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How Much Caffeine Is Too Much? + How To Consume Coffee Safely

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Whether you are a coffee aficionado who loves nothing more than grinding your own gourmet coffee beans and brewing a premium cup of coffee, enjoy a fancy coffee drink from Starbucks, get by with a basic K cup, or get your jolt of caffeine from an energy drink, soda, or tea, many people rely on caffeine for a boost of energy to get them through the day.

Even pre-workout supplements, which are designed to help you maximize your performance in the gym or during some other type of exercise, are primarily energizing due to the high-caffeine content.

Indeed, there are many exercise performance benefits of caffeine, and even independent of working out, caffeine has been associated with other positive health benefits.

But how much caffeine is too much? How much caffeine should you have in a day? How much caffeine is dangerous?

In this article, we will discuss how much caffeine there is in a cup of coffee and other common caffeinated beverages, how much coffee is too much, and how much caffeine is too much.

We will discuss: 

  • How Much Caffeine In A Cup Of Coffee?
  • Is Coffee Bad for You?
  • How Much Caffeine Is Too Much…And How Much Caffeine Should You Have In A Day?

Let’s get started!

A heart made out of coffee beans.

How Much Caffeine In A Cup Of Coffee?

The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee depends on various factors, such as the type of coffee beans, how long they are roasted, how long the coffee is brewed, and how concentrated the coffee is in terms of the ratio of coffee grounds to liquid.

For example, a 12-ounce cup of Starbucks dark roast has 193 mg of caffeine, while 12 ounces of the medium and blonde roasts have 235 and 270 mg, respectively. 

Although counterintuitive, darker roasts typically contain less caffeine than lighter ones. 

A 12-ounce cup of McDonald’s coffee contains about 109 mg of caffeine. 

Then, there are super caffeinated coffees, such as Death Wish Coffee, which packs a whopping 728 milligrams of caffeine in a single 12-ounce cup.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, here is the caffeine content of some other common caffeinated drinks:

A cup of matcha tea.
  • 1.5-ounce Starbucks Espresso has 150 mg of caffeine
  • 14-ounce medium Dunkin’ Coffee has 210 mg of caffeine 
  • 20-ounce venti Starbucks Coffee, Pike Place Roast, has 410 mg of caffeine
  • 16-ounce Starbucks Chai Latte has 95 mg of caffeine 
  • 13.7-ounce Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Bottled has 110 mg of caffeine
  • 2 tablespoons (makes 12 ounces) of Folgers Classic Roast has 120-160 mg of caffeine
  • Most Keurig K cups have about 75-150 mg of caffeine each
  • 16.9 ounces Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea has 77 mg of caffeine
  • 1 bag of Lipton Black Tea has 55 mg of caffeine
  • 16-ounce Snapple Lemon Tea has 37 mg of caffeine
  • 12 ounces of Diet Coke has 46 mg of caffeine
  • 12 ounces of Pepsi has 38 mg of caffeine
  • 1.9 ounces of 5-hour Energy Regular Strength has 200 mg of caffeine
  • 16 ounces of Monster Energy or Rockstar Energy Drink has 160 mg of caffeine
  • 1.5 ounces Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar has 10 mg of caffeine
  • 1 piece of Run Gum Energy Gum of 50 mg of caffeine

Now that we have the details squared away at just exactly how much caffeine is in each type of product, let’s see if coffee is actually good or bad for you:

A person drinking from a to-go coffee cup.

Is Coffee Bad for You?

Coffee is one of the most common natural sources of caffeine, which is the most common drug consumed worldwide. There are other sources of natural caffeine as well, including green tea, matcha tea, black tea, Yerba mate, other types of tea, and chocolate.

Colas and certain soft drinks, energy drinks, pre-workout powders, and other ergogenic aids have caffeine, though the caffeine is usually synthetic or taken from extracts like green tea extract or coffee bean extract.

Coffee, or other sources of caffeine, in moderation, are not dangerous for most people in good health. 

In fact, coffee and tea are high in antioxidants, and because caffeine is a stimulant, it can increase energy, reduce fatigue, make you feel more alert, and can improve attention and focus.

Caffeine can also provide a small, short-term boost to your metabolic rate of about 3 to 11%, which may help support weight loss.

Lastly, caffeine is used as an ergogenic aid because it can increase exercise performance by decreasing perceived exertion, improving endurance and stamina, and increasing time to exhaustion.

A person drinking a cup of coffee while looking at their phone.

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much…And How Much Caffeine Should You Have In A Day?

Different caffeinated products provide different amounts of caffeine, which makes it difficult to say just how much coffee is too much per day or how many energy drinks are too many in a day. However, we can look at the tolerable and safe limit of daily caffeine consumption in general. 

From there, you can determine how many cups of coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, or servings of pre-workout supplements you can safely consume in a day based on the caffeine content of the drinks you have.

So, how much caffeine is too much caffeine to consume in a day? How much caffeine is dangerous?

The amount of caffeine, or the number of milligrams of caffeine per day, that you can safely tolerate is dependent on several different factors.

The most influential factor to consider is your body weight or body size. Many of the maximum caffeine dose recommendations per day are determined by body weight.

This is because a larger body can metabolize a greater amount of caffeine.

Three cappuccinos.

Most health experts say that you should not exceed 3 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight or about 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day.

For example, if you weigh 175 pounds (80 kg), you should have no more than 525 milligrams of caffeine per day, and this upper limit is even lower if you are using the recommendations in relation to kilograms (which would be 480 mg of caffeine per day). Therefore, it should really be taken as the maximum upper limit.

In addition to your body size, there are other factors that can determine your own individual tolerance to caffeine and how much caffeine you can safely consume per day without side effects.

For example, children and teenagers are advised not to consume caffeine due to inconclusive evidence about the safety of caffeine for growing bodies and minds.

Additionally, women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should also limit caffeine consumption as much as possible unless otherwise directed by a healthcare provider.

A glass of cola.

Another high-risk group for high caffeine consumption includes individuals with certain medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, other cardiovascular risk factors, and anxiety, as caffeine can exacerbate these conditions. 

Particularly if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or other known risk factors for heart attack and stroke, you should speak with your doctor about the maximum amount of caffeine you can safely consume in a day.

With all that said, according to the Mayo Clinic and the FDA, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is generally safe for most people, which is lower than the above-referenced amount of caffeine per pound of body weight for anyone over 133 pounds, but is probably a safer limit to respect. 

Above that amount, caffeine consumption may be dangerous, especially if you have a smaller body size or underlying health condition.

This caffeine limit works out to about 4 cups of average coffee per day. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the amount of caffeine in some types of coffee is much higher, and the caffeine in energy drinks and pre-workout supplements is also typically higher per serving than with a standard cup of coffee.

Consuming too much caffeine can cause side effects such as nervousness, jitteriness, anxiety, increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, irritability, tension, and even exacerbated panic attacks.

A person taking a bite of a chocolate bar.

For example, evidence suggests that energy drinks may increase blood pressure and heart rate, and over-consuming energy drinks has been linked to serious medical issues, including liver damage, heart arrhythmias, seizures, coma, and even death

Overall, if you are going to flirt with the upper limits of how much caffeine is safe to consume per day, it is best to space out your caffeine intake over the course of numerous hours since the half-life is five hours, rather than guzzling several energy drinks or cups of coffee as quickly as possible.

This will help give your liver time to metabolize and start excreting some of the caffeine before adding more to your system.

Remember, you can develop a tolerance to caffeine, so taking off days from your usual caffeinated routine can be a great way to stay sensitive to the energy-boosting effects without needing to up your caffeine intake.

If you are trying to decide whether to drink a cup of coffee or take a pre-workout drink before your next exercise session, check out our guide on which will work better for you: Coffee Vs Pre-Workout, What’s The Best Before Exercise?

A person drinking a pre-workout.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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