How To Know If You're A Caffeine Addict | Men's Health Magazine Australia

How To Know If You’re A Caffeine Addict

A neuroscientist reveals the impact excess coffee can have on our brain.

Did you know over 80% of the population rely on caffeine to function optimally? Crazy right. But how do you know if you’re an addict?

If you rely only on your first cup of coffee in the morning or rush to office and grab one before starting anything, you don’t need to freak out. This generally comes down to habit, and you’ll find that if you skip a day here or there, you won’t feel too bad. But if you say you cannot do without that cup without getting the shakes, then you could be in trouble.

According to a study published by the University of South Australia, the researchers came to a conclusion that you can have six cups of coffee before it becomes bad for your health. The research found that after you hit the six cup mark, you can increase your chances of heart disease by 22 per cent, with the high amount of caffeine causing high blood pressure. BUT, this information relies heavily on your health – and the strength of the coffee you are drinking.

So to find out more, we spoke to Chief Science Officer at Brainfood Company Ārepa, Prof Scholey.

What happens if you have too much coffee?

“Many people state that they feel jittery or anxious after too much caffeine, including from coffee. Some people have a genetic make-up which means that they experience these effects from lower doses. At very high doses caffeine can increase heart rate and cause unpleasant physical effects.”

How many cups of coffee a day is too much?

“Short answer is 2-5 cups per day depending on the specific coffee. Most guidelines suggest that 400 mg/day caffeine is a safe upper limit.  Coffee varies in its caffeine content based on the specific bean used and how its brewed. It can range from 60 mg to over 200 mg caffeineper serve. One study even found big differences – up to twofold – in levels of caffeine in the same coffee drink bought from the same outlet on different days.”

Can you flush caffeine out of your system?

“Caffeine has a half-life in the body of about 4 hours, meaning its levels halve in the body every 4 hours so caffeine levels can be fairly low a few hours after you drink your last coffee. Obviously, this will depend on how many coffees you drink, over what time period and how much caffeinethey contain.”  

Why shouldn’t you drink caffeine?

“If you’re worried about your caffeine consumption there are other products that seem to increase alertness and concentration. Things like cocoa flavanols (found in dark chocolate) and guaraná have some evidence, although they also contain caffeine. Ginseng also has quite abit of support although some studies suggest that there are also costs in some aspects of mental function. If you look at the effects of caffeine on attention – basically concentration – the evidence suggests that the berries used in beverages like Ārepa have very similar effects, and without the downside and of course no caffeine.”

So, what are the symptoms of withdrawal you should look out for?

One of the most telltale signs of caffeine dependency is an inability to perform daily activities of life without caffeine. So, “if you’re unable to function without your daily cup of coffee in the morning and you “have to have it,” you may be dependent on caffeine,” according to Healthline.

According to some research, by far the most common symptom is headache, but other symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • fatigue
  • low energy and activeness
  • decreased alertness
  • drowsiness
  • overall “bad mood” and discontent
  • depressed mood
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • feeling foggy
  • The physical effects of caffeine withdrawal can also include flu-like symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain or stiffness.

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal usually start about 12 to 24 hours after not having caffeine. The peak time for symptoms occurs at 20 to 51 hours after forgoing caffeine. Withdrawal can last from 2 to 9 days.

If you feel you have an addiction and want to seek help, head to for more info.

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the former Digital Editor at Men's Health Australia, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has written for Women's Health, esquire, GQ and Vogue magazine.

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