnosine and Exercise Performance:A Review of the Current Literature” Nutrients. Jan; 2(1): 75–98. (2010).
  3. Apicella, Jenna M., "The Effect of Betaine Supplementation on Performance and Muscle Mechanisms" Master's Theses. 109 (2011).
  4. Wethington, L. N. “The Ergogenic Effects of Acute Citrulline Malate Supplementation on Weightlifting Performance in Trained Females.” Health, Human Performance and Recreation Undergraduate Honors Theses. (2016).
  5. Adam G Parker, et. al, “The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2015).
  6. Hayder M. Al-Kuraishy, et. al, “Citicoline Improves Human Vigilance and Visual Working Memory: The Role of Neuronal Activation and Oxidative Stress” Basic Clin Neurosci. Jul-Aug; 11(4): 423–432. (2020).
  7. Sanne Ahles, et. al, “The Effect of Long-Term Aronia melanocarpa Extract Supplementation on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Vascular Function: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Healthy, Middle-Aged Individuals” Nutrients. Aug; 12(8): 2475. (2020).
  8. Photos made by Torokhtiy Media Team.

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With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Camila Parente Santos

Author: Camila Parente Santos
Nutrition and Sport Nutritionist

Experience: 7 years

Camila has worked as a Nutritionist for 7 years. In addition to being a nutritionist, she is an amateur weightlifting athlete for 2 years. Camila has experience at Flamengo’s football base and in a food supplement company and currently provides services at a clinic. At the moment she is coursing a postgraduate study in Sports Nutrition.

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