I quit drinking coffee 10 days ago, feel amazing, and may never go back. It was a crutch and for me it was a drug. Every day was a coffee day, the stronger the better. I absolutely loved it! I would often start to look forward to coffee the night before and even plan out where I was going to get my coffee the next day. Bulletproof coffee with MCT oil, butter, and collegen protein right away and usually at least a large black coffee later. I would often then drink some strong gunpowder green tea in the afternoons. It didn’t seem like that bad of a habit.
But here’s the thing … caffeine causes your body to release adrenaline. That’s the very same hormone that it releases when you’re physically in danger. It’s a stress response. I used to drink tons of coffee then get “really productive” on my computer work all the while being in a fight or flight mode. It actually felt good. I felt focused and in the zone.
In retrospect, it feels like I was sacrificing my health for a few hours of productivity almost every single day. When I was with my kids and not working, I would drink just as much coffee and then not have an outlet for the “energy” that it produced in my body. I put “energy” in quotes because the boost from coffee isn’t real energy and it isn’t sustainable for most people … myself included. When I was with my kids and without my usual outlets of work and productivity, I would just get anxious and in my head. And then, the worst part of it all was crashing.
I used to often get super tired in the afternoon or evening and couldn’t quite figure out why. For a while I thought it was certain types of wine I was drinking or something else in my diet. Caffeine is tricky like that. The negative effects don’t come until later, it’s hard to associate the two together. My kids actually used to ask me if I needed a nap so they could watch a show. Caffeine was negatively affecting the way I parent and my kids are of utmost importance to me.
Caffeine has a half life of 5 hours. The advice I often hear based on this information is to not drink coffee in the afternoon or generally to leave enough time before sleep so that it’s out of the body. But a half life means that although most of it is out within 2 to 3 half lives (10 to 15 hours), there is a small amount of it that remains in the body. A grande (16oz) Pikes Place coffee at Starbucks has 310 mg of caffeine. So if you drink one of these at 9am, by the next day at 9am (24 hours or 5 half lives later) there is still around 10 mg of caffeine in your system. So even at one 16 oz Pike Place every day, it seems like the caffeine will build up in your system and never actually go away completely. The next morning you add another 310 mg to the 10 mg already in your system and now your body has to metabolize 320 mg … and so on and so on.
Some people drink a single cup of coffee a day. I’ve heard that a lot and even heard it recommended as healthy. I don’t doubt that there could be a healthy level of caffeine that can be ingested but it seems to me that drinking coffee every single day in any amount is above that level simply because the caffeine never gets totally metabolized and your body is constantly being put into a fight or flight mode.