*The author generated this text in part with ChatGPT, OpenAI’s GPT-3 large language model. The content was reviewed, edited, fact-checked, and revised by our editorial team.
If you’re like most people, daily caffeine intake is necessary before heading into the office and feeling ready to tackle the day. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that can improve mental alertness and physical performance, among many other benefits. That said, coffee can be too intense for some people who might be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Whether you’re already addicted or not, we’ll give you the lowdown on the benefits and downsides of coffee to help you determine if a cup a day is what you need to feel awake and rejuvenated.
The benefits of coffee
Are you someone who can’t live without coffee? If you are, it might not be as bad as you think. There are several potential benefits of drinking coffee on a regular basis.
- Antioxidant properties. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- Mental alertness and energy boost. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can increase alertness and potentially improve mood.
- Enhanced physical performance. Caffeine in coffee has been shown to boost athletic performance, particularly in endurance activities.
- Weight loss. Coffee can increase metabolism, which, in turn, can help burn fat and promote weight loss.
The downsides of coffee
Excessive coffee consumption, however, can also lead to side effects, especially for those more sensitive and affected by caffeine. The effects of coffee vary by person, depending on individual tolerance, sensitivity, and overall health.
Some potential downsides include the following:
- Increased heart rate. Caffeine can cause increased anxiety and shakiness or jitteriness.
- Caffeine dependence. Regular coffee consumption can lead to physical dependence on caffeine, resulting in addiction or withdrawal symptoms when you miss a day.
- Stained teeth. The high acid content in coffee can erode enamel and cause teeth discoloration.
- Insomnia. Drinking coffee late in the day can disrupt your sleep patterns, lead to poor-quality sleep, or keep you awake at night.
- Dehydration. Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it can increase fluid loss and cause dehydration, particularly when consumed in large quantities.
- Acid reflux and heartburn. The natural acidity of coffee can cause acid reflux and heartburn, particularly in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How much coffee should you drink daily?
The frequency you drink coffee depends on several factors, including age, health status, tolerance, and caffeine sensitivity.
According to the FDA, 400 milligrams a day — about four to five cups of coffee — is generally tolerable for healthy adults. That said, if you’re more sensitive to caffeine, you might notice heart palpitations, sleep issues, or symptoms of anxiety. In that case, it’s important to listen to how your body responds and adjust your coffee intake accordingly.
People with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or anxiety disorders, may need to limit or avoid coffee altogether. It’s always best to speak with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
Crazy for caffeine
Coffee is the answer to increased focus and energy levels, along with other health benefits. But for some, it can cause a fast heart rate and physical shakiness. The main takeaway here is to pay attention to how your body reacts to caffeine and adjust your intake (both the amount and time of day) based on that.
If coffee is too strong for you, try swapping it for a greens powder or ashwagandha supplement instead. A healthy wellness routine depends on what works for your body, and listening to your gut is the best way to kickstart that routine and figure out what’s ideal for your lifestyle.