How Much Coffee Is Too Much Coffee? Here’s What Experts And Studies Say
Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered whether you drink too much coffee…while sipping on your third cup before noon.
There’s no denying that double-shots are just plain necessary some mornings (ahem, Mondays), but where do you draw the line between healthy coffee consumption and being totally strung out? Is it even possible to have too much coffee?
The answer is actually a little more complicated than you’d think — so read up before ordering your next Grande cup.
First of all: Coffee is good for you — within reason
Coffee doesn’t just taste amazing — it also offers plenty of other perks. “Coffee is one of the most researched substances on the planet and has been linked to a ton of health benefits,” says dietitian Scott Keatley, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Weird but true: A cup of brewed coffee actually contains about 1.8 grams of fibre, a nutrient that helps you feel fuller for longer and has been shown to help decrease risk of certain cancers, Keatley says.
Java also offers some mental perks. “Coffee improves a lot of different brain functions, including memory, mood, energy levels, and reaction times,” says dietitian Beth Warren, author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl.
Thanks to some of these effects, coffee can help you crush it in the gym. In fact, caffeinated coffee has long been studied for its performance-boosting abilities, especially in endurance events.
Yep, coffee may also actually help you live longer. One 2018 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which analyzed data from 500,000 people in the UK, connected coffee consumption with longevity benefits. People who had one cup of coffee per day had an 8 percent lower risk of dying early, while people who drank six to seven cups of coffee had a 16 percent lower risk.
Whether it’s a drip coffee, espresso, single origin, or a blend, you start reaping coffee’s benefits with your first cup, says Keatley.
But how much coffee is too much coffee? 3 cups?
Le sigh: You can have too much of a good thing — even when that good thing is a steaming hot cup of Joe.
Different brands and varieties of coffee pack different amounts of caffeine. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an eight-ounce cup of regular coffee can contain anywhere from 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. (The same serving of decaf typically ranges between two and 15 milligrams, while a shot of espresso averages about 63 milligrams.)
The FDA recommends healthy adults limit themselves to 400 milligrams of caffeine — roughly four or five cups of coffee — per day. (Pregnant and breastfeeding women, meanwhile, should stick to 200 milligrams of caffeine, or less.) So whether or not, say, three cups of coffee a day might be too much really depends on the caffeine content in your particular brew.
Wait…can drinking too much coffee kill you?
Well, your head won’t explode if you sip slightly more than the recommended amount on a given day, but there are a few reasons to stay within those caffeine guidelines.
In the short-term, drinking too much coffee (and caffeine) can cause jitters, an upset stomach, diarrhoea, and an increased heart rate, says Jessica Cording, author of The Little Book of Game Changers. As a result, you might feel irritable, uneasy, and anxious, and may also have trouble sleeping.
Caffeine can even cause migraines in some people, Keatley adds.
Overdoing the caffeine can also mask the signs your body sends you about what it needs: “One problem with drinking caffeinated coffee is that it makes you feel alert and awake when your body may be exhausted and tired, and need rest instead,” Angelone says. “It is not healthy to try to override the messages your body is trying to send you.”
In the long run, consistently drinking too much coffee can even increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. According to a The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study published earlier this year, people who consistently drank six or more cups of coffee per day had a 22 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to people who had just a cup or two.
Caveat alert: Not all studies show the same results! Research presented at the 2019 British Cardiovascular Society Conference found no correlation between drinking up to 25 (!!) cups of coffee per day and greater risk of developing stiff arteries (which can strain your heart) or increased risk of stroke or heart attack. (Though that’s not to stay you’re not at risk of other coffee-related issues, like stomach issues and anxiety.)
Is 3 cups of coffee a day too much?
Ultimately, though everyone handles coffee a little differently, experts recommend sticking to no more than four to five cups of coffee a day, just to be safe.
And, as with everything, listen to your body: “It’s important to monitor your caffeine intake to ensure it remains at levels your mind and body tolerate,” says Warren.
A sure sign your coffee habit has wandered into unhealthy territory: You drink it “because you ‘need it’ to continue to function,” Angelone says.
If you need a coffee reset, Cording recommends cutting back slowly. A few ways to do so: cut yourself off after 2 p.m., switch your size to a small instead of a medium, and incorporate decaf into the mix.
If you turn to coffee because you just love the relaxing experience of sipping on something warm during the day, Cording recommends subbing in a different warm beverage — like herbal tea — to see if it also hits the spot.
Of course, if you love your coffee and have zero issues with however much you drink on the reg, keep doing what you’re doing (within reason).
The bottom line: Though coffee affects us all differently, stick to four or five cups a day, maximum, to reap its benefits without the risks.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com