Caffeine, Friend or Foe?

Some emphasize its importance, others warn you from its effect – so what is the big secret? Should we or should we not have our cup of coffee? Coffee

Well, as with SO many other things, there are pros and cons of caffeine. A little important reminder, when we say “caffeine” do not automatically just think COFFEEEEE. Yes, coffee does contain caffeine, but so does tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, and even certain medications. What differs among-st these is the caffeine content. To make this a lot easier for you and me, I made the pretty table here to show you the differences in content (for space purposes, I tabulated only beverages) – then we can start explaining what these numbers mean to you.

Beverage Size Caffeine
Coffee
Espresso 30ml (1oz) 40-74mg
Generic brewed coffee 240ml (8oz) 95-200mg
Instant coffee 240ml (8oz) 27-173mg
Instant coffee decaffeinated 240ml (8oz) 2-12mg
Tea
Black tea 240ml (8oz) 14-61mg
Green tea 240ml (8oz) 24-40
Soft Drinks
7up 355ml (12oz) 0 mg
Sprite 355ml (12oz) 0 mg
Coca-cola classic 355ml (12oz) 30-35mg
Coca-cola zero 355ml (12oz) 35mg
Diet coke 355ml (12oz) 38-47mg
Diet pepsi 355ml (12oz) 27-37mg
Pepsi 355ml (12oz) 32-39mg

coffee and tea

Ok so let us break this down. Generally, if you are someone not sensitive to caffeine, you would be able to have 200-300mg of caffeine daily (if you refer back to the pretty table, that tells us between 2-4cups of brewed coffee for example), which is considered the “recommended maximum” amount of caffeine. You should not experience any of the side effects of caffeine, which would include: restlessness; anxiety; rapid heartbeats;  irritability; muscle tremors (this is mainly because caffeine is a stimulant) AND increased urination (remember diuretics from this post?). Long term side effects may include  fatigue and insomnia – don’t sleep at night and then you need your coffee fix in the morning to wake up (if any of this sounds familiar, you might want to switch one of your cups to decaf).

If you ARE sticking to the acceptable range of below 300mg then rejoice! Some of the benefits of moderate consumption of caffeine include:  antioxidants which helps your body attack free radicals (i.e.nasty stuff [scientific term, true story!] that make you age and wrinkle and are linked to cancer and heart disease); makes you alert and is said to improve concentration (this is the secret of that glorious morning cuppa coffee); and if you’re an athlete – you might even want a little bit of caffeine pre-workout to get yourself in an extra energetic and enduring mood!

 

Dietitian’s take home message

A few things to keep in mind:

1- There are differences in caffeine levels that depend on how you PREPARE your caffeinated beverage of choice (so brewing vs instant etc.. brewing having more caffeine)

2- If you are a heavy caffeine consumer, stopping cold turkey is NOT advised, just cut down slowly to the acceptable level because caffeine does cause withdrawal symptoms

3- Caffeine is not considered “addictive” as much as it becomes a habit, this is not to say that stopping it won’t be a (or cause a) headache (see my point no.2)

4- Drink with caution and moderation (1-2cups) when pregnant or breastfeeding (you might really enjoy the cup, but your baby will be too energetic and really tight on space – go easy on him/her)

T

for more details, read the references below

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3 thoughts on “Caffeine, Friend or Foe?”

    1. Yes there is caffeine in hot chocolate but in much much smaller amounts. It estimated that a tbsp of cocoa has 8mg of caffeine, so I would assume a cup of hot chocolate would have a similar amount 🙂 it shouldn’t be problematic or cause alertness unless you are very sensitive to caffeine.

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