Quitting Coffee? Read This First.
February 13, 2023
Don’t worry; this isn’t another gloom-and-doom article telling you that the thing you enjoy, in this case, coffee, is “bad for you”. Like most foods you consume, coffee, and more specifically the caffeine in coffee, affects everyone differently.
Some people metabolize coffee quickly. Others don’t. Some people feel anxious and jittery the moment they swallow their first gulp. Others only feel a jolt of energy. And some people get an upset stomach after one cup, while others can drink a gallon of coffee and never feel a thing.
Since everyone is different, my main goal for this piece isn’t to get you to quit coffee if you love it but rather to encourage you to do a quick “caffeine check-in” on how much you’re consuming.
The reason for this is that, first and foremost, caffeine is a stimulant. When used sparingly and in moderation, the benefits can include alertness, increased performance, elevated memory, and brain power, and a healthy dose of antioxidants. Some studies have linked regular coffee consumption to increased longevity, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Now for the potential negative side effects. Excess caffeine consumption (or minimal for some people) can lead to cardiovascular problems, nervousness, dizziness, irritability, increased blood pressure, arrhythmias, GI issues and sleep problems.
Again, depending on how your body digests caffeine, and your intake, you may experience these symptoms with one cup, not at all, or only after your fifth cup (yikes!).
When talking to patients, these are the questions I ask when it comes to whether they should cut back on coffee:
- Are you using coffee (or other forms of caffeine) as a crutch to wake up or get through your day?
- Do you often feel nervous, jittery or anxious?
- Do you find yourself feeling irritated for no reason in the afternoon?
- Do you have an energy crash or dip in the afternoon?
- Are you having trouble falling asleep?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to several of these questions and you’re drinking more than one cup of coffee in the morning, then you likely should consider cutting back on caffeine or quitting altogether.
If you consider quitting, you need to know that, like any other stimulant, your body will rebel at first. I don’t advise going cold turkey at all. I recommend that you wean yourself off in increments, or you will likely be in for several days of tough headaches and a lack of focus.
If you normally have two cups a day, I’d cut down to 1 ½ cup for 3-4 days, then 1 cup for 3-4 days, then a half cup for a week, and then stop.
Or once you get down to a half-cup per week, you can replace your normal cup of coffee with a drink with less caffeine, like green or black tea.
If you find that you tolerate one cup just fine, then one tip is to wait to have it until you’ve been awake for at least two hours. This way, you aren’t affecting the natural hormones that help you wake up on your own, and you’re no longer training your body to rely on coffee to keep you alert.
If you’re looking for alternatives to coffee that provide an energy boost and increased memory or focus with little-to-no caffeine, we’ve put this post together for you:
READ IT NOW: 5 Popular Nootropic Brain Boosters Besides Coffee
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