Is caffeine bad for you?

Where are my coffee lovers? If you know me, you know I don’t get started in the morning without a cup (or two) from my French Press. Caffeine can be found in many other forms, though. From energy drinks to a can of Coke, the number of drinks offering some amount of caffeine is on the rise. The tricky part? You’ve got to keep an eye on that serving size. Hear me out.

Caffeine is a natural supplement occurring in many different plants, teas, and coffees. As you may know, its main function is to provide an energy boost to the body and brain. It works fast: most caffeine doses kick in around 20 minutes to an hour after consumption. Caffeine works to block the effect of the main neurotransmitter that produces a feeling of tiredness in your brain. 

So what are the risks? Is caffeine bad for you? How much caffeine should I consume? For starters, it DOES matter how much caffeine you consume daily. The general limit for most individuals is 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. For my coffee lovers, this is around 4 one-cup servings. If you order your coffee from a shop, chances are your drink is hitting at least half of the recommendations. What happens if you exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine? That’s when the shaky, anxiety, and headaches can arise as side effects. Depending on how late in the day you consume caffeine, it can be a culprit for restlessness at bedtime. Personally, I recommend no more than 200 milligrams at a time. If you absolutely need a little more energy after that, you still have another 200 milligrams in your emergency fund.

Caffeine in moderation can actually be good for you! Many studies have linked caffeine in moderation to healthy gut function, mood improvement, and brain function. Caffeine is also widely used as an energy booster before workouts. For me, that sometimes means adding a scoop of Advocare Spark in my water before my early morning gym session. Coffee is always my staple recommendation for anyone trying to find a solid, clean source of caffeine. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and avoid overloading it with sugary syrups and creamers. Green tea is another common and clean favorite for those who want to stick with a clean option and do not enjoy coffee.

But what about energy drinks? Here’s the thing: nothing is off-limits when you follow a balanced lifestyle. I do not recommend relying on an energy drink every single day. However, when I do grab one off the shelf, it will most likely be Celsius. While other brands like Monster and Bang offer nearly identical caffeine contents, some other additives and ingredients aren’t exactly ideal for providing feel-good energy. You probably won’t ever see me in the check-out line with a Red Bull. One can of Red Bull only provides 80 milligrams of caffeine, but you’re also getting 27 grams of added sugars. 

Caffeine consumption in moderation can be beneficial for a little extra boost of energy and alertness before a long day of work, school, or activity. However, our bodies can also function just fine without it. Make sure you do your research. It is important that you find a clean, trustworthy source if you are exploring caffeine options outside of black coffee or tea. A controlled amount of clean caffeine will make little difference in your health goals. As with all things, balance and moderation allow room for everything! And yes, that does include a Starbucks Sugar Cookie Latte every now and then.


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