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If you feel like you need a jolt of caffeine to get started in the morning, you're not alone. About four-fifths of the world's population drinks coffee on a daily basis, but how much caffeine is too much? Let's talk about the benefits of caffeine and how much you should consume each day.
- Give you a quick boost of energy and help you focus on tasks at hand.
- Help you work out longer and harder when consumed just before exercise. Because caffeine seems to block signals of muscle fatigue, both cardio and strength training feel easier, letting you work harder or go faster without noticing extra exertion.
- Provide a temporary boost in metabolism. The caffeine in one cup of coffee temporarily revs metabolism by up to 15 percent, torching an extra 15 to 25 calories.
- Prevent disease, possibly. Some studies suggest that the caffeine in coffee may help prevent Parkinson's disease. And a recent study found that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 15 percent less likely to develop depression over the 10-year study period, compared with women who consumed one cup or less per day. Women who drank decaf didn't show a similar reduction in depression rates.
Learn the dangers of too much caffeine after the break.
However, too much caffeine can...
- Disrupt sleep. For people who are sensitive to caffeine's effects, it can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, especially if it is consumed in the latter half of the day.
- Cause anxiety and nervousness. That same buzz that provides quick energy can lead to feelings of anxiety when consumed in excess.
- Lead to an upset stomach. If too much caffeine is consumed, especially on an empty stomach, it can lead to stomach pains and digestive issues.
- Result in headaches and difficulty concentrating. While studies have shown a little caffeine is helpful for focusing and concentrating, too much can cause the reverse effect.
- Produce an irregular heartbeat. When large amounts of caffeine are consumed (like in diet pills, for instance), it can lead to a racing heart or irregular heartbeat.
So how much caffeine is too much?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, for most people, 200 to 300 micrograms of caffeine per day (two to three cups of coffee) won't cause any negative effects.
If you're feeling too dependent on caffeine to jump-start your morning, try these ideas to cut back on your consumption:
- Cut your caffeine intake in half by mixing decaf and regular.
- Substitute coffee with decaffeinated and herbal teas.
- Eliminate other sources of caffeine from your diet, such as sodas, cocoa and some cold medicines (check ingredient labels).
As with most foods that don't contain essential nutrients, the key to caffeine intake is moderation.