Caffeine: Benefits with Balance


Caffeine could be described as the lifeblood of many people.

There have been recognised benefits to caffeine in assisting weight loss by suppressing appetite and stimulating fat burning in the body, although these effects in the studies have been moderate and not large enough to make changes really noticeable in weight. Caffeine may help you lose weight temporarily as in some people it acts as a diuretic and you may lose weight simply by having to visit the bathroom more frequently.

Additional effects may be improved performance and concentration as caffeine acts on the central nervous system and is a stimulant. Caffeine has also been linked to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s in men and may decrease the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes, the form of diabetes linked to lifestyle choices.

So by now you may be thinking the more the merrier and if a little caffeine has a small effect the more I drink the better? Wrong! Caffeine can cause horrible effects on the body in excess including heart palpitations, irritability, and insomnia, high blood pressure, leeching calcium from bones causing weak bones and increasing the risk of osteoporosis later on in life. Balance is key.

Most people can tolerate about 300mg of caffeine a day. This equates to 4-5 instant coffees or 1-2 ‘regular’ coffees like a short black, latte or cappuccino.

Other drinks caffeine can be found is:

  1. Black tea or green tea (1 cup) = about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee
  2. Energy drink (250ml) = 1 cup of ‘regular’ coffee
  3. Cola drink (375ml) = half a ‘regular’ cup of coffee

What about the caffeine in chocolate? A 30g milk chocolate contains roughly around 20% of a cup of coffee or 30g of dark chocolate contains slightly more with around 1/3rd to a 0.5 cup of coffee. There are also other sources of caffeine which may sound like a magic alternative but don’t be fooled! Guarana and Yerba Mate are other plant based sources of caffeine.

The bottom line is enjoying coffee or caffeinated drinks or foods as part of a balanced and healthy diet and remembering moderation. If you need to reduce the amount of coffee or caffeine you have in a day try cutting back slowly, one drink at a time. Substituting for decaffeinated options which satisfy the taste without the effect on the central nervous system. Another idea is not drinking caffeine after a certain time in the day to allow more caffeine to leave the body before bed. A regular cup of coffee has a half-life (half of the caffeine has been processed in the body) of 5 hours.


I am an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and the owner of Feed Your Future Dietetics. I believe everyone deserves to live a life of health and wellness. I am passionate about helping people achieve their highest quality of life through nutrition, mental health and exercise. I hold a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Bachelor of Human Nutrition. In addition to being an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, I am also a qualified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and have been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years.

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