Many people enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, but consuming too much caffeine isn’t good for your system or your sleep. So how much should you allow yourself each day? Before you refill your mug or grab an energy drink, keep reading for tips on caffeine consumption.
Caffeine is a chemical found naturally in many plants and according to the FDA, it can be a part of a healthy diet. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system for increased alertness and focus, but for the same reason, too much at once can disturb your heart rate and even cause anxiety and insomnia.
Studies suggest that a healthy adult can consume up to 400mg of caffeine (the equivalent of 4-5 cups of coffee) a day safely without experiencing detrimental effects. However, some people can consume much more because of how they metabolize caffeine. When you know how you react to caffeine, you can use your favorite caffeinated treats as a tool to get alertness when you need it without consuming too much.
Coffee is our tried-and-true favorite vehicle for caffeine consumption. Drinking coffee allows caffeine to enter the bloodstream within 30 minutes to get a quick boost. There’s also a ritual element to coffee time, so you get used to a daily coffee fix even if it is not particularly strong. Coffee can be brewed to be stronger or weaker, but an average 8oz cup of coffee contains 80-100mg of caffeine, and the same amount of decaffeinated coffee can contain 10-20mg of caffeine.
Eight ounces of an energy drink can contain anywhere from 40mg to 250mg of caffeine, but the drinks are sold in cans up to 24 ounces. If you enjoy these large energy drinks, drink half at a time so you have another drink to go back to. It’s much easier to chug down too much caffeine later in the day once you’ve popped open a fresh can.
An 8oz cup of green or black tea contains 30-50mg of caffeine, about half that of a cup of coffee. There are many flavors of tea and a lot of caffeine-free options that make them a great alternative to coffee. If you love the ritual of a hot or iced drink halfway through the day, try swapping out your afternoon coffee beverage for tea that has much less caffeine.
How much is too much?
When you use an excessive amount of caffeine every day it can lose its alerting effect. The more serious side effects of too much caffeine like a rapid heart rate come from consuming large amounts in a short amount of time. The good news is it is almost impossible to overdose on caffeine from caffeinated drinks alone – an average adult would have to drink around 100 cups of coffee.
Caffeine is a drug so think of it as medicine and use caffeine when you need more energy and focus and eliminate it from your diet when you don’t. If you are strategic about your consumption and have less caffeine towards the end of your day, you can avoid negative side effects and sleep problems. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or on any stimulant drugs, it’s generally recommended to consume less caffeine so talk to your healthcare provider about how much caffeine per day is safe.
Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? | FDA
Caffeine & Long Work Hours | NIOSH | CDC
Coffee and Caffeine — How Much Should You Drink? (healthline.com)