What to expect when giving up caffeine

03 Jan 2020

For some the thought of no coffee in their lives can be a scary thought, and that is understandable. Not only does coffee give us a nice energy boost but for the most part we have formed habits, routines and even a dependence to coffee which can make it even more challenging to let go of. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant. And why wouldn’t it be? When everywhere we turn you can see or smell it. Make no mistake this will be no easy feat, but your body will definitely thank you for it.

There are many reasons to have a short break (in our case at least 30 days) from caffeine, however it is important to know what you may experience during this process and how to help yourself throughout the initial stages of the withdrawal process. So here is everything you need to know about giving up caffeine:

When is it time to have a caffeine detox?

  • You no longer feel the effects of caffeine. I.e., it doesn’t give you an energy boost.
  • Your intake has increased by one or more cups a day.
  • You feel you can’t get through your day without it.
  • You know, or suspect caffeine could be the culprit for health issues.

Common caffeine withdrawal symptoms:

According to research the most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Flu-like symptoms – nausea, vomiting and muscle pain or stiffness.

Ok so now you are wondering why you are doing this again? Let me give you some benefits.

The benefits of going caffeine free:

  • Let’s start with the cost of your caffeine addiction. It can add up to thousands of dollars a year. Even if you only have the 30 days caffeine free you will still save.
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Increased energy (after the initial phase)
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Improve your overall mood
  • Increased weight loss due to lessor calories throughout your day.
  • Dental health will improve. Goodbye coffee stains.
  • Goodbye headaches (particularly after the initial phase)

How to ease the withdrawal symptoms:

Between two – nine days at the most is how long you may expect to have caffeine withdrawal symptoms. However, this is dependent on how much caffeine was consumed daily, along with your individual tolerance levels to caffeine. Initially when eliminating caffeine, you may experience an intensity in the symptoms for 25 – 72 hours.

Although this can be an uncomfortable time, there are ways to reduce your chances of experiencing these symptoms.

1. I highly recommend starting slow. In the lead up to the water challenge begin to gradually cut down your coffee intake by 1 or 2 cups per week, depending on your symptoms. Slow and steady wins the race, well so they say.

2. Clear your calendar and start the process on a weekend. Everyone is different. While some experience withdrawal symptoms, others experience none. If you do experience symptoms take the opportunity to binge on Netflix and relax.

3. Getting enough sleep to combat fatigue is essential. Aim for seven to nine hours per night.

4. Drink plenty of water during this process to avoid headaches and constipation. Both can be common symptoms.

5. Lastly eat nutrient dense food. It is important to be fuelling your body with the right food, rather than reaching for sugar to replace the coffee. Eat small regular meals with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and good fats.

Although for some this may seem like an impossible challenge. I assure you it’s not when done correctly.  The benefits of a caffeine detox every six to twelve months is highly recommended for most. The benefits you will experience after the first 24 – 72 hours will be well worth it in the end. Keep your eye on the prize and know that you will improve your health drastically, even if it’s only for a short time.

SIGN UP TO THE WATER CHALLENGE

 

By Shelley McKenzie.

Nutrition | Naturopath at Freedom Wellness

Find her at:

www.freedomwellness.com.au

Instragram: freedomwellness

Facebook: freedomwellness15

References: 

  • Consensus Conference Panel, Nathaniel F. Watson, M. Safwan Badr, Gregory Belenky, Donald L. Bliwise, Orfeu M. Buxton, Daniel Buysse, David F. Dinges, James Gangwisch, Michael A. Grandner, Clete Kushida, Raman K. Malhotra, Jennifer L. Martin, Sanjay R. Patel, Stuart F. Quan, Esra Tasali. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. 2015 Jun 1; 38(6): 843–844. Published online 2015 Jun 1. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4716
  • James j. E. Critical review of dietary caffeine and blood pressure: a relationship that should be taken more seriously. Psychosomatic medicine. 2004. 66(1), 63-71.
  • John Hopkins Medicine – Caffeine withdrawal recognized as a disorder. September 29, 2004.
  • Karima R. Sajadi-Ernazarova; Richard J. Hamilton. Caffeine, Withdrawal. October 27, 2018
  • Shaun K Riebl, MS, RD, PhD Student and Brenda M. Davy, PhD, RD, FACSM, Associate Professor. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2013 November/December.