For many of us, caffeine is the not-so-secret weapon that makes us functional human beings before noon. It gives us the perfect energy kick to get us out the door and makes us somehow coherent at early morning meetings. But too much caffeine can lead to scary jitters and keep us counting sheep all night. We’ve lived by the mantra that moderation is best when we’re dealing with caffeine—one or two cups of coffee is probably fine, so long as you don’t drink them after dinner.
That’s why we were so surprised when a committee that makes nutritional recommendations for a number of government agencies recently announced that we can consume 400 mg of caffeine every day without worrying about health implications. But what does 400 mg actually look like? We did some investigating of the nutrition labels of foods and drinks we already knew to be high in caffeine and were shocked by some of our findings (Can you really have five Red Bulls in one day and still be under the limit!?) See our findings in the graphic below.
Two things to note: We’re not recommending you go to the nearest 7-Eleven and grab five Red Bulls (or any of the other foods we compared). Most would contain way more sugar and sodium than anyone should be consuming in a day. Also many stories that have covered these recommendations say it’s fine to drink up to five cups of coffee every day. That is true for the average home brew. Starbucks coffee has much higher caffeine levels than your average cup of joe, so be careful if you’re the type who makes regular Starbucks runs.