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Caffeine is a mixed bag. Therearebenefits associated with consuming it—like improved memory function and obviously greater levels of alertness—but then you hear from people who quit the stuff and say it changed their life. Before take your Keurig out of commission, check out these eight side effects of going caffeine-free that you can expect to experience.
If you’ve ever gone one too many hours without a caffeine fix, you’ve probably gotten a taste of withdrawals—and they suck. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and some pretty hefty mood swings, says Wesley Delbridge, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. He even recommends telling your friends and family that you are cutting out caffeine before you start so they will know why you are so horrible to be around.
While every person is different, if you are ingesting upwards of 400 to 500 ml of caffeine per day (that’s about three to four cups of coffee, six cups of tea, or 10 cans of soda), you will probably feel some let-down effects, he says. They typically last seven to 10 days, but you can minimize their effects by weaning yourself off of caffeine, rather than quitting cold turkey. Every two or three days, trim your intake just a bit. Drink just half a cup of tea at a time—or mix regular coffee with decaf.
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“I don't think the average person realizes how many calories they are consuming with their caffeinated drinks,” says Delbridge. Sure, you know soda is laden with sugar and blended coffee drinks are weight-gain bombs just waiting to happen, but just a bit of cream and sugar in your coffee mug could easily put you at 200-plus calories per serving. Have a few throughout the course of the day, and it’s easy to see how forgoing caffeinated beverages could help you slim down.
Caffeine is a pretty powerful temporary appetite suppressant. “You are going to naturally feel hungrier when you go off of caffeine,” says Delbridge. Plus, according to Mayo Clinic, caffeine may up your metabolic rate. The effect is likely small, but if you drink your coffee black, it’s likely burning more calories than it contains, meaning it will help you lose weight. Take it away, and you could see some fluctuations on the scale.
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it hits your nervous system’s gas pedal. Caffeine triggers a release of adrenaline, needlessly putting you into “fight or flight” mode. Plus, since caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, narrowing your blood vessels, it raises your blood pressure, says Delbridge. Get rid of caffeine, and you’ll feel less anxious and stressed, he says.
However, that “fight or flight” mode does come in handy if you’re about to run a race or hit up a bootcamp workout, says Delbridge. The American College of Sports Medicine has even come out and said that caffeine improves exercise performance and intensity. And as you know, hitting it hard is key to getting the most results from your workouts.
Coffee poops are a real and ever-present threat to java lovers everywhere. That’s because, apart from the fact that caffeine speeds things up in your digestive system, coffee is very acidic, which can also up your risk of the runs, says Delbridge. Basically, eliminating caffeine from your diet will do a lot to prevent emergency trips to the bathroom.
Coffee is the number-one source of antioxidants in the average American’s diet, per research from the University of Scranton. That may be why a study published inBreast Cancer Research found that women who drink five or more cups of coffee a day are 57 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer than those who drink less than a cup a day. And a recentAmerican Journal of Epidemiology study found that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day could cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 21 percent. Meanwhile, green tea is one of the richest sources of antioxidants out there, says Delbridge. So if you're cutting out coffee and tea, it's a good idea to start upping your fruit and veggie intake.
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