Caffeine has been stimulating Americans with its get-up-and-go power for years. Up to 90 percent of Americans consume some sort of caffeine to get through their days. The U.S. has made caffeine a big part of its morning ritual, with that morning zip from coffee or energy drinks an essential part of the day. Without this morning stimulant to sharpen the mind and calm the nerves, most Americans would grumble at the start of their workday, or any day at all for that matter.
In reality, caffeine is a very powerful drug and can make most peoples’ minds crave its addictive influence. When consuming anything within your diet, moderation is the key. Overloading this substance in the body can have very adverse side effects, and create a possible addiction.
The recommended amount of daily caffeine consumption is 300 milligrams (about two cups of coffee). But most Americans consume on average 600 mg or more per day. If you are drinking four 8 oz. cups or more of coffee or energy drinks a day, you are in the upper ranges of abusing this drug.
The international medical community does recognize caffeine withdrawal as a medical syndrome, and drinking more than the recommended amount will put you into this category. These shocking facts may curb some of your over-indulgence when that next coffee craving or energy drink fix comes to mind, if your insomnia doesn’t get to you first. That’s right: Too much caffeine during the day causes insomnia at night, making that next morning start even tougher without our fix of the good stuff. Irritability can be another side effect of the withdrawal symptoms, making the brain crave caffeine to stay awake.
Coffee can have a varied range of caffeine in each 8 oz. cup. Ground coffee, using the home-brewed drip method, can have anywhere from 100 to 200 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. serving. The caffeine intensity can vary among famous brand coffees. Starbucks® and McDonalds® have much less than your home-brewed Maxwell House. These restaurant-bought coffees and lattés are on the lower end of caffeine for three to five times the price. (Only Starbucks® Pike Place has more than 330mg in a 16 oz. serving.), Caffeine-wise, you may want to worry about the coffee you make at home first.
Energy drinks and soft drinks can really throw you for a loop with their caffeine levels. Energy drinks seem to be all the rage, but surprisingly they’re also on the low end of the scale. Red Bull® has 80 mg in an 8.4 oz. can, whereas Monster® and Rockstar® have 80 mg in an 8 oz. serving. Topping the charts of the energy drinks is 5 Hour Energy® with 207 mg in a 2 oz. serving. Soft drinks do not follow far behind with their caffeine production. RC Cola tops the chart at 48 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. serving, followed by Coca-Cola® (even diet) with 47 mg. By comparison, Pepsi® contains far less, with only 37 mg, followed by Dr Pepper® at 36 mg.
Chocolate cannot be left off the list, holding as much as 70 mg in a 2 oz. serving of Baker’s chocolate. Sweet or dark chocolate is not far behind, with 40 mg for a 2 oz. serving, followed by 12 mg in a 2 oz. piece of milk chocolate.
Tea is also another caffeine culprit. The longer you brew tea, the more caffeine can be extracted from the leaf. A one-minute brewed tea can have 9 to 33 mg, whereas a three-minute tea can have 20 to 50mg. Now the next time your energy is feeling low, don’t be afraid to have some caffeine. Just remember to know how much is in the cup or glass before it becomes a problem.
Andy Kress is a certified fitness trainer, yoga instructor and nutritional counselor in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
For more nutritional tips or inspired exercise routines, reach him at 954-789-3930 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org