Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to energy drinks.
Monster Energy is arguably the most popular energy drink in the US. It’s sold at a wide range of retailers both in-person and online, and the brand’s website describes their drink as “one of the meanest energy drinks on the planet.”
But what’s actually in Monster Energy to provide the energy boost? Does the drink contain any unhealthy additives? How does it compare to other popular energy drinks? And which Monster flavor is the healthiest?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Monster Energy based on medical studies to give our take on whether the drink is bad for you or not.
We’ll compare Monster to other popular energy drinks to see how it stacks up in terms of healthiness, and pick our healthiest Monster flavor.
The main active ingredients in Monster Energy (caffeine and sugar) are shown above.
Caffeine is included at a dose of 180 milligrams (mg), which is slightly less than two standard cups of coffee.
This is an effective caffeine dose for improving energy levels according to clinical research, and should not cause health issues in otherwise healthy adults.
Sugar is included at a dose of 54 grams (g) per can which is concerning in our opinion.
The entire ingredient list of Monster Energy is shown below:
Beyond added sugar, there are several ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that can cause whole-body inflammation in some individuals, as we documented in our article on are Ghost Energy drinks bad for you.
Natural flavors is a broad categorical descriptor that fails to identify the specific flavoring chemicals used.
A medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggests that some flavoring compounds and their metabolites can be toxic.
Color added is a very strange ingredient descriptor, and fails to document whether the colorants used are artificial or naturally-derived.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that’s clinically shown to negatively affect insulin function.
Monster Energy is one of the few energy drink brands we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health that contains both an artificial sweetener and substantial amounts of added sugar.
Sorbic acid and benzoic acid are preservatives.
Glucuronolactone caused negative changes to blood pressure and insulin levels when combined with taurine and caffeine (both included in Monster Energy) in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Nutrition.
We do believe that Monster Energy is likely to be effective for its intended purpose because it contains a number of stimulatory ingredients (primarily caffeine).
Overall, we consider Monster Energy to be bad for you due to all of the questionable additives referenced above. However, it’s likely acceptable in moderation in otherwise healthy adults, as are pretty much every food product approved for sale in the US.
But how does Monster compare to other energy drink brands in terms of health? We’ll discuss that in the next section of this article.
Monster vs. the Competition
Most commercial energy drinks have similar formulations to Monster, but there are relevant differences.
Here’s our take on the healthiness of Monster versus other popular energy drinks in the US.
Red Bull contains artificial flavors, and this class of ingredients was shown in a 2018 animal study to be toxic.
However, Red Bull also contains 17 g less sugar per can, and no artificial sweeteners.
Verdict: Red Bull over Monster
As we documented in our article on is 5 hour energy bad for you, the brand is added-sugar-free which gives it a big edge over Monster in the health category.
However, 5-hour Energy contains artificial flavors and a preservative called potassium sorbate that’s clinically shown to be toxic to human cells which makes it hard to pick one over the other.
Celsius uses the same artificial sweetener as exists in Monster Energy.
The core difference, as we documented in our article on is Celsius bad for you, is that Celsius is sugar-free and uses fruit and vegetable juice for natural colors.
Celsius is also free of preservatives other than citric acid.
Verdict: Celsius over Monster
Can you OD on Energy Drinks?
A clinical pharmacist and toxicologist with a YouTube channel called "ChubbyEmu" has a video documenting what happened when a gamer took too many energy drinks at once:
What’s the Healthiest Monster Flavor?
We consider Rehab Monster to be the healthiest product line sold by the brand.
The ingredient list above is from Rehab Monster Watermelon.
It’s important to note that this drink contains less caffeine (by 30 mg), significantly less sugar (by 51 g), and the sugar is derived from a natural source (apple juice concentrate) rather than a refined additive.
Vegetable juice is used as a natural colorant.
There are no preservatives other than citric acid.
This drink still contains several ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective as outlined in the ingredient analysis section (citric acid, natural flavors, sucralose) so we don’t recommend it overall.
Rehab Monster also contains a second artificial sweetener called acesulfame potassium which was shown to cause negative changes to brain function in a 2018 animal study.
We would recommend that consumers intent on purchasing a Monster beverage use this product rather than the regular Monster Energy.
Our Clean Energy Picks
Illuminate Labs manufactures a Panax Ginseng Extract Supplement that's potent (standardized to minimum 8% ginsenosides) and third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy.
Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Panax Ginseng Extract at this link to the secure product page on our website, where it retails for only $15 at a subscription price.
Performance Lab Energy is our top multi-ingredient energy supplement pick.
This supplement contains acetyl-l-carnitine which can "improve energy status" according to a medical review published in the Neurochemical Research journal, as well as CoQ10 which is produced by the body but decreases with age, and "is an effective and safe treatment for reducing fatigue symptoms" according to a 2022 meta-study.
Interested consumers can check out Performance Lab Energy at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.