Written by FH Contributor, Claudia Carrillo

Do you start your mornings with a hot, or iced, cup of bean juice? Do you enjoy caffeinated drinks in the afternoon as a pick-me-up to finish the day strong? Can you go a day without caffeine? Ladies, if your answer was yes to at least 2 of the 3 questions, you might be addicted to caffeine! Just maybe, and there is no shame in that, but it is important to know what caffeine is and how it can impact your body. Constantly skipping meals and drinking coffee in excess is not the best for your energy levels and hormones.

Naturally occurring caffeine is the main component of coffee, teas, and chocolate. Yes, chocolate too! Foods that contain naturally-occurring caffeine are generally higher in other nutrients too, like magnesium and potassium. Magnesium is a stellar mineral that is involved in many metabolic reactions in the body and has many benefits including reducing the risk for heart disease, relieving constipation, and easing PMS symptoms like fatigue and painful periods. We love coffee because it packs in so much nutrition and it’s a source of antioxidants that comes with many health benefits. 

Have you ever felt the jitters after a big cup of coffee? If yes, it is because caffeine is considered a stimulant to the nervous system. Stimulants suppress sleepiness to help you stay awake and alert. However, some people are more affected by caffeine than others. Genetics plays a role in that. It is thought that the more you drink it, the less affected you are by it, hence the more tolerance you build. Some people may also have a sensitivity to caffeine and may be at risk for other symptoms like anxiety and headaches. Studies show that chronic coffee drinkers do develop tolerance towards the effects of caffeine. The threshold of what is chronic is not specified and is thought to be individual-based, but a general recommendation for adults is about 300-400 mg or 3-4 cups per day. If you don’t tolerate caffeine well, drinking less might be better for you.

So we know coffee is a stimulant, but in excess, it may also contribute to increased cortisol secretion in the body. Caffeine affects each individual differently, but if you’re someone who has chronic stress already and you become dependent on caffeine you might be adding more fuel to the fire. 

Caffeine can also be added to some products like sodas and energy drinks. Synthetic caffeine, as it is called, has an almost identical structure to naturally occurring. However, studies show that it is absorbed and affects the nervous system about 10 minutes before naturally-occurring caffeine would. 

So what should you do if a long night awaits you and you feel the urge to grab a cup of coffee? Or you missed your afternoon coffee and need an energy boost?

Try these instead:

  • Decaf coffee: has a way lower caffeine content than regular coffee. For comparison, 8 oz of coffee typically contains 96 mg of caffeine. Decaf only contains 2 mg. Decaf beans have a slightly higher amount of fat and the health benefits, taste, and nutrient content compared to regular coffee is about the same. So, if you want the taste and feel of your favorite cup of coffee later in the day, this is a great option!
  • Matcha tea: With 19-44 mg of caffeine in 8 oz of matcha, this drink serves as a good alternative to limit caffeine or to substitute your second or third coffee of the day. The taste is fairly similar to green tea, so if you don’t like green tea maybe you’ll like our next option better. 
  • Chai tea: With 26 mg of caffeine, chai tea is also at the lower end of caffeine quantity compared to coffees. Chai tea has a peculiar sweet yet spicy flavor that is a WINNER in our book.

Other ways to increase energy – get some sun, increase protein at breakfast and eat regularly to keep your blood sugars stable, hydrate, sleep routine, take breaks, add movement, and take necessary supplements. Listen to your body and see what it’s trying to tell you. And if you’re already living a healthy lifestyle with no major issues with chronic stress, coffee probably won’t be your problem.

Most people don’t stop and think about what is in their drinks, but I bet after reading this article, you’ll be paying more attention to how your body feels after drinking a caffeinated drink,

How do you enjoy your coffee?