30 Days Minus Caffeine
I really really like coffee. And I know many of you do as well. In fact, when it comes to the question of the day, coffee may be the most popular answer in the two year history of Troy CrossFit. What can’t you live without? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What’s your favorite beverage. Think of a question, insert coffee.
For a few years now coffee, and other caffeinated beverages, have become a part of my daily routine. Whether I wake up at 4am to open the gym, 7am on a day I close the gym, or 8a on Sunday, I immediately head to the Keurig to get my first cup started. I usually have 2 cups first thing in the morning. Mid day, those Trident coffee cans in the gym fridge started calling my name. I need a boost. Before I workout I want energy to go so I may have a BANG or another drink on hand. I think at peak (2018) I may have been consuming 500-700mg of caffeine a day.
As this trend progressed I noticed that I was sleeping poorly, often waking up. My mid morning energy levels were low and on longer days I was crashing mentally. I noticed that the energy drinks, while driving up my heart rate, weren’t helping me feel energized anymore, the key to drinking them before my workouts in the first place. Something wasn’t right here.
On Monday, April 1, I woke up at 4am. I headed over to the Keurig to start my first cup and looked at the machine for a couple of minutes. During those two minutes I decided that I wasn’t going to do it. Why did I need that first thing in the morning? I never did before I drank coffee so why did I need it now? In that moment I decided that I wasn’t going to drink any caffeine for at least the month of April. Let me tell you about it.
For the first 3 days, I did not feel drawn towards the coffee machine at all. Usually in the early stages of anything, our morale and dedication is high. However I did feel that my mental sharpness and excitement levels in the morning were a little lower than normal. This is likely due to the fact that caffeine is a stimulant and I had cut it out. After the initial few days I found that I did not need caffeine to “wake up.” Upon getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and moving around, in about 5-10 minutes I felt fully awake and ready to get the day going. My determination is that coffee first thing in the morning serves some type of mental addiction to it. Our bodies do not need stimulation at the point of the day when we are actually the most rested and best prepared to take on mental challenges.
Next part were my workouts. My energy around working out often varies as my schedule can be erratic and the time of day in which I workout is often different. Cutting out caffeine before the workout had no effect on my performance from both strength and cardiovascular standpoints. I found that attacking my warmups was all the heart rate increase that I needed to get my blood flowing and my mind in a place where I could get amped up for lifting or whatever task was ahead.
What I did feel at times, and this didn’t go away at all during the 30 days, was a mid-late day lull in energy levels and an increased sense of being tired in the evening. And that I assume is completely natural. Our bodies are designed to unwind as the day goes on preparing us for end of the day relaxation and then sleep. We weren’t designed to go, consume caffeine so we can go some more, and then get poor rest.
To conclude my experiment, I found that at least for me, caffeine was a mental addiction. The key moments when I wanted it were first thing in the morning and before my workouts. Cutting it out from those periods proved that I didn’t need it for either of them, After the first week lulls I found that during those periods I didn’t feel any different than when I was consuming it. There were times when I really wanted a cup of coffee mid day and that was when my craving was highest. At the end of April I found that I really missed the taste and smell of coffee. I’ve determined that I do enjoy coffee and I want to continue drinking it however I do not want to use it as the drug that it had become in my life.
While on vacation I had 2 cups of coffee at breakfast in the morning. I really enjoyed them. They weren’t first thing in the morning or before workouts. I didn’t notice any heightened energy from it at all. It just made breakfast more enjoyable. I think I’ll keep it to that and maybe a midday cold brew here and there just because I enjoy that flavor too. Hopefully for the rest of my life.