What you should know about detoxing from caffeine.

Let’s talk about a caffeine detox.

There are several reasons why you might want to do consider this.

  • Your response to caffeine has changed (you need more to feel the same buzz.
  • Daily caffeine consumption amounts are above the recommended limit.
  • Caffeine consumption is leading to health problems such as insomnia, adrenal imbalance, insulin resistence, or anxiety.
  • Doctor’s orders.

If any of these are true for you, you should consider doing a caffeine detox.

FACT:  your body and mind are not meant to be “on” all day, every day. The body works best when you respect its natural cycles. There’s a time for energetic activity and alertness, and a time for relaxation and rest. That rest period is when your body performs much of its detoxification and repair.  Allowing for these natural rhythms will reduce your dependency on caffeine, as well as the damaging impact it may be having on your health.

But quitting this habit is HARD because many of us develop specific patterns with our caffeine consumption.

  • Drinking coffee first thing in the morning to “wake up”.
  • Grabbing a cup of coffee first thing upon arriving at the office.
  • Making a pot to help think clearly and stay on task.
  • Brewing up coffee to help with studying or staying awake to pull an all-night exam-cram session.

Caffeine is a stimulant that works on your central nervous system, meaning it affects everything.  Caffeine is hard to give up because we depend on it on several levels. 

  1. Probably the strongest is emotionally – It lifts our mood, and we look forward to the morning ritual of the first sip.
  2. We depend on it physically, it increases our heart rate and breathing and gives us the energetic boost we are looking for.
  3. It helps our minds feel sharp and helps us concentrate.
  4. For some, it helps them feel more comfortable in social settings as they share their coffee experience with friends.

Unfortunately, most people experience some form of withdrawal symptoms when reducing caffeine.  Whether you choose to wean off gradually or go cold turkey there are some things you should do.

  • Drink more water. It’s recommended to drink 1/3 your body weight in ounces.  If you don’t love water, add a bit of lemon or sliced cucumber to give it some flavor.
  • Supplement with vitamin C. The daily recommended dose is 1000 mg/day. (This will help with withdrawal headaches.)
  • Take regular breaks – including going for a walk.
  • Set a regular bedtime, start a wind-down routine, and get to bed on time.

If you plan to wean yourself off caffeine, do it gradually.  You can approach it a couple of different ways. 

  • cut back the number of cups you have per day or
  • cut back the number of ounces in each cup you have. (instead of drinking a 16 oz coffee, have a 12 oz.)

Here are 3 TIPS to help:

TIP #1 -  Replace the eliminated coffee amount with water. (An easy way to up your water consumption.)  

TIP #2 -  Reduce your intake of caffeine by 10-30 mg or ¼ cup every 2-3 days. 

TIP #3  - Mix regular with decaf to create a “half-caf”.  This can help psychologically as it allows you to have the same number of cups and the same size cup you are used to while still decreasing the caffeine content.

The advantages of weaning is that withdrawal symptoms are not as severe and it is less shocking to your system.  However, the detoxing can take a long time and it requires that you be intentional about tracking how much you consume.

Alternatively, you can quit caffeine cold turkey.  While this can be the fastest way to detox, it does come with a price and a huge shock to your system.  Unfortunately, doing it this way will almost certainly cause severe withdrawal symptoms such as severe headache lasting from 1 day to a week or more, nausea, fatigue, sluggishness, daytime drowsiness, irritability, and depression.

These symptoms usually peak from two to four days and are often uncomfortable enough to force people to resume consuming caffeine despite adverse side effects like insomnia and stomach upset.  Keep in mind that these symptoms usually abate after a week without caffeine.

While detoxing from caffeine isn't pleasant, but with the goal of good health in mind, it's worth it!

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