First of all, let’s not victimise Coffee. It has fantastic health benefits from being one of the world’s most widely used anti-oxidants as well as helping reduce the risk of a whole host of diseases. I absolutely love the stuff, and those that know me will hear me regurarly call it the ‘Nectar of the Gods’.
So you may be reading this wondering, why would I detox from something that I enjoy so much? And the answer boils down to my lack of moderation and respect for a cup of the black stuff.
I found myself on a daily basis having a lot more than one or two cups of coffee, maybe up to 5 or 6 and on top of this my energy levels would be all over the place. Sometimes I’d feel wired to the moon, then 3 hours later I’d crash and burn and be struggling with those last few hours of the working day. So I decided to reset my tolerance and go cold turkey from the good stuff for ten days – Apart from the odd cup of Decaf purely to satisfy my tastebuds!
Days 1 – 3 – The Struggle
If embarking on a detox from caffeine, this is the hardest stage. Getting over the initial caffeine withdrawal symptoms, and trust me, even if you think you’re not in someway habitually addicted to the black stuff, you’ll realise how much you rely on that liquid once you’re cold turkey.
From the initial low energy, to the dizzy head spells, to that feeling of fogginess in the forefront of your mind. These first three days are not fun at all, but, you just have to trust the process, keep your head strong and know that once those three days are out of the way, the rest will be easy.
For me, I found the mornings and mid afternoons the hardest times of the day. My concentration levels were at an all time low and I felt like my body was missing its Turbo! On top of this, any small daily tasks seemed to take twice as long, as if I was working on dial-up…
Days 3 – 5 – The Hump
Now for me this is where I started to feel more normal, those foggy headaches were no longer, energy levels were starting to balance but I still had that mid-afternoon slog of low energy that would hit me. I’d weened off of that need for caffeine, like a jump start in the morning and as a result my energy levels started to stabilise and were becoming more… consistent and neutral.
By the time I’d got to day 5 my mind and body did not crave or feel the need for coffee or caffeine. I’d even stopped drinking Decaf as it was not really serving any purpose to me apart from replacing that habitual routine of having a coffee first thing.
Days 5 – 10 – The Home Stretch
From day 5 onwards my energy levels were stable across most of the day. Again, with caffeine I generally find that I have a big energy spike at the start, then it fizzles out over a couple of hours. For me during this detox time, I found my energy levels were never running at that high intensity, however I found them to have a more natural flow throughout the day. Around this time I also started to be aware of the impact eating has on my energy levels, a meal would energise me and I would feel it perk me up rather than it being numbed out by that hit of caffeine you’ve had with my morning or afternoon meal.
After day ten I didn’t really ‘miss’ coffee so to speak but I treated myself to a nice Coconut milk flat white and I’m not going to BS you, that thing hit me like a train, it was like being on rocket fuel for the next 5 – 6 hours!
Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee and I love the health benefits of it, however sometimes exclusion makes the heart grow fonder and also lets the body have a little rest! Our body’s tolerance for caffeine builds the more we consume, so I find it beneficial to reset those markers back down to normal and whilst I’m there I can check in with my bodies natural energy levels.
I found the whole detox worthwhile and I feel that its a process I will repeat every 3 or so months. However next time I will try to cut down my consumption over a few days to see if it helps alleviate some of the inital side effects.
I now try to limit my coffee intake to around two cups per day of the strong stuff (which doesn’t always go to plan…) and also try to avoid caffeine after 2 – 4pm. Caffeine can have a big effect on your sleep cycle, which in turn means your recovery from training will be less optimal.
Anyway… all this talk about coffee has got me thirsty!