published Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Many Americans never get caffeine out of their system

Do you drink coffee every day?

Did you know it takes your body 7.5 hours to metabolize the caffeine in a single cup of coffee? So says Jamie McDermott, registered dietitian with Solace Clinic.

That's why dietitians say no one should drink more than three 8-ounce cups of coffee a day, because it will take your body almost 24 hours to process those three drinks before you're up and ready for your next cup of joe.

"Most Americans never get the caffeine out of their system," McDermott said.

The nutritional counselor said three 8-ounce cups contain about 300 milligrams of caffeine.

"More than 500 milligrams a day is considered too much by most health organizations," she said. "I believe caffeine becomes more than a habit when someone 'needs' it to get through their morning or day or [when] they need more and more of it.

"We become conditioned to it -- some even build a tolerance -- so that what once worked to wake them up now does not."

If you're noticing any of the following side effects McDermott listed, then maybe a New Year's resolution to cut down would be in order: jitters, heart palpitations, insomnia, irritability or muscle tremors.

McDermott also pointed out that caffeine is not the only culprit to worry about with too much coffee consumption. Calories will add up quickly if you aren't paying attention.

"Smart choices at coffeehouses involve monitoring added sugar and fat. The reason we get in trouble nutritionally at these types of restaurants is because of excess amounts of cream, chocolate and caramel," McDermott said.

McDermott suggests choosing a latte made with skim or soy milk, a creamy way to add calcium and protein. The extras -- whipped cream topping (90 calories) or a pump of chocolate (20 calories) -- get you in trouble.

To help consumers make smart choices, Starbucks posted a list of 20 drinks under 200 calories on its website. All are based on a tall (12-ounce) serving. Here's a sample.


-- Caramel Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee: 130 calories, 1 fat gram.

-- Nonfat Iced Vanilla Latte: 120 calories, 0 fat grams.

-- Iced Skinny Latte: 60 calories, 0 fat grams.


-- Brewed Coffee: 5 calories, 0 fat grams.

-- Nonfat Cappuccino: 60 calories, 0 fat grams.

-- Nonfat Caramel Machiato: 140 calories, 1 fat gram.

-- Soy Tazo Chai Tea Latte: 170 calories, 2 fat grams.

-- Skinny Vanilla Latte: 90 calories, 0 fat grams.

-- Caffe Americano: 10 calories, 0 fat grams.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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rolando said...

So caffeine will be the next thing on the forbidden-in-public list. [Right after those 1,500 calorie belly-buster fat-burgers...]

I guess I will have to start buying coffee beans in bulk and doing my own roasting...I will store it right next to my 15-year supply of incandescent bulbs.

December 28, 2011 at 9:28 p.m.
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