You might be trying to cut back on coffee to avoid the jitters or regain your natural energy. But accidentally eating these foods full of caffeine is more harmful than you think. It can even be found in the foods you least expect!
The world’s most consumed psychoactive drug can be everywhere. But don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives to help you keep the caffeine intake to a minimum, and just enough to get you through the day.
What is Caffeine
Aside from just something you can find in coffee and soda, caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It’s essentially used to counteract drowsiness and give a boost of energy for a few hours. This leads to increased heart rate, body temperature and blood flow.
Overconsumption can have its downsides, however, as it can cause anxiety, insomnia, increased belly fat, heart problems, possibly addiction and even death. The average adult can ingest 300-400mg of caffeine (about 3 cups of strong coffee) safely per day, but it’s not recommended.
Caffeine and Adrenal Fatigue
Caffeine is often used to fight adrenal fatigue, a stress-related condition that occurs when the adrenal glands function below optimal levels. These glands control the body’s response to stress by releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
The problem comes from too much caffeine causing overstimulation, which weakens and reduces your cortisol. This causes you to feel like you need caffeine just to make it through the day, creating a vicious cycle of dependence. What you think is just building a tolerance is actually making your body weaker, and more susceptible to fatigue when it wears off.
Because the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list the content of caffeine on nutrition labels, this causes it to be hidden in some foods. Here are some foods that have more caffeine than you might’ve thought.
7 Caffeine-Filled Foods
A favorite of those looking to bulk up or replace a meal, these usually rely on high calorie and carb ingredients like nuts and dried fruits. They can also be pretty high in caffeine to help with the energy aspect, like Clif Bars, for instance, have 50mg.
Instead: Zone Perfect bars can have less than 14.5mg of caffeine per bar.
The FDA requires 97% of caffeine to be removed for a food to be considered decaffeinated, but the beans can still be highly caffeinated in that last 3% depending on the bean. Of the name brands, Dunkin’ Donuts decaf scored the highest with 32mg and McDonald’s consistently had the lowest at 5mg.
Instead: Try Swiss Water Decaf as its process removes 99.9% of caffeine
A can of Coke can contain 29mg of caffeine, but non-cola’s like Mountain Dew contain 41mg. An energy drink like Surge can have up to 69mg of caffeine, and that’s not including the high sugar too!
Instead: Natural Ginger ale has no caffeine, with all the added health benefits of ginger
Ice cream and yogurt
If you’re a fan of coffee flavored ice cream, you might want to know that is also has caffeine. A one cup “tennis ball sized” scoop can have as much as 60mg and a brand like Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Health Bar Crunch has 40mg. Dannon’s All-Natural Coffee Yogurt has 30mg per 6oz serving. Regulate your caffeine intake by looking for less obvious coffee flavors like java or mocha.
Instead: Try this ice cream recipe you can make at home
Sure, chocolate can be high in sugar, but caffeine also naturally occurs in cocoa beans. The stimulant compound theobromine helps add to the jitteriness. While it’s usually under 10mg, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine there is. Half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips contains about 50mg of caffeine as well.
Instead: White chocolate contains no caffeine because it isn’t made with cocoa (but it comes with other downsides like high refined sugar content).
Cocoa powder and chocolate syrup are still chocolate, so naturally, they still contain caffeine. Depending on where and what kind you buy, the average cup can have anywhere from 20 to 95mg.
Instead: Nesquik chocolate syrup is 99% caffeine free. However, hot chocolate made from organic chocolate (with no refined sugar) is still a better option. If you’re going to enjoy a cup, skip the other sources of caffeine for the day.
Bet you weren’t expecting this one. Some bottles include caffeine and stimulants like guarana, an extract from a Brazilian plant with double the caffeine of coffee seeds. Vitamin Water Energy has 50mg per 20 fl oz and even 100% natural Avitae contains 125mg of caffeine!
Instead: Just drink good old, regular water. Nothing is better.
While coffee is often at the top of the list when it comes to caffeine content, these foods can add up without you realizing. By finding alternative options, you can reduce your sensitivity to caffeine and make it easier to recover your natural energy.