For anyone who has spent hours peering at a computer screen or working late at the office, coffee is a savior. You are dog-tired and oh-so-weary but just one cup of joe and suddenly things don't seem so bad. It's the ideal beverage for solitary musings and quiet reading. It's a great social drink for hanging out with friends and meeting new people. Coffee wakes you up in the morning, de-stresses you during the day and is the perfect after-dinner dessert beverage. And there are so many options to choose from! Lattes, cappuccinos, espresso, decaf, etc. whatever your preference, sweet or bitter, there's a coffee for you. With such accolades, no wonder it's the most consumed drink in the world.
And then there's the energy drink. The miracle drink that raises your energy levels to the maximum and keeps you active throughout the day. Energy drinks are touted as a healthier option to soft drinks and a better energy restorer than water. It is a very popular drink choice among youngsters and the "hip" crowd. Both coffee and energy drinks have come under fire for their numerous risks as opposed to their benefits.
Coffee Vs. Energy Drinks - Caffeine Content
The hidden villain being argued over in the "coffee vs energy drinks" debate, is caffeine. This is a substance of chemical origin, crystalline in appearance. It is a natural product found in seeds, leaves and fruits of the coffee plant, tea bush and the kola nut. This little white powder, like other white powders, is actually a drug, albeit a legal one. Caffeine acts as a nerve stimulant, it activates and charges up the nervous system. And it's present in large and small quantities in most foods and beverages.
The properties of this powder have sparked off infinite arguments and debates. Is caffeine good? Is it bad? How much is good? How much is bad? For starters, caffeine has its good and bad points. It strengthens muscles and increases stamina. It quickens the body's metabolic rate and functioning, so fat burns quicker. Caffeine makes other drugs and medications work better and faster, like painkillers. Above all, caffeine is to your brain, like a nitro booster is to a car, a good kick to jumpstart your system.
It speeds up your thinking, your physical reflexes, reduces feelings of tiredness and drowsiness and increases your capacity to do more work, both physically and mentally. On the flip side, there's a limit to your caffeine tolerance and when you cross the limit, caffeine can harm you. Too much stimulation can cause your brain to get all jittery and on edge. Difficulty in sleeping and concentrating are just a few effects of being over-caffeinated.
On an average, your caffeine amount should be between 150 mg-300 mg per day. Above 400 mg is considered high and above 1000 mg is an abnormal or dangerous amount of caffeine to consume per day. Below is a comparison of the amount of caffeine in coffee vs energy drinks, based on some popular energy drink brands and coffees.
|Energy Drink||Caffeine Content (mg)||Coffee|
|Red Bull (8.2 oz)||80||64||Espresso Coffee (1 oz)|
|Rockstar (16 oz)||160||0.3||Decaf Instant Coffee (1 oz)|
|Monster (16 oz)||160||150||Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte (16 oz)|
|Ammo Energy Shot (1 oz)||171||109||McDonalds Small Coffee (12 oz)|
|Jolt Energy Drink (24 oz)||280||143||Dunkin' Donuts Coffee (16 oz)|
It's easy to see that both coffee and energy drinks have high levels of caffeine. A 16 ounce serving of either coffee or an energy drink and you have already touched 150 mg, which is the lower limit of your daily recommended caffeine intake. Some energy drinks have alarmingly high levels of caffeine like Cocaine with a whopping 288 mg caffeine content in an 8.4 oz can! The danger here is in over-consumption. It's easier to chug down 2 cans of a chilled energy drink than 1 steaming cup of coffee, especially in the afternoon or evening. And while gaming, watching movies or working out, energy drinks are the beverages of choice. From the caffeine point of view, coffee and energy drinks are tied in content but the risk of an overdose is with energy drinks.
Coffee Vs. Energy Drinks - Benefits
Ultimately coffee and energy drinks have the same purpose. Both serve as legal stimulants and powerhouses of energy. Both can help an individual's sense of concentration and reaction time. But there are some additional benefits of coffee over energy drinks. Coffee reduces the risk of a number of diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, type 2 diabetes and cancer. It helps medicines work faster, due to its caffeine content. It helps prevent occurrence of heart problems and liver related issues. Now one can argue that the caffeine in energy drinks could do the same. But energy drinks also contain refined sugar and other ingredients, as well as very high caffeine levels. And the tendency to overindulge is more in case of energy drinks. In fact the labeling of most energy drinks advise limited or moderate consumption and a minimum age limit. Energy drinks can also be mixed with alcohol, a dangerous combination, as a mixture of both beverages can dehydrate the body severely.
Aggressive advertising tends to promote energy drinks as a substitute for water, which is definitely not true. The bottom line in the coffee vs energy drinks comparison is this: both are safe, good for health and great beverages, when enjoyed in moderation. And of course, there's nothing like water for the human body.