We are often asked in our workshops “how much caffeine is too much?” Caffeine consumption directly affects production of stress hormones, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much you have.
Stimulating the production of the stress hormone adrenalin, caffeine puts our body on alert, temporarily increasing heart rate and blood pressure. While this is useful if we want to be ready for flight or fight, overloading the adrenal gland can also have some negative consequences, such as problems sleeping or feeling anxious.
On the plus side, a great cup of coffee is a relatively fast acting stimulant, waking us up, helping us to focus, and boosting the production of serotonin receptors in our brains. Studies show that caffeine can speed up certain thinking processes,
improving memory creation and retention when it comes to declarative memory (the kind we use when memorising lists). However, it doesn’t seem to help when it comes to complex thinking or finding solutions.
Because caffeine can’t be stored in the body, its effects are only temporary. Generally people will notice the caffeine hit after about 10 minutes, and the effect usually lasts two to three hours. With regular consumption we are likely to find that
it takes more and more caffeine to get the same effect.
So, how much is too much?
The daily-recommended not-to-exceed intake level of caffeine is the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee per day (139 to 417 milligrams). It may sound like a lot, but don’t forget that caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also in black tea, green tea, chocolate, some soft drinks and energy drinks, so on a daily basis, you may be getting more than you think!
Slowly does it.
If you’re a big coffee drinker (regularly consuming 300+ milligrams a day), suddenly stopping may cause you to suffer withdrawal symptoms such as tiredness, feeling down, irritability, jitters and headaches. Instead, cut back slowly over a few weeks by reducing other caffeine sources such as tea or chocolate, and drink coffee that is half caffeinated and half decaffeinated.
Have you cut back on your coffee intake? We’d love to hear how you did it.