Athletics / Community / Lifestyle

The NCAA has Banned Celsius and Other Energy Drinks- Here’s What You Need To Know

Just like any other year, in 2022, the National Collegiate Athletic Association posted their banned substances list. That year’s iteration, however, was updated to include the energy drink Celsius and many of its ingredients, including guarana, taurine, ginseng, and L-carnitine. As a result of these ingredient bans, many other energy drinks have been banned, and Celsius is facing lawsuits from the NCAA. 

So what does it mean for a substance to be banned by the NCAA? In short, this means that if an athlete tests positive for any of the substances on the banned list, they can face punishment by the organization and/or their school. By signing a contract to compete at the collegiate level, athletes give permission to be tested for banned substances. While there are year-round required tests for steroids, drugs, and otherwise illegal substances, athletes are only tested for substances like caffeine if there is a reason to believe that they have exceeded the allowed amount. Athletes are allowed to consume these ingredients in moderation, and on non-competition days. 

One of the main ingredients in Celsius and many other energy drinks is guarana, made from the seeds of the Paullinia plant. These seeds contain 2-8% of caffeine, which is a considerably larger percentage than coffee beans, which only contain 1-3%. In general, the NCAA bans caffeine in drinks if the beverage contains more than 15 milligrams of caffeine per milliliter. Studies have shown that caffeine has the ability to decrease or increase athletic performance, depending on the consumer and the quantity. Caffeine has also been found to increase the speed of muscle contractions, making simple movements, such as kicking a soccer ball or taking a stroke while swimming, faster and stronger, which gives athletes an unfair advantage. 

Another banned ingredient, Taurine, has been found to affect heart health when combined with large amounts of caffeine, is also considered a performance enhancing substance, and has been shown to increase anxiety and disrupt sleeping patterns. 

Ingredients such as ginseng and L-carnitine have also been found to invoke rapid heartbeat and blood pressure fluctuation. 

Guarana and taurine are ingredients in many other energy drinks such as Monster Energy, Rockstar Energy, and Red Bull, which have all subsequently been banned by the NCAA. 

At Dana, seeing a classmate drinking a Celsius or other kind of energy drink is a daily occurrence. For Cait Klosek ‘24, “having one [Celsius] makes me feel more energized, but I’ve noticed that sometimes when I have two in the same day or few hours, I feel sick and nauseous.” Nausea, jitters, and restlessness are all themes commonly expressed among energy drink consumers at Dana Hall.

Most recently, Celsius has faced lawsuits for what the company chose to not list as an ingredient. The company has advertised that their beverages do not contain any preservatives; however, the NCAA is now suing Celsius for containing the preservative citric acid. This is a pressing issue because an argument can be made that if the company fails to include one ingredient on the label, there could be other ingredients that are not listed as well, which leads to transparency issues as to what the consumer is putting in their bodies. 

Now that the NCAA has banned energy drinks, what’s next? According to Michael White, Dana Hall’s athletic director, “I don’t foresee an outright ban coming from the EIL, (but) this would be good advice for us to pass onto our student athletes that things like Celcius and other energy drinks might not be the healthiest choice.” 

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