Giving up caffeine is going to suck. Unless you are one of those rare individuals who can drink 10 cups of coffee per day or 0 with no real difference you are not in for a fun time. However, there are several things that you can do to make your withdrawals but shorter and less severe. I don't know about you but I'll take a mild headache for a couple days over a weeklong migraine anytime!
If you're looking for a more serious and involved route for detoxing, the following articles will help you get your energy back faster so you can get to feeling better than ever!
If you quit caffeine cold turkey without any supplementation or change in diet, you can expect it to take around 10 days (in our experience) for things to return roughly to normal. There have been instances however when people have reported to us that they experience brain fog and decreased mental ability for several months after quitting caffeine. So take these as a good start to what may well be a long and rocky road to better health!
The jury is still out on whether it is better to quit caffeine cold turkey or taper off slowly but here is the summary: while tapering off you will have reduced symptoms (obviously, since there is caffeine still in your system) but it will lengthen the total recovery time because your body will still have to return to baseline once you have zero caffeine intake.
Our advice is generally to avoid a long tapering protocol unless you have been taking obscene amounts of caffeine per day (like 800mg plus). If you are a heavy caffeine user/drinker, we recommend taking half of your typical dose for two days, and then cut it in half for an additional one to two days. Any longer period of time will just draw out the misery.
2. Stay Hydrated
One of the main reasons people think they need more caffeine is simply because they are dehydrated. If you're feeling sluggish and low on energy, drink 16 oz of cold water and you should be back in action within 20 minutes.
3. Get lots of sleep
Adenosine is a brain thing that makes you feel tired. It builds up throughout the day as your body produces ATP and then breaks it down for energy. While you are awake, your body is breaking down ATP faster than it can convert Adenosine to more ATP so you get tired. When you are asleep however the scales tip and your expediture of ATP drops, meaning the excess of adenosine in your body is decreased. People who rely heavily on caffeine have forced their body to produce unusually high amount of adenosine which is why you have such lethargy while detoxing. Getting a good night sleep and taking a nap during the day will help to keep your ATP levels high and the excess adenosine to a minimum.
4. Treat your symptoms (see full list here)
If you've never experienced the lethargy or headaches that come from caffeine detox it may be hard to understand why people fail. If you let your symptoms run unchecked, you will likely fail. Your symptoms are your body telling you that IT NEEDS CAFFEINE! But since you know better, don't be afraid to take something for your headache, get some probiotics for your out of whack stomach flora, etc.
5. Use caffeine alternatives to keep your energy/mental ability up
The main reason that people fail while detoxing from caffeine is that they need a mental/physical edge to get through "X". I would always be fine until I had a presentation at work at think that there was no way I could make it through without. Looking back, that is the absolute definition of addiction. So before thinking you could never be enough without caffeine/coffee, let's look at an alternative to keep you on point both mentally and physically. You can find a much more extensive list in both our article on . and . but if you just want one thing, we recommend ...... it is blah blah blah.
6. Supplement properly to address deficiencies
Unfortunately, many people suffer unnecessarily when they quit caffeine, unaware that they could be using a simple supplementation routine to both treat their symptoms and expedite their body's recovery. In fact, we've even heard of people suffering for weeks or months with brain fog and lethargy after quitting caffeine. If you are not doing much better within 10 days of quitting caffeine, odds are you have a deficiency that is holding you back! Find out how to get milder symptoms for a shorter period of time and address all your deficiencies in our full detox article.
Exercise releases the body's natural "feel good" hormones.
8. Have an alternative
Many people have trained their body to crave coffee when they are tired. In their body's perception, "I get tired, I get coffee, I feel better." So if you want to succeed, it is best to have a comparable alternative to replace your favorite caffeine source. Decaff Coffee is the most basic level of this, but if you're looking for something more effective, trying adding XX to your decaff coffee or trying a coffee alternative such as XX.
9. Tell people around you. Sharing a goal helps. Warn your spouse that you might be crabby.
If I decide to detox and don't tell me wife she usually asks me what is wrong with me within a day. While everyone reacts differently, lack of caffeine makes me tired and being tired makes me crabby. Luckily, I have an amazing wife who will deal with me being a grouch for a day or two if I warn her before hand. In addition to dealing with my symptoms (which also affect her life...) she is able to remind me and keep me on track when I "accidentally" order a Baja Blast at Taco Bell.
10. Be careful when you start. Start on a holiday or weekend time.
Whatever anyone says about caffeine, there is no doubt that it improves short term performance. This has been proven time and time again and every coffee drinker has pexerienced it first hand. It follows, that when you stop, your performance level will drop, probably even lower than it was pre-caffeine until you're body can regulate. Since I need to be at my best while at work, I try to minimize the time I'll be at work in a lethargic and grumpy state. If you have a holiday coming up, that may be your best time but, if you're like me and don't want to ruin a good holiday, the weekend should be sufficient. I typically stop taking any caffeine source by 3:00 on a Thursday. Friday's are a slow day at work for me so it's alright for me to be a bit tired as I ramp up to days two on three on Saturday and Sunday. If I've been keeping up with my supplements and diet, I'll usually in okay enough shape by the time Monday rolls around to handle things at work.