My Caffeine Cycle

by Paleo Rob on 05/02/2011

I love coffee. I really do. I love the taste, I love warmth, I just bloody love it. Nothing gets me going faster than a good cup of coffee loaded with heavy cream. Breakfast of champions. Coffee also loads you up with caffeine, which depending on where you are in the paleo world, is awesome, or evil.


Now we all know that caffeine is an awesome appetite suppressant and cognitive function enhancer (especially in those early mornings), however, as the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Like most drugs (and don’t lie to yourself, caffeine is a drug), over-use of caffeine will render its useless as your body starts building tolerances. Where 2 coffees used to give you jitters, after extended period of heavy use, you wont feel even a tingle after smashing down 4 espressos.

Getting Sciency without all the science.720px-Caffeine_3d_structure

The way caffeine works is kind of counter-intuitive, it doesn’t technically ‘wake you up’, it just makes you less tired. You see as you go about your day, your neurons are firing like crazy, and as a result of this firing they produce a by-product called adenosine. Now your body is constantly checking your adenosine levels via these adenosine receptors you have everywhere. As the adenosine bonds with the adenosine receptors it activates them and you start feeling tired. This is a gross oversimplification, but hey, who cares.

Where does caffeine fit in? Well adenosine receptors are very promiscuous receptors. The like adenosine but they LOVE caffeine. As you consume caffeine they will preferentially bond with your adenosine receptors, the only difference is, it doesn’t activate them. So you don’t feel tired.

However, your body is pretty smart, it will start to boosting your adenosine receptor count as it realises something is tricking it. As it does this, it increases how much caffeine you need to feel the same buzz. Again, massive oversimplification.

So what to do? Cycle Baby!

To deal with my body adapting to caffeine I cycle. I drink caffeine for six weeks and then for two weeks I cut it out. I mean completely cut it out. No Coffee besides decaf. No Tea (depending on how you make it, tea sometimes has more caffeine than coffee). Nothing.

Now how long it takes you to withdraw from caffeine is very subjective. Lots of factors come into play and no two people are the same. For me two weeks is a nice round number. The first week I am in agony. I have headaches, I am lethargic, I feel like crap. By the start of the second week I am feeling better, but still not 100%.


Make no mistake, this will be you after your first week caffeine free.

By the end of the two weeks I have my first cup of tasty tasty coffee. Be careful with this first cup, you have just reset your caffeine tolerance, so even the smallest hit is going to blow your mind.

I am very interested in what other peoples coffee regime is like? Do you drink it all? How many cups per day? What about caffeine pills? Comment below!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jake February 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I only drink coffee with caffeine three times a week when I play tennis. I don’t like to play with a full stomach so I drink coffee with a tablespoon of coconut oil. It gives me the energy plus it sharpens my reactions in the game. Other wise I try to avoid caffeine.

I just read a study that shows caffeine stimulates autophagy which is a cell cleanup processes. Lack of autophagy is a major cause of cancer and heart attacks. However, Intermittent fasting is the best stimulator of autophagy.


James June 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I don’t usually put too much of a time frame on it. Sometimes I quit for a week or two when I notice it doesn’t give me the pep in my step and I actually NEED it to get going. But I agree with you. I am in complete agony that first week off caffeine. I do notice that exercise helps out a lot too!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: