This Is What Really Happens to Your Body When You Quit Caffeine
Headaches, brain fog, food cravings ... I'm all too familiar with the side effects of caffeine withdrawal, but that doesn't make it any easier to cut back on coffee.
We know that coffee in small amounts can actually be pretty good for you: it's full of antioxidants, can help balance various mental illnesses, and can even help us live longer. But when we breathe in large amounts of cold brew on a regular basis - um, guilty - those health benefits are tarnished by poor sleep hygiene, increased anxiety, and sugar cravings, among other things.
I have found that there is really no "right" time to quit. During the busy working week, I always have to be "on". Crushing Brain Fog isn't exactly a good sign for a writer on a specific date, and who wants to be grumpy and tired on the weekend?
With this in mind, we recommend two approaches: stepping out slowly instead of stepping off the cold turkey, and knowing how to combat withdrawal symptoms when they inevitably arise. Find out how below.
Withdrawal symptom No. 1: The energy crash
If your body is used to getting those caffeine hits all day, it will protest if you cut it off. Studies show that drowsiness is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of caffeine withdrawal - no surprises.
The solution: don't leave the cold turkey.
Instead, scale back slowly to give your body (and brain) time to adjust. This makes it more likely that you will maintain your caffeine breakdown over the long term. Determine how many cups of coffee you typically drink on a regular basis and try to spill one or two cups a week each week. So if you typically drink five cups of coffee a day, you are drinking four cups of coffee for a week. and then three and so on.
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Withdrawal symptom # 2: headache
Since daily caffeine consumption actually changes the speed of blood flow to our brain, headaches are almost inevitable if you choose to reduce it.
The solution: try moderate exercise (and stay hydrated).
Studies show that it is an effective solution for combating migraines and headaches in general. So choose an activity that gets your blood pumping (even if it's just a brisk walk). Bonus: exercise also reduces fatigue.
"Sweating and exercising can help you clear up and feel better," repeats Meryl Pritchard, holistic nutritionist and founder of Kore Kitchen. "The hard part is just getting yourself motivated, but it's never a bad decision. Staying hydrated also helps, especially with headaches. This is good preventative medicine."
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Withdrawal symptom # 3: brain fog
Make no mistake: caffeine is addicting. This is one of the reasons it can be difficult to focus on something else when you let it drain. (It's also why you're more prone to mood swings and even depression.)
The solution: Swap matcha or adaptogenic drinks.
Matcha contains half the caffeine in a cup of black coffee and a large dose of the amino acid L-theanine. Studies show that L-theanine significantly increases the brain's ability to concentrate. Therefore, it may be wise to swap green tea or matcha for one (or more) of your daily cups of coffee.
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