Assuming your mission is supreme health and well-being, you’ll want to monitor your caffeine intake. While some caffeine can have notable health benefits, consuming copious amounts may disrupt your ability to achieve your fitness goals and present the most powerful version of yourself.
If you’ve been following the blog, you know how strongly I feel about the upside to consuming black coffee. I drink it every day, liberally. On average, I go through 3 cups per 24 hours and am no stranger to bumping up against the 4 cup threshold. From mayoclinic.org:
Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks
I’m not sure why my antioxidant rich elixir was dumped into a sentence with cola and energy shot drinks, but I suppose that’s immaterial for the purpose of this discussion. Moving on.
This morning, in a typical clubhouse discussion, my friend Travis and I discussed his fatigue on certain days. He asked me about pushing through and getting his sessions in, even when he’s exhausted. He sometimes has to decide to engage in his weight training with less than optimal energy levels. Rapidly, my mind went to the potential reasons for his lethargy. I recalled a conversation in which he shared his coffee intake with me.
“Trav,” I said, “How much coffee are you drinking these days?”
“8 cups,” he said. He proceeded to joke. “And maybe another after my workout,” as he flashed a grin.
For context, Travis is a badass; he’s as strong as an ox and in tremendous shape. But damn, that’s a sea of coffee. I’m not certain he realizes how his quantities impact his general energy levels, even without factoring in the sweetener. Sure, he uses coconut sugar, but c’mon, 8 times a day will put even the toughest individual out of balance. From livestrong.com:
…Too much, however, can lead to insomnia, trembling, uneven heartbeat, headaches and dehydration and can cause withdrawal symptoms like severe headaches and irritability if you stop drinking it. The caffeine in coffee may also elevate the adrenal glands’ production of norepinephrine and epinephrine, although it is not known whether there are any long-term results of this effect.
So how much is too much? As with most threshold questions, there are variables. However, popular perception suggests a 400 milligram limit. From foxnews.com:
The sweet spot seems to be no more than 4 cups or 400 milligrams of coffee a day to get the health benefits and curb your cravings without any side effects. But the right amount really depends on how it makes you feel.
That last line is the critical one. We muse often about listening to your body’s signals. If your body is responding well to the fuel you’re giving it, you may not need an adjustment. If you’re like Travis and experiencing some degree of fatigue, practicing some well thought-out trial and error may be the correct measure. Backing off little by little over the course of time (perhaps decreasing your intake by a quarter cup a day) will help you avoid any major crashes or withdrawals.
You needn’t cut out coffee (or any of your pleasures, really). Rather, it’s likely prudent to exercise awareness regarding the quantity of your intakes and the impact on two of your most valuable assets; your physical and mental capacities.