We’re all too aware of the effects that caffeine can have on the human body, both positive and negative.
Having caffeine in moderation is actually a good thing, but if you’re not going to have caffeine at all, that’s okay too.
High levels of caffeine will affect everyone differently. Personally, as I write this, I’m on my third cup and it’s noon.
I don’t get the jitters, and I’m a relatively healthy and fit person (which we’ll get into later).
I know people who get leg jitters and talk ridiculously fast after six ounces of coffee. We’re all different.
So what does that mean?
It means we all have different tolerances, so we reach certain thresholds for caffeine in different strides.
To put it simply, you can absolutely overdose on coffee, but it’s going to be insanely difficult.
Your body will reject everything you need to do to it well before you would make it halfway to the point of overdosing.
In this, we’re going to discuss the different ways caffeine affects you, how much you would need to consume for a lethal dose, and talk about why having caffeine in moderation is actually quite healthy.
What is a Lethal Dose of Coffee?
To actually overdose on coffee, you would have to consume an absolute ton of pure caffeine.
While it doesn’t seem like a lot, ten grams is all you need to initiate cardiac arrest through overstimulation.
To put that into perspective, let’s look at how much caffeine is in a single cup of coffee.
Roughly 140mg of caffeine exists in one ten ounce cup of hot coffee.
It takes 1,000mg to reach one gram, meaning you would need to be halfway through your seventy-second cup of coffee before you would go into cardiac arrest.
You would need to consume these ten grams in a short amount of time.
Achieving caffeine overdose would have to be completely intentional unless you have underlying medical conditions that affect your sensitivity to caffeine in any other way.
A lethal dose of caffeine, being ten grams, is based on the average healthy adult male.
As a general rule, women are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, so the numbers might be slightly skewed depending on gender and weight.
That being said, a lethal dose of caffeine isn’t something you have to worry about unless you’re throwing back high-caffeine energy drinks every hour on the hour.
Can You Really Overdose on Coffee?
Yes, you 100% can overdose on coffee, it’s just really, really hard to do it.
If you had standard cups of coffee, you would need nearly seventy-two cups to overdose on coffee. That’s ten grams of caffeine like a shock to the system.
Thing is, you couldn’t take ten grams of caffeine at once, could you?
You have to account for the time spent drinking it, how much has already been processed by your body and how much is in your bloodstream.
Then you have to consider that it would be 720 ounces, or six full gallons of coffee to put you into an overdose.
Your stomach would rupture before you could do that. Your bladder would be working overtime, and your body would end up rejecting coffee by vomiting.
Now, let’s talk about espresso. It’s a type of coffee that contains a highly concentrated amount of caffeine, 4.57x the amount of normal arabica coffee.
If you were to overdose on espresso, you would need to consume 157 ounces.
That’s far more feasible than six gallons of coffee, but it’s still a lot to drink, and your body would begin to reject it.
Ten grams is the overdose amount for a healthy, average adult male.
But not everyone fits in that age range or physical demographics, which means you would need to scale your health and weight to the amount of coffee required to overdose.
For most people, you’re going to see major symptoms of coffee overdose well before you could ever convince yourself to continue drinking it.
Remember that caffeine is a stimulant, and even if you have an immunity to the effects of coffee from drinking it so much, this is a different ballgame.
Once you consume enough of it, it’s going to send your brain into overdrive.
You will start to panic and worry about what the coffee is doing to your system, and psych yourself out of drinking any more of it.
If you have an intolerance to caffeine or a sensitivity to it, which needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, then your overdoes threshold is particularly low.
It wouldn’t take as much to throw you into an overdose, though it will still likely be more than ten cups of coffee.
Is It Harder to Overdose on Coffee than Other Caffeinated Beverages?
Standard coffee is almost impossible to overdose from, next is energy drinks, and the easiest to overdose on would potentially be espresso with its high concentration.
One-shot (two ounces) of espresso has as much caffeine as a 16 oz can of Red Bull, or a 20 oz can of Monster.
Energy drinks are a common way that you can overdose, especially since they aren’t acidic like most coffees and espressos.
Your body might crave these instead of rejecting them since there are other chemicals and flavors at work.
It’s also possible to overdose on caffeine from powdered or tablet-form caffeine.
Many people take caffeine pills in 200mg and 500mg increments to give them a buzz without spending money on coffee, whether it’s to get through a workday or stay awake during finals.
What Are the Symptoms of a Caffeine Overdose?
If you have a caffeine sensitivity that has not been diagnosed by a doctor, or you just find yourself more susceptible to the effects of coffee (benefits or negatives), then you need to learn how to spot the symptoms of an overdose so you can stave off the mug and switch to water instead.
- Extreme Alertness: Constantly thinking that you hear sounds that are not there, or looking over your shoulder. You become hyper-aware of your environment, mimicking signs of panic attacks.
- Heightened Heart Rate: If you can suddenly feel how hard your heart is beating without even pressing a hand to your chest, that’s not a good thing. We’re used to our heart’s rhythm; it’s something we don’t think about because it maintains a constant, steady beat.
- Shortness of Breath/Increased Breathing Rate: They are not one and the same. If you notice you can’t hold as much air in your lungs, or that you’re just breathing faster even if there’s no alteration in your lung capacity, you’re entering a caffeine overdose.
- Dehydration: Caffeine dehydrates you. The thing is, there’s a lot of water in your coffee as well, so most people can get a decent amount of hydration from their coffee if it’s not the only thing that they’re drinking.
- Unyielding Headaches: If you’re developing headaches and they just won’t rest, it’s because caffeine constricts your blood vessels. High amounts of caffeine may be linked to high blood pressure, though the effects only last for as long as caffeine is in your body.
- Hysteria: Panic attacks, general confusion, feeling like someone is trying to “get you.” This means there’s too much stimulation going to your brain, and if you suffer from anxiety, ADD or ADHD then you’re adding fuel to the fire/
- Excessive Vomiting: Your body will try to reject what hurts it, and since caffeine physically affects almost every single part of your body, it will fight back against it. If you feel sick or start vomiting then you might have had too much caffeine.
It’s important to note the difference between caffeine overdose and just having had a little too much.
That being said, it’s also difficult to differentiate at the moment that your brain is on edge. Stop and assess how much caffeine you’ve had, and cut it back.
How to Treat a Caffeine Overdose
If you actually overdose on caffeine or approach your maximum caffeine tolerance threshold, then you’ll have to seek medical attention.
That being said, you can still do something at home to help you before you have to seek medical attention.
Drink massive amounts of water, and don’t do anything that’s going to elevate your blood pressure or heart rate more than they already are.
Coffee acts as a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often because of how quickly it’s processed by the body (which is also why it’s difficult to overdose on coffee).
You’re essentially over-hydrating yourself with water to flush as much of it out as you can.
No medical professional has ever complained about their patient being too hydrated before, so don’t worry about that.
Once caffeine is in your system, you need to be monitored and potentially hooked up to an IV. Before rushing to the hospital, try laying down and relaxing, drinking water, and letting it pass.
Because your body processes it so quickly, you might feel the negative effects fleet in twenty to forty minutes.
Health Benefits of Coffee in Moderation
Caffeine isn’t all bad for you.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of coffee and caffeine that can give you a better understanding of the push-and-pull of drinking coffee on a regular basis.
- Mental Stimulant: So long as you aren’t having too much, you can enjoy the way that coffee stimulates your brain and makes you more alert to everything around you. This can help improve focus, how you concentrate on tasks, and in turn, make you more productive.
- Coffee Burns Fat: Caffeine stimulates most of your body, so why wouldn’t it also stimulate your metabolism? You burn fat at a faster rate with coffee in your system, but if you’re drinking four cups of coffee per day, you will eventually see this benefit slightly lessen in effectivity.
- Nutrient Burst: Manganese, B2, B3, and B5 are all in coffee. While you’re not getting a ton of your recommended dose from a single cup of coffee, if you drink two or three per day, it’s a good way of getting some nutrients
- Lowers Risk for Type II Diabetes: Diabetes is an epidemic across America, and much of it can be controlled with diet. Type II diabetes is unforgiving, but coffee has helped regulate blood sugar and lowers your risk by 0-50% (depending on the person). In total, over 450,000 people have been the subjects of numerous coffee-based studies to back this data up and determine a correlation.
- Lowered Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s: Both are horrible mental diseases that ravage your life in your old age, and there’s no cure, but there are preventative measures that can be taken. Coffee has been shown to reduce your risk for both of these diseases by up to 65%, proving to be one of the few effective measures against Alzheimer’s and dementia that we have at our disposal.
- Liver Protection: Your liver carries out more functions in your body than most other organs, but it’s constantly facing the possibility of cirrhosis, which would replace functional segments of your liver with scar tissue, rendering sections of your liver useless. Drinking more than four cups per day (while might not be recommended for caffeine reasons) could lower your risk for cirrhosis by as much as 80%.
- Lowers Your Risk for Depression: Depression is serious, and affects more people than we know because it also directly gets in the way of people seeking help due to social stigmas and lowering the ambition required to seek help for mental health. If you consume high amounts of coffee, such as four or more cups per day, you reduce your risk of following through with suicidal thoughts by 53%.
- Source of Antioxidants: Free radicals in your body are always present, and they tear away at your DNA, protein, and each individual cell in your body. It’s actually kind of scary, but it means that oxygen is like a constant poison that we’re breathing in. Antioxidants fight back against the deterioration of the body, and in America, coffee is the number one dietary source of antioxidants.
So, is coffee good or bad?
While you can overdose on it, if you can enjoy it in healthy doses, it can actually be a very active part of your health and wellbeing.
Coffee produces natural caffeine that manufacturers rarely alter; it’s one of the few things that nature provides, and we enjoy almost as-is without additional processing methods.
Natural caffeine is better than synthetic caffeine, and it should be noted that these benefits we’ve listed are specifically related to coffee, not just caffeine.
Can You Become Immune to the Effects of Coffee?
You can build a tolerance to coffee, sure, but you can do that with most things.
The first time you drank coffee, you might have gotten a bit of a buzz and thought “Wow, that’s really doing it for me.”
But then four months down the line, when you’re having it every day, you might catch yourself saying things like, “I really need my cup of coffee in the morning.”
Most of us build a small, non-harmful addiction to caffeine.
You can actually experience tension headaches if you go through caffeine withdrawal, those they only last for two to three days max before all the caffeine (and its effects) are out of your system.
That’s kind of what building a tolerance/dependency is like. The thing is, if you drink coffee every day, you’re not likely to feel the same level of stimulation that you once had.
According to an article by BBC, the Neuropsychopharmacology Journal did a test with a rather small group of people, but it concluded that you may be unaffected by coffee if you’re having it on a constant basis.
So yes, you can essentially become immune to the effects of coffee, such as brain stimulation and energy surges, though benefits such as a decreased risk of heart attack still stand.
Enjoy as Much as You Can Handle
Coffee is excellent, and caffeine can have positive effects on your body is you have it in moderation.
You can’t really overdose on coffee unless you have a serious health condition, or you’re seriously trying to (though I’m willing to wager that you’d process or reject that much coffee before it did any major damage to your body).
Drink as much as you want, or as much as you need, provided that there are no underlying medical conditions to stop you.
If you’re someone who’s highly sensitive to caffeine but have yet to then just have what you can handle before you start jittering. Listen to your body, and you’ll be fine.