Why I Quit Coffee

I love coffee. It’s my drug of choice. But I’ve quit, cold turkey, and for good reasons.

The problems

The first problem is that caffeine is clearly very addictive. I’ve recently been drinking up to 8 cups a day. I don’t like to be addicted like that.

The second problem? Caffeine messes with your brain. After a while you need it to stay focused and energetic. As soon as levels of caffeine drop you’ll feel worse. And the mornings? They are way slower than they could be.

The third thing is that caffeine releases stress hormones, that raise insulin and glucose levels, especially after meals. It could potentially be bad for weight loss.

Quitting

So nine days ago I had my last cup of coffee. From eight to zero cups a day, just like that. What happened?

Wish I could say it has been easy, but it’s been a miserable experience. For a number of days I had to take painkillers to be able to sleep and work. Not just for headache but for a weird and intense muscle ache in my legs (apparently this can happen).

Also the motivation. just. disappeared. It was replaced by brain fog and irritability.

I’ve replaced the coffee with naturally caffeine-free tea. Not too bad.

Feeling better

I’m feeling much better again this week, but apparently it can take 2-3 weeks to be fully back to normal. I’m looking forward to being able to get started right away in the morning and not have to wait for the coffee to kick in. I hope to feel sharp during the entire day.

And the weight? I’m happy with my weight already, but it will be interesting to see if anything changes. So far my experience is I’m low on “reward” and feel the urge to eat more, to try to feel better. I expect that will pass. But so far the weight is not going down, it’s stable at best.

I’ll write another blog post when I know the end result. But so far I’m happy with quitting.

Have you tried quitting? What happened? Feel free to leave a comment below.

More

Here’s another low-carb doctor who just recently quit coffee:

Dr. Adam Nally: Caffeine . . . Weight Loss Wonder Boy or Sneaky Scoundrel?

And here’s a video interview from this summer with the doctor who initially got me interested in quitting coffee (on the member site – free trial available). I actually tried to quit right away back then, but failed:

Is Coffee Bad for You? – Dr. Michael Fox

 
By the way I was listening to Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Jamie Foxx (very interesting man) this morning. Turns out they’ve both quit coffee, due to the negative effects of caffeine. Seems like a trend…

Another common addiction

What Is Sugar Addiction? – Bitten Jonsson
One Day in A Sugar Addict's Life – Bitten Jonsson

88 comments

Top comments

  1. Michelle
    On my LCHF journey I've given up sugar, 99.9% of processed foods, soft drinks, Tim tams, pizza, toast, pasta and my beloved potatoe chips, I am not giving up my coffee! ?
    Reply: #48
    Read more →
  2. Martha
    This is not the full data picture, Andreas. Very disappointed in your cherry-picking here. The studies show that *those who are new to coffee drinking* experience these effects *temporarily*. But once habituated to coffee, these effects go away. Your body adjusts and you don't suffer any ill effects. Please don't distort the data like Ornish does. We have higher expectations of you here. Best wishes.
    Read more →
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All comments

  1. Linda
    Who even has time to drink 8 cups of coffee a day? I love my 2 cups a day drink. The original poster downs 8 cups in one day! Wow! That IS a lot of caffeine. No wonder they are having problems. Too much of anything is chock with side effects.

    For the OP's own sake, it's a good thing to detox yourself now, because it's apparent, you have an addictive personality. I wonder if you smoke cigarettes or have other habits you'd like to quit.

    Replies: #57, #60
  2. Mike
    Quitting every stupid thing, especially something as harmless as coffee, chasing some elusive health high is insane. I'm low-carbing, and it's working well for me, but I'm not buying into these notions based more on oneupsmanship and vanity than any real benefit. More often than not, it's not a gain in health, it's hey, look at me, I'm more hardcore than you! You're very hardcore, congrats on that.
  3. Tony
    I too am another coffee lover but dislike the highs & lows of the effects of caffeine so I did the obvious thing and went "decaff"
    There are lots of beautiful, deep, rounded tasting blends of ground decaff coffee my favourite being 'Taylors of Harrogate -Decaffe, Strength 4'
    Made in an Aerobie Areopress - without doubt the singular best ground coffee maker there is - makes for an enjoyable caffeine free coffee.
    Minimal side effects when I gave up, mild sleep problems for a few days but concentration has improved to better than pre-caffeine levels now, same for energy & alertness
    Reply: #85
  4. Jennifer
    I think a few of you need to have a little more respect for Dr. Andreas who travels the world with the simple goal of helping people in mind. Sure there is a $9 membership fee here, and he probably gets some incentives for presentations, etc. The man has to eat too! If you have no respect for him or what he is trying to do, why are you here? Simply delete your membership, and you don't have to read him anymore. It is really quite simple.
    Replies: #79, #90
  5. Loretta
    I was drinking coffee the Bulletproof way for months and seeing no significant benefits except heart-racing at night and a higher fat intake. I stopped the butter and coconut oil and continued to drink coffee, about 1-3 cups per day, quitting before 4 pm and still continued to have the heart-racing. I already have a weakened adrenal system from years of stress and anxiety. I figured it was time to give my adrenals a break. I've switched to green tea and the caffeine in it does not cause the heart racing. I also drink a Tulsi-Moringa tea blend before bedtime and have been sleeping soundly with no heart racing at all. I don't know if this is helping with weight loss, but it is wonderful not to feel that heart racing every night and to awaken calm and clear-headed in the morning instead of foggy and in need of caffeine to fully awaken. Looking forward to further updates Dr. Andreas!
    Reply: #89
  6. 1 comment removed
  7. Loretta
    Really, Linda? Are you this judgmental of everyone you don't know? or just everyone in general? It is quite easy to drink that many cups of coffee in a day and it also has to do with the size of the cup. I was drinking 3 to 4 16 oz cups of coffee per day... normal sized cups that would be 6-8 cups of coffee... see how easy it is to drink that many? Dr. Andreas is one of the least-selfish people I have met online. He uses himself to experiment on. He gives so much excellent advice and charges so little for it. If coffee is his only addiction, how can you surmise that he has an addictive personality by that alone? Wow, you just astound me with your brilliance. You do not have to come here, read his work, or comment. Just go your separate way and leave the rest of us in peace.
    Reply: #66
  8. Loretta

    I hope nobody takes this person seriously. Do your own research. Everything was exaggerations and half truths. It's his fault he was drinking 8 cups a day not addiction to caffiene. IDIOT! Enjoy 2-3 cups everyday. There are health benefits with coffee (liver). Not the first time I lost respect for this BUSINESS MAN.

    Then why are you here commenting? Why not just leave those of us who appreciate his work in peace... just go. No need to leave your negativity all over the place. I am happy to pay this hard-working man the small fee he charges for his information. And I have deep respect for him. As for you? None whatsoever.

  9. Loretta

    Maybe if you tried drinking real coffee instead weak, watered down drip coffee American style. Pure espresso is much more effective at boosting alertness without as many negative effects. Watering down the coffee, which is just a waste of coffee in the first place, means the caffeine takes a lot longer to get into your system, stays there longer but has a much lessor effect on keeping you focused and alert. What's worse, you're putting in a lot more caffeine into your system for a much weaker result. 3 or 4 espressos a day will keep you more focused than 8 americano coffees, while also reducing your headaches and tasting much much better. Of course no milk or sugar either, again you're just killing the coffee flavour. It's like having steak well done or overcooked fish.
    And on top of all that you will go through a lot less coffee in a year.

    You do realize that Dr. Andreas is in Sweden? I doubt he has ever even had weak American coffee. Please do some research before you reply next time.

  10. TH
    I agree with the 8 cups of coffee - that's a lot. I have one cup in the morning and see no reason to give that up given this is an entirely different circumstance related to over consumption.

    One thing that I have learned doing LCHF - everyone is different. The physiology behind LCHF makes total sense, but to some extent, tweaking it and making it work for you is experimental. Read all the studies you want, but unless there's a study with you and bunch of your clones, it's all experimental.

  11. Ralph
    I gave up cold turkey.

    I now cook it thoroughly and enjoy it much more.

  12. Maria
    It has been exactly a year since I gave up my addiction to coffee. The reason being I had discovered that I was pregnant. Even though I had a miscarriage later on, I have proven to myself that I wake and am the same person the whole day. Before I would wake up sad for no reason, have two cups of coffee ( with two heaped teaspoons of coffee each and no sugar or cream) before going to work. At work I would have another 4-5 cups then I would have my final cup in the afternoon at about 5. I had become someone I disliked and had no control over. So I hope to have the strength to never start again. When I did quit, I did so during my holiday break, for two weeks I was like a zombie, sleeping a lot, waking up drinking natural tea, eating well and sleeping again. After that I felt so proud of myself. Even my son says that I don't get angry the way I would in the past.
  13. Phillip
    I went of Caffeine cold turkey some months ago. I never felt worse. It took about 10 days before the headaches stopped. I will never go back again. De-caffeinated tea for me.
    I can't believe I allowed myself to tolerate this stuff for so long.
    Reply: #86
  14. 1 comment removed
  15. Sara Thompson
    I used to have atleast one cup of ciffee a day didn't connect it to my stonach upset and regular visits to the loo , until I gave it up, then now and again when I'd have a cup 20 mins later I'd be racing for the loo just making it in the nick of time sounds funny now but it really wasn't, realised all those years of upset stomach and too many visits to the loo was the coffee.!
  16. Debbie
    Loretta, Loretta: You need to chill. Your comments are accusatory and harsh. Too much coffee maybe!?

    .............GREAT SITE, DR. ANDREAS.

  17. Anna
    I gave up coffee about six months ago. It was affecting my gastric digestion and for the same reasons (reduce stress hormones etc). But I now drink decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas or decaffeinated tea instead and don't miss it. I know these have slight levels of caffeine still, but I feel fine and my gastric issues have gone now.
  18. Naomi
    Like alot of other people, I've given up alot. I used to drink a couple of glasses of wine every night. This year I've had probably 1 bottle of red IN TOTAL. I also gave up smoking in February. I've given up diet soda. I've given up all comfort food (under 20g carbs a day for 10 months, no cheats). I have a coffee in the morning, and one with my partner when he gets home after work. I think two a day should be acceptable. It's the one thing I am not prepared to give up, otherwise what's the point.
  19. Darag
    Hi Andreas, I remember thinking when I saw your interview with Dr Michael Fox that you would probably try giving up coffee sometime and wondered how it would go:)?! I gave up coffee more than a decade ago. I can have them occasionally without getting led down the slippery addiction slope but they really ramp up my heart rate, disrupt my sleep and make the joints in my hand, particularly my knuckles, ache. So definitely plenty of motivation not to make it a habit! If you haven't tried it my favourite hot drink is Red Seal's Black Adder Liquorice tea. I also add a slice or two of ginger root to the cup or pot. One of my friends has a big pot (4-6 cups) with those two things plus a bag of Ron Teeguarden's Spring Dragon Longevity Tea. That I must say is a nice tea:)
  20. wren
    I could've saved you all that misery. Quitting coffee doesn't have to be that hard on your body. You can easily get used to the lack of caffeine, by drinking green tea instead. Green tea still has some caffeine, but not as much and if you gradually drink less and less of it, you can gradually reduce your addiction to caffeine.
  21. Saeriu
    Once you're free from caffeine you will feel amazing. I've been free for over a year (for pregnancy and now nursing). I get up before 5am without an alarm clock and I feel great. I sleep better and am not grouchy. I did a 14 day total body herbal cleanse about a month before I got pregnant and it completely killed all cravings for it and I haven't had any negative side effects.
    Reply: #74
  22. Vicki
    I quit drinking coffee several months ago. My daughter told me about a substitute. It's called Pero. Found in most health food and organic groceries. It tastes like coffee but without the caffeine. I buy mine on-line at Swansons.
  23. Zola
    I read that coffee or caffeine also promotes constipation, is that true?
  24. LowCarbFinn
    I was totally caffeine free 1,5 years as I told earlier.

    I did not feel any more amazing than I did with the coffee.
    I noticed no change whatsoever, absolutely no change.

    But the thing is, I my coffee consumption tends to be very stable 4-6 cups (cup = 1,5 deciliters) per day, theres no urge to increase the amount I drink. I understand that if there's a trend of increasing dosage or clear mood effects etc. it might be beneficial to quit.

  25. Brad
    Hi Andreas, I have been drinking two cups of coffee in the am for 15 years - always was looking for more in the afternoon to get through the day! Always got my caffeine through pop throughout the day. Seven months ago something changed, I started experimenting on myself (type two Diabetic) and tried "Bulletproof Coffee" WOW - I still only have my two am coffees and have now desire for any further coffees in the day and do not suffer the afternoon crash anymore and my blood sugar started to drop! Also have been pop free for almost the same amount of time. This was the start of my journey through the LCHF diet. At this point I will continue to have my two cups in the am as they are really enjoyable. If I do have a coffee in the afternoon or evening it is because I want one, not because I need one.

    PS - Great website! One of the most comprehensive LCHF sites I have found. Have done the whole "diet" testing with ill effects on my body and soul...now working to be totally LCHF!

  26. Elena
    What's the opinion on decaf coffee? Swiss water process.
  27. elle
    I never respond to blogs or anything of the such, but this called for a response.
    I just wanted to say "THANK YOU" for the message that you have/are quitting coffee (as I know from experience it doesn't happen overnight).
    I know beyond shadow of a doubt that I am not supposed to be drinking coffee. (regardless of any study for or against it) I've known for 15 years. It's the only vice I have not beaten. I have quit several times over the years, but always go back. The physical addiction (headaches etc) end rapidly for me (just a couple of days) even though I also drink 5-8 cups of seriously stout, always freshly ground coffee, but the emotional and habitual actions of having the coffee last, seemingly, forever (for as long as I can endure anyway before returning back to it)
    I could go on and on about it, but that's not the point of my response to your notification.
    The point was to say "Thank you" You just helped kick me in the pants to do what I am supposed to do. I wish you the best of success. Please wish me the same back as I have never conquered this devil before and it's way beyond the time to do so....way beyond....I am so late
    elle
  28. Howard Lee Harkness
    About once a month, I spend a weekend with no coffee. At one point, I thought I was addicted to it myself, but since I located the major confounder (and now avoid it), I have not experienced any "withdrawal" symptoms. I drink it mostly because I enjoy the taste, and I don't really notice much difference between regular and decaf now that I know (at least) one of the confounders.
    .

    The "studies" on coffee are all over the place (with only one significant variable, as usual -- money). Some say it's good, some say it's evil. So far, I've seen about a dozen n=1 studies (apart from my own) of coffee from LCHF folks, and they are also all over the place. So pardon me if I don't just bow down and worship any of these pronouncements. Or as the folks in the alt.sci.nutrition group are fond of saying: "The plural of anecdote is *not* data."

  29. Jose
    Well said Jennifer!
  30. I quit coffee about 20 years ago. I used to drink a cup to start the day and I really enjoyed it. I would have one or two more but nothing after noon. I didn't like the fact that I was addicted and that I would get a roaring headache if I didn't get my morning dose. I was traveling in Thailand and got a bad gastroenteritis during which I could not stomach anything including coffee. By the time the gut cleared I was over the coffee withdrawal, too, and I have never looked back. I do drink black tea now which has some caffeine but I don't have the same withdrawal problem I guess due to the lower dose. Good luck with your newest healthy endeavour!
  31. Erik Peers
    My experience is the same as that of Andreas. When on coffee I needed it to stay awake. Yet once over withdrawal I stay awake just fine. I quit 16 years ago and have never looked back.
  32. John Graves
    I am 59. Two years ago after returning from an extended trip to Europe, where people were pushing espressos and coffee on me, I started on coffee. I had never ever had coffee before in my life. And at 57 it became a regular habit at home, a very large cup every morning made with a glass beaker. Always black, never added anything to it. Sometimes instead I would get espresso from Starbucks, black.

    At first, I enjoyed the effect. But the downsides started to get to me. Most notably, if I tried to quit for even a day, I would get horrible headaches and nausea which were inevitably followed by fierce vomiting. Also my stomach started hurting at times when I had never in my life had stomach problems, so i thought i was getting an ulcer. I had a general impression of stomach bloating. Finally, I was also having heartbeat irregularity problems, even occasional attacks of dizziness.

    Last week I quit. I took DLPA so I think that helped somewhat. Even trying to "come down" or "back off" with just a single espresso hit in the late morning, by afternoon i was so nauseous i was unable to drive, and vomited my lunch like a banshee. A couple days later, the whole afternoon was a complete migraine headache. I needed bed rest for a couple of afternoons.

    However, I am totally OK now and enjoying life once again.

    If there is evidence of coffee's benefits in mainstream media, one could easily see how such research could be shepherded and sponsored behind the scenes by big coffee companies. After all, coffee and banana plantations were considered valuable enough for the CIA to send in death squads to overthrow democratic governments in Central America. There is more than a little vested interest there.

  33. Ronnie
    Being addicted to anything probably is a bad sign. I am a real fan of LCHF / Primal / Paleo and I feel huge health benefit from the changes I have made in my dietary intake and psychological outlook on life, slowing the pace down etc. I lost my excess body fat easily, feel more energy, lower stress levels and I cannot remember the last time I visited a medical Dr. Really, I haven't been sick for a long time. I'm not boasting - just promoting ancestral living in the modern world i.e. I think it will work for all of us humans! I believe the bio-mechanical machine in which we live thrives on the foods and lifestyle it was created for / evolved with. Seems to check out with emerging scientific discovery. Coffee beans need a lot of processing to access it as a drink and so for me that pushes it close to the edge (of rejection). I enjoy a cup from time to time as an indulgence but I expect is may be harmful in large doses. Thank you Dr. Eenfeldt for your valuable contribution to human health awareness. I enjoy your posts, videos etc and often share your website with health interested people.
  34. Catherine
    Great website Andreas.
    Sorry for my english. I just want to share my small experience, I follow the LCHF since august.
    I was so sad, I had to quit my 5 fat coffees per day. The thing is I love coffee but caffeine does not love me ! It gives me terrible nocturn cramps no matter salt intake or bone broth. I also tried to replace it with tea and mate and the same cramps returned.
    It seems that I am caffeine intolerant. Now I drink rooibos and have no cramps anymore.
    Coffee is good for a lot of people, I have friends who can drink up to 10 cups a day without having any problems. For me it is like poison. One food can be good for you but can be dangerous for another people. I also love dairy but am allergic to it too so LCHF is a challenge to me. But I keep going, all my digestive problems disappeared, I sleep well and my brain is working great.
  35. Tareq
    Hi Tony,

    I'm interested to hear more about your journey to find good decaf. I recently switched to decaf and have found this corner of the market horribly neglected, but there are gems out there. I'm actually thinking of starting up a company solely focused on getting the best decaf to people like us who love coffee, but not caffeine! You seem like an obvious early adopter and you pay attention to your brewing too.
    Would you be interested in talking about this? If so, just reply here and we can find a way to get in contact.
    Thanks!

  36. Tareq
    Hi Phillip,

    Sounds like quitting caffeine made a big positive difference to you - I'm happy for you! Out of interest, what made you switch to decaf tea instead of decaf coffee?

    Thanks!

  37. Ryan
    Moderation is the key. Eight cups a day is excessive. I drink two cups in the morning and that is sufficient for me. Coffee has actually helped keep my metabolism steady. There is a difference between conventionally grown coffee and organic. I drink organic coffee mostly and I feel great after drinking it.
  38. Lyn
    Yes!... the aching leg muscle thing!! I experience it every time I am detoxing an addictive substance (caffeine or sugar) and I found it difficult to find information on at the time. Thanks for mentioning it here - it validates what I've experienced several times now.
  39. Nanci
    Same here, I dropped coffee and replaced with iced green tea and it totally stopped the racing heart I would get at night.

    I was drinking coffee the Bulletproof way for months and seeing no significant benefits except heart-racing at night and a higher fat intake. I stopped the butter and coconut oil and continued to drink coffee, about 1-3 cups per day, quitting before 4 pm and still continued to have the heart-racing. I already have a weakened adrenal system from years of stress and anxiety. I figured it was time to give my adrenals a break. I've switched to green tea and the caffeine in it does not cause the heart racing. I also drink a Tulsi-Moringa tea blend before bedtime and have been sleeping soundly with no heart racing at all. I don't know if this is helping with weight loss, but it is wonderful not to feel that heart racing every night and to awaken calm and clear-headed in the morning instead of foggy and in need of caffeine to fully awaken. Looking forward to further updates Dr. Andreas!

  40. Brenda
    I agree!
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