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The Effects Of Quitting Coffee For (Almost) A Year

by Derek Johanson

in Nutrition

quit coffeeOn November 1st, 2010, I woke up from a Halloween hangover, thinking of coffee. The thought being, “I want some.”

Problem is, I hate coffee when I’m hungover. It makes me feel worse.

This desire troubled me.

“Man, I know I’m addicted, yes. But that addicted?”

I simultaneously realized something incongruous (it’s vocab Monday here at LU.com): it had been 3 days since I’d had a cup of coffee.

That was the longest coffee-less stretch I’d had in probably 2 years.

In that moment I decided I’d be taking a full week off coffee. “Only 4 more days left,” I told myself. “I need a mini-detox.”

I then went over to trusty Twitter and tweeted asking some people what they’d experienced by qutting coffee. I remembered that my friend Corbett Barr had quit awhile back.

He @ replied, Tweeted back, hollered at me basically saying life was better without coffee and he was drinking just tea for caffeine.

So then I made another hurried ‘Derek decision’ and proclaimed, to myself, that I’d quit coffee for one whole year and only drink tea!

And that’s what happened.

Well, kinda.

I went 10 months without.

On my birthday in early September, I had a delicious cup of La Colombe coffee in Philadlephia and I’ve been back on the wagon ever since.

I wasn’t mad at myself for not making it a full year. I’d gotten what I needed out of the experiment and wanted to return back to drinking my black cups of heaven.

Before I Quit:

I was drinking around 6 cups a day, minimum.

It’s funny, even at this amount I never really considered myself an addict. Self-denial is fun.

One of the main reasons for quitting were jitters and having a hard time falling asleep. But I’d drink coffee at all hours of the day, even after dinner a lot of times.

I started to feel like my day was centered around finding the next cup of coffee and I no longer got that ‘boost’ and mental focus feeling in the morning. Which is why I originally started drinking coffee.

The Effects Of Not Drinking Coffee

(I’m talking about taking time off of coffee, not caffeine. I haven’t experimented with quitting caffeine completely)

  • I drank 6-8 cups of tea. Mostly green and white teas, but I did have black tea occasionally.
  • No jittery feelings what-so-ever unless I drank heavily concentrated black teas.
  • The ups and downs that usually occurred during my days were much less pronounced.
  • I didn’t experience any headaches or grogginess that many people report. However, I was still drinking caffeine through tea.
  • I felt much less attached to getting a drink… less addicted. I love my warm drinks, but I wasn’t constantly thinking about my next cup of tea.

Was it worth it?

For me, I’m not sure it was necessary to quit completely.

Control was the main benefit. It’s nice to know that I can quit (coffee) if I want to. An experiment without caffeine is definitely in order. (See my notes below on how I’m using coffee now.)

My energy levels are fairly consistent as it is, but I think that has more to do with my diet. I mainly eat a low carb, high fat and protein diet which works very well for me. I don’t have violent swings in energy throughout the day based on food consumption.

If you get the jitters and have a rough time sleeping I’d say getting rid of coffee might be something you try. But, I think looking at your diet first might be a better idea.

How I’m Using Coffee Now:

I’ve made a distinct transition in the way I think about coffee use. It is no longer just to enjoy (although that’s an added benefit). I’ll ‘enjoy’ my cups on the weekend, but during the week, coffee is used strategically for boosted productivity.

I’ve also added a RULE to my coffee consumption: No coffee after 3 pm.

This has helped tremendously with restlessness before bed.

Based partially on this Bullet Proof Coffee article, I’ve begun experimenting with adding coconut oil into my coffee. Thus far, (about 2 weeks of experimenting) I’d say that my coffee high lasts longer and there’s less of a ‘come down’.

Picture by Tait Campbell.

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