Coffee — for most of us, it's a non-negotiable morning staple. And while how you make your coffee differs from person to person, the one thing that remains the same is a singular fact: Coffee contains caffeine. (Even trace amounts can be found in decaf.)
Though caffeine in coffee can affect everyone differently, here's what you need to know about what your cup of joe contains.
Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.
How much caffeine is in an average sized cup of coffee?
Depending on the way you brew your coffee as well as the type and brand, one 8 oz. cup of coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine. "Coffees brewed with smaller grounds, like espressos, will have a slightly higher caffeine concentration than those brewed with larger grounds, like a French Press," Alex Duo, health coach and Co-Creator of Ryan and Alex Duo Life, tells Lively.
Is 200mg of caffeine a lot?
"While 200mg of caffeine may not seem like a lot, it will still cement your dependence on coffee," Duo says. "Recently, I cut my coffee out cold-turkey after consuming around 120mg of caffeine a day. I battled days of headaches and even severe nausea."
Note: The average American consumes around 3 cups of coffee a day, according to the National Coffee Association, totaling about 300mg of caffeine.
Studies have found that as little as 100mg of caffeine a day fuels a coffee dependence, meaning if you miss a day or two, you may experience afternoon headaches, says Duo.
Is 600mg of caffeine too much?
"Evaluating whether you drink too much coffee is a personal decision," Duo says. "If you find that your sleep or overall mood is affected, then it’s a sign to back off."
In general, though, quitting coffee completely isn’t always the answer, as studies have found that coffee is high in antioxidants. Instead, consider reducing your coffee consumption, as anything above 400mg of caffeine is thought to be over-stimulating.
Up to 400mg of caffeine generally appears to be safe for most healthy adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. But, you may start feeling nauseous or anxious or have difficulty sleeping if you take too much.
"If you consume 600mg of caffeine or more, it's a danger zone that can lead to restlessness, insomnia, stomach upset, racing heart and irritability," Elliot Reimers, NASM Nutrition Coach at RaveReviews.
How do you flush caffeine out of your system?
The only way to flush caffeine out of your system is with time, Duo tells Lively. Just like nuclear material (but safe to drink), caffeine has a half-life, meaning any cup of coffee you drink past 3 p.m. will still have caffeine circulating your body at 9 p.m. If you wish to cut out coffee, Duo recommends cutting it out completely, cold turkey, instead of weaning off of it.
"Both methods are painful and cause headaches, but those who wean themselves off of coffee are simply prolonging the pain," Duo says. "Generally, caffeine withdrawal symptoms of headaches, moodiness, and nausea will subside in 2 to 9 days."
How much caffeine should you drink in a day?
"Small amounts of caffeine are not harmful. In fact, coffee is incredibly nutritious," says Duo. "However, if you wish not to have a caffeine dependence, stick to less than 100mg of coffee a day (about 1 small cup)."
And, caffeine is often a go-to drink among athletes. It helps stimulate the nervous system to reduce fatigue and avoid drowsiness,** says Reimers.
For some, this may even be too much, so take some time to experiment to find your caffeine sweet spot. As mentioned above, 400mg per day is typically the sweet spot, so try not to overdo it. But remember, caffeine will affect everyone differently.