Do energy drinks make you gain weight?

April, 17, 2023

Do energy drinks make you gain weight?

There’s a secret your gym buddy isn’t telling you –– energy drinks could leave you with more than a “pick-me-up”. If you want to achieve your optimal body weight and live healthier, put the Gatorade down. Immediately. We’ll show you whether energizing drinks ramp up or ruin weight management.

Energy drinks don’t magically burn calories

Weight control is an earn-and-burn concept. Excess weight comes from eating more food (for energy) than you metabolize. Metabolism is the pace our bodies burn calories, or use energy. Universally, each person requires fewer calories to rest than to move/exercise (1). The amount of calories we need to thrive depends on diet, lifestyle, age, health condition, and so on. 

If you’ve experimented with diets or taken time off from the gym, you understand how important food and drink choices are. Everything we take in affects our energy levels. Losing weight or cutting your BMI (Mody Mass Index) requires eating fewer calories than usual or exercising more, to burn off that extra energy (2). New health trends promote sports and energy drinks for pre-workout supplements. Could a can of Monster checkmate your weight goals. How?

Sugary sports drinks and energy drinks can cause unexpected weight gain. Registered Dietician, Martha Gonzalez from Blanch Valley Health weighs in, saying the leading sports drinks were meant for high-intensity athletes to replenish sugar (energy) and electrolytes (sodium) they can utilize quickly (3). We’re fit here at Ethan’s, but we’re not Olympians. Running a 10k marathon may call for massive sugar output. However, the high sugar content is not our forté. Frequent consumption of high-carb and high-calorie drinks causes health concerns in the long run. 

When you unscrew the lid, here’s what you want to consider:


High-calorie drinks are a workout wipeout. One 20 oz. can of Red Bull gives you a pump of caffeine with 270 calories. Going for a swim or taking a 20-minute walk may burn 225 cals. So, what happens to the other 45? Unfortunately, the body will store them as fat (4). The same applies to other energy drinks loaded with calories; we’ll address some further on. 


Simple carbs are often the undercover culprit. Non-organic drinks are packed with “flavor” and electrolytes yet seem to overdo it on added sugars. Synthetic empty calories can cause cardiovascular issues over time (5). Sports drinks with little nutrition lead to a quick energy boost but could leave you hungry, or even worse, craving more sugar. Finally, the part no one like to discuss is: when you add calories in one area, they must be omitted somewhere else. Say goodbye to dessert.

Dietary Intake

Experts at Harvard Health say little to no physical activity makes weight gain easy (5). Food strengthens our body with energy; and once we’ve consumed more than we use, our body holds onto it in extra pounds.

Your metabolism is unhindered

Sports drinks provide the energy to make you break a sweat, but they don’t change individual metabolism. Let’s debunk that as a myth. A 2019 study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that energy drinks neither boost nor decrease metabolism (6). Red Bull was, in fact, proven unable to provide a performance boost compared to other energy drink brands.

Are sugar-free drinks full of artificial sugars?

Hold onto your gym bag, this might blow you away. We compared regular energy drinks to their sugar-free counterparts, and here’s what we found. 

Rockstar (16 fl. oz)

Energy  – 107 kcals

Sugars – 24g

Rockstar has 200mgs of caffeine, B vitamins, vitamin C, and taurine (7). One can combines multiple artificial sweeteners including maltodextrin, which is plant-based, but highly processed (8). Our Dietician says the jury is still out on taurine being beneficial for good health.

Red Bull (8.4 fl. oz)

Energy – 111 kcal

Sugars – 26.3g

Studies have shown the ingredients in Red Bull when consumed long-term are directly related to metabolic syndrome – heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (9,10).

Let’s see how a sugar-free option measures up.

Monster Energy Zero Ultra contains zero real sugar. Upon researching we found:

Calories 10

Sugars 0

Monster created their Zero Ultra line using 2mgs of erythritol, a sugar substitute the National Institute of Health discovered increases heart attacks, stroke, blood clotting, and artery blockage (11,12). 

Will zero-calorie drinks cause you to gain weight?

“Zero calorie” isn’t always a good sign. After all, drinks that offer organic nutrition should have at least a small amount of calories. Harvard School of Public Health lists the low-calorie substitutes that big brands rename and use to sweeten their energy drinks. Similar to processed foods, when our cells recognize artificial substances, the body is unable to convert them into energy. (Aspartame a.k.a. Equal) is 200 times sweeter than sugar. A 2009 cohort study reported drinking these types of artificial sweeteners for prolonged periods of time can increase cancer risk (13,14). 

Ethan’s: Clean caffeine without the weight gain

Ethan’s Clean Energy is the jumpstart you need to knock out your next workout. Our Proprietary Blend crafted by a Registered Dietician offers a vegan, organic, all-natural lift your body will thank you for. 

We combined guayusa and green tea extracts for optimal, plant-based energy to invigorate your body and mind (15). 

Tea is another way to get your morning mojo. America’s second favorite drink comes in many variations: oolong, black, or green tea. Steeping the dried leaves extracts the caffeine into the water –– making a tea that gives you that feel-good boost for the day (16). That steaming cup could boost your immune system, too. Naturally occurring flavanoids in tea infuse the body with immunity-boosting antioxidants, doubling its health benefits. Stir in a pack of Ethan’s Clean Energy Organic Drink Mix and you’re set to go!

Reminder: Your body benefits most from a well-balanced diet. Organic, whole foods and lean protein make the best combination with your favorite, clean drink.


We don’t recommend using energy drinks for weight loss, but our Clean Energy Shot gives the boost you need for daily exercise.

Authored By

Tiffany Nicole

Tiffany is a bi-lingual Nutritionist and Health Writer. She is focused on simplifying Nutrition and natural health for all audiences. During a self-study, she discovered preventable disease are abundant in Westernized populations due to a dire need for Nutrition education. These findings inspired her in life, work and study. Tiffany currently holds a Diploma in Nutrition from the Fabulous Body Academy and is a graduate of Stanford’s Food and Health Certification program. She's continued her education in pursuit of a Level 1 Coaching Certificate from the renowned, Precision Nutrition. Her Nutrition articles have been featured by the publications Health Digest, Cover'd Girlz Magazine, and Emily Alexander’s Nutrition Blog gallery. Tiffany is a professional Copywriter and Marketing Consultant within her boutique Marketing business, Creative Encouragement.

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