Posted by: nutritionnerd | May 27, 2007

coffee vs. five hour energy

so i’ve come to the conclusion that my body has grown accustomed to the level of caffeine that i supply it (i.e., the coffee that i drink). which means, like with any drug, i have developed a tolerance to this low, one cup dose of caffeine. so i decided to *gasp* cheat on coffee a little. i’ve been tired for the past few weeks (i’m pretty sure constantly going to bed late doesn’t have anything to do with it) and was looking for something to give me that extra “oomph” (or is it “umph”?) in order to get excited about a boring job with virtually nothing to do. no, seriously. i get paid waaaay too much (complaining? maybe).so from the ridiculous plethora of energy drinks fighting for my (and your) attention and money, i decided on a concoction in a rather tiny package that made big promises (hours of energy now! no crash later! fabulous prizes!).

presenting….from some science lab that functions more like a marketing agency….the contender…


five hour energy!

versus….the champion….originally from colombia or some south american country….the caffeinated chief that browns your teeth….


i had seen commercials for five hour energy a lot, and decided to give it a try. the ingredients in it sounded beneficial (vitamins, enzymes, etc.), so at the very least i would get some nutrition from it. while i was reluctant to leave my beloved coffee for more than a few hours, i figured it was worth a try.


coffee vs. five hour energy: FIGHT! *cute Mortal Kombat theme*

TASTE: coffee tastes like coffee. if you add some chocolate caramel creamer, it tastes like liquid luxury blended with a full body massage and a dash of a kick in the pants. five hour energy….well…….you remember when you were in college, and you wanted just go crazy and combine pixie stix with cough syrup? yeah. i’m still washing my mouth out. the package declared that it had an “improved berry flavor,” which should tell you something. i figured the five hour energy blend didn’t taste good because of the ingredients, but adding supersweet sugar subs will not help.
ENERGY: coffee wakes me up in at the most twenty minutes (quicker if i add the instant stuff). i can keep going until about mid-day, to where i must replenish or be a zombie and frighten people. that’s just the way coffee works. five hour energy didn’t really do anything noticeably different, if at all. i was hoping to be running around like the little running man on the packaging. but alas, i sat there staring at my computer screen, letting my eyes melt. five hour energy claims to have about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee; that must be a Barbie-sized cup. it more than likely has to do with my caffeine tolerance and the fact that i’m a very laid back person to begin with (i think i was born comatose). perhaps i should’ve drank about ten of these. i betcha i would’ve felt something then.

CARBS: coffee has little carbs aside from what you doctor it up with (creamer, sugar, chocolate syrup, etc.) it works hand in hand with the caffeine that is ingested with it. five hour energy has zero net carbs (not sure what that means, anyone?), which is good news to anti-carb fans who believe carbs are the devil while they eat their cheese covered steaks with extra cheese and drink diet sodas. (and some sarcasm on the side!) i’m sure five hour energy means well, but you need carbs (the good, complex kind) to function properly and normally and not nod off at your desk while your boss is walking by.

NUTRIENTS: coffee doesn’t really supply much except for caffeine and various bioflavonoids. but then again scientist people are telling us in random intervals that it also causes cancer but then again doesn’t. five hour energy has the one up here, supplying B vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids, but little caloric value. the B vitamins are definitely useful, but your body doesn’t store these as they’re water soluble (meaning it’ll use what it needs and then make your urine expensive). i’m skeptical about the amino acids being of any use as the hydrochloric acid in your stomach will destroy them (if this stuff can eat through wood and metal, i’m pretty sure these amino acids don’t have much of a chance). five hour energy, if anything, has no sugar like most other energy drinks do; thus, they can claim that you won’t crash as you didn’t have any sugar to get you high in the first place.

and the winnah is…!



CONCLUSION: i admit i’m a little biased. coffee will always be a winner in my heart. aww…

how one reacts to five hour energy depends on a lot of factors: when they drink it, how much sleep they usually get, their diet, any medical complications they have, their caffeine tolerance, etc. five hour energy isn’t bad for you at all, but i wasn’t really blown across the room or anything. i’m not entirely sure if it’s worth five dollars for two little bottles (thirteen for six). i think i’ll just bump up my coffee consumption to two to three cups a day. 🙂



  1. LOL You are so crazy. So, I don’t understand how you can be a bonafide dietician and not understand net carbs. Any yo-yo dieter could explain it, but you can’t even though you studied the stuff? Maybe you should get your money back. 😛

    I’m kidding, of course.

    Speaking of winners…. I like brussel sprouts. Am I totally bonkers or do other people like them, too?

    • Oh gawd, I *love* brussel sprouts! I know, I’m crazy! But fresh, steamed with some butter and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese & I’d eat them til I barfed!

      Oh, c’mon! *Someone* has to like them. Otherwise, just imagine how bad they’d feel! I’m doing the vegetable society a great service. Besides, the more I eat, the less the rest of you have to deal with them! Ta-Da!

  2. okay, you’re in trouble. outside, now.

    haha, i’m kidding too. maybe.

    you might be bonkers; i’m not a fan. but they’re veggies, so good for you. 😛

  3. You know, though caffiene isn’t bad, until you become addicted to it, wouldn’t it be best if you suplied your body with small (healthy) snacks throughout the day to stop the crashing. I understand sleep, fitness level, caffiene dependence, and other things that are contributing factors.
    I know it’s a learned process and what not. Though I’m not a nutrionist, it would seem like a good way to get your calories and nutrients thoughout the day.
    But I admit, I’m a slave to the energy drink during finals. XP

  4. I think you should eat more bananas.

  5. But can you consume either using a spork? CAN YOU?!

  6. And to the person who likes brussel sprouts:


    • [sigh] haters gonna hate…

  7. Clearly, somebody failed high school chemistry.

  8. Great article – I was looking into the 5-hour energy stuff cuz my friends say it’s liquid crack!

    Just wanted to say that I avoid the caffiene tolerance and build up by doing a 7-day cleanse once a year. I prefer Xand’s at GNC, cuz you can get two cleanses in one and then you can share with a friend or lover. Think of it as spring cleaning for the body. It’s imparative that you drink tons & tons of water though, otherwise you’ll endure some embarrassing symphonic sphinctor action.

    I like brussel sprouts! and spinach & other wierd veggies and no, I am not a vegetarian!

    Have a happy Monday.


  9. hehe. symphonic sphincter action.

  10. I take 5 hour energy on a regular basis. i set my alarm for 4:15 – shot that sucker down, then go back to sleep until 4:45 and I an WIDE AWAKE when the alarm goes off. it doesnt make me feel kranked or crazy ( which i dont want to fee anyway) …it does make me feel wide awake and alert though. and it always last all day for me. i used to drink coffee every mornig now i take this instead- no i am not magically able to run a marathon now- but hey im not sleepy. it’s no substitute for a balanced healthy meal but I’m pretty sure it doesnt claim to be. .

  11. i totally agree…coffee rules..and nothing can replace it..cheers to u !

  12. i love coffee and i have a shot of unopened 5-hr energy sitting next to me. i’m skeptical about how it’s going to taste…and thats one thing i’m not when it comes to the taste of coffee.

    gotta love the red bull too!

    PS….hilarious article

  13. Anything you consume on a regular basis, sooner or later you will build up a tolerance to.

    Do this. Have a Plan A (coffee/caffeine fix) and a Plan B (herbs, nootropics, cold showers, anything you can find that can roughly substitute for the brown bean). Every few months stop Plan A and do Plan B for a week or two.
    Then, go back to Plan A. You’ll find that caffeine fix hits you like it hasn’t for a long time.

  14. Slightly more complex. My husband has spinal cord cancer, ependamoma. He has had 4 surgeries since 1987 and gets around limited w/his walker, then transfers to wheelchair. Used to drink coffee. Blood pressure way too high. Also has had a sextuple bypass. Stopped the coffee and now has no oomph to try to at least maintain his mobility. Slowly going backward. We try to eat healthy, plenty of fruits & veges., chicken breast, salmon. You know the drill. His inability to make money gets him down as well. Was self employed, paint & body, raced cars 1/4 mile then later BOATS OFFSHORE, all on his own dime. I had to retire to care for him. We now exist on $20,000. per year. Would the 5 hour energy be very expensive and worth a try?
    Loved your wit.

    • I would check with your hubby’s docs to see if there was any issue with him trying one, as a humble suggestion, but- I am also dealing with a life-threatening health challenge. The details of my situation are different but some themes are the same. I’m a Type-A trapped in an ailing almost-invalid’s body. I have difficult-to-manage high blood pressure & associated heart issues. I also have 3 girls in college, 4 pets, a home, a husband and what used to be my life. I don’t know how I’d get by without 5 Hour. I actually called them to them just that. If there is something that I *have* to do, I rest first, psych myself up for it, down a 5 Hour & I can usually pull it off. Sometimes I take it everyday just to be able to have the energy to do the most basic things.

      Yes, it’s pricey & I’m sorry about that. I personally don’t think it should be. Sometimes Walgreen’s or CVS will put it on sale & if you have any of either’s ‘reward dollars’, they go a long way towards making them more affordable. The other option is to buy them at Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club. It’s an immediate hit, but much less expensive in the long run. The downside there, unfortunately, is a more up-front money outlay which can be a challenge when living on a reduced income and already challenged by the cost of the illness. By the way, I’ve personally never seen coupons for 5 Hour and I’m a couponer. I’d love for someone to tell me they had.

      I hope he’s able to try it & I hope it helps him out. I recognize it doesn’t work the same way for everyone. I realize I’m one of the lucky ones.

  15. Oh, just a small trivia bit. Coffee is originally from the Ethiopia. From there it actually spread to the Middle East, then to Italy and the rest of Europe and finally the Americas. The place that really got coffee popular was the Muslim world, which kind of explains how Turkey has such refinement when it comes to coffee!

  16. I would leave the decision to use energy-enhancers up to your physician…

    The article was great, had me laughing a few times. I just took the 5 hour energy and I was researching if it was going to kill me or not — turns out not. Tasted like it was a weapon used in WW2, though. Awful stuff, but now I’m full of energy and ready to work for a few more hours (which I should be doing now, but I figured I’d put my 2 cents in). I’m a big fan of Rock Star energy drinks, and I’ve been addicted to them for over a year now. I quit drinking them in the last couple weeks because I’ve been so poor, so my tolerance is almost nonexistant. This little shot of 2 oz. crack really got me going. Tastes terrible, but works like a charm — and fast.

  17. By the way, that first sentence was directed at Joanie.

  18. Cycling between products is a great idea that I do. I cycle between 2 herbs- Rhodiola and Siberian Ginseng. Take each for a month and then use the other. Another thing I might try is cycle caffeine and something else that gets me up, like theobromine (in chocholete) or something.

  19. I have cronic fatigue syndrome,and with 5hour energy I am good to work in the garden for 3 hours.Amazing
    Love that stuf.

  20. Loved the article but am surprised you choose coffee over 5 hr. Why not both? I like a hot mocha in the morning and a 5 hr in the afternoon. The 5 hr works great for me–at least it keeps me awake enough to get throgh my 10 hr work days– much better than coffee—and you people that are sitting on the fence wondering —just try one for gods sake! If you don’t like it, its not for you. By the way com sells them for about $20 for a box of 12—can’t beat that!

  21. i love 5 hour energy, not because of the taste but what it does. Kinda like tequila. You don’t drink it a cupful at a time…just a shot. Problem is you build up the same type of tolerance to 5 hour as coffee.

    Difference is the coffee tolerance is to purely caffeine and the 5 hour tolerance is because your body can only take in so much
    b6/b12. So its only going to be effective once in a blue moon *tear*

  22. Thanks for the five hour energy info…I think I’ll pass. I like my 2 cups of morning coffee and I like brussels sprouts. Oh, yeah, I like Cape Cod potato chips, too!

  23. That’s funny, I swear by 5-hour energy. I usually have it in morning after a late-nite XBOX Live session when my wife and child are asleep. This stuff keeps you Krunk all day long. I haven’t enjoyed an energy drink this much since Mountain Dew!

  24. you people are crazy and my sides hurt from laughing.

  25. i LOVE brussel sprouts!!!!!!!!

    not sure about the 5 hour energy yet, just drank my first one now….

  26. Lol to the “somebody failed high school chemistry” remark.

    I have severe ADD and you kept my attention, so you may have not been 100% knowledgeable about 100% of the things you were talking about, but your a good salesman because i feel like i should buy a cup of coffee now. But it won’t be the same without the face 😦

  27. To be honest i prefer the taste of a good cup of coffee over the forced sweet taste of 5 hour energy.

    If only my coffee came with 2000+ DV of B-vitamins, then I would be happy 🙂

  28. Coffee isn’t originally from south america. it’s from africa.

  29. i see this everywhere now, especially with March Madness coming along. But the shot just doenst work for me. I saw a one teaspoon shot that has 400mg of caffeine . Now thats something I wanna try. Has anyone? Its FIXX Extreme

  30. Hello Beth,

    As a representative of FIXX™, I can tell you that FIXX™ Extreme Ultra Shot is to be released on March 18th. For those of you who are not big fans of cappuccino, bear in mind it is just a teaspoon worth of liquid.

    For anyone who has any questions or concerns, you can write us through our website.

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  32. I’m not sure why one acid would break down another — the reason that acids eat their way through things is that they’re hydrogen donors, offering up spare hydrogen atoms that allow molecules to break off and form new molecules. Mixing HCl and amino acids is just going to form a solution with some mix of Cl- and whatever the aminos dissociate to form.

  33. Great article. I was thinking about trying this stuff in bulk until you convinced me otherwise. Guess I’lll stick with coffee and soda and normal caffeine tablets from the supplements aisle.

  34. love this guys. if you guys are looking for 5 hour energy, buy it here at wholesale prices!!
    know some better place? please post it here:

  35. 5 hour energy is a wondrous miracle! Super cheap at Sam’s Club!

  36. I’ve been drinking 5 hour energy for about over a year now. Now I don’t have anything against coffee, but every time I’ve tried to drink coffee, it made me sick later in the day. I work 10 hours a day. So I need at least something to pull me through and 5 hour always does the job. On my first break, I always do a shot of 5 hour energy and then eat a pack of peanut butter and crackers. I be feeling incredible. Plus the job I have at, we have to walk between 10-15 miles a day. Never had a problem completing my job =)

  37. Kabang Energy Candy taste awesome plus giving you energy all day. Kabang Energy Candy contains 100% of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12,VItamin C, plus Ginseng & NO CAFFIENE. Kabang Energy Candy come in 4 flavors cherry,Watermelon,Grape and Apple. Kabang Energy Candy only cost .50 cents and sold in Walgreens and C-Stores worldwide…

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  39. I drink beer, is that bad for you

  40. Hi All,

    I am a veteran starbucks employee and after about the first year I worked there I noticed that I had to intake more and more caffine to fell normal. Talk about an addiction! After becoming pregnant with my second child I decided to quit cold turkey for awhile. I now drink about 3 cups of tea a day and take a B complex vitamin in the morning and find that this works extrememly well for keeping you pumped trhoughout the day. I save cofee as my occasional treat because I happen to like my coffee like I like my hair.. VERY BLOnd which as one knows is not so good as far as fat intake goes. I was actually going try 5 hour energy because I just had my 3rd child (yes I know CRAZY) 6months ago and we are not quite at the sleeping stage. Now that I read this article I think I might just stick to what I am doing. I am not a fan of fermented pixi stick which form what I understand is what 5h tastes like. Perhaps one day is I am feeling really saucy and don’t mind dropping the $ I will try one. I used to go for redbull but more and more I find it tastes like bubblegum flavoured beer. Also not my favourite. ANyway shutting up and saying THANKS for the article. 🙂

  41. This is a pretty weird post and the comments are even more strange. Are you really a registered dietitian?

    My experience with 5 Hour Energy is as follows:

    I drank it at 7am with my breakfast. By 7:20 I was feeling kinda weird. Physically tired but my brain was awake and my thoughts were racing. Then around 8am I was feeling really jittery. Then around 9am I got kind of dizzy and shaky. All day I felt kind of sick to my stomach and still “weird.” It was a drugged feeling, like I was looking at the word through a porthole or a tunnel. Then I called the doctor to ask if there was an over the counter or home remedy that they knew of to help the feeling pass more quickly. They informed me that these supplements are not FDA regulated, which I knew. We both agreed that 5 Hour Energy should not be marketed as a B Vitamin energy boost but rather a caffeine supplement. That afternoon my lips felt numb and tingly. I considered going to the Emergency Room. And, by the way, there is a crash. At least there was for me. I am now depressed, and I was in a good mood this morning. Still feel kind of sick and my lips still feel a little funny and it’s almost 12 hours after the 5 Hour Energy shot.

    Since I find very few reports of negative side effects (or definitive positive ones), I can only assume that this product and its claims have never been tested. If you have a history of chronic health problems, use immunosuppressive medications, don’t drink much coffee or otherwise do not consume caffeine on a regular basis, don’t drink this stuff. Or, drink half of it if you are still stubborn enough to want to try it. In my opinion, it is not worth the risk of ruining your day. There is a lot more in it than just B vitamins and caffeine. There is also an “energy blend” of various “natural” substances whose effects on the body are poorly researched and poorly understand, alone and in the combination included in the 5HE supplement.

    Possible issues with this — B6 toxicity may become a problem if you drink too many of the shots. Niacin flush may occur to individuals sensitive to niacin. This product also contains phenylalanine so if you have phenylketonuria (PKU) you can suffer brain damage. Lastly, symptoms of caffeine toxicity are nothing to joke about if you’re not used to caffeine. Don’t drink it on an empty stomach or if you’re dehydrated. This condition will probably concentrate the effects of the supplement.

    It’s probably not going to hurt you once in a while if you’re already pretty healthy, but if you’re not, I wouldn’t mess with it and instead I’d look into approaches that have legitimate, rigorous, non-commercial research to support it’s claims. Like, I dunno, sleep and water and nutritious foods.

    • LOL LOL LOL I am still wiping the tears from laughter after reading about GR’s experience with 5 hr enrgy!!!!! Looking at the world from a porthole!???!??!!!! Your comment made my day GR, and btw I totally agree that sleep food and water are the best …… ahh…. good times, good times… gotta stop laughing now

      • What? Why are you laughing at me? That was a horrible experience and I suffered a lot and was pretty scared. Why? I don’t know. I’m hypersensitive to things I guess. Shame on me for trying to be like a regular person. Seriously, that’s really mean. What about my comment was funny? It was not intended to be funny.

        Is this one of those things where people are laughing at my weird body that doesn’t do what everyone else’s does, or laughing at my naivety when it comes to substances? Because, if so, that’s really obnoxious.

  42. I had the same experience as GR. I had tried the “regular” 5hr, and didn’t really notice much of a “lift”, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and purchased a six-pack of the extra-strength ( little sinister black bottles). I was half-way through a driving course test when we took a lunch break, and I ate a sandwich, and drank my little black bottle, to “liven” me up for the completion of the test. In about 45min., I actually started suffering the very same symptoms mentioned by GR. And believe you me, it was nothing to laugh about! I really thought that I was dying! I have never been so weak, and sick in my life! I am otherwise healthy, and pretty tough, but I did NOT think that I was going to live through that day! By the way, I still have the other 5 bottles left, and i’m seriously thinking about using it for rat poison! There is NO REASON in the world for that stuff to be that expensive, OTHER THAN SHEER GREED!! Hey, if this stuff works for you ( whether it is physically, or mentally), then that is great! BUT BE VERY CAREFUL, because what works for you today, may work against you tomorrow, and if THIS stuff turns on you for the worse, IT AIN”T NOTHING NICE!!

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    • It was 2007, man.

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