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How much coffee is too much?

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  • How much coffee is too much?

    I know coffee is primally endorsed, but I wonder if I drink too much.

    I brew a pot a day and generally have 2-4 8oz cups with it being reasonably strong. I suppose that comes out to about 500mg of caffeine a day. There is so much conflicting information on the internet...what better place to ask then here. Is this too much? I generally have it throughout the day. Any tips on how to ween off a caffeine addiction? I feel like I shouldn't be so reliant on it for energy. I'm getting enough sleep these days so that's not the problem.

    Many thanks!

  • #2


    I can't speak for everyone else, but I need a lot less now (I've been Primal for just over two weeks).

    How long have you been doing this? Is PB new for you?

    It used to be that coffee messed up my blood sugar, but no longer. Are you having any ill effects from your level of consumption?

    Are you feeling that coffee is detrimental to you in some way?

    Let me know?


    • #3

      I woudn't really say that my consumption is detrimental (in a way that I'm aware), I'm just concerned about the long term ramifications of chronic caffeine consumption.

      As far as the whole PB thing is concerned... I guess I started around January, though I'm more of an 80 percenter at this point (getting better slowly).

      I developed a bad coffee habit in college which resulted from having to wake up every day at 5am for rowing practice. Constant sleep deprivation while working out like we did, I now realize, was pretty bad news. I needed the 3-4 cups to stay awake in class. I graduated about a year ago and now get good amounts of sleep, but my habit remains...


      • #4

 feel it's more a a habit than an addiction?

        Be nice to yourself.

        Skip it once in awhile, so you don't feel like an "addict" can always find a cup if you need it.

        I was once a Barrista...had like 12 cups a day. Now, that was an addict.

        If your lifestyle doesn't need it, then you won't.

        No worries.


        • #5


          Is this too much?</blockquote>

          That&#39;s a personal call, I think.

          As for is it "primal" - no, it&#39;s relatively new. The discovery of the berries&#39; properties, allegedly by a Arab shepherd observing frisky goats who&#39;d eaten the berries, doesn&#39;t go back that far. And the subsequent invention of the decocotion made from the roasted berries and its popularization across national boundaries only to the 17th-century.

          I suppose that in itself is irrelevant. What people ate in the past is interesting and often very revealing, but the real questions are these. What are the properties of the foodstuff itself? and what are its effects on the human system?

          Apparently, unexpected amounts of calcium have been found in the urine of people who&#39;ve just drunk coffee, which I suppose isn&#39;t exactly good. And, as you know, caffeine in it will elevate you, but then drop you down. There&#39;s some but less caffeine in chocolate and in tea. Green tea might be a good alternative, if you want to drink less, since it&#39;s milder, doesn&#39;t seem to drop people down again, and there are a lot of health benefits associated with it. However, if you prefer coffee and aren&#39;t drinking huge amounts, why go against your tastes for uncertain future health benefits? Eating&#39;s about taste, sociability, and culture, not just health. Having said that, green tea is one of the world&#39;s great gourmet foods and to be recommended on taste, too - top Chinese and Japanese teas change hands for exorbitant sums.

          I don&#39;t think one can worry too much about these things. A cup or two a day&#39;s unlikely to hurt anyone.

          Any tips on how to ween off a caffeine addiction?</blockquote>

          Well, if you want to drink a little less, why not start with a smaller cup? In England people tend to use big cups or mugs for coffee (although they don&#39;t always drink it strong); in the U.S. the cups are as big or bigger. However, Europeans often use smaller cups - except when they drink coffee in milk with breakfast. I recall a short TV programme of an Italian showing us round his city. He stopped to relax and chat to camera in a caffe - with a glass of mineral water and a tiny cup of espresso.

          No need to go that small. But why not go for a smaller cup, say 5 or 6 fluid ounces - and perhaps drink a glass of water with it, like the italian, so you&#39;re not thirsty. In general, drink more water whether at the same time or not - then you&#39;re not tempted to use a cup of coffee to re-hydrate.

          I&#39;d make the coffee fresh, as you want it, too. If it sits around it gets too strong (and some undesirable chemical changes occur in it, too). Perhaps pick up one of the smallest sizes of maker - such as this one:

          That&#39;s sold as a three-cup, and is 14.4 ounces. That&#39;s assuming a 5 ounce coffee cup by my estimation. Why not? Why do the English and Americans "supersize" everything?

          Unless you&#39;ve got another family member or a friend there, why fill it to the top? Just put a scoop of coffee in and fill it a third to a half full.

          Do that two or three of times a day and you&#39;ve gone from 2 to 4 eight-ounce mugs to 2 to 3 five-ounce cups.

          Best of all, it&#39;s not a deprivation, because you get to use some attractive new cups and a new coffee maker.

          You might also go for a higher roast, as those have less caffeine in them.

          Maybe grind the beans fresh yourself, if you don&#39;t already do that. If you&#39;re taking away in volume, try to add in taste, and even "ceremony", so that less is more satisfying.


          • #6

            Mick, you always have such coherent and well thought-out response.

            Eating&#39;s about taste, sociability, and culture, not just health.</blockquote>

            This resonates with my thoughts completely and the one thing that I miss about non-primal eating is the culture and traditions associated with it. It is festival season now where I come from and I see all my friends making traditional (unhealthful) foods and I can&#39;t help but feeling like I&#39;ve lost a part of me, a part of my culture that I may not be able to pass on to my kids.

            Sorry for hijacking Primal Pete.


            • #7

              [blockquote]the one thing that I miss about non-primal eating is the culture and traditions associated with it.[/blockquote]

              Fortunately this is one problem I&#39;ve never had. I&#39;ve always been a "minority of one"

              (Edited to add: BBCode sucks!)


              • #8

                Mick, as almost always, is spot on. (Can&#39;t give 100% Mick, but dang, you are close!)

                My mother&#39;s father drank lots of coffee, he died young. Ninety one. My father&#39;s mother followed suit, she croaked at one hundred (and ten days.)

                Do I worry about the pot I drink almost every day? Not a bit! (And oddly, on rare days I don&#39;t get it, I don&#39;t really miss it. Certainly no physical reactions.)


                • #9

                  Another thing you can do is just mix some decaf beans in with your regular beans in some proportion. I have a similar scale coffee habit, but I really like coffee even when it&#39;s decaf in the evenings. You can mix it half and half, or down to only 1/4 caffeinated, and drink the hell out of some coffee with minimal caffeine intake.

                  I have difficulty making small amounts of it because from a functionality standpoint I&#39;m addicted to my thermal carafe Bunn (reservoir at 190 F all the time == 10 cups of coffee in 3 minutes), of course that morning pot is divided between me and my wife&#39;s large travel mug.

                  I have heard anecdotally that chronic coffee consumers adapt somewhat to the diuretic effects of the caffeine, and so they&#39;re better able to be hydrated by coffee and tea, but I invariably feel like having some water after I drink coffee anyway.


                  • #10

                    I drink coffee every morning - part of my routine, really. But I&#39;ve notice lately (last few weeks, I&#39;ve been PB for over a year), that I pour my cup of coffee and forget to drink it. In my pre-PB days I could down a pot of coffee. Not sure why I&#39;m not drawn to it anymore. It has most definitely been a tapering-off, but it hasn&#39;t been a conscious effort. I think I&#39;m just so much more energetic in the morning now, that I forget it&#39;s sitting there.

                    I&#39;ll save money at least.


                    • #11

                      I know for myself, I used to be hooked during University (2-3 Large coffees a day). I slowly weened myself off after I graduated. Sometime over the last year or so, I started up again and was only drinking 1 Large/day (the odd decaf or green tea latte here and there).

                      On Monday, I stop drinking coffee and want to kick the caffeine habit. I thought it was easy and could control it. I started feeling lethargic, I got a runny nose, muscle tension and pain, a 2 day long headache and fluctuations between hot and cold feelings. Turns out that I was going through caffeine withdrawals. I guess I was more dependent on it than I thought I was.

                      It is day 4 and I feel like a million bucks finally. I am getting incredibly sound sleep and I am less anxious and worrisome.

                      If you want to ween yourself off, you can do it one of two ways:

                      -Cold turkey - if you feel that you have the will power and the ability to tough out any physical symptoms

                      -Slow and steady - cut it in half every week. 2 cup/day max this week. 2 cups (half caff)/day next. 1.5 cups (1 full, 1 half caff)... you get my drift.

                      The reason I called it off was similar to yours, I did not want to be dependent on it and I was starting to get the jitters after I consumed some coffee.


                      • #12

                        I try to stop drinking coffee by 10AM. After that, water &#39;til beer time.


                        • #13

                          Thank you for all these responses. Especially Mick&#39;s... that was a good read. Calcium in the urine of coffee drinkers is probably a result of it&#39;s acidity. Calcium is used as a pH buffer to restore alkaline balance (I think) so there is always calcium in urine after eating acidic foods. All the more reason to load up on green veggies!

                          I do enjoy drinking coffee for the taste/ritual, but might try and cut out the late afternoon cup for better sleep.


                          • #14

                            The pH in the gut doesn&#39;t screw with blood pH that much, so that&#39;s not the reason for the effect. It&#39;s actually just caffeine.

                            So drinking decaf could fix that.

                            Alternately, note that it&#39;s 5mg of calcium in your urine for every 150mg of caffeine (about a cup of coffee), and the RDA for calcium is 1000mg. As the study notes, for people who aren&#39;t both elderly and consuming inadequate calcium, they found no ill effects, because you tend to compensate by absorbing more.

                            I particularly doubt it would be a problem if drink most of your coffee before 11am (as I do) and typically intermittently fast through breakfast, so the bulk of your calcium absorption is not coincident with the caffeine intake. Plus, now that I look at it, 1tbsp of heavy cream has 9.8mg of calcium in it, so just put 1-2tsp of heavy cream in each cup of coffee and it will both taste awesome and offset your calcium loss.


                            • #15

                              are you still awake if can&#39;t get your fix? if not, you&#39;re drinking too much coffee. this addiction will eventually catch up with your adrenal glands. if your body wants sleep, and you tell it GO GO GO, thats a major stressor. this kind of stress is going to impede the parasympathetic nervous system ie muscle repair and digestion.

                              so if you want to have a vice like coffee, you better be damn healthy.

                              also, everyone is different; keep your body&#39;s caffeine sensitivity level in mind.

                              and make sure the beans are organic.