Most of us cannot function without at least one cup of coffee in the morning and it is built into our daily routine. Even if you avoid coffee, you are likely to consume caffeine, which is in green tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. In fact, 100ml of a gym drink can have around 30mg of caffeine.
How much is too much coffee?
Too much of anything being bad for a person is a general principle we can live by, and this applies to caffeine as well. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cites 400mg of caffeine a day as being an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects in adults. This is about four or five cups of coffee.
The FDA has not set a level for children, but adds that the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages children and adolescents from consuming caffeine and other stimulants.
However, the FDA goes on to say that there is a wide variation in how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine as well as how fast they metabolise it.
If you are wondering if your fitness energy drink intake is cause for concern, consider any health conditions you may have or medications you are taking. These can make you more sensitive to caffeine. The FDA also recommends talking to a healthcare professional about your caffeine consumption if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, are breastfeeding, or are concerned about a health condition or medication.
When is coffee bad for you?
It is unlikely that many of us consume more than a safe amount of caffeine within a day, whether in the form of coffee or fruit energy drinks, but this doesn’t mean that caffeine cannot pose a risk to your health. According to FDA estimates, toxic effects like seizures can be observed with the rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine or 0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine.
Pure and highly concentrated caffeine products can present a significant health risk and food regulatory bodies, including the FDA, have taken measures to protect consumers. The FDA states that such products are often labelled as dietary supplements and contain pure or highly concentrated caffeine in powder or liquid forms. These products cause even more problems since they are typically marketing in bulk packaging, requiring the consumer to measure out a safe serving.
To put just how concentrated such products can be, the FDA states that one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine can contain as much caffeine as 28 cups of coffee, while ½ cup of liquid highly concentrated caffeine is similar to more than 20 cups of coffee. The consequences of consuming such products in toxic quantities can have serious health consequences, including death.
Signs to watch out for
While you may not consume caffeine in toxic amounts, depending on your sensitivity, there could be instances where you have consumed more than your body can tolerate. The FDA shares several signs of over-consumption, including insomnia, jitters, anxiousness, fast heart rate, upset stomach, nausea, headache, and a feeling of unhappiness (dysphoria).
Is caffeine good for you?
While looking at the potential risks of consuming too much caffeine, it is also important to consider the nutritional value and possible benefits of caffeine. Caffeine in beverages can include sodium and sugar, while chocolate products can include fibre and carbohydrates.
There are also several potential health benefits to caffeine, including a boost to energy levels. This is one of the reasons people need a cup of coffee in the morning or a gym drink like vegan energy drinks, for instance, after a workout. Caffeine is known as a stimulate, and can give you a higher level of alertness and lower levels of fatigue.
Caffeine can also increase your metabolic rate and some studies show that a 3% to 4% increase in metabolic rate is seen with one cup of coffee. While this means that there is a slight increase in the number of calories burnt in a day, overconsumption of caffeine is not something one should consider.
Caffeine’s effect on fatigue can also improve exercise performance, which is why natural energy drinks contain caffeine. It may make it less difficult to exercise, which will make it more enjoyable, and thus a more frequent activity.
Some studies also argue that moderate amounts of caffeine can reduce one’s risk of heart disease. This is another benefit to consuming caffeine in safe amounts, whether through a cup of coffee or a gym drink.