Caffeine is deeply ingrained in nearly every culture of the world. No matter where you travel, you’ll find a local coffee, tea, or other concoction containing this invigorating compound. However, like so many habits, it’s possible to take caffeine consumption too far and cause some unintended consequences.
It’s easy to overdo the caffeine in a world where it’s so accepted and accessible, but how many cups of coffee are too many? How do you know if all those milligrams of caffeine are doing more harm than good for your body and mind, and what are some tips to lower caffeine intake?
In this article, we’ll look at the possible downsides of too much caffeine and offer some alternatives to caffeinated beverages to keep you up and running throughout the day.
How does caffeine work in the body?
Caffeine is a compound that stimulates activity in the brain and the nervous system. It works in several ways, mainly by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. These receptors are typically responsible for making us feel sleepy or drowsy, and when blocked, the result is a quick boost in alertness and awakeness.
The benefits of caffeine are undeniable, and studies offer evidence for its cognition-boosting benefits and even the potential to help burn fat. Caffeine works extremely quickly—within five to ten minutes in some cases—which is why you feel “perked” up after just a few sips of that 8-ounce cup of coffee in the morning.
Of course, the more we use a particular substance, the more we wear down our receptors and the less we get from each dose. This explains why long-time caffeine users experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, when they don’t get their morning cup or why they feel like they sometimes need an even higher amount of caffeine to get moving.
How much caffeine is too much?
From black tea to espresso to energy drinks and energy shots, there’s no doubt that caffeine works—and the multi-billion dollar coffee, tea, and supplement industry only prove this fact.
By blocking the adenosine receptors in the brain, caffeine does a great job of reducing feelings of sleepiness and giving us an instant boost. The other feel-good chemicals released by caffeine’s interaction with the brain and nervous system also serve to help us get motivated and ready to complete the tasks in front of us.
However, it’s possible to take caffeine’s effects too far, whether you use too much in a short timeframe or rely on it too heavily despite sleep deprivation. Remember that adenosine receptors are there for a reason: they produce signals that we aren’t fully rested and might need to slow down.
Even still, the reliance on caffeine can continue, and the cycle doesn’t stop unless we consciously choose to reduce or suspend our consumption entirely. This is difficult, of course, in a world where achieving restful sleep is easier said than done, and the pressures of professional and personal lives keep us in the caffeine loop.
With that said, there are some clear signs to watch if you’ve consumed too much caffeine in a single day. Once you surpass the 250 mg mark (roughly three cups of strong coffee), you may start to feel nervous and anxious or experience racing thoughts that aren’t productive.
At higher amounts, you might notice physical symptoms of too much caffeine, including shakiness or “jitters” that make it feel impossible to sit still. Meanwhile, your mental function may be a step or two behind, making it hard to get things done or relax on a break. These symptoms can appear around 300 to 400 mg, even for experienced users.
It’s up to you to determine how much caffeine you can reasonably handle in a day. If you recognize some of these side effects, you could be leaning too heavily on the substance as a substitute for rest and recovery.
Is too much caffeine dangerous?
Drinking that extra cup of coffee won’t cause a lethal caffeine overdose in healthy adults—and the discomfort that comes from one too many coffees isn’t necessarily dangerous. However, it can leave you feeling distressed and depleted.
That said, caffeine can reach toxic levels in the body around one gram, and people have been hospitalized when consuming two grams or more.
At these levels, caffeine can cause a short-circuiting effect on the heart and lungs, increasing heart rate and respiration to unhealthy speeds.
This is unlikely to happen with your usual cup or two of coffee or tea, but these dangers are worth considering if you start to push your limits of daily consumption.
Safe levels of caffeine content can depend on factors like your metabolism and body weight, and you may be more susceptible to dangerous side effects if you have conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease. The right amount of caffeine for you can also depend on your tolerance—some people are naturally more sensitive to caffeine and certain caffeine sources.
How can I lower my caffeine intake?
If you’re not getting the results you want from moderate amounts of caffeine or are concerned about deep-seated symptoms of burnout or trouble sleeping, it could be time to think about drinking less caffeine.
First off, know that you’re not alone in your efforts to reduce caffeine. More people are beginning to recognize that caffeine has a dark side full of unpleasant side effects, and there are many resources and supplements to help change course.
Also, consider that your current method of caffeine consumption may not be serving you, and a simple switch in format might be beneficial. Coffee, for example, is an extremely potent version of caffeine that can also be harsh on the stomach. Green tea, conversely, offers a gentler type of caffeine and also L-theanine for a calming effect.
Beyond caffeine content alone, the source of your caffeine is also important for your wellness as a whole. Green coffee beans, for example, may provide a wealth of health benefits over their roasted counterparts. From blood pressure support to weight management, soothing properties, and antioxidants, green coffee beans may be a more healthful choice—and they have gentler levels of caffeine.*
Still, reducing caffeine altogether can be the right move for some people. Here are some tips to get started.
CBG is a cannabinoid found in low amounts in the cannabis plant. It’s similar to CBD in that it doesn’t produce psychoactive effects, but it features energizing properties that may serve as a viable caffeine alternative.
You can add a CBG tincture to your morning coffee and only drink one cup instead of two, or use a CBG gummy for a more efficient approach. Alternatively, drop a serving of our broad spectrum energy water enhancer in your morning glass of water to get a precise serving of morning CBD.
This water enhancer contains 100 mg of caffeine from green coffee beans—which provides a slow, jitter-free source of energy. As opposed to roasted coffee beans, the green coffee bean is rich in polyphenols and may work to support weight management, healthy blood sugar levels, and even cholesterol levels already within the healthy range.*
Our broad spectrum energy water enhancer also contains vitamins B6, B12, and C to support a healthy metabolism, immune function, and overall wellness—with added guayusa for natural feelings of energy.*
Drink more water
Dehydration is all too common nowadays, and many people find themselves operating at lower-than-optimal levels due to inconsistent water intake. Hydration with caffeine-free beverages should be your top priority if your goal is to reduce caffeine intake, since your body may be stripped of electrolytes and other key compounds.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water first thing in the morning and throughout the day. You’ll probably notice fewer caffeine cravings and a better sense of overall health.
Practice good sleep hygiene
It can sometimes seem like sleep is beyond our control, but your habits have a considerable effect on the quality and consistency of your sleep. Caffeine dependence and sleep deprivation usually go hand in hand, so carve out a weekend to restore your sleep and establish a good schedule.
Sleep hygiene starts in the morning with natural sun exposure, so get outside soon after waking and catch some rays if available. Limit caffeine consumption after noon, and when it comes time to wind down, turn off the technology and relax with a cup of herbal tea.
A CBN-rich hemp extract can also prime your ECS for deep sleep and help you wake up energized the next day.*
What are the benefits of CBG?
We briefly touched on CBG as a possible caffeine alternative or supporting supplement, but what does this compound actually do? Here’s a closer look at the benefits of CBG and how it can help you move away from caffeine reliance.*
May support overall feelings of energy*
Knowing the difference between sustained energy and the artificial caffeine boost is key to achieving balance and consistency in your routine. CBG interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, helping to support our natural energy production without blocking adenosine or skyrocketing stress.*
May support feelings of mental clarity and focus*
Caffeine might help you focus at first, but cortisol and adrenaline can eventually cloud your cognition. CBG, conversely, works with your ECS to naturally increase mental clarity and help you focus on the task at hand without the side effects of caffeine.*
It’s worth noting that caffeine and CBG are highly complementary, and you may find that you get more from your daily coffee with CBG added to the mix. With CBG as a supporting compound, you can slowly reduce that reliance on caffeine and get back to a state of balance and clarity.
The bottom line
Caffeine is a universal compound and isn’t going anywhere. The problem is that too many of us depend on caffeine to wake up and get through the world day, even when faced with noticeable downsides.
With CBG, hydration, and sleep hygiene methods, you can finally reduce your caffeine intake in a safe and smart way.
While you might not wish to say goodbye to caffeine for good, these tips can help you live a balanced life with real energy and full focus when it matters most.