Do Energy Drinks Make People Gain Weight?

You may find drinking beverages like Monster or Minute Maid energy drinks causes some monster weight gain. While some people may believe drinking energy drinks is a good way to boost energy and lose weight, these drinks often pack a high number of calories and sugars that can lead to weight gain.

Energy drinks often contain a high number of calories and sugar that can lead to weight gain when added to your diet without cutting calories elsewhere. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Energy drinks often contain a high number of calories and sugar that can lead to weight gain when added to your diet without cutting calories elsewhere.

Weight gain happens when you consume more calories than you burn off. If you're already eating the right number of calories for your body and activity level to lose weight or maintain your current weight, energy drinks add unnecessary calories. These added calories can cause weight gain.

Energy Drinks: Know the Nutrition

Most energy drinks contain ingredients to give you a temporary burst of energy. These ingredients often include a large amount of caffeine and simple carbohydrates like sugar.

Energy drinks vary by how many calories and sugars they contain by brand and by serving size. According to the USDA, the popular energy drink Red Bull packs 212 calories and over 50 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce serving. An 8-ounce serving of Monster fares slightly better, according to the USDA, with 110 calories and 27 grams of sugar.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the calories in sugar-sweetened drinks like energy drinks often have little nutritional value. Additionally, sugar-sweetened drinks often do little to curb your appetite, meaning you may still be hungry after drinking one. This can lead you to consume more calories and ultimately gain weight.

Sugar-Free Energy Drinks

If you're watching your weight, you may wonder about sugar-free energy drinks and weight gain. Many brands, including popular brands like Monster and Red Bull, offer sugar-free energy drinks that are much lower in calories than their sugar-laden alternatives. According to the USDA, an 8-ounce serving of the sugar-free Rockstar energy drink has only 10 calories, no sugar and only just over 1 gram of carbohydrates.

While the sugar-free varieties of popular energy drinks are generally lower in calories than their full sugar counterparts, the artificial sweeteners may be a problem if you are watching your weight. According to a 2017 review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, artificial sweeteners do not clearly support weight management. Some data suggests artificial sweeteners may be linked with increased body mass index.

The Caffeine-Weight Link

Energy drinks all contain large amounts of caffeine. While the jury is still out as to whether or not caffeine has an impact on weight, there is some evidence that people who consume more caffeine may be better able to maintain a healthy body weight.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology notes that caffeine increases the amount of calories a person burns while decreasing the amount of calories a person intakes. Another 2016 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition on 494 people who were maintaining a weight loss and 2,129 people from the general population found that the people who were maintaining a weight loss consumed significantly more caffeine than those who had not lost weight. Both studies mention the need for more research to fully understand the link between caffeine and weight.

Other Energy Drink Health Considerations

Weight loss shouldn't be your only consideration when researching the health-related effects of energy drinks. While energy drinks can provide a quick boost of energy, there are some adverse health consequences associated with energy drinks.

A 2015 study in Postgraduate Medicine shows that people who drink too many energy drinks are at increased risk of substance abuse and risky behaviors. The same study also notes negative effects on the neurological and cardiovascular system likely related to too much caffeine intake. Because of this, you may want to consider a healthy alternative to energy drinks.

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