Do energy drinks really give you wings and help you slim down at the same time? Although energy drinks are often marketed for weight loss, science suggests otherwise. If you find yourself reaching for a Monster or Red Bull more often, but aren’t seeing any progress in your weight loss, it might be time to consider making some dietary changes.
Energy drinks are not the weight loss miracle drink you think they are. These seemingly harmless beverages can actually pack on the pounds.
Why You Gain Weight
Gaining or losing weight can be simplified to the calories in, versus calories out equation. If you consume more calories than you burn off, you eventually gain weight and vice versa. Unless you cut about 200-500 calories from your diet, you won’t be able to lose weight. Many people think that skipping a meal and consuming an energy drink can help create that deficit, but energy drinks are devoid of nutrition and high in empty calories. Consuming 2 or more energy drinks a day can push you over the recommended daily intake, inadvertently leading to weight gain.
Throw back a few cans a day? “The calories in energy drinks (168 in a 12-ounce Red Bull can) are mostly due to the sugar content and likely to lead to weight gain if consumed in the long term,” says Kelly Hogan, R.D., a clinical nutrition coordinator at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Research shows soft drinks, energy drinks included, play a serious role in the obesity epidemic. Energy drinks have a surprisingly high-calorie count per serving. Since many of the worst offenders contain more than 1 serving in a single can, so you have often get way more calories than you think. For example, a generic 24-ounce energy drink can have around 450 calories. Even smaller 16-ounce drinks can pack a whopping 220 calories.
Most of those calories come from sugar. Even if you think 250-450 calories is no big deal, that same energy drink contains up to 78 grams of sugar per serving. 78 grams is equivalent to 20 teaspoons of sugar every single time you crack open one of those drinks. To put this into perspective, if you want to burn off 30 grams of sugar from one energy drink, you need to do 30-35 minutes of burpees.
A 2014 study from Harvard Medical School also found that eating too much sugar increases your risk of dying from heart disease, as well as raising your risk of diabetes. In fact, if more than 25% of your calories come from sugar, it can potentially double your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Caffeine & Other Factors
Energy drinks also contain high amounts of caffeine thought to suppress appetite and increase metabolism. Even assuming you could ingest enough caffeine to produce a significant increase in metabolism, it would still take a month to lose a pound of fat. Moreover, the level of caffeine in energy drinks only slightly increases metabolism (burning less than 100 extra calories per day). Keep in mind that these increases in metabolism cease when the person quits her/his caffeine-gulping habits. Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning that any initial weight loss is most likely due to lower levels of water in the body.
Caffeine is generally acceptable in small amounts, but drink too much and it can become extremely toxic. Since energy drinks usually run around 70-100 mg of caffeine per serving, one drink will not do extensive damage; but if you drink multiple cans a day in an attempt to reduce your hunger pangs, you might experience unpleasant side effects like:
• Caffeine addiction
• Muscle twitching
• Heart palpitations (tachycardia)
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease
• Stomach ulcers
• Anxiety and nervousness
Unfortunately, the magic recipe for high energy and weight loss doesn’t come in a can.
Want REAL energy? Here are 6 ways to do that … without slugging energy drink after energy drink.
- Sleep more (and take a 20 minute ‘power’ nap if need be)
- Exercise daily.
- Eat cleaner foods -real foods, loaded with nutrients, give you sustained energy. Try a piece of fruit and handful of nuts for a quick snack
- Eat breakfast each day
- Include some lean protein with each meal and snack
- Take a stand and stretch break every 60 or so minutes -rather than staring at a computer for hours on end as your eyes glaze over, stand up, move around a bit and get the blood flowing and your mind clear.
Energy drinks aren’t the answer, no matter how good they appear to be. With ingredients full of chemicals, sugar, and an overload on caffeine, you are getting more calories than you bargained for. Not only does this add more calories to your intake, but it can lead to energy spikes and crashes that negate all your hard work. Skip the energy drinks and instead give your body true energy without useless added sugars and loads of caffeine.