How To Counteract Caffeine When You’ve Had Too Much Coffee

Coffee is the most strange beverage you can have. You will feel energized and able to get through work meetings and deadlines easily when you start drinking coffee. However, thigs start to change if you drink too much coffee. You can experience everything from headaches and jitters to nausea and heart palpitations. It's not fun. 

We will show in this article what can you do to counteract the effects of caffeine when you when you drank too much.  

businessman holding an oversized cup of black coffee

Let me make sure I send the right message: You can't purposely drink too much caffeine, and then try to counteract it. This isn't what we are trying to say here. But we are all humans and we make mistakes. Maybe just miscalculation, (that energy drink you had contains a lot of caffeine), or because you love the stuff too much and you thought one more cup wouldn't hurt. It is important that you don't drink too much caffeine to make sure your coffee drinking habits are healthy. 

This article gives you the tools that can counteract caffeine if you find yourself in a hurry.

400mg is the daily recommended intake of caffeine. Although this may not seem like much, it is actually a lot more than you might think. The Mayo Clinic estimates that this is about four cups of coffee. You might experience side effects and uncomfortable symptoms if you are sensitive to caffeine.

To make things even more complicated, Mayo Clinic's recommendation is an average. Not everybody is the same and your body may react differently to caffeine. So take this recommendation with a grain of salt. We talk about how much coffee is too much, if you want a thorough explanation.

Some Caffeinated Beverages 

When you calculate your dose of caffeine, make sure you cover all of the  

Examples of day to day caffeine sources include:

  • A cup of tea
  • A coffee, (including espresso)
  • An energy Drink
  • Some cocoa or dark chocolate
  • Over the counter pain medication
  • Soda
  • Supplements
  • Guarana
  • Some weight loss pills
  • Some  breath fresheners

Unwanted Side Effects of too Much Caffeine

Some of the signs you have had one cup of coffee too many might include: 

  • Rapid heart rate or irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Caffeine jitters 
  • Feelings of anxiety

A true caffeine overdose is very rare in a healthy adult as it is difficult to consume such a high caffeine dose. Symptoms of a caffeine overdose are not easy to diagnose, as normal side effects are simply due to a sensitivity and are not life threatening. However, if you suspect you might have been exposed to too much caffeine (between 5000-10000 mg of caffeine in an average human), seek medical attention, as an overdose could potentially lead to a heart attack. 

How to Avoid Negative Effects and Counteract Caffeine

Things that counteract caffeine

1. Drink water

One of the best things you can do when you've got the coffee jitters is grab your trusty water bottle and drink plenty of water. “Caffeine can act as a mild diuretic, and dehydration can make symptoms worse,” Nieves says. “Stay well hydrated until the caffeine naturally leaves your system.”

2. Take a walk

“Gentle physical activity can help calm the coffee jitters. In fact, working out can help reduce headache symptoms as well,” Nieves says. If walking isn't for you, also try another gentle workout like Pilates and yoga.

walk on the street

3. Practice breathing exercises

“Deep breathing techniques can help relieve the anxiety that an excess of caffeine can cause,” Deep breathing is an essential solution for how to calm down after too much caffeine.

4. Meditate

While you're lying down with your eyes closed practicing deep breathing, you might as well add some meditation into the mix, too. “Meditation can also be useful to calm all that nervous stimulation,” Nieves says. Instead of just taking a handful of deep breaths, allow yourself to meditate for at least 10 minutes.

5. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods 

Eating foods can slow the release of caffeine into your bloodstream. Prioritize low glycemic foods such as protein, healthy fats, and foods containing fiber, such as starchy vegetables. Also, if you are caffeine sensitive, avoid consuming caffeine on an empty stomach. 

Prevention is Better than Cure

As with everything, it is better to avoid a reaction to caffeine rather than try to cure the symptoms.

The time when we consume caffeine can influence how we react to it. The best hours for caffeine consumption are late morning or early afternoon. 

Consuming caffeine first thing in the morning can disrupt our body's cortisol levels, which are already high when we wake up. For this reason it is best to wait a little while before brewing that first cup of joe. 

On the other hand, caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in our brain, which in turn stops us from getting tired. This means that it is a good idea to stop drinking coffee at least a couple of hours before you go to bed. Otherwise, your sleep will be affected. Poor quality sleep is also one of the main contributing factors to feelings of anxiety. 

Try Switching to Decaffeinated Coffee

If you find you are really struggling with the side affects of caffeine, try having decaf coffee instead. Having said that, avoiding caffeine unnecessarily is not recommended because of the many health benefits of coffee and caffeine.

Try Coffee Substitutes and Coffee Alternatives

Many people need the coffee because they need to drink something. Water doesn't do it for them, and tea, or other beverages are not good either. Caffeine free coffee substitutes are a great way to have a beverage that reminds you of coffee but doesn't give you the jitters. Check our list of caffeine free substitutes, which are delicious alternative to coffee. Chicory is also a great no caffeine alternative, and many use it in various proportions with coffee to lower the amount of caffeine.

Another interesting trick is to mix caffeine with L-Theanine. You can't take L-Theanine after you had too much caffeine, because it would be too late. You can instead prevent the negative effects of caffeine by combining it wit L-theanine from the beginning. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, so your blood vessels get smaller after you drink a cup of coffee. This temporarily raises your blood pressure to compensate for the reduced blood flow resulted from the vasoconstriction. L-theanine eliminates caffeine’s vasoconstrictive effect. L-theanine will also take the edge off of caffeine helping you sleep better after one too many cups, and reducing the jitters.

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Dorian Bodnariuc

My name is Dorian and I am a former barista. I consume coffee in any form, as a beverage, in savory recipes and desserts. My favorite caffeinated beverage is the espresso. I love to share my coffee brewing knowledge and my geeky coffee research. This blog is one of the places I write about coffee. More about Dorian... If you want to learn more about this site and how I started it, check our About Me page, where I explain all about it.