Do you sometimes wish you could hook an IV of caffeine straight into your veins for a heady jolt of energy that’ll last all day? Well, this kind of exists—only in powdered form, and the FDA just issued warnings to five producers of the potent caffeine cocktail.
They’re not overreacting. One teaspoon of caffeine powder roughly equals 28 cups of coffee (i.e. it can kill you). Just to put it in perspective, “A 100-gram package, about 3.5 ounces, can have as much caffeine as 400 “tall” cups of Starbucks coffee, 1,250 cans of Red Bull or 3,000 cans of Coke,” the New York Timesreports. And last year, two young men died after using too much powdered caffeine, prompting the agency to warn people of its potential dangers.
The FDA felt the product posed an “unreasonable risk of illness or injury” since the powder is often mixed into other beverages, difficult to measure accurately because of varying household teaspoon sizes, and how tightly the powder is packed in a container.
“The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small,” the FDA says on its website. Companies Hard Eight Nutrition, Kreativ Health, PureBulk, and SmartPowders now have 15 days to respond. This doesn’t mean powdered caffeine will be banned necessarily; it could mean the companies must include measuring devices, or change the quantity in their packages. So, stay tuned. And in the meantime, check out five caffeine sources that won’t kill you.
Matcha is a powdered form of green tea that offers a boost of energy, and a health kick. It’s loaded with polyphenols, which can help you burn fat and protect your heart, and it's considered a natural detoxifier.
Caffeine Comparison: Matcha - One cup (8 fl. oz) contains 70mg Coffee - One cup (8 fl. oz) contains 163mg
*Calculation from Caffeine Informer measures 1 teaspoon/2g of matcha powder dissolved in 8oz of water. The value of caffeine in brewed coffee varies between 64 and 272 milligrams per cup depedning on brew method.
These little guys are used in energy drinks like Full Throttle, Monster, and Red Bull because, why else, they contain a ton of caffeine—double the concentration found in java beans (2-4.5 percent and 1-2 percent, respectively, according to research published in the International Journal of Pharmacognosy.) Now, you’re not going to find guarana berries in your local grocer, but you will find them sold as supplements.
Caffeine Comparison: Guarana Berries – One gram contains 47mg Gaurana Energizer (extract) - 1 tablet contains 200mg Coffee - One cup (8 fl. Oz) contains 163mg
Dark chocolate is a delicious treat that is packed with dozens of nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. Though you won’t get as big of a jolt as your daily cup of Joe, chocolate can supply you with a little zing; just choose a higher percentage of cacao for more flavanols (at least 70%.)
Caffeine Comparison: Regular-size Hershey's Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45oz) - 20mg Regular-size Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar (1.45oz) - 9mg Coffee - One cup (8 fl. Oz) contains 163mg
Native to tropical Africa, these caffeine-containing fruits are the origin of the term “cola” (hello, Coca Cola). The seeds can be boiled to extract the cola, turned into a powder, or chewed (like they do indigenously in West African cultures) for a quick buzz. The nuts actually have a higher caffeine concentration than coffee, (2-3.5 percent compared to 1-2 percent, respectively) which’ll keep you alert and sharp. You can find the raw nuts online, and drinks made with kola nuts in select grocery stores.
Caffeine Comparison: Inca Kola Beverage - One serving (8 fl. oz) contains 25mg Coffee - One cup (8 fl. oz) contains 163mg
Not to be confused with matcha, mate also gets you a decent amount of caffeine and all the feel-good compounds of tea (amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.) It’s a traditional South American beverage where the yerba mate leaves are steeped in hot water. It’s easy to drink because of its low acid profile, making it a good coffee substitute.
Caffeine Comparison: Mate Tea – One cup (8 fl. oz) contains 85mg Coffee - One cup (8 fl. oz) contains 163 mg