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Coke, Coffee Or Energy Drink – What Works Best?

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If you really want a caffeine kick, should you prefer coffee, coke or an energy drink like Red Bull? And do you risk getting so much caffeine that you die from it?

Everyone may need some extra turbo upstairs when we get out of the feathers a little too early, sit and hang in front of the computer at work, or have to do something, e.g. for an exam.

Then it is good that wise people have given us magic liquids such as coffee, cola and all kinds of shades of energy drinks.

But which miracle cure really works best? And can you get so much caffeine that it is dangerous?

Thomas Madsen from Svendborg has asked four specific questions – and we have added a single one – that Chief Consultant John Christian Larsen from the DTU Food Institute is energetic about:

What gets you the most energy from drinking?

“When we talk about getting energy in this regard, it probably means that we are talking about quantities of caffeine. If you drink the same amount of all three drinks, you get the most from coffee, but energy drinks like Red Bull also contain a lot of caffeine, ”says John Christian Larsen.

The food expert explains that:

  • one liter of strong coffee contains up to 1,000 milligrams of caffeine.
  • If you insist on pouring a whole liter of the even stronger espresso , you smoke up the triple amount.
  • One liter of energy drink contains 320 milligrams of caffeine, ie about one third of a liter of coffee.
  • One liter of cola contains a little less than 100 milligrams of caffeine, ie about one tenth of a liter of coffee.

The drinks can store on other stimulants from the same chemical group as caffeine. These are theobromine and theophylline, such as is found in tea, but the drugs seem less potent than caffeine, and there is a significantly smaller amount of them.


According to John Christian Larsen, it should also not matter to the effect of caffeine if there is sugar in the drinks, as is the case with e.g. Coca-Cola and Red Bull.

All in all: If you want a proper shot of caffeine in as little liquid as possible, go down to the vending machine, out to the electric kettle or to the cafe and ask for a tub of espresso – which, incidentally, should also be the best form for coffee for the stomach.

What is absorbed the quickest in the body?

“It is all fluid and because it is already dissolved, it is very accessible and easily absorbed into the body. “

»Caffeine from drinks gets absorbed faster than if you, for example. eat solid food or a pill that must first ‘fall off’ before the caffeine becomes available. So unless you have a cannula, drinking it is the fastest, ”John Christian Larsen notes.

How long does caffeine works?

‘It depends on the person. Caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed further into the body. They say that after an hour and a half, you have the highest concentration of caffeine in your blood, and then it takes between three and seven hours before the amount is halved, depending on how you screw it up, ”says John Christian Larsen.

Caffeine is converted – metabolized – into the liver by enzymes. The work of the enzymes varies from person to person depending on both our genes and our lifestyle. Therefore, some people only need three hours and another seven hours to convert caffeine to, among other things, methylxanthine, which exits the body through the urine.

The more you drink, the higher concentrations of caffeine you get, but the half-life remains the same.

The good question is:

How much, is too much caffeine?

The National Board of Food has set some limits based on studies from Canada that show that caffeine can cause some children anxiety attacks if they drink 5-10 milligrams.

Therefore, children and adolescents up to the age of 16 should, for safety reasons, not consume more than 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per day. kilos of body weight. A 50 kilo kid should preferably not drink more than a large cup of coffee or at most a liter of cola (if you put aside all the speculation about sugar and only care about the caffeine content).

“You could say that if you drink a cup in the morning and one in the evening, there should be no danger when you look at the half-life.”

“And in general, we say that we do not believe in toxic effects in adults when the caffeine amount is less than 400 milligrams a day, so one should not be afraid to drink some cups of coffee because of the caffeine content,” John Christian Larsen says.


The exception is pregnant women, who are only allowed to consume 300 mg of caffeine in one day, otherwise the risk of giving birth to underweight children increases.

Other people may run into more superficial problems with irritation and insomnia if they drink too much caffeine, but the effects are generally quite poorly illuminated.

Caffeine is suspected of being addictive and causing headaches, but on the other hand it also seems to be used in the treatment of various diseases .

Until 2004, caffeine was considered performance-enhancing and was on the list of banned doping substances, but today the wind is blowing the opposite way, and caffeine is generally considered a flavoring as long as it does not appear in excessively high concentrations – which means much more than one finds in espresso.

A good rule of thumb is that if you get bad from drinking a lot of coffee, cola or energy drinks – don’t.

Can you die from drinking too much caffeine?

John Christian Larsen estimates that the short answer is: No, you can’t die from an overdose of caffeine by drinking coffee, energy drinks or cola. The assessment is that a lethal dose of caffeine for adult humans is the equivalent of 80-100 cups of coffee, which is being peeled down quickly in succession.

“Admittedly, there are reports of very high intake of energy drinks along with extreme physical activity, especially at discos where deaths have occurred.”

“But it’s probably due to dehydration, because caffeine and alcohol are diuretic. Of course, dancing all night – and maybe even taking other drugs – is a risk, ”says John Christian Larsen.

“The safest thing about the mix of caffeine and alcohol is that people think they’re sober than they are. This has been demonstrated objectively. You know that from parties where you’ve gotten a little too much; then you take a cup of coffee and feel it helps a little, but it just does not. “


Researchers are still unsure what it really does to the body and brain when mixing alcohol and caffeine .

Does anything happen by mixing the three caffeine drinks?

“No, caffeine is caffeine. You don’t get anything extra from mixing. “

Do caffeine have other consequences we haven’t been asked about?

“No, if you stay within the margins we’ve talked about, you will be perfectly fine.”

Below you can see the various degrees of caffeine content in different drinks.

caffeine chart infographic

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