Q. How much caffeine is too much?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 28 February 2013.
Tagged: caffeine, coffee, concentration, drinks, energy, health, sleep

Q. How much caffeine is too much?

A. If  you're having trouble sleeping or experiencing an upset stomach (acidity,  indigestion), headaches, shakiness or palpitations (coffee 'jitters'), then  excess caffeine could well be the reason.

Most of us can handle around 300mg of caffeine a day without problems. This  translates to:

  • 4 or 5 cups of instant coffee    OR
  • 3  shots of espresso (one latte, one short black or one cappuccino all start with a  shot)    OR
  • 3 or 4 energy drinks (eg Red Bull, V).

Consume more than this and you're heading for 'hyper' territory.

Three tips to cut down on caffeine:

1. Cut down on the  number of coffees you drink but do it gradually - one cup less each day.

2. Don't go 'cold turkey' as you'll trigger the caffeine withdrawal syndrome - throbbing  headaches, tiredness, yawning and lethargy which lasts for a couple of days but  is bad enough to send you screaming back to caffeine.

3.  Aim to have your last coffee by 3pm so the caffeine can work itself through your  system before bedtime. Instead of coffee you can:

» switch to decaf

» switch to regular or green tea, which has one-half to one-third the caffeine.

» try a herbal infusion like  lemon and ginger or chamomile, especially after dinner when you're looking for a  good night's sleep.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.