The main difference between drinking a caffeinated beverage and eating a caffeinated food item is the energy-duration curve of each. With a beverage your body uptakes the caffeine much faster than if it has to digest food before it can get at the caffeine.
Think of it like this. You will empty your coffee into the bathroom in just a few hours. Food is going to take at least 24 hours.
This means that the beverage curve is very steep whereas the food one is shallower. Quicker uptake means a quicker rise and a quicker fall. A slower uptake means a slower rise and and a slower fall.
It also means that the beverage will hit a higher peak. Some people might want this. For me however, and I don’t think I’m alone on this, there is a definite point where the caffeine peak can reach into a counterproductive area.
The counterproductive area can encompass a range of less-than-desirable traits. Chief among them are jitteriness, sweaty palms, and increased body temperature (feeling hot). I also frequently find myself being full-on drowsy and yawning if I end up above the red line.
Through this process of trial and error I’ve ended up cutting1 coffee out of my daily routine. I tried tea for awhile since it has less caffeine per volume but that wasn’t it. I want all the caffeine I just want a different uptake rate. Food is the solution.
The two food things that I’ve tried have both been bars. Clif Bars2 and Mocha Java Ona Bars. Both are effective. If you start searching around you’ll find a bunch of options. Some are quite expensive. Ultimately you can expect to pay about $1.50 for a caffeinated bar.
The only thing that I do not like about them is the sugar content. I have completely cut sugar out of my diet except these bars. So the whopping 20 and 17 grams of sugar is far from ideal. But they work so well that I’ve decided to deal with it until I find an alternative.
If you have any alternatives I’d love to hear about them.
Update: A family member reminded me about chocolate covered espresso beans the other day. They are a really good choice. I’ve found 1/4 cup to be equivalent in caffeine to one of the bars mentioned above. Sugar content is 12g.
1A few times a week I drink the Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee. It’s a lower dose of caffeine than your typical coffee, 50mg.
²These are easily the cheapest and less than $1 per bar. They also have the most sugar at 20g. Down recently from 22g.