There comes a time in a person’s life where they have to make an important decision: energy drink versus coffee?
From time to time, we find ourselves in situations where we need an energy boost. Whether we need to pull an all-nighter because of a test the next day, or we must stay alert throughout the workday, we can be torn between choosing a cup of coffee or an energy drink. You may think that both options will give you the energy you need, but one can come with some heavy ramifications.
While energy drinks might seem enticing because of “energy” being in the name, you might be surprised to learn that the caffeine content in energy drinks is similar to that in coffee. While the caffeine content is similar, that’s where the similarities in ingredients start and stop.
Energy drinks certainly provide a source of caffeine, but they are also loaded with a variety of other ingredients like sugar, artificial flavors, and high levels of Taurine. Here we will dive into the energy drink versus coffee debate, outline the ingredients in each, and give 5 reasons why coffee is the better option.
One of the many benefits of coffee is knowing what ingredients are inside each cup. Yes, an energy drink lists ingredients on the side as well, but do you really know what most of the ingredients are?
When it comes to ingredients, a great rule of thumb is to only eat things that you can pronounce. If you test this out you will quickly realize how many processed drinks and foods have weird, dubious ingredients inside of them. This includes most energy drinks.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in energy drinks versus coffee to determine which source of fuel is better.
To help us understand why coffee is a much better alternative to energy drinks, why don’t we start by talking about caffeine? Well, most of us know that caffeine is the main reason behind the energy boosts we get from drinking coffee and energy drinks. The caffeine content stimulates our brain to be more alert and active while increasing our sensory processes.
While caffeine is very helpful when extra energy is needed, we should remember that nothing in excess is good. In this case, too much caffeine can negatively affect our sleeping patterns and worse, it can trigger anxiety. The amount of caffeine a person can handle ranges because different bodies digest it differently.
When we talk about caffeine content in coffee, it will always depend on the size of the drink. If you are only seeking a short bought of energy, you might brew a smaller cup, or go with a pour-over opposed to espresso. For reference, a grande cup at Starbucks contains about 225 mg of caffeine, but your cup at home might contain more or less. According to the Mayo Clinic, an average, healthy adult can consume around 400mg of caffeine a day without harming their digestive tract.
For energy drinks, the caffeine content usually depends on what brand you’re drinking. A regular-sized can of Red Bull or Monster contains about 80 mg. What does this tell us? Well, since a single cup of coffee can give you more caffeine than a can of energy drink, it will definitely give you more energy. What’s more, you can avoid certain dubious ingredients present in energy drinks by choosing coffee as well.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, adults should not consume more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. In this regard, the fact that we can control our sugar intake by making our own cup of coffee is very beneficial. Coffee itself has no sugar in it. Making your own cup of coffee allows you to adjust how much sugar you add, according to your taste and preference. The great thing about coffee is that you can even skip the sugar altogether and go for a strong black coffee taste instead.
While you can adjust the sugar content in a cup of coffee, you can’t in an energy drink, which on average has over the recommended daily intake of sugar in a single can. For example, a Monster energy drink contains about 14 teaspoons of sugar and a Red Bull has 26 grams of sugar, which is around 5 teaspoons. A Monster drink alone already puts you over the recommended daily sugar intake, and a Red Bull places you close.
While these energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar, a cup of coffee can contain as little as none! Even if you do prefer sugar in your coffee, there is little chance that you put 5-14 teaspoons of sugar inside of it. Consuming a lot of sugar will not only risk your health but will result in a sugar crash as well. Instead of being energized, there will be a massive crash, leaving you feeling fatigued and drained, which is the opposite of what you want.
When it comes to other ingredients, energy drinks cannot compete with the purity of coffee. In terms of additives and preservatives, coffee comes without both. The only issue you can potentially have with coffee is that the original crop was treated with pesticides, but if you shop organic, then you can have confidence that your beans are 100% clean. On top of that, coffee contains some beneficial properties including vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, potassium, and magnesium.
Energy drinks contain some vitamins as well, but they oftentimes can have too many vitamins, overloading your system all at once. The human body does not naturally digest and absorb added nutrients as well as it does natural nutrients. So if the vitamins occur naturally in food, there is a higher chance your body absorbs them.
While these drinks might tote nutritious benefits, they also contain a number of artificial ingredients that can be dangerous for your health. Preservatives, flavorings, and even dyes are also present in energy drinks. We want to avoid consuming these since we don’t exactly know what they are made of.
Energy Drink Versus Coffee: 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Coffee
After reading through the various ingredients included in coffee and energy drinks, you might still be wondering why coffee is such a good alternative to an energy drink. You might be hooked on your daily Kickstart or love your 5-Hour Energy shot, but is it really helping you, or is it simply harming you?
1. Coffee Has Little to No Calories
Calories can get a bad rep. They’re the deficit that we need to lose weight, but they’re also a great source of energy for our bodies. Although energy drinks indeed contain a lot more calories than a regular cup of coffee, this does not mean that they are better. Why? Because its crucial to get your calories from healthy food options as opposed to sugary drinks.
If you are concerned about your calorie intake, go for coffee. You can substitute regular ingredients with stevia and almond milk for a cup of low-calorie coffee. Even ‘sugar-free’ energy drinks can contain artificial sweeteners which we don’t necessarily want in our bodies either. Even if you aren’t watching your calorie count, you don’t have to worry about what is inside your cup of coffee, as opposed to your go-to energy drink.
2. Coffee Tastes Better
This might sound controversial, but not only is coffee better for you health-wise but it also typically tastes better than an energy drink. With names like “Assault” and “Monster Max,” you can assume that they would rather assaulting to your taste buds than palatable.
3. Coffee Is Much More Affordable
Nothing beats making your own cup of coffee at home, plus it is very cheap! An energy drink can cost a couple of dollars, while a cup of coffee can cost you around a dollar. If you buy beans in bulk, it can be even cheaper!
4. Coffee Has No Shady Ingredients
What’s inside a coffee other than coffee? Nothing! While energy drinks may take pride in the additional “superfoods” they contain like taurine and ginseng, they can actually be too potent for your body to absorb at once.
5. Caffeine Amount is Almost the Same
Like what we mentioned above, coffee actually contains more caffeine than an average energy drink. So, if you’re going to drink a super-sized Red Bull, a large cup of coffee or a few medium-sized cups of coffee will bring you the same amount of caffeine, without the intense crash a few hours later.
What do you think? Are you team coffee or energy drinks? There is nothing wrong with drinking an energy drink every once in a while, but if you rely on them on a daily basis, you might want to double-check the ingredients list. It’s important to know what you are fueling your body with, and even more important to know the short-term and long-term impacts.