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Pros and Cons of Cutting Out Caffeine

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Ditching Caffeine

The other day, I accidentally skipped my morning cup of coffee but didn't realize until I got a late-morning, dull headache. I remembered the sensation from my caffeine-addicted college days and it set off a red flag in my mind. Researchers agree that a small amount of caffeine (around 300 mg per day) can promote health; moderate caffeine consumption can help sore muscles and improve alertness. On the other hand, excessive caffeine intake has been associated with miscarriages and can cause anxiety, sleeplessness, and even irregular heart rhythms. Since I've recently come clean about my Diet Coke habit, I'm thinking of trying to cut caffeine out completely — at least for a little while. If a lack of morning coffee is causing headaches, I'm curious what else it may be causing. Find out some pros and cons of kissing a daily dose goodbye when you


  • Con: There will be side effects. As with any drug, it takes your body some time to get used to the lack of caffeine. Immediate effects of withdrawal can include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Pro: They won't last long. Symptoms will kick in after 24 to 36 caffeine-free hours and can last anywhere from a few days to a full week. Not ideal, but manageable.
  • Con: I really enjoy drinking coffee. Decaf doesn't taste the same! To help when cutting back, doctors recommend giving up the caffeine, not the routine. If you drink a hot coffee in the morning, switch to a warm caffeine-free beverage or a lower-caffeine alternative, such as green tea. (I recommend Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical, $10 for 15 pouches. It's delicious.)
  • Pro: You don't have to give it up for good. Scientists are hesitant to compare excessive caffeine consumption with addiction; they're more likely to explain it as caffeine dependence. Since caffeine does have some health benefits, I can eventually reintroduce it into my diet — though best to do it through drinking coffee, not chemical-laden Diet Coke.

I'm hoping a drastic caffeine-cutting move will finally break me of my soda habit and help me cut back on the coffee. Have you ever tried cutting it out altogether? How did it go?

Join The Conversation
Svetoslav2322451 Svetoslav2322451 5 years
I'm off caffeine for about 15 days now. It did not happen on purpose. I had some health issues, involving severe pain. The last thing I was able to think about has coffee (after 48 hours with no sleep whatsoever). So the first couple of days were easy for me. I caught myself drinking a lot of green tea the other day. So I guess I'm not completely caffeine free, but I feel better all the same. Switch to green tea and don't be afraid drinking lots of it. That would be my advice. I actually noticed some wight loss too. So far, my best decision for 2012.
latenights latenights 5 years
About a year and a half late, but I fully cut caffeine our of my diet for the past three months and the changes have been amazing! I don't know if it was associated with it but I've been losing weight, more alert, and just feel more clean. I was one of those Grande Americano 3 times a day kind of guy, so the change is much more welcome! I have filled the void of caffeine with a shake some mornings called Vega Sport, I suggest the Lemon Lime. But beyond that I just feel more healthy not drinking caffeine! And as a side note, most decaf coffee still contains caffeine in it, so filling the void with that isn't the best option!
schar schar 7 years
I cut out caffeine almost a year ago now. I was having issues with anxiety and was trying to find natural remedies. One thing that I read was to cut out caffeine and alcohol. So I tried it. I didn't really notice a difference when I was coming off of it. I really didn't think that my body responded to caffeine. But now that I haven't been drinking it I notice a huge difference if I even have a half decaf half regular. I have also noticed that my skin cleared up a bit.
I gave up Dr. Peppers for Lent. I was super grouchy and got headaches the first week or so, but nothing too bad. Now that lent is over, I tried to go back to my addiction and it just isnt the same. it tastes horrible to me :(
sparklestar sparklestar 7 years
I quit drinking anything containing caffeine in 2007. Since then I KNOW when I've had the tiniest bit of caffeine because I'm awake for hours at night !! I don't know how anybody can drink the stuff. I'm 100% decaf and fruit tea now... and my sleep pattern is fixed !!
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
I gave up coffee (but not iced tea) when I was pregnant and breast-feeding. I used to drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day. Now I have a latte in the morning and a cup of Earl Grey tea mid-morning.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I don't drink an excessive amount of caffeine and it really doesn't affect me much. For whatever reason, as long as I stop drinking caffeine about 4 hours before going to bed, I sleep just fine and wake up refreshed. I love my coffee, but I usually blend it half decaf, half regular to cut the bitterness.
Veggie-Kate Veggie-Kate 7 years
I've done this a few times because I don't like how dependent my body gets to caffeine, but inevitably that big project comes up, or there's a week when I don't sleep enough, when I have to have it again. I like the feeling of being awake without needing a cup of coffee, but be warned that those first three days without caffeine are ROUGH. The withdrawal headaches were pretty intense for me, and you can't take any medication with caffeine in it if you want your system to be completely off of it. It made it easier for me to start out by replacing coffee with caffeinated green tea - as much as I needed to get through the day, and then slowly decrease it until I could phase into decaf tea.
danaruth danaruth 7 years
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I had to quit caffeine cold turkey. I had an awful headache for a full week! Then it went away, and I got on with my life. After I had my baby, I realized you can't drink coffee and then breastfeed your baby (caffeinated breastmilk = VERY cranky baby!) so I didn't start drinking coffee again until last summer. Now I'm back up to one cup of coffee in the morning and a cup of green tea in the afternoon. Now that my daughter is 2, I need all the help and energy I can get!
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
I keep my caffeine addiction because of all the benefits is has when it comes to fighting dementia, Alzheimer's, memory loss and so on... However I don't think I drink enough of it to be really effective (usually just an espresso a day, maximum two), but I won't be upping the amount because I get a little too irritable when I have too much...
littlekaren littlekaren 7 years
After having my 2 kids, I found myself extremely sensitive to the high amounts of stimuli (noise, life hurdles in general) and became anorexic(ish) and eventually sought professional counseling. Turns out that something my OBGYN suggested: cutting back on the large amounts of caffeine I consumed, was the key to getting my normalcy back! Now I don't snap and scream at my kids over basically nothing, and I'm a totally happier person overall. I cut out caffeine almost completely about a year and a half ago. Now I preach my story to everyone. Much cheaper than counseling and anti-depressive drugs!
Splintera Splintera 7 years
Heh, I'm actually considering GETTING a coffee addiction. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Although of course I'll probably stick to drinking 1 cup (at the most 2) per day.
kclulu kclulu 7 years
I have never wanted to drink less caffeine but I noticed that the precieved benefits for me are mostly in my head anyway. My boyfriend drinks decaf and I don't feel any differently drinking that than I do a fully caffeinated beverage. I however don't think I can kick my iced tea habit so maybe just coffee for now.
valentix valentix 7 years
what a timely post! I've recently kicked my caffeine habit. Even though I was only drinking one cup, I found my heart racing and I felt anxious after. The funny thing is this never happened before. So I'm just taking this chance to kick whatever caffeine habit I have :D
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Also, most decaf coffee does taste bad, but if you look around, there are a couple that taste good. I personally think the Starbucks Pike Place decaf tastes better than some cheaper types of regular coffee.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Cutting out caffeine was one of the best decisions I'v ever made. To be honest though, it took a full month before I felt the benefits. The most drastic difference (aside from avoiding headaches) is that I used to go to bed no later than 10:30 at night to wake up at 6:00 a.m. That's a decent amount of sleep, but I would still hit a wall every afternoon around 3:00, and I was often so tired in the evenings that I went to sleep around 9:30 or 10:00. After quitting caffeine, I am fully awake all day. I now go to bed around 11:00, I still wake up around 6:00, and I have constant energy throughout the day - no mid-afternoon slump! After being totally off of it for about a month and a half, I've re-introduced small amounts in the form of the occasional decaf coffee and green tea.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I stopped drinking my three cups of coffee and switched to tea for a long time. I felt like I woke up more awake already, but eventually my uber boring job made me switch back to coffee. I just drink one cup now instead of three.
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