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Learn about how caffeine affects the body and enjoy a cozy cappuccino at home with this simple recipe.

By: Dana Deroba RDN, LDN

A lot of people enjoy a morning caffeine boost from coffee, hot tea, espresso, lattes or cappuccinos.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s safe for most people to consume 400 mg of caffeine per day. A typical 8-ounce cup of black coffee has around 95 mg, and hot tea has around 26 mg. (But keep in mind that some coffee brands will have more caffeine per cup, and that tea’s caffeine content will depend on how long it is steeped.)

How caffeine affects the body

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system, making most people feel more awake and alert. It affects everyone differently due to factors including medical conditions, medications and how you process caffeine.

It’s also possible for some people to develop an addiction to caffeine, and having too much caffeine can cause insomnia, jitteriness, dizziness, a racing heart and an increase in blood pressure.

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming, try drinking half decaf or half-caffeinated drinks. This way, you can slowly reduce the amount and hopefully prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms, like nausea or vomiting

If you start to cut back your caffeine consumption and experience any of these symptoms, make sure you haven’t cut out too much, too quickly.

Choosing a healthy coffee

While most coffee and tea drinks are naturally low in calories, they can quickly become high-calorie beverages if you add ingredients such as heavy cream, flavored syrups and whipped topping.

When ordering caffeine out, avoid drinks that sounds like desserts, including frozen mocha iced coffee or salted caramel frappes with whipped cream. And remember that, many times, iced coffees are blended with a high-calorie cream base.

If you are looking for a healthier option, choose brewed tea or drip coffee for the lowest calorie and caffeine content. And to reduce the number of calories in your morning brew, try using low-fat milk instead of whole milk or high-calorie flavored creamer.

One great option is a cappuccino made with low-fat milk. In addition to having caffeine from coffee, it also has some protein and calcium from the milk. Add a dash of cinnamon on top for added flavor without adding sugar or calories. Try it out at home with this simple recipe:

Homemade Cappuccino Recipe (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Brew coffee according to package directions.
  2. Combine sugar and milk in saucepan, heat until small bubbles form around edge of pan.
  3. Remove 1/3 cup of heated milk from pan and whisk it.
  4. Fill cups with equal parts coffee and heated milk.
  5. Add frothed milk.
  6. Top with a dash of cinnamon.

Nutritional Information: 54 calories; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 4 grams protein; 56 mg sodium.

Resources: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/current-dietary-guidelines/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines

Next steps:

Looking for more? Explore our dietitian-approved recipes
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