Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Caffeine?

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Caffeine?

  • 13 April, 2023
  • Andy Whitehead

Caffeine is a stimulant found in many beverages and foods consumed by millions of people worldwide. For many, caffeine is a seemingly necessary part of their daily routine. But, yes, too much caffeine can be harmful to your health.

 

So, how much caffeine is too much in one day?

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that 400mg of caffeine — the equivalent of four to five cups of coffee — daily is generally safe for most adults. But you might be consuming much more caffeine without even realizing it, as caffeine shows up in things beyond coffee, and exceeding the recommended limit of 400 mg per day is easier than you might expect.

 

If you are curious about caffeine, try keeping a log for a few days of how much intake you have. Don’t neglect to count the caffeine in your snacks, sodas, energy drinks, and supplements.

 

For reference, the following is a breakdown of caffeine sources from Harvard's School of Health:

  • Coffee - 1 cup or 8 ounces of brewed coffee contains about 95mg of caffeine. The same amount of instant coffee contains about 60mg of caffeine, while decaffeinated coffee contains about 4mg of caffeine.

  • Espresso - 1 shot or 1.5 ounces contains about 65mg of caffeine.

  • Tea - 1 cup of black tea contains about 47mg of caffeine, while green tea contains about 28mg, and decaf tea contains 2mg.

  • Soda - A 12-ounce can of regular or diet dark cola contains about 40mg of caffeine.

  • Chocolate - 1oz of dark chocolate contains about 24mg of caffeine, whereas milk chocolate has a quarter of that.

  • Energy drinks - 1 cup or 8 ounces of an energy drink contains about 85mg of caffeine. However, the standard energy drink serving is 16 ounces, doubling the caffeine to 170mg. A small 2oz energy shot is much more concentrated with about 200mg of caffeine.

  • Supplements - Caffeine supplements contain about 200mg per tablet, the same as 2 cups of brewed coffee.

 

Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine

 

Everyone's caffeine tolerance is different, which means even moderate amounts can negatively affect some people. However, consuming more than 400mg of caffeine daily increases the likelihood of side effects, such as:

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Jitters

  • Headaches

  • Upset stomach

  • Dehydration

  • Irregular heartbeat

 

How to Cut Back on Caffeine

 

According to a recent survey by Statista, 79% of American coffee drinkers consume more than two cups per day, suggesting a dependence on caffeine. But don’t just give up your coffee “cold-turkey” since unfortunately, caffeine withdrawal can also result in headaches, anxiety, and jitters.

 

Reducing caffeine intake requires introducing small changes to your lifestyle over time instead of just stopping totally. Here are some tips to help you cut back on caffeine:

 

  1. Review the nutrition labels of your go-to snacks, beverages, and even medications to pinpoint your caffeine sources

  2. Keep a caffeine diary to track how much caffeine you are consuming each day;

  3. Drink water instead of a caffeinated sports drink;

  4. Swap your traditional morning coffee for a caffeine-free alternative. We suggest FigBrew's Figgee, a fig coffee with added health benefits. You can also switch to decaffeinated coffee, which contains about 4mg of caffeine, making it a great option for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake but not ready to try a coffee substitute. However, it's important to note that some research has shown that the process that some brands use to decaffeinate their coffee products might mean you’re ingesting “trace levels of methylene chloride,” the main ingredient in paint stripper. The Clean Label Project suggests looking for claims on product packaging such as solvent-free, chemical-free, Swiss-water, or certified organic.

  5. Start with small, gradual changes to avoid severe or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms;

  6. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to cut back.

 

Benefits of Cutting Back on Caffeine

 

Some health benefits you'll immediately notice when you cut back on caffeine are:

  • Higher-quality sleep

  • Reduced anxiety

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Improved gut health

  • Less heartburn

 

The most important thing is to remember that while caffeine can help with providing a temporary jolt of energy, overconsumption (of anything, really) can lead to adverse health implications or caffeine addiction. If you suffer from poor sleep, headaches, stomach pain, or anxiety, reducing your daily caffeine intake may help.

 

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