I love, and I mean LOVE (love love love love love) my morning coffee. Sometimes I go to bed thinking about it and the first thing I do when I wake up is turn my Nespresso machine on. Those pesky dogs can wait to be fed!
There are some great benefits to caffeine, but, too much can be negative.
So, how much is too much? Moderate consumption is defined as 3-4 cups of brewed coffee per day, yielding 300-400 mg of caffeine (keep in mind that cold brew is higher). At this amount, there is little evidence of health issues.
The pluses of moderate caffeine consumption include:
- Obviously, it can give you energy.
- Many, many studies show that caffeine can boost mental functioning, including improving short-term memory and reaction time.
- Coffee drinking may help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.
- Some studies link coffee to lower rates of depression.
- Studies have shown that, taken before workouts, coffee gave athletes better endurance and decreased their perceived exertion.
One caveat: Coffee has a fairly long half life, meaning it stays in your system a long time. In order to not disrupt your sleep, experts advise having your last caffeinated drink 10 hours before bed. So, if you hit the sack at 9 PM, no coffee after 11 AM.
Notice that, above, I refer to mostly coffee when talking about caffeine and not energy drinks or soda.
Most energy drinks on the market start at around 300 mg of caffeine and some have as many as 400 mg. Plus, they contain a bunch of other suspect ingredients. Most list “caffeine” in their ingredients, but you can’t be sure where that caffeine is coming from. The source of your caffeine matters.
I found an article from NPR that states: “Most of the caffeine in soft drinks comes from factories in China. Naturally extracted caffeine is burned out from heated-up coffee beans. But most of the caffeine used in soft drinks is actually synthetically produced in Chinese pharmaceutical plants.”
If you want caffeine, you’re best going with high-quality coffee (shout out to Rio Coco) or green or black tea.
Next, let’s discuss too much caffeine. If you’re drinking a pot of coffee; or coffee in the morning and energy drinks in the day, you are most likely over-caffeinated.
Negatives of being over-caffeinated include:
- Boosts blood pressure temporarily, and some experts conclude that those repeated elevations could boost the risk of heart disease.
- Getting your caffeine from daily soda consumption may lower been density in women.
- Reports of insomnia, nausea, chest pains and palpitations have been reported by people who have taken caffeine supplements, like diet pills and pre-workouts with mega doses of caffeine.
- Dependency – the more you take, the more you need
In regards to dependency, I’ve heard of some biohackers doing a coffee fast where they nix caffeine for one week per month so that their body doesn’t become tolerant to caffeine. So that you don’t have major withdrawal symptoms, you’d reduce your consumption by half one day, then half again, then take five to seven days off.
Let’s face it: we are a caffeinated society. I don’t remember ever drinking coffee until I was an adult, yet kids flock to Starbucks these days and most everyone I know is obsessed with a cup ‘o Joe.
In cutting to the chase: moderate consumption of (high-quality) caffeine is fine, but if you’re drinking more than 400 mg per day, it’s time to cut back.