quitting coffee is hard

The Surprising Things That Happen When You Quit Caffeine

When you say buh-bye to coffee, tea, and soda, you'll be amazed by the healthy side effects.

September 23, 2015

Caffeine is a mixed bag. There are benefits associated with it—like improved memory function and, obviously, greater levels of alertness—but then you hear from people who quit the stuff who say it changed their lives. Before taking your French press out of commission, check out these eight side effects of going caffeine-free.

1. You'll Feel Like Crap (For A Little While)


If you've ever gone one too many hours without a caffeine fix, you've probably gotten a taste of withdrawal—and it sucks. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and some pretty hefty mood swings, according to Wesley Delbridge, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and 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 irritable.

While every person is different, if you are ingesting upwards of 400 to 500 milliliters of caffeine per day (that's about three to four cups of organic coffee, six cups of tea, or ten cans of soda), you will probably feel some let-down effects, he notes. These effects typically last seven to ten days, but you can minimize them by weaning yourself off 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.

2. You'll Lose Weight

"I don't think the average person realizes how many calories they are consuming with their caffeinated drinks," says Delbridge. Sure, you know that soda is laden with sugar and blended coffee drinks are weight-gain bombs just waiting to happen, but even 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 might help you slim down.


Related: The Five Absolute Worst Additions To Coffee

3. Or You'll Gain It

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 the Mayo Clinic, caffeine may up your metabolic rate. The effect is small, but if you drink your coffee black, you're 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.

4. You'll Sleep More + Have More Energy

A caffeine boost even six hours before bedtime can disrupt sleep later on that night, per research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The effect: You wake up tired and in need of more caffeine. And the cycle continues.

That's why people who are completely off caffeine sleep better and more deeply than those who drink even a little coffee, says Delbridge. You'll likely be tired as your body adjusts to a caffeine-free lifestyle. But over the long term, you'll have more energy than you'd get from any shot of espresso.

Related: Ten Organic Habits Morning People Have In Common

5. You'll Feel Calmer

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, it narrows your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure, says Delbridge. Get rid of caffeine, and you'll feel less anxious and stressed.


6. Your Workouts Will Suffer

That adrenaline-fueled fight or flight mode does, however, come in handy if you're about to run a race or hit up a boot-camp workout, notes 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.

7. Your Tummy Will Be Happier

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.

Related: Seven Things Your Poop Says About You

8. You'll Miss Out On Antioxidants

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 in Breast 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 recent American 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, notes Delbridge. So if you're cutting out coffee and tea, it's a good idea to start upping your fruit and veggie intake to compensate.

This article was originally appeared on Women's Health.