Coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, and yerba mate contain naturally occurring caffeine, but the stimulant is also often included in sodas, energy beverages, and dietary pills. Most of us consume some form of caffeinated beverage.
The energy drink market is continuing to grow and many of these drinks contain caffeine to give you that extra energy boost.
Is Caffeine Bad For You?
When discussing caffeine, there are many impacts on health. The ultimate assessment of whether something is beneficial or detrimental will hinge on an assortment of elements including the person, the means it is taken in, how often, and the amount.
READ MORE: Caffeine Health Benefits
It has been demonstrated that the amount of caffeine ingested is significant, with an improved mood noted with between 200-250mg, compared to 600mg which commonly leads to anxiety and tension. Caffeine can be beneficial, offering energy, suppressing hunger, boosting one’s mood, helping with concentration, and even reducing the likelihood of suicide.
However, it can also lead to problematic pregnancies, withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, high blood pressure, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, exhaustion due to excessive amounts of adrenaline.
Adrenal fatigue can be caused by an overabundance of stress hormones, creating a situation where the adrenals become depleted and unable to produce an adequate or balanced supply of them, which can be problematic since cortisol is sometimes essential.
How much caffeine is in popular drinks?
Remember that the amount of caffeine contained in energy drinks and sodas is usually the same each time, however, the amount of caffeine present in coffee and tea can differ significantly. All of the characteristics of the bean, such as what type it is, how it’s harvested, held, and the way your particular cup of coffee is made (including through espresso, French press, or filtered methods) will influence the caffeine levels in the end result.
Caffeinated Teas, Decaffeinated Teas, and Caffeine-free teas: Which is Best?
Remembering this, there is nothing wrong with drinking teas that contain caffeine. It is commonly known that certain countries drink a great deal of green tea, which contains a natural source of caffeine. People in Asia are seen as extremely healthy, partially thanks to their large amounts of tea drinking which typically amounts to 1.2 liters per day.
Green tea that has had its caffeine removed through a chemical process is available, though this could have negative effects that outweigh the advantages of consuming the unmodified herb.
What are the main ways to decaffeinate tea?
These are the three main techniques for taking the caffeine out of tea leaves. It should be made clear that it is not feasible to remove the caffeine from tea without the help of a professional, despite what the web claims! In order to make your tea leaves decaffeinated, you would have to steep them for a long time, which would eliminate all of the flavor and aroma of the tea. So don’t bother!
- The methylene chloride method: This practice involves submerging the tea leaves in methylene chloride. The caffeine molecules bind with the solvent, and voila the leaves are decaffeinated. The flavors and oils are then added back in. Interestingly, 99% of the decaf tea sold in the UK is treated using this method! Methylene chloride is highly toxic.
- The ethyl acetate method: This is another solvent (found in fruit, and nail polish remover), and can leave a “chemical” taste. Quite common for bagged and mass produced teas, and uses the same method as methylene chloride decaffeination. Considered to be preferable to methylene chloride, simply because the solvent is less toxic (Gerst).
- The carbon dioxide / CO2 method: The caffeine molecules on the tea leaves bind to the CO2 molecules which are then removed. It also leaves the flavor the least changed of these various methods This is by far the most expensive and so generally used for higher quality loose leaf teas
Botanical beverages without caffeine:
How much is too much?
The security of caffeine is variable – it is contingent upon the amount ingested and moreover your overall health. For some, multiple cups of coffee every day will not cause any undesirable effects, but for others, even consuming a single cup can produce episodes of high blood pressure, insomnia, migraine, irritability, or agitation (although adding theanine helps reduce the jittery feeling in some cases).
Organizations such as the European Food Safety Agency, the US National Academies of Science, and Health Canada have determined that adults in good health can drink up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily without any major health concerns. It is generally considered safe for people in good health to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine daily without any adverse consequences. However, some individuals may be able to safely ingest more.
The EFSA has said that it is generally considered safe to consume up to 200 mg of caffeine in a single sitting, even when taken shortly before taking part in intense physical exercise. However, experts suggest that having 100 mg of caffeine near bedtime could potentially damage sleeping patterns. Remember that caffeine’s average period before it is completely out of the body is five hours, so if you had a cup of coffee less than 10 hours ago, you are still likely to have caffeine in your bloodstream.
Adults who are in good health should have no more than 400 mg of caffeine in a single day. It is best to refrain from having caffeine near bedtime in order to get the best rest possible.
Breastfeeding or Pregnant Women
The European Food Safety Authority’s assessment suggests that women who are nursing, pregnant, or intend to be pregnant should keep their caffeine intake to under 200 mg daily. Other studies have confirmed it is safe to consume 300 mg of the substance per day, however it may be risky to take any more due to a potential of causing nausea and, in the worst case, miscarriage.
There is a lack of research on the effects of caffeine consumption in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it’s advisable for them to consume less caffeine. This is even more important during the last month of pregnancy, since the time it takes for caffeine to be eliminated from the body increases from 3 hours to 10.5 hours. Essentially, when you are expecting, it will take your body far more time to remove the caffeine that you take in. This is because the caffeine ingested in the morning will be compounded by the caffeine you consume after lunch, thus resulting in a substantially higher dosage in your system than what you may have anticipated.
Different scientific reviews vary on how much caffeine is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women to consume; some say 200 mg a day, while others suggest up to 300 mg. Given the lack of substantial clinical proof, it is best to err on the side of caution and refrain from exceeding the suggested limits.
Children and Adolescents
The EFSA has noted that there is an inadequate amount of information to create a secure daily caffeine consumption number for children and adolescents, however, it advises implementing the 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight as an upper limit for a single dose for the younger population as well as the adult population. Health Canada and non-governmental agencies have suggested that a maximum permissible dose should not exceed 2.5 milligrams/kilogram of body weight per day. According to Health Canada, 2.5 mg/kg/day translates to the following approximate limits:
- 4–6 years: 45 mg/day
- 7–9 years: 62.5 mg/day
- 10–12 years: 85 mg/day
Other groups have called for further examination and wariness concerning the usage of energy drinks among this demographic, particularly regarding the amount of caffeine they contain. The Health and Medicine Division (previously known as the Institute of Medicine) has suggested that drinks containing caffeine not be distributed to kids in school. In March of 2013, a group of scientists communicated to the FDA commissioner that the most up-to-date scientific data clearly showed a strong tie between the amount of caffeine in energy drinks and dangerous results, especially in children, teenagers, and young adults.
It is generally assumed that children and teenagers should not have more than 2.5 to 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day. Nevertheless, these ranges have been mainly calculated from research done on adults. Many groups have requested further study in this region and, until more info can be accumulated, it is prudent to constrain kids’ caffeine consumption.
People with Cardiovascular Health Concerns
It is well documented that caffeine can raise blood pressure for 3–4 hours (though this effect normally decreases with regular intake).[ Fortunately, in healthy adults, caffeine intakes of up to 400 mg/day have not been linked to increases in cardiovascular disease risk. But in people with high blood pressure or pre-existing heart conditions (in other words, in people for whom stimulants in general are contraindicated), the long-term effects of regular caffeine intake are less certain. Moderate intakes may be OK, but this should be assessed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a healthcare provider.
For sound cardiovascular health, it is generally thought that consumption of up to 400 mg of caffeine a day does not have an impact. However, if an individual has hypertension or other serious heart ailments, the implications of consuming caffeine on a regular basis is not known, so it’s best to consult a physician before going ahead and drinking caffeine.
Should I Fast From Caffeine for a Detox?
Caffeine has a “half life”, which is how long it takes for your body to break it down and pass it out. It’s been shown that the amount of caffeine in one’s system will reduce by half in a five hour period. 120 milligrams of caffeine is reduced to 60 milligrams in this time frame, according to Olsen. Your morning coffee consumed at 7 o’clock in the morning will still have you feeling the effects of 60 milligrams of caffeine at 12 pm. In five more hours, there will be 30 milligrams of caffeine left in the body. If you are accustomed to drinking caffeine, it is best to gradually reduce your intake as opposed to quitting abruptly, due to becoming chemically dependent on it.
Can Caffeine Aid Weight Loss?
The Mayo Clinic states that while taking it may have some additional effect on weight loss, it does not have the ability to cause substantial weight loss by itself (Zeratsky). Even when participants drank decaffeinated coffee, they still experienced weight loss, implying that there is something more involved than just the caffeine. An analysis of 13 different controlled experiments with a total of 606 people found that using caffeine may help reduce both weight and body fat, according to Tabrizi. Caffeine is an activating drug which can raise metabolic and heat production rates.
The results of a research trial involving rats showed that by taking caffeine during exercise, more calories were burned when compared to exercising without it – likely explaining why caffeine is such a popular ingredient in products aimed to assist with weight loss and work out routines (Clark).
Keep in mind that the body can adjust quickly to stimulants, causing them to become less effective the longer they are taken. Studies have noted that lean individuals tend to reap more benefits from caffeine consumption (Bracco). Caffeine could potentially lead to an increase in thermogenetic activity and the burning of calories, which could indicate a more successful workout. Depending on the kind of exercise you do, you can either burn calories and glycogen, which can help you stay at a healthy weight and stop yourself from gaining more weight, or you can burn actual fat- meaning you can change your body composition.
Cardio exercise can be used to reduce body fat as long as someone is eating fewer calories than they burn. In that situation, whether or not to take caffeine as an additional supplement is a decision that has to be made by the individual.