Amount of caffeine: 5 milligrams per cup
Milk and chocolate combined give you plenty of calcium for a relatively small amount of calories (depending on the type of milk you use — assuming you use hot milk and not water), even when heated. Hot chocolate does contain sugar, and like other sugar-loaded beverages, can cause more harm than good if you drink too much of it. However, if you need a small caffeine boost, plus something dessert-like, a mug every once in awhile can’t hurt.
Amount of caffeine: 140 milligrams per serving
Not just any sunflower seeds can give you more caffeine than a standard cup of coffee. There are special brands that specifically manufacture “energized” sunflower seeds that provide large amounts of caffeine per serving. Be warned — processed snacks like these can contain way too much salt and sugar, especially when flavored. Like poppy and chia seeds, though, sunflower seeds in general are excellent sources of vitamin E and cholesterol-stabilizing nutrients. So a handful of caffeinated seeds, every now and then, isn’t so bad.
Did you know?
Many of us reach for coffee early in the morning or early in the afternoon to “give us energy” — even though caffeine doesn’t actually provide any physical energy at all. (If black coffee had calories, we’d all be a lot worse off.) Caffeine is a stimulant that affects certain receptors in your brain that make you feel more alert. However, no actual energy is consumed. You’re still getting fuel — but unlike food, the sustenance you get from caffeine is purely psychological.
Amount of caffeine: 30 milligrams per 5 ounce container
Not every brand or flavor of yogurt contains caffeine, but even those that don’t are extremely healthy. Both regular and caffeinated yogurts provide plenty of calcium, vitamins and other important minerals. Greek yogurt especially provides the protein necessary to keep your diet on track. Just make sure that the “coffee yogurt” you’re buying actually has caffeine in it. There are some coffee-flavored yogurts that don’t have caffeine in them at all — just artificial coffee flavoring.
Matcha green tea
Amount of caffeine: 70 milligrams per 8-ounce cup
Many who don’t normally like tea love matcha — it’s “creamier” than more traditional teas, and as part of a latte, it has a unique (though a little bit sweeter) taste. This unique green tea has less caffeine than coffee, but provides just as many health benefits. It promotes heart health, might help you lose weight, and can even boost your energy without elevating your anxiety. It’s fairly easy to make at home, too, which means you can skip the matcha latte loaded with extra fat and calories (no thanks!).
How much caffeine should you have every day?
You already know that consuming too much caffeine (500 daily milligrams or more) isn’t good for you. But are there specific recommendations for how much you should typically have in a day?
There aren’t daily serving recommendations for caffeine like there are for fruits and vegetables. However, there are standard daily amounts which experts believe are safe for most adults. (In case you were wondering, kids really shouldn’t have a lot of caffeine — go easy on the energy drinks.)
Most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams per day, says Mayo Clinic. That’s about the equivalent of four cups of coffee — or a LOT of dark chocolate (note: please do not attempt to consume the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee in the form of chocolate, you’re going to hurt yourself). However, if after about 100 milligrams (one cup of coffee) you’re literally bouncing, you probably don’t need any more than that.
How to cut back on (but not cut out) caffeine
Consuming caffeine in its various forms usually won’t hurt you. So in many cases, there’s really no reason why you need to give it up completely. However, if you drink a lot of sugary coffee drinks (translated: you love coffee, just not in its natural more bitter form), you’re having trouble sleeping, or you just don’t want to depend on a drug to get you through the day, you might consider scaling back your intake.
This is much easier said than done, of course. Trying to wean yourself off caffeine too quickly can be a major pain (literally). Hence our list of lower-caffeine foods and drinks — to help you cut back without giving up the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning (you know it’s true).
Here are a few suggestions for kicking your caffeine dependence, without shunning it for good.
How to (almost) quit caffeine without going on a deprivation-fueled rampage
- Reduce your consumption slowly. While you can just wake up one morning and decide to have less (or zero) caffeine, withdrawal symptoms are pretty much inevitable. So unless you’re prepared for the worst, start by gradually cutting back, You might find it’s a lot easier than you imagined.
- As you drink less coffee (assuming that’s your main source), replace it with the lower-caffeine items on this list. For example, instead of having a cup of coffee in the afternoon like usual, have a mug of matcha green tea instead.
- Choose low-calorie snacks (and drink plenty of water!) if you suddenly start feeling hungrier than normal. Caffeine can act as a temporary appetite suppressant for some people, so if you don’t usually indulge in an afternoon snack but suddenly feel like you aren’t going to make it to dinner without one, have something high in protein and fiber to avoid replacing caffeine with way more junk food than any person needs in one sitting.
Coffee isn’t the only substance that can improve your focus and keep you alert through the most trying hours of your day. And it isn’t just highly processed foods that provide an extra caffeine boost. Many of these caffeine-containing foods are actually good for you in small amounts. So if you’re looking to cut back, a handful of (enriched) sunflower seeds, a cup of green tea, and even an ounce of dark chocolate can keep your headache away without messing up your focus, long term health, or sleep.
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