How To Give Up Caffeine

Back in 2006/2007, I was quite addicted to caffeine.

3 Cups of Tea

Photo credit: Mat.teo, Flickr

Tough to say, but there’s really no way to sugar coat it.  Thinking about it now, I kind of recoil in horror about the amount of caffeine intake I had.  I would regularly wake up and have a coke for breakfast (horrible, I know), and then it would be a few hour break from caffeine (and all liquids, actually), then I’d get home, relax and make some dinner and then start on my homework/work and have another cup of tea (or 2).  This tea was typically green or black, but on occasion I considered my caffeine intake and switched to white tea (but only if I was planning on going to bed soon).  It wasn’t good, and not only was the consumption outside this world, the rate at which I consumed a cup was astounding.   Either way, it got to a point where even I started to realize my consumption was high, so I decided to make an effort to cut back.  Here are some of the BEST reasons I found to give up caffeine:

  1. Caffeine has a half life of 4.9 hours for healthy adults (women taking oral contraceptives, it’s 5-10 hours, dont ask me why)
  2. Caffeine hogs your liver.  When you drink caffeine, it gets broken down into 3 parts in the liver (Paraxanthine 84%, Theobromine 12% and Theophylline 4%).  When your liver is breaking down these things that you put into your body knowingly, it cant break down toxins that are in your body that you don’t know about.
  3. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage, with women who consume more than 200 mg a day (2 cups drip coffee) doubling their risk.
  4. It will make it harder for you to fall asleep, and you’ll wake easier
  5. We all know about the feeling a few hours later when you crash.  Coffee is a lot like credit cards in this way – you can keep having fun, but eventually you’ll have to pay the piper.
  6. It will dehydrate you.
  7. The acidic nature of caffeine drinks has a negative effect on your body by preventing other nutrients from getting absorbed.
  8. The “Latte Factor” (or soda factor) It doesn’t really matter how much you do or don’t drink of the stuff. It will add up no matter what, and lets face it: Water is free & better for you.

You’re probably addicted to the stuff (Just like I was), depending on the amount of caffeine you drink.  Lets work out how long it could take.   1 shot of espresso from starbucks has 75 mg of caffeine in it.  Given our half-life formula, that 1 espresso shot (or drink) will stay in your body for the next 31.5 HOURS, Give or take a few hours depending on how healthy you are.  At 4pm tomorrow, are you still going to be thinking about that espresso shot you had at 8am today?  I didnt think so either.  It’s probably time to give it up.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, something as simple as getting a waterbottle to fill can help you out.  The soda can/tea cup I used to reach for was replaced by a water bottle, and I didn’t really notice the difference at first, then I started to feel a lot better after a while.   Once you start switching to water during the times that you typically blindly reach for a caffeinated beverage (read: at your desk) you can start doing the difficult part: purposefully avoiding it at restaurants, in bars, etc.   But, please, don’t try both of these at once.

I suggest starting with having your morning coffee ( and if you started out drinking 3+ cut it down to 3, then to 2, then to 1).  While you’re doing this, start replacing the coffee you’re not drinking with 2x the amount of water.  It will fill your stomach up and leave less room for the caffeine.  You’ll also rehydrate yourself in doing so.  Once you get in the habit of doing this, you can move on to the next step!

Good Luck.

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14 thoughts on “How To Give Up Caffeine”

  1. The worst thing about drinking diet soda (pick one) is the phosphorous and sugar – definite tooth-roting substances. Green tea has caffeine but it’s also good for you. I recently read that coffee beans have more antioxidant properties than any dark-colored fruit you can name. I’m sticking with my green tea and coffe.

    • You’re absolutely right about the diet soda. It’s terrible for you. Giving up caffiene does have its drawbacks, and to each his (Or her) own!

  2. I’m sticking to my black tea. I don’t HAVE to drink it daily, nor do I … but I can’t drink coffee — way too much caffeine in there for me to not feel sick or dizzy.

    And before anyone squeals: BUT TEA HAS MORE CAFFEINE THAN COFFEE!

    It isn’t true.

    Google it, tea has LESS caffeine than coffee when it’s brewed, the insane amount of caffeine actually stays in the tea leaves.

  3. You can give up caffeine without giving up coffee or tea – both can be purchased decaffeinated. I don’t drink either beverage for the “kick” but I drink 2 cups of coffee (decaf) every morning and green tea all day (plus plenty of water). As I said above, both are exceptionally good for humans. Green tea is part of a cancer preventative regimen. As the old saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” It’s up to each of us to use moderation in all things and to decide what’s best for us.

  4. I gave up coffee for a few weeks when I was sick a while back. Then I started up again. I’ve read a fair number of very broad studies that showed no difference in life expectancy between control groups of non-coffee, moderate coffee, and even heavy coffee drinkers. While the anecdotes are all true about dehydration, water being better, etc., it doesn’t seem to translate into a decrease in life expectancy. On one hand, I’m justifying my habit. On the other, I’d never consider one where the data is compelling – like smoking or heavy drinking or drugs.

  5. @Darwin: As far as external studies go, anyone can tell you anything about a substance, but what it really burns down to is: does that substance continually put your body/mind out of alignment with the core internal structure (heart energy)? At this point, my heart has been saying “coffee = ‘internal burn'”, and that is a consistent message. If a nobel-prize winner comes to me personally declaring how great coffee is, it would be difficult to go against my internal experiences.

  6. Thanks for the article. I am wondering how long it takes to withdraw and bring the body back to normal – say from a cold turkey quit. And also the side-affects during quitting – specifically competitive fitness and sports exercise.

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