Are you one of the many Americans who just can’t start the day without a cup of coffee? Do you rely on diet soda to get you through an afternoon slump? Does skipping a daily dose of caffeine leave you with a splitting headache? Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions may mean that your body has come to rely on caffeine. While caffeine is not outright harmful to most people, it can—in addition to making you jumpy or irritable—potentially contribute to certain health problems, particularly if you overdo it.
For most people, 200 to 300 micrograms of caffeine per day is a safe amount. If you’re more sensitive to the stimulant, though, you may want to consume less. To find out roughly how much caffeine you’re consuming daily, use this helpful guide:
How Much Caffeine Is in Your Diet?
- Instant (27-173mg per 8oz serving)
- Decaffeinated (3-12mg per 8oz serving)
- Regular (103-160mg per 8oz serving)
- Espresso (30-90mg per 1oz serving)
Tea, brewed (40-120mg per 8oz serving)
Soft drinks (0-71mg per 12oz serving)
Energy drinks (20-286mg per 8oz serving)
- Milk chocolate (6mg per 1oz)
- Dark chocolate (21mg per 1oz)
- Coffee ice cream (50-84mg per 8oz)
Cutting Back: Avoiding Caffeine Withdrawal
If you have decided that it is time to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, it’s best to do so slowly. Stopping abruptly may give you headaches that only respond to caffeine, leave you feeling exceptionally tired or cause you to have problems paying attention.
To avoid these effects of caffeine withdrawal, gradually trim your caffeine intake over the course of a week. These tips can help:
- Mix decaffeinated coffee in with your regular coffee.
- Have a sip of water for each sip of your coffee, tea or soda.
- Steep your tea for less time, making it less potent.
And remember: Caffeine isn’t the only way to put pep in your step. Starting the day with a morning walk, for example, can leave you feeling alive and ready to take on the day, too.