If your coffee mug is practically an extension of your hand, or you guzzle more than one cup of matcha to make it through the afternoon, I’ve got some news that you probably don’t want to hear: It may be time to re-examine your caffeine habit. (And you thought dry January was rough….)
“Excess caffeine is like taking Adderall when you don’t need it,” explains Dana James, MS and founder of Food Coach. If you’re drinking too much of the stimulant, you could be experiencing jitters, a racing mind, or trouble sleeping. And if you think you can’t live without it, you might be surprised by what your body can do on its own. “If you avoid caffeine, you can feel more energized and have greater clarity, ironically,” clarifies James.
Now, that’s not to say caffeine is all bad. The correct amount of caffeine can help to intensify your workout or allow you to train harder, as it increases adrenaline production. “It’s important to find the right level for you,” James points out. If, however, you’ve been reliant on the stimulant for as long as you can remember, you may need to go cold turkey for a bit before you can truly reap the benefits of your favorite cuppa’.
But prepare for minor withdrawal as your body learns how to deal with life minus the buzz; symptoms includes headaches and lethargy. “It’s three days of pain—that’s it!” she promises.
Keep reading for James’ expert four-step plan for quitting caffeine with minimal pain.
1. There’s no need to give up the ritual of a beloved hot beverage; replace your cup of coffee or black tea with a caffeine-free option. Try making yourself golden milk (a mix of turmeric, ginger, and other warming spices) for an antioxidant boost. Or, if tea’s your thing, add cinnamon sticks to a mug of hot water as a caffeine-free replacement. And don’t underestimate the power of an herbal infusion.
2. Get a p.m. boost from a healthy snack. Instead of turning to an energy drink to fight the afternoon slump, pick up a piece of fruit (here are the best options to avoid a sugar high, too) or some DIY trail mix.
3. Prioritize your zzz’s. Being well-rested will help eliminate the morning sleepy-eyes or afternoon crash that make liquid energy so much more appealing.
4. Take a mini-vacation from CrossFit or your go-to HIIT class during the first three days of detoxing, while your body adjusts. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at all, though; just swap your super-sweaty sesh for something a little less taxing, like yoga or a light jog.