Caffeine causing the jitters?


Many of us start our day off with a cup of coffee to gain some energy.

But for others, that cup of coffee can lead to jitters and at times anxiety.

Deanna Lovett says her love for coffee started a long time ago, beginning each morning with two cups of coffee.

“I used to drink it when I was like 5, 4 or 5 years old from my great grandma’s cup in the morning,” Lovett said.

After years of building up a tolerance, she says she never feels jittery from the caffeine. Unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone, according to a recent study at Penn State Health, which says caffeine can mimic or worsen the symptoms of anxiety for some.

“Lots of people won’t like drink coffee after noon, or past 2 o clock in the afternoon so they can sleep at night and a lot of them won’t drink in the evenings,” Lovett said.

Luckily registered dietitian Amanda Lambrechts says there are ways to avoid sleepless nights or anxiety stemming from caffeine.

“What works for me and the amount that I can handle without maybe feeling more anxious or revved up might be different than what it is for you. And so it’s very individualized, but typically as a rule of thumb they recommend no more than 400 milligrams a day,” Lambrechts said.

She says if you notice your heart is racing after your cup of Joe, try to cut down your intake, aiming for about 80 to 200 milligrams instead and enjoy it alongside some food.

But if coffee just isn’t agreeing with you and you’re still hoping for some energy, it’s a good idea to find out what’s causing you to feel tired in the first place.

“I think if we’re not getting enough hydration that can make you feel a little groggy especially on these hot summer days, so evaluating that. If you’re eating consistently throughout the day… those can be good places to start,” Lambrechts said.

Dietitians say another coffee substitute for people hoping to avoid the jitters but still get some energy is tea.

The average amount of caffeine in a cup of black tea is about half of what you’ll find in a cup of coffee.

Overall, Lambrechts says there’s no one size fits all when it comes to caffeine intake, making it important to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Lambrechts added that tracking how you feel after having caffeine can be helpful in determining the right amount for you.

For a breakdown of caffeine content in various beverages, click here.

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