Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms (and how to avoid them)
Caffeine has become the world's most consumed stimulant. It is commonly found in natural sources such as coffee, tea, and cocoa beans. For most of us, caffeine is normally used to improve our alertness and to feel more energetic.
Caffeine is primarily consumed in beverages such as coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks, but it's also found in a variety of other products, including chocolate. If you're a regular caffeine drinker, you may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms after quitting abruptly.
What is Caffeine withdrawal
Caffeine withdrawal is what you experience when you quit caffeine abruptly after your body has developed a dependence on it. For most of us who regularly consume caffeine, our body has built up a tolerance to its effects.
If you've been consuming caffeine for some time, quitting abruptly can cause some physical, psychological and emotional side effects.
You may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms by abruptly stopping daily doses of caffeine of 100mg or higher. Common symptoms are headaches, anxiety, fatigue, mood changes, difficulty concentrating, constipation and tremors. These symptoms can last between 2 and 21 days before disappearing.
However, the severity of those symptoms is highly dependent on your caffeine intake and tolerance to caffeine. The higher your tolerance level, the less severe the symptoms.
How to recognize caffeine withdrawal symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are:
Headaches are the most common symptom of caffeine withdrawal.
Reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet after regular consumption can cause intense, migraine-like headaches for some people.
Caffeine causes our blood vessels to constrict and narrow. Reducing or quitting caffeine can cause your blood vessels to suddenly open up and increase in blood flow which results in a painful, throbbing like headaches similar to migraines.
Anxiety is also a common symptom of caffeine withdrawal.
If you consume caffeine on a daily basis, over time your body will get used to the effects of caffeine. Your body will become mentally and physiologically dependent on it causing you to develop feelings of anxiety if it is suddenly removed from your diet.
Furthermore, if your caffeine mainly comes from energy drinks or sodas that are high in sugar, the sudden removal of sugar at the same time as removing caffeine can make your feelings of anxiety from caffeine withdrawal even more pronounced.
Most of us consume caffeine in order to improve our alertness.
Caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptors in our brain, preventing fatigue and increasing our alertness. Over time, your body will get used to these effects and become dependant on caffeine to feel alert and awake.
However, when you suddenly stop or reduce caffeine from your diet, it produces an opposite effect in your body. You'll generally feel more tired during the day than you did before because your body no longer has the energy-boosting effects of caffeine.
4) Changes in mood
Caffeine in low doses can help you to improve your mood. These mood changes occur mainly because caffeine has an effect on the various neurotransmitters in your brain, including glutamate and dopamine.
Dopamine is mainly in charge of regulating your emotions and behavior. Reducing or stopping your intake of caffeine can cause a considerable change in the chemicals present in your brain. This may then cause you to develop feelings of anxiety, depression or irritability.
5) Difficulty concentrating
Because caffeine interacts with the chemicals in your brain it can affect your ability to concentrate and memorize things if you suddenly take it away.
Glutamate is important for communication between your nerve cells. It plays a crucial role in your learning and memory processes.
Quitting caffeine abruptly can cause a sudden change in the chemical composition of your brain. This can affect your ability to concentrate as your body struggles to get used to the new environment.
Caffeine stimulates the contractions of your colon and intestines which help to move food and waste through your body.
If you regularly consume caffeine you might experience constipation if you reduce your caffeine intake suddenly.
Although not as common as the other symptoms, tremors are another possible symptom of caffeine withdrawal.
Tremors caused by caffeine withdrawal generally occur in your hands and last for between two and nine days.
You might also experience nausea and vomitting when you're going through caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
When does caffeine withdrawal begin and how long does it last?
You may start to notice symptoms of caffeine withdrawal within just 12 to 24 hours of stopping your regular consumption of caffeine.
The effects are at their highest one or two days after reducing or quitting caffeine.
Most caffeine withdrawal symptoms generally last for between two and nine days. However, headaches may last up to 21 days.
What happens to your body when you reduce caffeine?
Despite being safe for consumption in moderation, there are many potential benefits from reducing your daily intake of caffeine.
1) Lower Blood Pressure
For some people, caffeine can raise their blood pressure to unsafe levels. Reducing caffeine intake may help to lower your blood pressure.
2) Sleep Better
Caffeine can no doubt affect the quality of your sleep.
Drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks late in the evening can interfere with you getting a good night's sleep.
Reducing your caffeine intake, especially after lunchtime, can help you get better quality sleep at night.
3) Decreased Anxiety
If you're prone to anxiety issues, reducing your intake of caffeine can help you feel less anxious.
However, you may need to make it through the initial week or so of caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which may include increased anxiety, before enjoying the benefits of lower overall anxiety.
4) Weight Loss
Unless you drink your coffee black, caffeinated beverages often contain tons of sugar and unnecessary calories. This is true of coffee and many energy drinks.
Energy drinks like Monster contain tons of sugar, which can cause you to gain weight or get other illness if consumed in excess.
By reducing your consumption of sugary beverages, it can help you to lose a few pounds.
5) Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Because of the high sugar content in many coffees and energy drinks, regular consumption of these sugary drinks can lead to type 2 diabetes.
There are so many positives that come from reducing unnecessary sugar from your diet, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes is just one of them.
How to avoid Caffeine withdrawal symptoms
Fortunately, there are a few ways that can help you reduce your chances of experiencing any of the above mentioned caffeine withdrawal symptoms and make the transition to a caffeine-free life:
Cut back on caffeine slowly
Quitting caffeine abruptly can shock your body and make your withdrawal symptoms worse.
If you're thinking about reducing your daily intake of caffeine, do it little by little. You can start off by drinking half-decaf or low caffeinated beverages to slowly reduce your dependence on caffeine.
That way, you'll reduce your chances of experiencing the dreadful side effects of caffeine withdrawal and if you do still encounter any of the symptoms they will be less severe than if you just quit cold turkey.
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is important when you're in the process of cutting out caffeine.
Caffeine withdrawal may cause you to become dehydrated. This can worsen the symptoms of withdrawal such as headaches and fatigue.
Therefore, drink lots of water to reduce the withdrawal effects.
Get enough rest
When you're trying to cut down on caffeine, it's important to get enough rest. To prevent yourself from feeling extremely fatigued in the morning make sure you have a good rest and get to sleep at a reasonable time the night before.
It's recommended that you get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Boost energy naturally
If you're looking for a quick fix for your energy needs, there are many alternatives to caffeine for getting a boost.
Try setting aside some time in your daily routine for exercise. According to many articles, exercise can have a positive impact on your energy levels and boost your fitness levels while maintaining overall health.
So, next time you're feeling a bit sluggish and considering reaching for an energy drink or coffee, just go and do some light exercise for a few minutes and you'll feel much more energetic than you did before.
Eat a more balanced diet
Our body needs fuel to get through the day. If you're always low on energy, maybe it's time to take a look at what your diet consists of.
Eating more natural food can help provide your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.
You can start off by eating more vegetables and less processed foods. Try it out for a couple of days and you might just see an improvement in your energy levels.
Yes, at first it won't be easy and won't taste as good, but if you're serious about improving your energy levels by changing your diet you should ask yourself if you eat food for the taste or because you want the nutrients contained within the food.
If you stick with it, eventually you won't even miss the old processed junk that you used to eat and you'll genuinely prefer the healthier and more natural alternatives.
Lower caffeinated energy drinks
There are lots of great energy drinks available that contain a low amount of caffeine. These energy drinks can be a smart way to wean yourself off caffeine without going cold turkey.
If you're looking for ready-to-drink energy drinks that contain a sensible amount of caffeine, have a look at:
• Red Bull
• Mountain Dew Kickstart
If you are looking for something a bit different than your conventional caffeinated beverages, you can try Mio Water drops which are droplets that you add to water to change the flavor and add some caffeine.
Powdered energy drinks are a great option too.
They're more versatile, convenient and they also tend to be more affordable than most of the well-known energy drink brands.
Powdered energy drinks typically come with much lower price tags than their ready-to-drink counterparts:
• REIZE (10 out of 10)
If you're interested in getting yourself a powdered energy drink, I highly recommend REIZE.
My favorite low-caffeine energy drink
REIZE is nothing like your conventional ready-to-drink energy drink.
It comes in conveniently packed sachets and is easy to make - all you need to do is just add water or your favorite beverage. It's a lot more versatile than most other energy drinks out there because you can mix it with almost any drink and it tastes great.
At 50mg of caffeine, REIZE contains a more sensible amount of caffeine than most energy drinks, but it doesn't compromise on the energy boost thanks to having taurine, ginseng and B vitamins alongside the caffeine.
Did I mention that REIZE is also sugar-free?
Yes, REIZE is completely sugarfree. So if you're looking for a low-caffeinated energy drink, REIZE is absolutely ideal as for daily daily use because of the low levels of caffeine and also the very affordable price tag.
REIZE ships right to your door for around $1 per drink.
You can choose the option of monthly deliveries or one-time purchases to suit your energy needs, giving you the utmost flexibility when it comes to choosing what works best for you.
So what are you waiting for!
Try REIZE today, and you might just find that REIZE quickly becomes your favorite energy drink too.
It's also a great stepping stone to quitting caffeine completely if you've previously been drinking one of the stronger energy drinks.