Caffeine in Coffee vs. Soda. Which is Better and Why?

    Caffeine in Coffee vs. Soda. Which is Better and Why?
    Updated 15 April 2020 |
    Published 02 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Tanya Tantry, MD
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    It’s no secret that many of us need to have our morning cup of coffee before we take on the day, so it’s easy to forget that coffee isn’t the only drink that contains caffeine.

    Soda, tea, and energy drinks also contain this energizing compound. Science shows that moderate consumption of caffeine can have many wonderful health benefits.

    However, consuming an excessive amount of it can be harmful to you. This article will help you determine how much caffeine you can drink daily — and the best way to get your caffeine fix.

    Why do people need caffeine? 

    Caffeine is a stimulant, which is the main reason that so many people choose to drink coffee to start their day. We all know that person who absolutely must drink coffee every day — maybe it’s even you! Since every cup of coffee provides a significant energy kick, there’s no denying that it’s an effective way to feel more energetic in the morning. 

    Beverages like soda contain smaller amounts of caffeine. These drinks can be great for someone who wants to get the benefit of caffeine but doesn’t like the taste of coffee. The same is true for teas, some of which have more caffeine than coffee.

    Caffeine in soda vs. coffee

    Caffeine is measured in milligrams per cup. A typical 8-oz (237 ml) cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 95–165 mg of caffeine. It’s important to note, though, that the caffeine content in coffee varies depending on the origin, processing, and preparation methods. For example, brewing coffee for a longer period of time can increase the amount of caffeine in a cup.

    A 1-oz (30 ml) shot of espresso, on the other hand, contains 47–64 mg of caffeine, while an 8-oz latte or mocha will provide 63–126 mg of caffeine. Believe it or not, even decaf contains small amounts of caffeine. A regular cup of decaf only has 2–5 mg of caffeine, making it ideal for anyone who is sensitive to the effects of the substance.

    In comparison to coffee, soda has a much smaller caffeine content. An 8-oz cup of black cola soda contains approximately 24–46 mg of caffeine. Citrus-flavored sodas and root beer don’t contain caffeine at all. 

    Coffee vs. soda: what’s healthier?

    In moderate amounts, caffeine offers a host of health benefits. But that doesn’t mean that other ingredients in your favorite beverage aren’t harmful. Soda contains significant amounts of sugar in every serving.

    In addition to delivering lots of empty calories, consuming too much sugar has been linked to a host of different health issues. While diet soda has zero calories, some studies have shown that it can make you crave other sugary drinks and food throughout the day — and it often contains artificial sweeteners.

    Coffee, on the other hand, is a low-calorie beverage. According to the USDA, an 8-ounce cup of black coffee has just 2 calories.

    Of course, that calorie count jumps if you add sugar, milk, or cream. But you’re in control of it — to keep the calories low, skip the sugar or use a natural sweetener like stevia, and opt for plant-based milk or light creamer.

    Keep in mind, too, that adding sugary syrups to flavor your coffee will also increase the calorie count.

    The bottom line? When it comes to the coffee vs. soda debate, having a cup of coffee is much healthier than drinking soda.

    Benefits of drinking coffee 

    The great news is that scientific studies show that caffeine actually has numerous health benefits. Some of the benefits of drinking coffee include:

    • Increased energy levels
    • Improved brain function — Caffeine may improve memory, vigilance, concentration, and mood
    • Reduced risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and strokes
    • Improved athletic performance due to increased adrenaline levels, which can help improve physical performance; caffeine also helps your body break down fatty tissue more easily
    • Reduced risk of depression — Studies show that people who drink four cups of coffee or more each day have a lower risk of depression and a decreased suicide risk 

    Coffee is also a great source of antioxidants and contains small amounts of more vitamins that you might think, including B2, B3, B5, manganese, and potassium.

    When to limit your caffeine intake 

    Though coffee offers many health benefits, moderation is still key. The general recommendation is 400 mg of caffeine or less each day. That means that you can have 3-4 cups of coffee per day, depending on how strong it is.

    Pregnant women, on the other hand, are advised to consume less than 200 mg of caffeine on a daily basis, as excessive caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

    Women who are trying to conceive should also lower their caffeine intake. So whether you’re trying to get pregnant or are pregnant already, it’s best to stick to just one cup in the morning or consider switching to decaf for this period.

    If you suffer from migraines, insomnia, or anxiety, reducing your caffeine intake could also help you. Rather than reaching for the coffee, replace a couple of cups with glasses of water. 

    Drinking plenty of water during the day keeps you hydrated and ensures your body has what it needs to function properly.

    Overall, coffee is the definite winner in the coffee vs. soda debate thanks to its wonderful health benefits. Of course, you can drink any beverage you like — in moderation! 

    History of updates
    Current version (15 April 2020)
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    Published (02 April 2019)
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