Caffeine is in a number of foods, including tea, coffee, chocolate, energy drinks and some types of soft drinks. It's even an ingredient in certain medications. While it's not a good idea to get excessive amounts of caffeine in your diet because of the potential side effects, you probably don't have to worry about it leading to weight gain. Caffeine has actually been linked to weight loss in some studies.
Caffeine and Weight
Getting extra caffeine in your diet is more likely to lead to weight loss than weight gain. Increases in caffeine intake were associated with people gaining less weight over time in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006. It appears that caffeine may limit weight gain due to eating a diet high in fat, notes an animal study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2013.
Caffeine may slightly increase your metabolism while helping you reduce the number of calories you eat, thus resulting in potential weight loss over time, according to a review article published in the American Journal of Physiology -- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology in 2005. Many people get their caffeine from coffee, which may help to limit appetite so they eat less, according to a study published in Obesity in 2013. Study participants who drank a moderate amount of coffee ate less during the day than those who drank a smaller amount of coffee or none at all.
Sugar and Caffeine
One case exists in which caffeine is associated with a potential for weight gain. Caffeine has a bitter flavor, and as a result, sugar-sweetened beverages that contain caffeine need to have more sugar, and thus more calories, than similar beverages without caffeine, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. If these beverages didn't contain caffeine, they could be just as sweet tasting with about 10 percent less sugar. You may want to skip the sugar-sweetened caffeinated beverages if you're worried about potential weight gain.
Recommended Caffeine Intake
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends limiting your caffeine consumption to a moderate amount, somewhere between 100 and 200 milligrams per day. This amount isn't likely to cause any adverse effects. A 5-ounce cup of coffee can have from 60 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, and the same amount of regular tea typically has 40 to 80 milligrams. Caffeinated soft drinks range in caffeine content from 23 milligrams in 12 ounces of Coca-Cola to 100 milligrams in the same amount of Jolt Cola. While most chocolates and chocolate-flavored food items have relatively small amounts of caffeine, coffee-flavored yogurt or ice cream can have from 40 to 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Effects of Excessive Caffeine Intake
Excessive caffeine intake can cause a number of adverse effects. The amount of caffeine that's excessive varies among individuals, as some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine, while smaller people likely feel the effects more quickly than larger individuals. Potential side effects include nausea, depression, frequent urination, trouble sleeping, jittery feelings, an uneven or fast heartbeat, dizziness, increases in blood pressure, dehydration and headaches. If you're planning to cut down on your caffeine intake, do so slowly rather than going cold turkey, to help prevent withdrawal symptoms, including vomiting, irritability, nausea, headaches and drowsiness.