It’s likely that you have had some caffeine today. Let’s face it, if you are at all interested and/or involved in fitness and weight loss, caffeine is probably a bigger part of your life than you’re willing to admit.
First things first, that’s OK. Caffeine is one of the most-researched chemicals around and it seems to be just fine in moderation.
*Side note: I have never done any professional research on caffeine, however my life has been full of Greeks and Italians who drank coffee like they drank water -sometimes even more than that- and have lived healthily into their 80s and 90s. Disregard that if you wish, it’s purely anecdotal, however there is plenty of research backing up the net benefits of moderate caffeine use.
This short blog post is neither an argument for nor against caffeine. This blog post is going to show you two things:
- How to effectively use caffeine during different seasons of your life
- How to shield yourself from caffeine’s addictive properties and not get used by it
Be sure to read this tiny blog post all the way to the end. If you do, you will be better able to assess how you are currently handling caffeine, how to tweak your caffeine ingestion if necessary, and how to throttle your caffeine usage to maximize its effectiveness for your life.
Additionally, this new ability to use caffeine in a more efficient manner will give you an advantage in furthering your understanding of how food affects your body in a common sense way that will put you in control of how you look.
Let’s get to work!
Assessing your caffeine dependance
What time of day do you call it quits on caffeine?
*Side note: I AM NOT A DOCTOR, EVERYTHING THAT IS SAID HERE IS A SUGGESTION. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING OR STOPPING ANYTHING!
If you’re like many people, especially those pursuing a weight loss goal, there may not be a specific time of day you stop your caffeine usage. Perhaps you’ve never really given it much thought since there are more-important things to do, and that is understandable. Life seems to be getting more complicated by the day and it looks like the pile of things you ought to be giving more attention to grows bigger and bigger.
Feel free to disregard this blog post entirely if that pile is too big for your current capacity, but taking the time to assess your caffeine dependance could help you manage your life better, both now and into the future. Also, optimizing your caffeine usage in this case will consist of very small tweaks, not large leaps that will leave you feeling miserable. There is nothing cold turkey about what you’re going to read.
If you have been reading the Cornerstone Weight Loss Blog for a time, this is probably where you would expect to read something about getting some sort of tracking system for your caffeine.
You can if you want to, but that may be overkill.
In order to assess where you are with caffeine just go about your day and jot down every time you have something caffeinated. Do this for 5-7 days then look at the entire week in context.
Generally, your caffeine usage will not vary too much per day within your one week assessment. Put the week together as a daily average and you will have your daily caffeine assessment.
Example: A seven day assessment can look like this:
For simplicity, let’s say that all your caffeine usage comes from coffee, and each time you drink coffee, the cup size stays the same. Below is an example of a one week period. The number to the right of the day indicates the amount of cups of coffee for that corresponding day.
Monday (3) + Tuesday (2) + Wednesday (3) + Thursday (4) + Friday (1) + Saturday (1) + Sunday (1) = 15 cups of coffee per week
15 cups / 7 days = 2.14 cups per day on average.
Using your caffeine assessment to your advantage
Remember, the whole point of this is to use caffeine to your advantage, not to be used by caffeine. There are times in life where you need to put the pedal to the metal and put out a little more than you’re used to. On the other hand, there are times in life where you don’t have to go so hard. Having the option to use caffeine as a tool to help optimize your energy levels is most advantageous during those seasons of life where high output is expected of you.
It stands to reason that this assessment and tactical reduction of caffeine is ideally performed during a time of your life when you’re not in overdrive. Rather, calibrate your caffeine usage during a time of relative normalcy.
*Side note: you do have times of relative normalcy. It’s impossible to ALWAYS be sprinting. If you catch yourself in a constant sprint, you may have other things to take care of before caffeine usage optimization.
As soon as you figure out what your daily average caffeine usage is, limit yourself to that much per day for about a week. This is a very feelings-based assessment, so it’s a challenge to make this an exact science. That being said, take note of how you feel during the day. It may be beneficial to use this as an excuse to keep a journal of your energy levels throughout the day.
*Side note: I realize that this is sounding much like one of those books where there’s a long list of stuff to do, you acknowledge that its probably good to do, and then never do it. Again, these are all suggestions and Cornerstone Weight Loss is merely a guide for your benefit, so feel free to say no to all of this. If for some reason, however, you find yourself deep in the chasm of caffeine, you can always refer back to this in order to climb out!
After your first week of limitation, assess your energy levels. Consider this decision tree for your next steps:
Your energy stayed the same: this means you are consuming your true daily average of caffeine. In order to optimize your caffeine usage for times of high output, reduce your daily intake of caffeine by a portion you’re comfortable with. Don’t forget, this ought to be a small tweak, not a giant leap. If you find yourself destitute of energy because of how much daily caffeine you removed, you’ve gone too far. From your average, reduce by a smaller portion.
Your energy went down slightly: this means you are consuming slightly less than your true daily average of caffeine. As long as this energy decrease it not interfering with the completion of your daily tasks, keep this caffeine intake steady until you normalize. This can take a week or more, however you’ll know when your energy level normalizes. When that time comes, reduce your daily intake of caffeine by a portion you’re comfortable with. Again, this ought to be a small tweak. Do your best not to take this too far.
Your energy plummeted: this means you are consuming a great deal less than your true daily average of caffeine. Your decrease in energy is most-likely affecting your normal daily tasks. It’s best to increase your caffeine intake until you normalize. Restart the assessment and really pay attention because you probably missed a caffeine source. This is easy to do, especially because there is a great deal of caffeine crept in unawares in much of your prepackaged food and drink.
Reduce your caffeine as much as is comfortable
From here, keep reducing in small doses. You should notice a slight decrease in energy throughout the reductions, but it should not in any way incapacitate you.
*Side note: depending on how low you go in your caffeine reduction, you may experience headaches, especially if your prior caffeine use was excessive. In my opinion, it’s best to fight through these headaches without help. That being said, if those headaches are severely impairing your ability to perform normal, daily functions, there are methods to combat them while still tactically reducing your caffeine intake. One method is to find caffeine in a pill form, usually 100mg per dose, and taking 1/4 of a dose at a time (25mg) with water until you find the relief you’re looking for. This ensures you know exactly how much more caffeine you increased to reduce or eliminate your headache.
It is not necessary to reduce your caffeine down to zero, however you can if you want to. Whatever you decide, do your best to maintain that constant dose throughout those relatively normal times in your life that were discussed earlier. At this consistent, low usage of caffeine, your tolerance will eventually go down thereby increasing your sensitivity to its effects.
Use caffeine for your maximum benefit as an effective tool instead of a harmful crutch
This is where all that careful caffeine reduction comes in handy.
After intentionally increasing your sensitivity to caffeine, it will not take much above your new average daily intake to get a huge benefit in energy and focus.
For example, let’s say you have reduced your average caffeine usage from four cups of coffee to one cup of coffee per day. If you have maintained that new, lower average for an amount of time long enough to feel normal in terms of energy and focus, then you now have the flexibility necessary to use caffeine for your maximum benefit.
When your life begins to require more from you, you can then leverage your renewed caffeine sensitivity by giving yourself an increase in caffeine when needed and afterward, throttling back in a controlled manner. The best part is, you will not need to go back to your full caffeine load of four cups of coffee in order to feel the effects. It’s likely just one extra cup of coffee will provide the boost you need to get through those more challenging days.
Take those maximum benefits and run
Using caffeine as a tool during the more rigorous seasons of your life is a great tactic for your life’s longterm strategy. Additionally, shielding yourself from being used by caffeine through its addictive properties is essential during this process.
In order to make this a reality a few steps ought to be taken:
- Assess your own caffeine usage
- Use your assessment to your advantage by tactically reducing your caffeine usage on a weekly basis
- Pick a new, lower amount of daily caffeine ingestion and be consistent in your daily dosage. Do this until you feel completely normal in terms of energy and focus
- When life opens up the throttle, take advantage of your new caffeine sensitivity by temporarily increasing your caffeine intake to help manage the chaos
At Cornerstone Weight Loss we help you better understand how food affects your body in a common sense way that will put you in control of how you look. In order to get in touch with a professional who can help tailor your weight loss plan to you, click below, fill out the information, and a member of the Cornerstone Weight Loss team will reach out to you to get the results in weight loss you deserve.