CAFFEINE 101 – How much is too much? Print

Healthier energy: cold brew iced coffees and matcha tea smoothies

We all love a good cup of morning brew or an afternoon pick-me-up with our favorite caffeinated beverage, but how much is too much and are some choices better than others? Find out the answers to these questions and how to enjoy caffeine without feeling guilty. Also, learn what ingredients go into the healthiest cold brew and matcha smoothies this summer that are much healthier options than traditional sugar-laden iced frappuccinos.

This blog post is sponsored by my client Jugo Juice www.jugojuice.com

What is caffeine and where do we get it?

Caffeine is a stimulant that stimulates the central nervous system.

It is found in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and energy beverages and shots containing ingredients such as guarana (a Brazilian plant whose seeds are high in caffeine) and yerba mate (a South American herb used to make tea). You can also find caffeine in pills, some alcohol beverages and sports gels.

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Estimated caffeine content of various foods and beverages  

  • 1 cup (250 ml) brewed coffee: 100-170 mg
  • 1 oz (30 ml) espresso: 40-90 mg
  • 1 cup (250 ml) black tea: 40-80 mg
  • 1 cup (250 ml) green, white or oolong tea: 25-50 mgmatcha tea powder
  • 1 can of cola (355 ml): 30 mg
  • 1 can of an energy drink (250-500 ml): 80-250 mg
  • 1 milk chocolate bar (40 g): 10-15 mg of caffeine
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (40 g): 25-40 mg of caffeine
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chocolate milk: 3-5 mg
  • 1 caffeine tablet: 100-200 mg
  • 1 bottle sport energy shots: 100-150 mg
  • 1 sport gel: 0-40 mg

Source: Canadian Nutrient File and product labels

What are some of the surprising health benefits of caffeine?

Contrary to popular belief drinking some coffee or having moderate caffeine in your diet as an adult may not be so bad after all.

  • Caffeine is, of course, best known for boosting mental alertness and helping lessen fatigue.
  • Since caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases alertness, it can be performance enhancing for athletes (especially endurance athletes in sports such as triathlon and cycling). Caffeine before or during sports can help delay fatigue, increase endurance and simply make an athlete feel like the exercise is less difficult overall.
  • Research has also shown that moderate coffee consumption (3-4 cups per day has been linked to a longer lifespan. Other research has found that coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes.

There has also been positive research specifically about green tea such as matcha green tea:

  • Research shows drinking green tea may be good for reducing heart disease, lowering the risk of cancer (such as prostate, breast and stomach cancer) and may improve cognitive function in older adults.
  • Green tea contains beneficial antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage and prevent disease.

If you don’t like coffee or tea that is not a problem, but if you do enjoy caffeine containing beverages there is no need to feel guilty if you consume these in a reasonable amount.

How much caffeine is too much?

HEALTHY ADULTS

  • Adults over 18 years of age are advised to have less than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day). This is the amount found in approximately two to three, 8-oz (250 ml) cups of coffee.
  • The above amount of caffeine has been studied in research for healthy adults and is NOT associated with adverse effects such as toxicity, changes in behavior, cardiovascular effects or increased incidence of cancer. This amount of caffeine also does not negatively influence your bone health as long as you are consuming enough calcium from foods and/or supplements.
  • Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If too much caffeine is consumed it can cacoffee beansuse insomnia, anxiety, irritability, rapid heart rate, stomach upset and headaches. 
  • If you are consuming too much caffeine, reduce your intake gradually to avoid uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue and headaches.

PREGNANCY

  • Caffeine passes through the placenta to a baby and babies take longer to process caffeine.
  • Pregnant women are advised to consume less than 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day.  This is the amount in about one or two 8-oz (250 ml) cups of coffee per day.

KIDS

  • Health Canada recommends kids age 12 and under consume no more than 2.5 mg/kilogram of body weight. Although weight is highly variable among children, this is approximately:
    • 45 mg/day or less for kids aged 4-6 years
    • 62 mg/day or less for kids aged 7-9 years
    • 85 mg/day or less for kids aged 10-12 years
  • Although no current guideline for teenagers exist, a guideline of 2.5 mg/kilogram of body weight is also likely a good idea. 

Choosing the healthiest caffeinated beverages

If you are reaching for a caffeinated beverage or iced coffee/tea the BEST choices are those that have:

  • Ingredients your grandparents would recognize as food
  • Simple foods with labels that your kids can read
  • No added sugar
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Are blended fresh in front of you

What goes into the healthiest iced coffee or cold brew:

  1. Start with milk, almond milk or coconut milk
  2. Add an espresso shot or cold brew coffee
    • Cold brew coffee is made by grinding coffee beans coarsely and combining with cold water and letting it infuse overnight for about 12 hours and then straining. This allows a smooth flavor that is perfect for iced coffee. If making at home start with 1/4 cup of coffee beans steeped in 1 cup of water and adjust with more or less water depending on how strong you like it.
  3. Add ice
  4. Optional: Add some nutrition and natural sweetness with dates, banana, cinnamon or ginger.
  5. Blend and enjoy!

What goes into a healthy cold matcha tea smoothie:

  1. Start with unsweetened juice
  2. Add fresh or frozen unsweetened whole fruit such as berries, peaches, dragonfruit, pineapple or apple.
  3. Add some greens such as spinach, kale or fresh mint
  4. Add pure unsweetened matcha green tea powder
  5. Add ice
  6. Blend and enjoy!

If you don’t want to make one at home or are need a healthy energizing beverage on the run try the new line of Cold Brew Smoothies and Matcha Green Tea smoothies at Jugo Juice. You can count on the same simple ingredients and no added sugar just like you made it at home.

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
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