On day 3 I broke out in a cold sweat. On day 5 I tried lifting but even doing one bodyweight squat had me panting. My entire body ached. It felt like the flu without vomiting. On day 7 I woke up ready to kick ass as usual. Finally. Caffeine withdrawal is no joke.
Now why would anyone quit drinking coffee when there are manifold health and performance benefits to caffeine? Plus, if you use a Chemex and the right beans, coffee tastes divine. (Yes, black coffee. If black coffee doesn’t taste full and rich to you, use a Chemex or Aeropress and FRESH beans from Blue Bottle coffee.)
I quit caffeine cold turkey rather than tapering off because some symptoms of burnout were showing. I know my body well and have pushed it to the breaking point several times. Once I have to keep amping up the caffeine to feel “normal,” something is going to give.
I would drink a Monster energy drink (250 mg caffeine) first thing in the morning. Then drink some coffee for the antioxidant boost. Then either another Monster in the afternoon or that new “Bang” drink, which has 300 milligrams of caffeine per can. On any given day I’d be taking in 750 mg to one gram of caffeine a day. (Starbucks drip coffee has 180mg for a short, and 410 for a venti.)
Yes, coffee is a drug, and a powerful one.
Drug is a loaded term. Good drugs are called medicine. People don’t like to think of caffeine as a drug, but science doesn’t care how you feel.
Caffeine is a competitive adenosine receptor antagonist, thus blocking endogenous adenosine, thus preventing the onset of drowsiness, caused by adenosine. Individuals who regularly consume caffeine have increased the number of adenosine receptors in their central nervous system (CNS) and become more sensitive to normal physiologic effects of adenosine. In classical drugs of abuse, such as amphetamines and cocaine, adenosine stimulates dopaminergic activity in nucleus accumbens, thus producing dopamine-like effects in that part of the brain, which accounts for its addictive potential. However, caffeine does not induce a release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens but leads to a release of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, which is consistent with caffeine reinforcing properties. Caffeine also stimulates glucose utilization in a caudate nucleus, which mediates motor activity and regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Coffee is a healthy drug, and in fact many studies show that drinking coffee can extend lifespan and militate against dementia and Parkinson’s:
Most cases of Parkinson disease (PD) over age 50 are sporadic, and twin studies strongly suggest a predominance of environmental over genetic etiologies.1 However, few factors have been found consistently in epidemiologic studies to have major effects, protective in all cases: smoking, urate,2 and caffeine consumption.3 The protective effect of caffeine (found not only in coffee, but also in tea, and some sodas) has been demonstrated in large prospectively followed populations of men, with a dramatic reduction in risk (up to fivefold for persons who drank more than 4 cups of coffee a day). Decaffeinated coffee afforded no protection, pointing to caffeine rather than other substances in coffee or tea as the underlying pharmacologic agent
Caffeine also boosts athletic performance and helps you use stored fat for energy when in a fasted state:
Caffeine as a lipolytic food component increases endurance performance in rats and athletes.
Caffeine is one of the famous ergogenic aids in the athletic field. Caffeine has been known to stimulate lipolysis that spares stored glycogen utilization during moderate intensity exercise
If you want to protect against Alzheimer’s, caffeine the f-ck up:
In the CAIDE study, coffee drinking of 3-5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life. In conclusion, coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD. This may be mediated by caffeine and/or other mechanisms like antioxidant capacity and increased insulin sensitivity. This finding might open possibilities for prevention or postponing the onset of dementia/AD.
Caffeine is amazing.
An amazing drug.
(Pictured below: The two most commonly consumed drugs in America. One drug has health benefits.
The other, sugar, will kill you.)
How severe is caffeine withdrawal?
So severe that caffeine withdrawal is considered a medial condition.
According to science, “Multiple studies have demonstrated that caffeine withdrawal syndrome is a clinically relevant entity, and is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013).”
Do you know how your legs feel after leg day? You’re stumbling around. You’re sore. It hurts.
My body felt worse than after a full body leg day style workout. There was a deep ache, and apparently this is common.
Withdrawal from caffeine causes mild to clinically significant distress and impairment of normal functioning. The severity of symptoms vary from individual to individual, and most commonly include a headache, fatigue, decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feeling foggy/not clearheaded.
I felt all of the above, especially on days 1-2. Some people also have constipation, that’s not an issue as I supplement with magnesium.
- Magnesium is the most important supplement that everyone should be taking.
Yes, the headache has been a non-stop pulsating on the sides of my head. These have lasted every day for a few days, although the severity has decreased significantly.
How long does caffeine withdrawal last?
Depending on how much coffee you drink, withdrawal can last anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks.
The last time I went more than 72 hours without caffeine was in 2011.
Quit caffeine cold turkey or taper off?
Most people taper off of coffee rather than quit cold turkey, as the caffeine withdrawal symptoms are milder. If you drink 3 cups of coffee a day, lower your intake to 2.5 cups for one week. Then drop a half cup each week until you’re off. You won’t feel hardly any withdrawal symptoms if you taper slowly.
Cold turkey is for people who must get some rest and mellow out.
How tired are you if you quit coffee cold turkey?
I slept for 16 hours for the first 3 days due to physical exhaustion. My entire body felt like it was lead. Walking into the next room left me winded.
Why quit cold turkey?
I had been pushing my body and mind too hard for too long, and quitting coffee cold turkey forced me to relax for a few days. The best benefit of stopping suddenly is you must get some rest. Your body won’t give you a choice.
Invariably people will say, “Why would you quit drinking coffee? It’s so great!”
Those are called people who don’t read, because I explained my reasons for dropping coffee.
And of course I’ll start drinking coffee again. That mushroom coffee stuff is good.
Alternatives to drinking coffee.
I was no caffeine at all, from any sources, and this included green and black tea, although you can enjoy “herbal” tea.
Detox herbal tea (caffeine free)
- 3 bags of Biodynamic Tumeric Cinnamon
- 5 drops stevia
- Put stevia drops in bottle of a coffee mug.
- Boil water in a kettle. Add stevia. Add the bags.
- Drink, enjoy.
I also enjoy cans of Zevia, a refreshing drink made from the plant stevia. Check the bottom of the cans to make sure it’s labeled caffeine. Cream Soda is my favorite flavor.
Caffeine Withdrawal by day.
Day 1 – Complete fatigue, could barely get out of bed. Chronic headaches, although nothing severe as a migrane. Slept 16 hours.
Day 2 – Fatigue, trouble doing day-to-day tasks, extreme irritability. Continued headaches. Slept 16 hours.
Day 3 – Broke out in a sweat, still tired, still had a headache, vision blurred for a minute.
Day 4 – More of the same, except not as sleepy. Back to a normal sleep schedule.
Day 5 – Went to gym but “phoned in” the workout as I was weak weak weak.
Day 6 – Starting to feel normal except the extreme body aches persisted. Still a mild headache.
Day 7 – Today. Woke up with the usual HYPE I feel for life. Headache is persisting.
I’ll be back on coffee soon, because it’s healthy and makes you feel good.
For me, quitting caffeine cold turkey was about self-management and self-care.
If you’re feeling burned out, consider cutting down the caffeine for a forced “vacation.”
Or taper it down.
Or don’t do anything at all.
It’s your life, after all!
And if you want to get HYPED, try Gorilla Mind Rush and Smooth.