Why I Quit Caffeine (Temporarily)

Personal Training in Tucson - The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, Llc

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner & Founder

The rumors are true: I take a two-week break from all things caffeinated twice per year. Enough people have asked, so I thought I’d take some time today to tell you about why I do it. As a side note, I’m typing this on my first day of being back on fully-leaded coffee. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

Although this post is about caffeine and coffee, the big-picture message goes far beyond that simple delight most of us enjoy in the morning.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. No, I don’t think coffee is bad for you. If you’re falling for the most recent sensationalist click-bait story about why coffee is bad for you, don’t worry. Tomorrow there will be another one saying it’s good for you.

Thanks to Scott Gilliland, owner and founder of the best coffee on the planet, Adventure Coffee Roasting (click here to check it out) over the past 6 years he’s turned me into a complete coffee snob. Thank you, Scott, for ruining most other coffees.

I also don’t think caffeine is bad for you. Like most other things in life, I’m of the belief that the devil is in the dose. Will one diet soda kill you? Probably not. Will drinking a case every day, at some point, cause health problems? Maybe. I mean, water will kill you if you drink enough of it (seriously, google it).

Which kind of brings me to my point. Caffeine, like any other drug, becomes less and less effective to the body as it gets consumed in greater dosages. Our bodies have this incredible ability to develop tolerance to the things we do to it. We are incredibly adaptive to the environments around us. It’s probably the reason we are still here and the dinosaurs aren’t.

So, the main reason I take a little break a couple times per year is to improve the wonderful feeling I get from that single delicious cup in the morning, without having to constantly ‘up the dosage’.

Two cups per day is my limit, but most days it’s just one. This includes all caffeinated beverages. If it’s a tough workout day and I’m using a pre-workout formula with caffeine, it counts as one. I use a half a serving of C4 (click here to check it out) in case you’re wondering what I use. Actually, part of the reason I chose it is because it has the least amount of caffeine per serving compared to other pre-workout stimulants.

Long story short, I periodically fast from caffeine to improve the therapeutic effect of the drug.

But there’s more to this… and this is where we’ll look at the bigger picture. As a self-described creature of habit, I often wondered where the fine line was between ‘habit’ and ‘addiction’. The conclusion that I came to is this:

If it’s not essential to human life, and you can’t give it up for a defined period of time, it may be an addiction.

That might sting some of you. Good. That’s how this whole thing started. A couple years ago, a friend of mine received a ‘challenge card’ from a thing his church was doing. Everyone got different cards, but his simply said, “Consume no liquid other than plain water for 60 days.” Sounds simple enough, right? Well, for him not so much. See, he was one of those guys that enjoys his alcohol… sometimes maybe too much. To make matters worse, he and his wife had a trip to Vegas planned during that 60-day window. Ouch.

So, did he do it? Honestly, I don’t know. He and I aren’t close enough for me to pry into his life like this (hey man, if you’re reading this blog, shoot me a text and let me know!). But the conversation about it sparked a conversation in the Trubman household as well. I told my wife, with the utmost amount of confidence, that I could go 60 days without alcohol no problem. She quickly corrected me. The challenge card didn’t say ‘no alcohol’, it said, ‘nothing other than plain water’. This means no coffee/caffeine, Jerry!

That certainly changes things, doesn’t it?

I decided that I was going to try to prove my wife wrong (this usually works out well, right gentlemen?) and give it a shot. I mean, it’s not like I drink a pot a day… it’s only a cup or two. I can do this, right?

I must say, that first week was rough. All the things that one can assume about giving up caffeine (headaches, brain fog, murder of a few early morning clients, etc.) totally happened. It took about a week before I started to feel semi-human again. I thought those things only happen to people who over-indulge…

Lesson learned. I’ve been doing the caffeine fasts ever since. Now that I’ve got a few of these under my belt, the two-week window has become less and less difficult to do. I’ve also learned a few things that I’ll share with you here in case you want to give it a shot. This is actually an almost 4-week process:

Prior to week 1: If your caffeine fluctuates like mine, slowly get yourself to the lower end of that fluctuation. For example, I drink 1 to 2 cups, so I moved to strictly one cup per day the week prior to starting.

Week 1: Half-caf. You can sometimes just buy half-caf, or buy full-caf and decaf and mix it 50/50 yourself.

Week 2 and 3: No caffeine

Week 4: For the first few days, I recommend half-caf again. Enjoy the fact that, at this point, you can function on much less caffeine!

The first time I did it, I ended up staying on half-caf for several months. Did I feel different? Not really. But it was nice to know I could do it.

Similar to my friend with the challenge card, there is a big-picture message here. The question is this… what is your ‘caffeine’? I would challenge you to look at the things in your life that you would say you can’t live without. I bet there’s some stuff that you wish you could let go of. Some of them, like caffeine, may not be so serious. Other may be more serious. I hope this post makes you think about them. As always, please feel free to comment and share if this resonates with you. I’d love to know what your ‘coffee’ is!

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Marie and dog Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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