Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

According to the stats, 85% of the US population consumes at least one caffeinated beverage daily.

It’s no wonder that the “caffeine pills vs. coffee” debate has become increasingly popular recently, especially among college students who are always on the go and often pull all-nighters.

Are you in doubt which is a safer and more effective option of taking your daily fix to get through a hectic day?

Dive in to explore how these caffeine sources differ and compare their positive and negative sides.

What’s the Difference Between Caffeine Pills and Coffee?

coffee and pills

Many people drink coffee because it’s a ritual they like. The opening of the canister, grinding the beans, inhaling that pungent aroma of hot, fresh drink while watching it drip, and waiting for that first awakening sip.

Sounds familiar?

I’m afraid you can’t experience such great sensory delight popping pills, can you?

There are some more differences we’re about to discuss, so keep reading.

Depending on the brand, caffeine pills contain 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine per tablet, whereas an average 8-ounce cup contains 80 to 100 milligrams.

And caffeine powder, with potentially even more hazardous toxic effects after consuming 0.15 tablespoons, contains around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine. [1]

Unlike coffee or tea, pills can contain natural or synthetic caffeine, fillers, emulsifiers, coloring agents, and other additives.

Whichever form you choose to take, remember it’s a drug and use it moderately.

The following lines may help you learn more about (dis)advantages of both pills and drink so that you can make an informed decision.

What Are the Advantages of Taking Caffeine Pills?

woman drinking coffee
  • It has no taste. If you’re prone to reflux or simply dislike the taste of coffee but would like to reap its benefits, caffeine pills might be the solution.
  • It’s cheaper and more convenient. Their price is lower, and they’re more convenient to take - no preparation and cleaning hassle. Plus, they don’t stain your teeth.
  • It has less diuretic effects. Also, containing water and having diuretic effects, drinking the beverage results in more frequent visits to the bathroom, which may be inconvenient for certain professions such as train conductors, truck or bus drivers, and similar.
  • It’s a good stimulant. A caffeine pill functions as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that provides you with an energy boost, keeps you awake and alert, helps improve memory, coordination, focus, endurance, athletic performance [2], and relieve tension headaches. Some people use it as a pre workout even. We wrote about that here.
  • It has no oils. Another advantage is that pills don’t contain coffee oils that may raise your cholesterol (mainly cafestol and kahweol most common in espresso).
  • It's longer lasting. Caffeine pills may take up to 5 hours to wear off, while it takes a caffeine pill around 45 minutes to act after ingestion, reaching its peak concentration after 60 to 75 minutes

Related Articles:

Coffee Health Benefits and Downsides

coffee benefits

A cup of coffee contains important antioxidants like Chlorogenic Acid, and other nutritive substances [3], such as:

  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% DV (Daily Values)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% DV
  • Magnesium, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), and Niacin (Vitamin B3): 2% DV
  • Manganese and Potassium: 3% DV

“Although mostly known for its caffeine content, coffee is a complex mix of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and a wide range of phytochemicals. Coffee is known to be a complex mixture of more than 1,000 bioactive compounds that may have beneficial antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic, and anticancer properties.”

 

- Dr. Robin Poole

Numerous studies have confirmed that a (few) cup(s) of joe a day may:

  • Improve your mood, performance, alertness, and cognitive function [4] [5]
  • Increase your energy levels, metabolic and fat-burning rate to help you lose weight [6]

Lower the risks of:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [7]
  • Parkinson’s disease [8]
  • Type 2 diabetes [9]
  • Liver cirrhosis [10]

 

  • Depression [11]
  • Stroke [12]
  • Liver and colorectal cancer [13] [14]
  • Deaths [15]

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Caffeine

side effects

If you take it in high doses, you may experience more or less harmful side effects, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat rhythm
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Restlessness
  • Addiction
  • Irritability
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Dehydration (due to frequent urination and excessive urine output)
  • Intoxication, and even death

American Academy of Pediatrics advises children and adolescents to refrain from taking caffeinated pills, drinking coffee, Cola, Red Bull, or other beverages that may contain caffeine, as well as mixing this stimulant with energy drinks, alcohol, and drugs.

Also, individuals suffering from depression, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hypertension, patients on cancer treatment, and those with other serious health concerns should reduce their caffeine intake. [16]

Pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn’t be heavy coffee and caffeine consumers, too.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest limiting their caffeine and coffee consumption to 200 milligrams per day or less (two cups) to avoid adverse effects and the risk of pregnancy loss. [17]

This brings us to the next topic...

How Much Is a Safe Dosage?

caffeine pills dosage

Maximum 400 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee or about 2 pills on average, is considered safe caffeine consumption for most healthy adults. [18] [19]

How much caffeine is safe for you is individual.

It depends on several factors:

  • Genetic makeup
  • Health conditions
  • Age
  • Foods
  • Drinks
  • Supplements
  • Medications you’re taking
  • Your caffeine tolerance, dependence and sensitivity

Some other factors that determine how fast your liver can metabolize caffeine and eliminate it from your body to avoid dangerous caffeine overdose.

”Be cautious about using caffeine products to help with weight loss. When used in moderation (400 milligrams or less) by healthy adults, caffeine is generally safe. But too much caffeine might cause nervousness, insomnia, nausea, increased blood pressure, and other problems.”

 

- Katherine Zeratsky, Registered Dietitian

Always be aware of the amount of caffeine you are consuming hidden in tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate bars, gummies, various weight loss, or sports supplements.

If you’re taking caffeine in pills, stick to the dosage the manufacturer recommended on the product label, or consult your doctor.

Do Caffeine Pills Work Better Than Coffee?

Caffeine pills may work better than coffee, depending on your preference.

Caffeine pills don’t irritate your stomach, worsening acid reflux symptoms as much as the drink. You can measure the exact dose when consuming caffeine in a pill form. Plus, there’s no extra sugar or milk often coming along with a cup of coffee.

Besides, caffeine pills are cheaper and more convenient to carry around and use whenever needed than searching for a nearby coffee shop, right?

We have an article on the best caffeine pills on the market.

However, passionate coffee drinkers who like the taste of coffee would say that nothing can adequately substitute this heavenly beverage.

What’s your choice?


References

  1. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
  2. https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Caffeine%20and%20Athletic%20Performance.pdf
  3. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
  4. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/3898/2
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8232842/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7486839/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20182026/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10819950/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20008687/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11557177/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21949167/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21920945/

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