It’s no secret that we love our coffee. On average, more than half of us drink nearly 28 ounces of it every day — that’s about 80 gallons a year! Yet, is all that coffee good for you? Despite a few myths to the contrary, the benefits of coffee can extend well beyond keeping you mentally alert, regardless if you prefer a cappuccino or a cold brew.1
When you think about what’s in coffee, caffeine probably comes to mind first — and you’re on the right track. The amount of caffeine in your daily brew varies depending on the type of bean, how it’s roasted and brewed, and the size of your mug; however, the average 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains 108 milligrams of caffeine.2 So, is caffeine good for you?
Since you’ve probably heard a few negative things about caffeine, let’s clear up some of the most common myths surrounding caffeine consumption and highlight the many benefits of caffeine.
Caffeine is Not Dehydrating
Because of the mild diuretic effect caffeine can have, you’ve probably heard plenty of people claim that both coffee and caffeine are dehydrating. In fact, the water in most caffeinated beverages makes up for the diuretic effect. Plus, if you’re taking a natural supplement containing caffeine, there’s a good chance you’re also taking it with water. There is no evidence showing that consuming coffee or caffeine will leave you dehydrated.3
Caffeine Doesn’t Cause Insomnia
This myth is most likely related to a misunderstanding about how long caffeine stays in your system. Unless you’re trying to pull an all-nighter, which we don’t recommend, just don’t consume caffeine late in the day. Generally, you shouldn’t drink caffeinated beverages or take caffeine supplements later than six hours before your bedtime. If you’re sensitive to caffeine you might want to avoid it a little earlier, perhaps after noon or lunch time. Your body will process about 50 percent of consumed caffeine within five to seven hours, and 75 percent after eight to ten hours.4
Potential Benefits of Caffeine
You already know caffeine has energizing benefits and can help fight fatigue, but did you know it can help improve your focus, boost endurance, speed up reaction times, and elevate your mood? Caffeine may also help with certain pains and support weight management, and it’s one of the most common stimulants used by athletes.5 Most of the benefits of caffeine come from its stimulating effects on your brain, heart, muscles, and the mechanisms that control blood pressure.
If you aren’t a fan of coffee or just prefer the convenience of supplements, you can get many of the same benefits in capsule form with caffeine supplements, or full-spectrum, green coffee bean extracts.
How Much Caffeine Should You Consume?
How much caffeine is too much? If you don’t consume caffeine often, you may be more sensitive to its stimulating effects. Everyone’s chemistry is unique, but most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day6 — that’s between 3 and 4 cups of coffee per day. But if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding or taking medications, you should talk to your doctor first about your caffeine limits, caffeine dosage recommendations and potential interactions.
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1 Coffee by the Numbers: Harvard University. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/facts/ (Accessed 10/12/2017)
2 Caffeine Comparisons: Harvard University. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/caffeine/ (Accessed 10/12/2017)
3 No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population. PLOS. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0084154 (Accessed 10/12/2017)
4 Caffeine Myths and Facts: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/caffeine-myths-and-facts#2-3 (Accessed 10/12/2017)
5 Caffeine: WebMD https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-979-caffeine.aspx?activeingredientid=979 (Accessed 10/12/2017)
6 Caffeine: How much is too much?: Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678?pg=1 (Accessed 10/12/2017)