Confessions of a Caffeine Junkie
I used to be a caffeine junkie. In my younger years, I would drink several mugs of coffee in the morning and then would follow that up by drinking “barrels” of Diet Coke in the afternoon. I never got the jitters and didn’t have any problems sleeping due to caffeine. The sleep problems that I eventually had was in peri-menopause when my hormones were unbalanced and I had a lack of estrogen. Bio-identical hormones solved that problem. By the time I began peri-menopause, I was off caffeine so caffeine wasn’t a factor in my inability to sleep.
Whoops! Caffeine is moving me further from my goals!
Around the time I turned 50 and started becoming more aggressive with doing healthy things, a homeopathic doctor I went to told me that caffeine wasn’t good on your metabolism. Since I was having trouble with hormone imbalance and therefore weight loss (which I didn’t know at the time), I listened to the good doctor and not only quit caffeine, but went cold turkey on caffeine to help get control of the menopausal weight gain that had taken over my body. As much as I consumed regular coffee and Diet Coke, you would think the withdrawals would have been traumatic, but fortunately, they weren’t. I was a little head-achey the first day of caffeine free and never had a problem after that. However, if anyone decides to give up caffeine, they may have better success slowly weening themselves from caffeine and step it down in increments.
Drinking Decaf Herbal Tea
I am also one of those people who had classified coffee as “Regular” and “why bother?” No decaf for me! Nevertheless, from that point on I started drinking “decaffeinated herbal teas” to substitute for that morning warm drink that I enjoyed having. For 4 years, 4 years mind you, I drank decaf herbal tea. Makes me sound like an Earth Shoe wearing hippie (not that there is anything wrong with that), but I was determined to be good. Then Eureka! The epiphany of common sense rolled around. “If I can have decaf tea, then I can have decaf COFFEE!” Yes, I know I am slow, but now I enjoy decaf black with Stevia every day!
Bear in mind that I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, but with some of my reading, evidence points to ditching the caffeine as a good idea if you are seeking weight loss. And also for my dear Baby Boomer friends, we tend to have to be even more deliberate in our later years about following the rules as our bodies don’t respond as quickly to weight loss as they did when we were younger. Remember as we get older, our metabolism gets slower not faster, so you want to have more things going in your favor.
5 Reasons Weight Loss Candidates May Want to Ditch the Caffeine:
- Caffeine’s effects tend to be accelerated in Baby Boomers: Let me say first that this isn’t something I have read, but I have noticed that several of my friends (me included) who could once drink coffee and soft drinks by the gallon get those java jitters if they have caffeine. This never bothered me before ever, but now it is a different story. Be aware that this could happen to you also.
- Caffeine intake tends to elevate the stress hormones of cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline). Most of you have read about the effects of cortisol and weight loss in the past few years, so you know this is something that you don’t want because increased cortisol levels lead to that awful abdominal obesity and the buildup of fat in the abdominal area. Higher elevation in the level of those stress hormones = more excess fat in the abdomen.
- Caffeine stimulates your appetite! Who knew? Higher levels of cortisol caused by caffeine stimulates the appetite. Of course, if you are in a stressful situation, the higher the chance of emotional overeating too. I used to drink coffee when I was hungry. I have since read that if you are feeling hunger pangs, it is a good possibility that you are dehydrated and are thirsty. This is something I didn’t know then either. Often times, when I start to feel hungry, I will drink some water, it will hydrate me and at least temporarily quell the hunger pangs.
- Caffeine triggers hypoglycemia and gives a feeling of low blood sugar. It activates the sympathetic nervous system and adrenal glands by causing a constriction of the blood vessels which decreases circulation to the brain resulting in an increased feeling of low blood sugar. A lot of people crave sweets which further irritates the instability of the blood sugar levels. When the body reacts to hypoglycemia, the body has an increase in food cravings.
- Stimulants such as caffeine mess up your serotonin levels. Stimulates cause insulin levels to rise too high, which then stimulates a rush or release or store serotonin that is quickly used up. The depletion of serotonin causes you to want to eat an excess of carbohydrates or use stimulates (get more coffee or coffee and a smoke) to feel good again. Low-serotonin causes people to crave stimulants or comfort foods. When you want to overeat carbohydrates, smoke a cigarette have a glass of wine or coffee, your brain is desiring this because of the low serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels also affect the thyroid too as it increases the production of serotonin.
Avoiding caffeine and sugar are both healthy steps to take. With the absence of caffeine, your body has more of a chance to:
- maintain balanced blood sugar
- stabilize its hormonal levels
- maintain a normal appetite.
Ditching the caffeine has been a positive thing for me and my weight loss program. I am relieved to know that I have stable hormonal and blood sugar levels and that I don’t get the jitters. Talk to your doctor about this. It could be a very good thing to consider.