If your morning routine starts with brewing a cup of coffee, you’re not alone. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are drunk each day around the world. Americans alone drink an average 22.1 gallons a year per capita. Nothing wakes you up quite like a good old cup of joe, and recent studies indicate that the drink may have considerable health benefits. Coffee can help lower the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and it may also reduce the risk of suffering from depression or heart disease.
But before you start quaffing cups of coffee like there’s no tomorrow, remember that you can have too much of a good thing! People have different sensitivities to caffeine, and many individuals experience ill effects linked to consuming too much coffee. Whether you feel chained to your morning coffee or worry that your daily macchiato intake is keeping you awake at night, here are 7 tips to help you lower your daily coffee intake:
- Go For Quality, Not Quantity
It might surprise you to learn that not all coffee beans are created equal. Caffeine level, flavor, and aroma can vary depending on where the bean was grown and how it was roasted. Consuming one cup of well brewed quality coffee is likely to be much more satisfying than three or four cups of lukewarm office coffee.
Caffeine content and flavor also vary widely based on brewing methods. An 8-fluid ounce of traditional drip coffee can have between 95 and 160 mg of caffeine, whereas expresso shots have around 64 mg. Cold brew, on the other hand, tends to be more concentrated, sometimes having around 200 mg of caffeine in a 10-ounce serving. Switching up your go-to way for brewing coffee may change your intake habits. Use the right beans to make cold brew coffee and you may discover that a single cup has replaced your usual three or four.
- Know How Much Is Too Much
Experts generally recommend that adults consume less than 400 mg of caffeine a day. The average American adult consumes about half of that amount, but others drink much more. Your tolerance for caffeine is also linked to age, genetics, diet, and pre-existing health conditions. Experiencing any of the following symptoms along with coffee consumption are a sign that you should cut back on your favorite fix:
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. While it’s not as harmful as many other habit-forming substances, it can have a detrimental impact on your health and well-being. If high caffeine tolerance forces you to continually increase your consumption, or if you have trouble functioning without caffeine, it could be time to cut back.
The body takes between 6 and 10 hours to full metabolize caffeine, so if you’re drinking coffee later in the day, you might be endangering your sleep schedule. This creates a vicious cycle—you don’t get enough sleep, so you drink coffee to feel energized during the day, then you can’t fall asleep at night, then you feel groggy the next morning… You get the idea.
- Headache, Dizziness Or Feeling ‘Jittery’
Caffeine impacts everyone differently. Some people can drink cups of coffee without feeling a thing, while others seem to get a rush from a single sip. If drinking coffee makes you feel dizzy, jittery, anxious or even nauseous, you should probably drink less.
- Cut Back Gradually
As with any habit, going cold turkey off of coffee can be a shock to the body. You may experience increased grogginess, changes in appetite, and even headaches if you immediately cut out coffee. Instead, it’s much healthier to gradually ween yourself off of your coffee habit. Start by cutting your daily intake by a third and let your body adjust. Continue to cut down your coffee consumption gradually until you’re where you want to be.
- Set Limits
It’s definitely a challenge to exercise self-control when you’re craving another cup, especially given how accessible coffee is. Try to set daily limits, and stick by them. If you promised yourself you’d only drink two cups that day, keep your promise—and you’ll feel all the better for it.
- Go For Mixers
While many sugary coffee drinks have just as much coffee content as a plain cup of machine drip, one good way to decrease your coffee consumption is to mix your coffee with other things. Drinking it with milk is always a good choice in terms of taste. Even drinking weaker coffee, or coffee diluted with hot water, can trick your body into thinking you’re drinking more when, in fact, you’re drinking less.
- Don’t Rule Out Alternatives!
Some of you may be die-hard coffee fans, but there are plenty of healthy alternatives to coffee. Black tea and yerba mate pack just as much flavor and plenty of caffeine to fight off grogginess. Oolong tea and green tea are low caffeine alternatives with plenty of antioxidants, and you may appreciate the calming effect they have. Herbal teas are a good choice for those who want a non-caffeinated alternative. You might consider substituting one of these for one of your usual cups of coffee, or even replacing it altogether!
If you really can’t give up the taste of coffee, there are plenty of high-quality decaf blends out there. Most coffee shops will also have decaf brew on hand, so you can enjoy your frappes and lattes without the caffeine.
- Find Other Ways To Feel Energized
Coffee may be what gets you up in the morning, but it doesn’t have to be. Some energizing physical activity, such as a yoga routine or a short run, can get your blood flowing first thing in the morning. Even a good shower might wash the sleep out of your eyes. See if you can find other ways to feel pumped up than having an extra cup of joe.
While there are plenty of reasons to drink coffee, there are just as many to cut back. Whether it helps you sleep better at night or simply gives you a chance to take better care of yourself, cutting back might not be such a bad idea. With these simple tips, you can enjoy your coffee more, rather than relying on it, and find healthy alternatives for that morning pick-me-up.