For some people, coffee is what makes the world. It is the sun in the morning and the moon at night. Without it, life just would not be the same. Especially mornings, they would be a lot longer without a daily jolt of caffeine. 

In Canada, coffee is a 6.2 billion dollar industry. 71% of Canadians drinking coffee every day and coffee shops and cafes provide over 160,000 jobs. Additionally, according to surveys across Canada, most people consume 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day.

But, is there a thing as too much coffee? 

Well, for all my coffee lovers out there, you might want to block your ears and cover your eyes for this because the answer is yes. But, to be fair, too much of anything is not great for you. Everything in moderation, right? 

Although I have built this whole post around coffee, the recommended intake is not based on the coffee itself but rather caffeine. Currently, Health Canada recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day for healthy adults (300 mg/d for pregnant or breastfeeding women). This translates into approximately 3 or 4 cups of coffee, depending on your roast. Although drinking more than the recommended limits is not inherently dangerous, it will increase the risk of experiencing adverse effects, including headaches, irritability, insomnia and stomach upset.

Caffeine Tolerances

Like our opinions of pickles, we all have different tolerances and responses to coffee, mainly due to the caffeine content. Some people can drink coffee an hour before bed and sleep like a log, while others cannot drink coffee after 4 pm because they will be up all night long. 

Our caffeine tolerance is also influenced by internal factors, like our genetics and external factors, such as medications. Some people naturally have high amounts of the enzymes required to metabolized caffeine. These people can naturally break down caffeine quickly, while others take longer to break it down.

Additionally, some medications are broken down by the same enzymes that break down caffeine. This means when taken at the same time, both caffeine and some medications compete for the same enzymes. As a result, our bodies take longer than usual to break them both down. This can increase our risk of experiencing adverse effects. 

Collection of Gatorade bottles on a wall. Sports drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.

Sources of Caffeine 

I’m not just talking about Tim’s double double here.  

Our morning coffee is not the only source of caffeine in our diets. It can also found in various foods and beverages that we consume throughout the day, including*

    • Soft drinks — including Coca-cola and Pepsi
    • Energy and sports drinks
    • Teas
    • Chocolate
    • Some medications — such as cold and headache medications
    • Supplements — such as pre-workout

*Keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive

Although we may think we are well under the daily recommended caffeine limit (based on how many cups of coffee we drink), we might be wrong. In addition to coffee, we also need to consider the other sources of caffeine in our diet. And ultimately, the effect of caffeine on ourselves. 

So, to answer the question, yes, there is such thing as too much coffee. But, just like everything else in nutrition, it varies from person to person and even from day to day. What is too much for you may not be too much for someone else. Working with a registered dietitian can help you recognize what works for your body. 

Working with a Dietitian

Whether you are looking to address a specific concern, take control of managing a condition, or just improve your overall health, a dietitian can help you out. 

Registered dietitians can help you identify areas of your diet that may be of concern or just need some improvement to be the healthiest version of you. Whether it is lacking vitamins or minerals or exceeded recommended intakes of caffeine (or anything else). 


Not sure where to get started? Book a FREE discovery call today and get started on becoming the healthiest version of you!