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Physical Wellness

How to Wean Off Caffeine When You’re Feeling Dependent

Many people all over the world rely on caffeine to wake them up in the morning. Depending on the region, people consume caffeine in the form of either tea or coffee. In America, coffee is the preferred caffeine beverage, and the average American is used to waking up with a cup of joe early in the morning. However, while it provides some benefits, there are certain health drawbacks to overconsuming caffeine. So, how to wean off caffeine if you have become dependent on it?

Do a Caffeine Detox If You Have These Caffeine Issues

Caffeine is not necessarily evil. In fact, studies have shown there are many positive effects of coffee on your health, including improved metabolism and a decrease in oxidative stress. However, these symptoms might have more to do with the other ingredients found in coffee than caffeine itself, such as phytochemical combinations and Vitamin B.

Young people having a great time in cafe that needs to know how to wean off caffeine.
Doing A Caffeine Body Detox Can Help Identify How You Feel With And Without Caffeine In Your Diet (Image Source: Shutterstock)

According to research, the average healthy American should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day, which amounts to about four cups of coffee, eight ounces each. For pregnant women, the upper limit has been set at 200–300 milligrams, although this can vary. 

However, some people still have a negative reaction to caffeine consumption, even when it’s consumed within safe limits. This happens because everyone digests caffeine differently. Some people might show signs of distress after drinking a caffeinated beverage, including anxiety, nervousness, irregular heartbeat, and gastrointestinal issues. If that happens, limiting caffeine consumption is ideal. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you should stop consuming it altogether.

Doing a caffeine body detox can help identify how you feel with and without caffeine in your diet. Even if you are not sensitive to caffeine but have become dependent on it, you should cut back on your consumption to break the dependency. There are two methods of cutting down and eventually eliminating your caffeine dependency, namely the weaning method and the cold-turkey method. Each method comes with its own pros and cons, and you should choose the one that best suits your needs. 

Here is a short four-minute Youtube video with the most common symptoms you are likely to face after quitting or reducing your caffeine intake.

5 Signs and Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal

How to Wean Off Caffeine: The Weaning Method

If you are a regular coffee consumer, then it might be tough to imagine your mornings without it. So, how to stop drinking coffee if you are addicted to it? There are two main ways you can do it: the weaning method and the cold-turkey method. 

As the name suggests, the weaning method is all about reducing your dependency on caffeine before eliminating it entirely from your diet. Under this method, you are encouraged to reduce your daily caffeine intake by around 10–30 mg every three days until you hit zero.

With coffee, the weaning method could work by switching to a lower-intensity variant or by having a brew that is diluted with milk and chocolate such as a latte or mocha. Ultimately, you could switch to decaf, or perhaps shift entirely to a different low-caffeine or caffeine-free morning beverage, like the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir

Make sure you are counting all sources of caffeine in the weaning method. This includes soda drinks, energy drinks, and more. Whatever you consume, make sure you are counting the total caffeine consumed in a day for the weaning method to work. 

There are certain pros to the weaning method. 

Firstly, depending on the intensity of your caffeine addiction, you are likely to experience far more minor withdrawal symptoms as compared to the cold-turkey method. Secondly, the quitting process probably won’t significantly impact the quality of your daily life, as you are unlikely to experience any severe headaches because of it. And lastly, it gives your body time to handle the lack of caffeine in your system. 

On the flip side, there are some cons, too. 

Since the method calls for a gradual decrease in the quantity of caffeine consumed, it can take some time for you to get rid of your caffeine dependency. Also, this method requires careful tracking of the caffeine content you consume every day, or you could end up consuming as much as you did at the start. Lastly, since you are still taking in caffeine, you are likely to eventually go back to consuming your original amount due to force of habit. 

Cold-Turkey Method

The cold-turkey method requires you quit at once instead of gradually decreasing your caffeine intake. Although this is the quickest way to get rid of your caffeine dependency, the withdrawal symptoms will likely be more severe compared to the weaning method.

Man's hand refusing a cup of coffee.
The Cold-turkey Method Requires You Quit At Once Instead Of Gradually Decreasing Your Caffeine Intake (Image Source: Shutterstock)

If you decide to go cold turkey, you will notice an immediate difference in the way your body functions. For example, caffeine has a direct connection with your metabolism, and quitting caffeine intake at once is likely to slow down your metabolism. This means it will take longer to digest food, and this slowdown might cause some discomfort. Additionally, you are likely to experience some noticeable drowsiness, enough that it might impact the quality of your work. 

The severity of these withdrawal symptoms makes the cold-turkey method a tough one to implement. Depending on your addiction levels, it could take one to three weeks for the withdrawal symptoms to go away. So, you should only opt for this method if you can afford to compromise your daily work commitments, at least for a few weeks. 

The cold-turkey method requires you cut out all sources of caffeine. Most people would only consider eliminating tea and coffee, but you are also expected to cut out any beverage that contains caffeine, including sodas and soft drinks. After a few weeks, you will notice that you can function without any caffeine in your system, having effectively beat your caffeine dependency.

Conclusion

There are more than a few ways to deal with your caffeine dependency. You have a caffeine dependency if you find it difficult to wake up in the morning or feel alert/active without any caffeine in your system. To reduce or eliminate your caffeine dependency, you need a caffeine detox, and you can use either the weaning method or the cold-turkey method to do it. But beware, caffeine has a significant impact on your mental functions like alertness and physical body functions such as digestion, so cutting it out or reducing your consumption will likely lead to withdrawal symptoms.

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