Do you regularly indulge in a cup of coffee, tea, or soda to stay alert? If so, you’re not alone; research shows that roughly 90% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis. But many of us drink multiple caffeinated beverages throughout the day, and the effects are less than desirable: jitters and anxiety, followed by headache, fatigue, and irritability.
If this routine sounds all too familiar to you, caffeine “microdosing” may be the solution to maintaining your energy levels without the unwanted side effects.
What is caffeine microdosing?
Caffeine microdosing refers to the practice of ingesting very small amounts of caffeine throughout the day in order to maintain peak energy and focus without any of the negative side effects of the drug. Here’s how caffeine microdosing is different from regular caffeine consumption: most people drink a large cup of coffee or a latte in the morning, experience a huge jolt of energy, then crash soon after, requiring an afternoon pick-me-up drink in order to get back to “baseline” functioning. Microdosing your caffeine allows you to avoid these energy fluctuations by remaining in a constant state of mild alertness.
Is caffeine microdosing really effective?
According to a recent Harvard Medical School study, researchers found that participants who consumed smaller amounts of caffeine more frequently were more productive, had better cognition, and experienced fewer “microsleeps” (essentially un-planned naps). These benefits were attributed to caffeine microdosing’s ability to counteract homeostatic sleep pressure—the tired feeling that naturally builds in our bodies throughout the day. Given this, caffeine microdosing may be especially useful for individuals who work long or overnight shifts, like nurses, EMTs, firefighters, and truck drivers.
How much caffeine should I microdose?
For most people, the ideal range of caffeine is somewhere between 50-100 mg, with jitters, anxiety, and sweating beginning around 140 mg of caffeine. If you’re interested in trying caffeine microdosing, try experimenting with consuming around 30-50 mg of caffeine (about half of an 8 oz coffee), then wait a few hours to see how your body reacts. If you feel fatigued after this period, try taking the same small dose again.
For most people, the ideal range of caffeine is somewhere between 50-100 mg.
If you begin to feel jittery or anxious soon after this second dose, try reducing your doses and/or frequency. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so it’s important to really tune in to your body when you’re experimenting.
Not all caffeine is the same
Just like a cup of coffee or tea has a far different nutritional makeup than a sugar-laden energy drink, it matters what kind of caffeinated beverage you microdose.
Coffee is by far America’s favorite form of caffeine, with 62% of the population drinking the beverage every day. This may be a good thing considering regular coffee consumption can decrease one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease. Coffee also contains vitamins B2, B3, and B5, plus essential nutrients like potassium and manganese. Just try to avoid coffee beverages with added sugar (flavored lattes are one common form), given sugar-sweetened beverages are proven to increase the risk of many serious health conditions.
Tea can also be an effective and healthy way to consume caffeine. Tea is naturally rich in L-theanine, which slows the body’s absorption of caffeine for a more gradual energy boost. This slower absorption rate is thought to be due to L-theanine having a slightly sedative effect, reducing anxiety and promoting calmness. Tea is also rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which have a detoxifying effect on the body and prevent the formation of free radicals, which can cause blood clots and cancer. For optimal results, avoid sweet tea, since added sugar greatly increases calories and is more likely to put you in an energy slump.
What are the health benefits of microdosing caffeine?
Consuming smaller amounts of caffeine can have the following health benefits, assuming that you are reducing your total daily caffeine consumption from pre-microdosing levels.
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve collagen synthesis for healthier skin
- Reduce stomach acid
- Reduce sugar and calorie intake, especially if you consume sweetened caffeinated beverages and switch to unsweetened black coffee or plain tea
Microdosing can help you taper off caffeine
Though it may not be your intention to quit caffeine, you may find that after consuming smaller amounts of the substance, you want to see how you would feel without it. Microdosing can be the “off-ramp” to help you safely taper off caffeine: since you’re already taking smaller doses, you can simply decrease the frequency of your caffeine doses until you’re no longer consuming any. Weaning yourself off caffeine this way is less painful than quitting “cold turkey,” as you can avoid headaches and any other potential effects of caffeine withdrawal.
How much caffeine am I drinking?
Here’s a list of the most popular caffeinated beverages in order of their caffeine content. You may be surprised by some of these!
|8 oz soda (cola)||~ 22 mg caffeine|
|8 oz green tea||~ 28 mg caffeine|
|8 oz matcha tea||~ 19-44 mg caffeine, depending on the preparation method|
|8 oz black tea||~ 47 mg caffeine|
|1 oz espresso shot||~ 64 mg caffeine|
|8 oz energy drink||~ 70-80 mg caffeine|
|8 oz coffee||~ 96 mg caffeine|
Curious to see how much caffeine you may be consuming from your favorite name-brand caffeine products? Check out this list.
What are some methods of microdosing caffeine?
Caffeine microdosing can simply mean drinking your coffee more slowly throughout the day, or it can involve developing a completely new caffeine ritual. Here are some of our suggestions for trying caffeine microdosing.
- Start brewing partially-caffeinated coffee, using decaf and regular in your own desired proportion, such as ¼ regular coffee grounds to ¾ decaf.
- Slowly sip a small 8 oz cup of coffee in the morning (a coffee mug warmer can help!), then drink green tea throughout the rest of the day.
- Drink a half cup of coffee in the morning, then follow it up with another half cup in the afternoon.
Products that can help you microdose caffeine
If you’re looking for a fun new way to consume caffeine, try some of these low-dose caffeine products.
- Punch’d Caffeine Gummies are all-natural gummies infused with green coffee bean caffeine. Each gummy contains 10 mg of caffeine to help you keep track of your dosage. This option is also organic, low-glycemic, and provides an added dose of vitamin C.
- AHA Sparkling Water has a line of caffeine-infused sparkling waters. Each 12 oz can contains 30 mg of added caffeine with zero calories, sugar, or artificial flavors. Enjoy creative flavor combinations like Mango + Black Tea and Citrus + Green Tea.
- Tempo Sparkling Teas are naturally-flavored sparkling matcha, green, and black teas. Each 12 oz can of tea has 30-40 mg of caffeine and is organic and unsweetened. Tempo currently offers Raspberry Lime, Blackberry Lemon, and Ginger Turmeric flavors.
Moderate your caffeine intake
Limit your caffeine to 400 mg or less per day. Even though you’ll be consuming smaller amounts of caffeine, it can add up: remember to keep your overall daily caffeine intake to 400 mg of caffeine or less, as advised by the FDA. Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others, so if you think you have caffeine sensitivity, moderate your intake very carefully and reduce it accordingly.
Consult with your doctor. Some people may be at a heightened risk of high blood pressure or heart attack if they drink more than 200 mg of caffeine a day. If you fall into this category, consult with your doctor before changing your caffeine regimen. Pregnant women should also limit caffeine to 200 mg or less per day.
Don’t consume caffeine within 6-8 hours of your bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, meaning if you consume 100 mg at 5 pm, you’ll still have 50mg in your system at 10 pm. While the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you don’t consume caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime, if you have a typical overnight sleep schedule, it’s safest to cut off your caffeine intake by 2 pm. And, if you do drink caffeine later in your day, consider making it your smallest dose.
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