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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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How Caffeine Affects Your Body

Understanding the effects of caffeine on your body.

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Coffee cup in saucer.Like most busy people, I occasionally get those mid-day slumps where I begin to lose energy and feel sluggish. For most, this results in a caffeine fix (not for me…I get up and MOVE and eat a low glycemic snack), but did you ever think about what it might be doing to your body?

Caffeine is a naturally-occurring drug found in leaves and seeds. It is also artificially made and added to some of our favorite products. Caffeine provides alertness and a quick energy boost, but can also lead you to crash and become mentally and physically dependent on it. 

Caffeine can increase your mental alertness, but higher doses have also been found to cause side effects, including:

  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • the jitters

Excess caffeine can also interfere with your normal sleep pattern. As you go through your daily routine, you may not necessarily feel these effects, but this could be a sign that you are becoming dependent on caffeine and need more of it.

Caffeine may give us temporary energy boosts, but too much of it can lead to some long-term problems including:

  • bone loss from calcium depletion, which can lead to osteoporosis
  • aggravation of certain heart problems
  • intensified feelings of stress and anxiety
  • headaches
  • insomnia

Caffeine is found in several products including soda, coffee, energy drinks, tea, chocolate, and even some medicines. It can also sneak into products including:

  • coffee ice cream
  • Excedrin
  • fortified waters that contain Guarana
  • chocolate

It is recommended that you consume caffeine in moderation by having 200-300 mg of caffeine—roughly one to two cups (8 oz each) of coffee—per day. Although consuming even 100 mg can lead to dependence on caffeine. To limit your coffee intake, cut back to one cup a day if you’re having more, and start slowly introducing non-caffeinated beverages into your diet such as water, caffeine-free tea, and decaf coffee.

Changing your caffeine intake can be challenging, but it will do your body good! For natural energy boosters try exercising, getting eight hours of sleep per night, and eating whole foods. Now that’s the energy I approve of!

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Tags: Hydration , Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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