Coffee vs. Energy Drinks

Thousands of people have taken on the challenge of working full-time and going to school, working two jobs to save for a new car or splitting their time between work, soccer practice and yoga class. There are countless reasons why your time might be stretched to its limits. When it is, it is perfectly normal to reach for a cup of “pick-me-up.” But when you are left to choose between coffee and energy drinks, how do you know which one is best?

Coffee vs. Energy Drinks, What Are the Differences?

1. Amount of Caffeine

So why the debate of coffee and energy drinks? It is all about the amount of caffeine. But before that discussion begins, let’s discuss why it is a big deal. Caffeine is a chemical drug derived from sources like the kola nut, coffee plant and tea bush, and works as a stimulant. The more you consume, the more your body reacts. While it exists in more foods and drinks than you probably know, caffeine levels vary among them.

First of all, it must be said that caffeine has several beneficial properties. It increases your metabolic rate and stamina. It gives your brain a boost, increasing your alertness and attentiveness. Caffeine even works well with medications as it makes them work faster.

However, there is usually a bad side to everything. With caffeine, it happens when you consume too much. When you go over the daily recommended intake of more than 300mg per day of caffeine, you can suffer from the jitters, insomnia and lose your ability to focus. If you drink more than 400mg, you have reached the level of caution. Consumption above 1000mg is considered extremely dangerous.

So this is where the dilemma lies. Because of the fine line between good caffeine intake and having too much, coffee and energy drinks make us think about which can do more harm to our bodies. There is a common concern about chilled energy beverages because they are easier to drink than hot coffee, which often leads to over consumption of caffeine. Here are the caffeine contents of some common brands of coffee and energy drinks for you to consider.


Caffeine Content (mg)

Energy Drinks

Caffeine Content (mg)

Espresso Coffee (1 oz)


Red Bull (8.2 oz)


Decaf Instant Coffee (1 oz)


Rockstar (16 oz)


Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte (16 oz)


Monster (16 oz)


McDonalds Small Coffee (12 oz)


Ammo Energy Shot (1 oz)


Dunkin' Donuts Coffee (16 oz)


Jolt Energy Drink (24 oz)


2. Benefits Besides Energy Boost

When it comes to coffee vs. energy drinks, you have to consider the benefits. Both are stimulants that provide energy, help attentiveness and increase concentration. However, coffee does have health benefits over energy drinks. It contains beneficial vitamins and minerals. Coffee decreases your risk of illnesses like type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, liver disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s. It can also help reduce your risk of the reoccurrence of liver and heart related health issues.

3. Damages

Now that you know the benefits, it is time to address the bad side to caffeinated drinks. When you drink too much coffee, you increase your chances of high cholesterol, kidney problems, osteoporosis, blood sugar issues and heart disease. Energy drinks are dangerous because they are easily drank so much faster than coffee. When this surge of caffeine hits your system, you have a dangerously high stimulation effect. This can result in a fast and irregular heartbeat. Energy drinks are also full of sugar and artificial flavoring, both of which are not the best for your health. There is also a rise of energy drinks being combined with alcohol to make jolting, yet intoxicating cool beverages. The reason this combination is bad for you is that the mixture can cause severe dehydration.

Healthy Ways to Boost Energy

If you depend solely on coffee and energy drinks to boost your energy, your body will pay for it down the road. After the caffeine wears off, your body’s system will come to a crash. This causes you to become fatigued and more susceptible to illness, have a higher risk of depression and will impair your immunity. Healthy ways to fight fatigue is sleep, exercise, stress reduction and good nutrition, which also saves you from the dilemma of coffee vs. energy drinks.

1. Don’t Forget to Drink Water

Staying hydrated is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to boost your energy level. The best way to remind yourself to drink water is to always have it near you. Consider adding sliced citrus fruit or herbs like mint to add flavor.

2. Start the Day with Breakfast

The saying stands true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast jumpstarts your body first thing in the morning, giving it an energy boost that lasts a major portion of the day. The key to a beneficial morning meal is keeping it healthy by consuming foods like lean protein, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals and toast and fresh fruit.

3. Don't Forget to Eat Your Protein

When you starve your body of protein, you deprive it of the fuel it needs to repair itself. You are also robbing it of one of its strongest energy sources. Protein is found in fish, poultry, red meat, eggs and milk. If you are a vegetarian or just don’t like meat, consider eating yogurt, nuts, tofu and cheese.

4. Eat Carbs Smart

Carbohydrates are easier for your body to digest, thus making it a quick source of energy. The important thing is to avoid processed carbs and stick with the healthy sources such as whole grain cereal, brown rice and super foods like sweet potatoes.

5. Remember to Snack

Your blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. When you skip snacking it can significantly drop. Your body needs to continuously renew its energy source so it can function properly. The important thing is to choose healthy snacks. Often people run to sugary snacks which can cause a spike in your levels, causing you to get light-headed. Reach for raw vegetables, protein shakes, yogurt mixed with fruit, or apples with almond butter.

6. Get Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a great alternative to caffeine. Researchers have found evidence that it improves memory, stabilizes moods and fights depression. Foods that are rich in the nutrient are leafy greens, tuna, hemp seed, salmon and walnuts.

7. Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

Foods containing magnesium play a key part in the conversion of carbohydrates to energy. Several types of nuts like walnuts and almonds, as well as Brazil nuts are full of it. You can also get magnesium from dark chocolate and dark green vegetables.

8. Eat Enough Calories

You can keep your energy levels up by meeting your daily recommended calories intake. By doing so, you keep your metabolism running. If you don’t keep your engine running, you will feel tired and worn down. Instead of supplements, get your nutritional needs by eating healthy foods.

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