Yep, you read that right. I dropped caffeine for nearly 1 month. Now, why on earth would I want to drop the coveted bean water, tea + pre-workout for nearly a month?
It began with the effort to solve some new mysterious ailments I had developed. For the past several months, I had been suffering from unexplained bloat, heightened anxiety, imbalanced blood sugar, stronger PMS symptoms + chronic inflammation that kept my performance sub-par in the gym.
I had already ruled out most other food intolerances since I already eliminate eggs, dairy + most grains due to known intolerances. What's more, my sugar intake is low + alcohol intake stays around 0-3 drinks on average-leaving me with the last known addictive substance left in my life...caffeine.
Months before cutting out all caffeine I decided to put some new guidelines on my caffeine consumption in an effort to feel better. At that time I lowered my consumption by drinking only 1 serving of coffee or pre-workout consumed before 2 pm.
Previous to this I was consuming 1-2 cups of coffee per day + 1 additional serving of a pre-workout supplement with 80mg of caffeine. Despite feeling a little better, my symptoms were still not going away-thus my decision to eliminate caffeine for some time completely.
Upon deeper research about why I should possibly consider eliminating caffeine, I ran across an article by Alisa Vitti called What Women Need To Know About Caffeine.
In it, she explains how "caffeine disrupts your hormones — including insulin, cortisol, and reproductive hormones — for many hours after you drink it, interfering with blood sugar, sleep AND a wide range of physiological processes."
She further goes on to explain that some people can have a genetic predisposition that causes them to slowly metabolize caffeine. Interestingly enough that same genetic mutation (called the CYP1A2 mutation) is also involved with the metabolism of Estrogen.
She goes on to say, "...if you struggle with PMS or a diagnosed estrogen-dominant condition like PCOS, fibroids, or endometriosis, then you have reason to suspect that you have a CYP1A2 mutation and are making less of the enzyme that breaks down both caffeine and estrogen. "
So how can we tell if we have a hormone imbalance + that it's time to ditch caffeine?
Some signs + symptoms of hormonal imbalance, for women especially, include:
Severe period cramps
You have been steadily gaining weight for a few months or years
You can’t seem to lose weight even with a healthy diet + increased exercise
Breast or ovarian cysts
Low sex drive
"Women who are experiencing one or more of these symptoms should consider ditching caffeine for good", according to Vitti.
Naturally, cutting out caffeine has been known to improve hormonal function, PMS, cortisol, blood sugar. Since caffeine has been known to leach nutrients from the body, eliminating can it can rebalance nutrients + minerals like magnesium, calcium, + B vitamins.
Symptoms of overconsumption of caffeine can include:
Fatigue (yes, fatigue!)
High blood pressure
Poorly balanced blood sugar
Feeling wired but tired
So how did I go about it?
After doing a deep dive on the best methods for cutting back I decided to half the intake each day by consuming 1/2 the milligrams of the previous day for 3 days + transitioned to 0mg on day 4 to help manage any side effects I might feel.
It looked like this:
Day 1: 80 mg
Day 2: 40 mg
Day 3: 25 mg
Day 4: 0 mg
My biggest concern was the physical side effects I was likely to experience from cutting it altogether. I hoped that I didn't react the same way some other people did, whose stories sounded like that of cutting hard drugs. -I did survive...but don't say you haven't been warned.
To have easier menstrual cycles, more energy + less pain/inflammation.
Week 1, I experienced: