According to the United Brain Association, around 90% of Americans consume caffeine regularly. Coffee is the most popular source of caffeine consumption, with around 74% of Americans drinking it every day.
In ordinary quantities, caffeine is not inherently harmful to most adults. However, around 8% of Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for caffeine use disorder (more colloquially known as a caffeine addiction.) People who are addicted to caffeine may struggle to function without it and may suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. As with any addiction, it is important to address the problem sooner rather than later.
Even if you do not meet the criteria for caffeine addiction, you may worry about how much you are consuming. Perhaps you struggle to sleep, find it difficult to get going in the morning without your double espresso, or feel jittery when you go for too long without caffeine.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t worry–there are plenty of ways to cut back on caffeine without compromising on having the energy to accomplish your daily tasks. Here’s how to do it.
Cut Down Slowly and Aim for Moderation
Unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional, there is no need to quit caffeine “cold turkey.” Instead, you can slowly taper off your consumption.
If you currently have five cups of coffee a day, try cutting down to four for a few days and see how you feel. After that, you can cut back to three, and so on until you’re at a level that you are happy with.
Remember that (unless medical advice states otherwise) you do not have to abstain from caffeine entirely. If you enjoy your coffee in the morning, then have it without guilt. But cutting back slowly will allow you to enjoy the benefits of caffeine without its unpleasant side effects or addictive properties.
Focus on Foods
The reason that so many of us use caffeine is to give us a boost of energy first thing in the morning or during that mid-afternoon slump. Many people make the mistake of quitting caffeine and swapping it for sugary snacks (such as chocolate, donuts or pastries) for a quick energy hit instead. However, eating too much sugar can lead to health problems such as weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Instead, focus on consuming healthy foods that will give you energy. Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) are absorbed more slowly, meaning that they will not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar and the inevitable resulting crash afterwards. Examples of low GI foods include green vegetables, most fruits, pulses (such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils), whole grains, and fish and seafood.
In general, aim for a diet that offers a balanced mix of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Eat at regular intervals and do not skip meals or allow yourself to become overly hungry.
Get Some Exercise
If you’re feeling tired and dealing with the additional side effects of quitting caffeine, exercise may be the last thing that you want to do. However, it could be the absolute best thing for your energy levels and overall wellbeing.
Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins and norepinephrine, which help to give you energy. Even a gentle walk can help you to feel more awake and alert. Why not try swapping your mid-afternoon coffee for a brisk walk around the block?
There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to what kinds of exercise you do. Whether you take up running, swim in your local pool, or join a sports team, the key is to find something you enjoy and will stick to.
Supplement Your Diet
Supplements are not a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet and an active lifestyle. However, they can play a role in helping you to maintain overall health, wellbeing, and energy. This may reduce or eliminate the need for stimulants such as caffeine.
Nutrient deficiencies can lead to fatigue, which may play a role in caffeine overuse or dependency. If you think you may be deficient in any vitamins or minerals, consult your healthcare professional who will be able to advise you on the appropriate testing and treatment.
Check out our range of supplements designed to work alongside your body, diet, and lifestyle to help you to maintain energy. And if you have any further questions about our products or any of the information in this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch.