Cutting Back on Caffeine

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If you drink caffeine regularly — and especially if you get headaches if you skip your cuppa — you might want to consider reducing or eliminating your caffeine consumption as part of your Camp Kale adventure.

Now, your first question might be: why would she ask me to do something crazy like that???

Fair enough.

After all, I spent the last year or so chained to my daily Bulletproof Coffee habit (coffee blended with MCT oil and/or grassfed butter).

However, as much as I love coffee, I also know that my body feels much better without it. And Camp Kale seems like a great opportunity to give it up for awhile.


Coffee: Pros and Cons

On the “pro” side of things, caffeine can stimulate alertness and improve mental performance; improve mood; boost concentration; help the body absorb medication more quickly; and it also provides minerals and antioxidants.

So that all works for the people who can tolerate it; and, by the way, I do believe there are people who can drink coffee with no problems whatsoever.

However, I know for a fact that when my clients give up coffee — or at least go half-caf — they definitely feel better. My clients tell me about better digestion, less bloating, reduced menstrual or peri-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, improved sleep, decreased hunger cravings, better mood stability, and less anxiety.

Sounds good, right?

Especially when you consider what can happen when caffeine is having a negative effect on your body. Caffeine has been shown to:

  • Can raise blood pressure
  • Increase stress levels
  • Trigger dehydration
  • Impair blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity
  • Cause food and sugar cravings
  • Contribute to gastrointestinal issues
  • Inhibit the absorption of nutrients
  • Increase men's risk for urinary or prostate problems
  • Exacerbate female health issues such as fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight, and menopausal issues (specifically, hot flashes)
  • Put stress on the adrenal system

Caffeine can also interfere with weight loss efforts.

How? It can mess with your blood sugar levels, which then impairs insulin sensitivity. And why does that matter? Well, insulin is also known as the “fat storage hormone.” So you can guess what happens when you have inappropriately high insulin levels.

In fact, in “The 10-Day Detox Diet” by Dr. Mark Hyman, he refers to a study where the participants consumed coffee with a high-sugar meal. The people who drank the “regular” coffee had a 147% higher spike in blood sugar and a 29% higher insulin surge than those who drank decaf coffee following the same high-sugar meal.


Caffeine: It Depends on the Individual

As with most foods, caffeine can affect individuals very differently — that's why I don't believe that it's either “good” or “bad.” The challenge is for us to figure out, as individuals, whether we can tolerate caffeine. And, if we can, we need to determine how much we can tolerate without experiencing negative effects — or withdrawal symptoms if we skip our morning coffee. Often, people who are sensitive to caffeine can get “hooked” on just one cup a day!

If you'd like to take a deeper dive into this topic, I highly recommend checking out this article from hormone expert and author of The WomanCode, Alisa Vitti. In this post, she covers why and how caffeine affects women differently than it does men, and how it can be behind all sorts of hormone-related imbalances.

Here's what she has to say: “If you’re struggling with your period, fibroids, cysts of any kind in the breast or ovary, endometriosis, infertility, low sex drive, moodiness, low energy, and weight issues – coffee is making all of these problems much worse.”


Don't Go Cold Turkey — Unless You Love Headaches

Please, please, please! don't go cold turkey. I know it's tempting, but I'd love to spare you from the headaches or extreme fatigue that can from a hasty exit from coffee.

The trick is to do this all gradually, in the weeks and days leading up to Camp Kale. Here's what I recommend:

  • Day 1-3: drink half the amount of caffeine that you usually do. For example, if you make your own coffee, use 50/50 regular and decaf beans. If you get your coffee at a coffee shop, order half-decaf (or, “split shot” if you want to be cool and sound like a barista).
  • Day 4-5: drink 25% the amount of caffeine.
  • Day 6-7: try having a cup of green tea.
  • Day 8: Stick with green tea, or try having a cup of white tea. This has a tiny amount of caffeine.
  • Day 9 and beyond: try naturally caffeine free, herbal tea such as cinnamon, licorice, rooibos, etc. Or try kukicha tea, a low-caffeine green tea made from the roasted twigs of the green tea plant.


Does All of This Giving-Up-Coffee Talk Make You Nervous?

Please remember: this doesn't have to be permanent. We're just running a little health experiment to see how we feel after not being on caffeine for awhile.

Most people find that once they emerge from the initial detox-from-caffeine fog, their energy levels are more stable throughout the day, and they get a better night of sleep.

And a better night of sleep leads to enhanced metabolism, a stronger immune system, and a healthier brain. And, ironically, better focus — which is why we find ourselves reaching for coffee to begin with.

So if you're drinking coffee currently, and you're up for a challenge, please keep this all in mind for your detoxing and decaffeinating adventures.


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