Whether it is drinking a cup of coffee in the morning or grabbing an energy drink, many of us use caffeine to stay alert.
Some drinks pack more of a punch while others will only give you a dreaded caffeine crash.
So, is coffee or tea better than a caffeine pill for an energy boost? Here, DailyMail.com asks dietitians which is the best to drink when you need a burst of energy.
Experts say with new highly caffeinated energy drinks on the market, caffeine pills are not always the products that contain the most caffeine.
‘In general caffeine tablets contain more caffeine than many drinks, however we have seen a rise in caffeinated energy drinks too which are equivalent to many mainstream caffeine tablets’, says registered dietitian Aisling Pigott, who is based in the UK.
It’s not just coffee, energy drinks and supplements that contain caffeine. Popular fizzy beverages like Coca-cola also contain the stimulant, but half the amount that’s in coffee
Most cups of black coffee or matcha contain 80mg of caffeine, a cup of black or green tea is half that at about 40mg.
Traditionally most energy drinks such as Monster or Red Bull are about 80 to 100mg, but according to Ms Pigott energy drinks such as Prime contain 200mg – like some caffeine pills.
Caffeine structurally resembles a chemical called adenosine, which is naturally present in our brain and makes you feel sleepy.
Like a lock and key, caffeine fits into the adenosine receptors, blocking the chemical and making you feel more awake.
A black coffee contains between 80-100mg of caffeine depending on the brewing process and a filter coffee can contain as much as 140mg
But once the caffeine wears off, it can result in making you feel very tired and sleepy.
This is known as a caffeine crash and the more caffeine you have the bigger the slump in energy levels.
However, everyone’s tolerance for the stimulant is different.
Ms Pigott said: ‘Caffeine is a stimulant which increases alertness and energy levels – everyone has a different capacity and tolerance of caffeine.
Most energy drinks such as Monster or Red Bull are about 80 to 100mg, but newer energy drinks such as Prime contain 200mg
‘The dose needed to increase alertness is very individual. Regular caffeine users are likely to be less sensitive than infrequent caffeine users.’
People can safely consume 300mg of caffeine a day, that’s the equivalent to drinking up to three cups of coffee.
But if you are pregnant you should consume no more than 200mg or two cups of coffee.
And you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to coffee.
Consuming a lot of caffeine can cause heart palpitations, anxiety and restlessness, according to the NHS.
But it can also make it harder to concentrate.
Ms Pigott said: ‘Like everything in life, sometimes less is more – so for example if you are using caffeine to increase focus, too high a dose can leave you jittery and unable to concentrate.’
THE PROS AND CONS OF DRINKING ENERGY DRINKS
PRO: Energy drinks like Red Bull are well within the national guidelines of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. They contain 80 milligrams per 250ml can.
PRO: Coffee can be much higher in caffeine. For example, a venti americano at Starbucks contains 300mg of caffeine.
CON: It is high in sugar – and therefore calories. And caffeine, a stimulant drug, can cause anxiety, dehydration, nausea, and a dangerously high heart rate.
CON: The number of people hospitalized due to energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2014 in the US, according to SAMHSA.
However, if you want a fast hit of energy drinking a coffee or energy drink could be the fastest way of getting that much needed boost.
Although tablets often contain more caffeine, drinking it in liquid form could give you a quicker boost.
‘Liquid form is likely to be slightly faster absorbed, depending on what else is in our stomach. But in reality there is little difference’, says Ms Pigott.
She added: ‘None is ‘better’ – they are all the same substance ‘”caffeine” in different forms.’
However, she suggests avoiding energy drinks and caffeine tablets that have 200mg or more in, because they will just leave you more tired.
Ms Pigott said: ‘They will only give a temporary boost, with a subsequent crash! Not worth it in the long run and likely to leave you more tired.’
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