Can You Have Too Much Coffee?

I know it may sound like a silly question—after all, too much caffeine is definitely bad for you! The stimulant effects of caffeine will last for up to 10 hours, and can mess with your central nervous system. The better question here should be: how much is too much coffee? What is the limit of caffeine you should be consuming per day? Below, we take a closer look at coffee to give you a clear answer to this question…

The Benefits of Coffee are Undeniable

We all know that coffee can give you that "kick" to get your brain jump-started in the morning, or to keep you going when you're sleepy. Coffee shuts off the adenosine receptors in your brain that sense when you're tired. Basically, it tricks your brain into feeling more awake, so you don't notice how tired you are. It can boost your metabolism and keep you going at the gym for longer. It may even be able to reduce pain and muscular fatigue so you can push your body harder without tiring.

Plus, It's So Damn Tasty!

I mean, if there's any one reason to drink coffee, it's the taste. There's something wonderful about the complex bitterness of coffee, with all its subtle flavors—better than a fine wine. Add in a bit of sweetness and fat (milk) to balance out the bitterness and acidity of the coffee, and you have perfection in a cup. No matter how you drink your coffee, there's no denying that it is a truly wonderful drink.

But It's Not All Good

Remember how caffeine shuts off the adenosine receptors in our brains? This "tricking your brain" means that it doesn't actually give you energy—it simply stops you from realizing how tired you are. When the energy-boosting effects of the caffeine wear off, you end up feeling MORE tired than you would have had you not had that cup of coffee. Worse: caffeine also stimulates your central nervous system. The stimulant effects on our nervous system last far longer than the anti-sleepiness effects. Thus, you may feel jittery or nervous even after you've come down from the energy high.

We All Metabolize Caffeine In Our Own Way

Some people can't handle coffee—the caffeine makes them restless, unable to sleep, fidgety, nervous, or jittery. Even just a bit of black or green tea can have that effect, so imagine how much more noticeable it would be with the heavy dose of caffeine in coffee. For some people, even a small amount of caffeine is too much.

The "Safe" Amount Per Day

If you want to drink coffee but don't want to overdo it, stick with 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Each 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 100 milligrams of caffeine, so that means four of those cups per day. Considering that most coffee mugs and Starbucks cups hold upwards of 12 ounces, that means more like 2-3 cups of coffee per day MAXIMUM. If you notice negative side effects (jitters, nervousness, sleep problems, etc.), it's time to cut back on the coffee!

Keep It in Check

The truth is that caffeine is good in moderation, but out of control it can lead to problems. The benefits mentioned above will only outweigh the negative if you keep your caffeine intake in check. If you're drinking a lot of coffee per day (more than 6 cups), perhaps it's time to wean yourself off and give your body a break. After a few weeks or months caffeine-free, you can start drinking coffee again but keep your intake in check.

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