Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

Healthier Ways to Get Your Caffeine

The best ways to get your boost
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

If my husband doesn't drink some by 10 a.m., he can expect a man-sized headache by early afternoon. My best friend can't speak in full sentences until she gets hers. I'm talking about coffee, of course! But the real addiction here is to the caffeine IN coffee, not coffee itself.

My husband is a two-mugs-a-day drinker, so it's not like he's guzzling java all day long. Still, his body is dependent on the caffeine kick from those two mugs. As long as he gets one cup of coffee in the a.m., he's generally headache-free. Trust me; I've spent many a morning on vacation tracking down a coffee source for him.

The truth is that there are lots of ways to get your caffeine fix. Some of the people chugging down those Big Gulps all afternoon may be in it for the caffeine. Another popular way to get caffeine is tea, hot or iced. A can of diet cola (or similar) will give you around 42 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of hot tea usually has almost 50 milligrams.

I'm afraid eating chocolate can't compete with the caffeine power of a cup of Joe. Even a 2-ounce chocolate bar has only 36 milligrams of caffeine -- a drop in the bucket for hard-core espresso drinkers! Not that caffeine is the main reason people eat chocolate, but be warned that getting your caffeine fix in the form of chocolate is going to cost you in calories! Two ounces of chocolate will run you approximately 270 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Here's a chart of some common caffeine sources and exactly how much of a wallop each packs:

Caffeine Sources
Approximate Caffeine Content (mg)
Coffee, regular (1 cup)
138
Espresso (1/4 cup)
125
Cappuccino, regular (1 cup)
60
Latte, regular (1 cup)
60
Tea, brewed, hot (1 cup)
47
Nestea Iced Tea, Earl Grey (1 cup)
33
Cola soda, regular or diet (12 oz)
42
Mountain Dew (12 oz)
52
Chocolate, semisweet (1 oz)
18
Chocolate milk (1 cup)
5
Cocoa powder (1 tablespoon)
12

Possible Caffeine Benefits

If you asked people what the biggest benefit to caffeine is, most would probably list the lift in energy and mood. But there may be other health benefits to caffeine, as well as to other components in coffee and tea. (All you veteran java junkies should note that some of caffeine's effects may lessen with long-term consumption.)

Here's what research has found out about some of the possible benefits of coffee, tea, and caffeine:

  • Some researchers suggest that the caffeine in coffee may increase the body's sensitivity to insulin. (This is a good thing; insulin is a hormone made by the body to control blood sugar.) In fact, a recent review of nine studies on coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes supports the idea that habitual coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of the disease. Other research has found that some compounds in tea may increase insulin activity in fat cells by as much as 15 times. Still, other research has reported that caffeine impairs the metabolism of glucose (a type of sugar found in carbohydrate foods) in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Chlorogenic acid, a compound in coffee that has antioxidant activity, may improve the body's metabolism of glucose.
  • Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer (compared with drinking no coffee at all). Studies in animals have indicated that an antioxidant in coffee may protect against colon cancer.
  • Studies looking at coffee and heart disease risk are all over the map. One study found that drinking two or fewer cups of coffee a day reduced the chance of a first heart attack or chest pain, while drinking more coffee appeared to have the opposite effect. Other study results differed. Future research should pay attention to the type of coffee used and the different brewing methods because this affects which compounds show up in your cup. For example, filtered coffee removes two compounds that are known to raise both total and LDL "bad" cholesterol levels (the filters trap these compounds).
  • Tea contains powerful antioxidants (polyphenols, which are in the flavonoid phytochemical family) that may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A Dutch study found that men who ate and drank the most flavonoids (black tea was the major source) had a much lower risk of heart disease.
  • Preliminary research suggests that the flavonoids in green tea may help reduce cancer risk.
  • More research is needed on this, but it has been suggested that green tea may help boost metabolism and lower body fat.
  • According to one study, older women (aged 65-76) who drank tea had higher bone mineral density measurements than women who did not drink tea. The authors propose that the compounds in tea may improve bone mineral density and that drinking tea may protect against osteoporosis. By comparison, another study noted that consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine per day sped up bone loss in the spines of postmenopausal women aged 65-77.
  • While fruits and vegetables are thought to be the richest sources of health-promoting antioxidants, a recent study found that coffee is the main source from which most Americans get their antioxidants.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens