There is no right or wrong answer. Coffee has many healthy properties including antioxidants and the caffeine can give a performance boost and mental alertness when not used every day. When used every day it can leak away your energy without you realizing it’s doing so. This is because of the way it effects the adenosine receptors in your brain.
I have always loved coffee since a young adult. I’ve had to cycle off it many times to heal my adrenals and get my energy back. Through trial and error, I’ve come up with my technique for cycling off, and then allowing caffeine back in. This research by Doctor Ali Whitten helped me tremendously in understanding why I needed to cycle coffee and I hope that by sharing my notes it can help you.
How does coffee effect your energy level?
How does coffee leak away your energy? It is the caffeine in coffee which is consumed by the average American with 3.2 cups per day. Ever wonder why it seems like the energy boost you get from coffee no longer works, or you find yourself feeling more tired? Should you drink coffee or not? If you like coffee, there is a right way to use it to increase your health and your energy levels.
You do get a boost in energy, performance, alertness, and mood from the caffeine in coffee. There is a hormone your brain senses called adenosine, and it’s sensed by adenosine receptors in the brain. When you drink coffee these adenosine receptors are blocked by caffeine, so the brain does not detect as much adenosine, so you feel more energy (Whitten).
But this is temporary. The problem arises when you drink coffee every day. Daily caffeine intake alters how your brain uses the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is what makes you tired and sleepy and signals your brain to sleep at night. More adenosine means you have less energy.
Here’s the Problem:
It creates negative neurotransmitter adaptations in your brain. The caffeine plugs the adenosine receptors, so it thinks there is a shortage of adenosine and creates more adenosine receptors. The caffeine can’t keep all the receptors plugged so you need more to feel more energy.
When caffeine is not present it makes the brain ultra-responsive and sensitive to adenosine. You develop a tolerance to caffeine and need more. This lowers your baseline energy as shown in the charts. In the long-term it ends up that the boost is no longer a true boost, it’s merely taking you from your lower baseline up to what used to be your normal energy level.
Cycle caffeine on and off. Use it for 1-2 days and then off 2-3 days. Or 1-2 weeks on, 1-2 weeks off. But first you must reset your entire neurotransmitter system first by staying off caffeine for 5-6 weeks. After you reset the neurotransmitter system by staying off caffeine for 5-6 weeks, then start the cycles. I’ve done this method several times and it does bring my natural energy back. If I find myself slipping back into drinking caffeine every day then I make it a priority to reset. It’s hard to stop caffeine so I do it gradually. I start by cutting back on coffee intake by restricting it to one cup every morning for one week. The second week I switch to black tea. The third week I switch to herbal tea with the black tea only dunked in the tea very quickly, or switch to green tea. Then I switch to herbal tea only and start the 6-week countdown. I’ve learned to cycle my coffee. My favorite way is to strategically pick 3 days per week to enjoy my coffee. Although fasting coffee the other days is hard, I find it good for strengthening my character, and I savor the days I get to enjoy the coffee.
These are my notes after watching the video by Ari Whitten “Why Does Coffee Make Me Tired.”
As always, wishing you the best health!
Whitten, Ari Ph.D, “Why Does Coffee Make Me Tired”, 2016