If you’re like us, you probably rely on caffeine to wake up in the morning and keep going all afternoon and evening.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant, and is one of the most commonly used ingredients worldwide.
In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of caffeine, how it works, how much you should take, and the best sources to keep you going all day long!
The Benefits of Caffeine
First, let’s talk about how caffeine can benefit your health:
Caffeine can improve your brain function and mood.
- Improve your short-term recall, reaction time, and alertness
- Lower your risk of depression
- Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Caffeine can boost your metabolism.
Caffeine can enhance your exercise performance.
Caffeine can protect against diabetes and heart disease.
- Lower your risk of heart disease by 16-18%
- Lower your risk of stroke by 14-20%
- Lower your risk of diabetes by up to 30%
Additional benefits of caffeine include:
- Reducing the risk of liver damage
- Improving your gut health
- Reducing the risk of liver cancer and colorectal cancer
How Caffeine Works
When you consume caffeine, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Then, it travels to your liver to get broken down into compounds that affect various organs in your body.
That said, caffeine primarily affects your brain. It blocks the effects of adenosine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel tired. Normally, your adenosine levels rise throughout the day and make you increasingly more tired.
Caffeine helps you stay alert by connecting to those receptors without activating them, leading to less fatigue. It can also increase your blood adrenaline levels, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
That combination stimulates your brain, promoting a state of focus and alertness. Most people feel these effects quickly—the caffeine from a cup of coffee reaches your bloodstream in about 20 minutes, and you get the full effects about an hour after consuming it.
Recommended Caffeine Dosages
The USDA and EFSA agree that a daily intake of 400 mg is a safe amount of caffeine—that’s typically two to four cups of coffee each day.
It’s worth noting that high doses of caffeine have caused fatal overdoses, leading most experts to recommend not consuming more than 200 mg in a single dose.
Experts also recommend that pregnant women limit their daily intake of caffeine to 200 mg or less.
Best Source for Your Caffeine
Caffeine is naturally found in a variety of substances and added to a variety of food and drinks. Let’s look at the best sources that you can get your caffeine from:
Related: Caffeine and Zinc: The Dynamic Duo
An obvious source of caffeine is coffee. Coffee beans provide a natural source of caffeine, and the drink is popular worldwide for its stimulating effects, improving mood, alertness, and energy levels.
While caffeine levels vary between different coffees, a typical eight-ounce cup will contain around 100 mg of caffeine.
Decaf coffee also contains caffeine; however, the levels are drastically less than regular coffee. A cup of decaf coffee typically contains anywhere from 1-50 mg of caffeine.
Like coffee, green tea is a natural source of caffeine. In addition to caffeine, green tea contains amino acids that can have a stress-reducing effect.
The combination of caffeine and theanine in green tea promotes improved cognition and brain function and can reduce anxiety.
An eight-ounce cup of green tea has between 30 and 50 mg of caffeine—about half the amount of a cup of coffee.
Cocoa Beans and Chocolate
Cocoa beans also naturally contain caffeine. All chocolate contains some caffeine, but the amount depends on how much cocoa it contains.
- 100% cocoa chocolate contains about 240 mg of caffeine (about 2.5 cups of coffee).
- 55% cocoa chocolate (bittersweet chocolate) contains about 124 mg of caffeine.
- 33% cocoa chocolate (milk chocolate) contains about 45 mg of caffeine (about one cup of black tea).
Cocoa also contains other compounds, like methylxanthines, which have additional health benefits.
These compounds (including caffeine) have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that also provide some health benefits, which is great news for chocolate lovers!
Guarana, native to the Amazon rainforests in Brazil, naturally contains caffeine. It’s known for its stimulant and antioxidant properties.
The guarana plant can provide increased energy and protection against obesity, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.
It’s not uncommon to find guarana extract as an additive in energy drinks, herbal supplements, soft drinks, and energy bars.
Yerba tea, made from the naturally-growing Ilex paraguariensis tree, is an extremely popular drink in South America.
Yerba mate is a great natural source of caffeine, and experts have praised it for being heart-friendly and providing numerous health benefits with its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
These sweet, carbonated drinks are marketed to boost energy levels, alertness, and mood. However, because they are sold as food supplements, they are exempt from testing by the FDA.
Therefore, it’s challenging to determine the caffeine content—one study found that the caffeine in energy drinks ranges anywhere from 50-505 mg.
In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks also contain the amino acid taurine that’s found naturally in the brain and has antioxidant properties.
Breinfuel is a great alternative to energy drinks. With caffeine from green tea extract, natural caffeine from unroasted coffee beans, and green coffee bean extract, it’s never been easier (or tastier) to get your daily dose of caffeine, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Related: How Breinful Fuels You
Breinful takes the best of coffee and green tea to provide an energy boost full of caffeine, antioxidants, and other brain-boosting ingredients.
What’s your favorite flavor? Get the Breinful you need to keep going all day in peach mango, mixed berry, citrus, and fruit punch! Or try them all with our variety pack!