Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that caffeine kick

by Mark Miller July 21, 2016

Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that caffeine kick

Arabica coffee beans are just one of several types of coffee, and coffee is just one of about 60 plants worldwide that contain caffeine. Most people in the world consume caffeine now. (Wikimedia Commons photo/Fernando Robelo)

Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that old black magic. If you’re a regular or chronic caffeine user, you may have noticed the stimulating effects of the substance aren’t as strong as when you first started to take caffeine. If you want to experience that near-bliss you used to get from that first cup of java, you can do caffeine cycling where you stop taking it for a while and then start again.

Researchers call the need people have for caffeine tolerance or dependence (both psychological and physical) rather than addiction. Some people who are dependent on caffeine suffer headaches, sleepiness and a bad mood if they don’t get their dose. But don’t confuse these symptoms with addictions to substances like alcohol and narcotics, where heavy users suffer intensely when they try to stop.

A ‘psychostimulant’

The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, in a 2002 article, said caffeine is a known “psychostimulant” with positive effects on memory, reaction time and “in addition caffeine consumption has been associated with positive effects on mood.” The article says:

Increases in positive feelings are the usual feature of studies involving acute caffeine ingestion in naïve subjects, although no dose–response relationship has been demonstrated. Older people show increased positive effects of caffeine on mood compared to younger subjects with younger people expressing more anger with caffeine consumption. With respect to mood, tolerance has been largely overlooked by investigators in this field, although Zwyghuizen-Doorenbos et al. suggested that instead of tolerance developing Pavlovian conditioning to the alerting effects of caffeine may also occur.

Zero tolerance

Caffeine Informer has an excellent article on caffeine tolerance.It says a first-time user or someone who has been off of caffeine for a long time has zero tolerance. These people get the maximum effects of euphoria, alertness, good mood and increased energy and motivation.

“Consuming the same amount of caffeine the next day will result in a lesser degree of those effects,” the article says. “As a person continues to consume the same dose habitually, those effects can reduce pretty rapidly. Soon that same amount of caffeine produces only a sense of ‘normal’ rather than all of the effects initially experienced.”

Caffeine cycling

One study found that tolerance happens with one to four days, the article says. To reset the tolerance to zero, the article says a person should do a caffeine cleanse by not ingesting it for between two weeks to two months. Then, don’t let caffeine dependence develop again by not consuming it too regularly.

On Reddit in 2014, in a thread titled Caffeine cycling: is it worth it?commenter PartySunday says:

I stopped taking caffeine on a regular basis and I feel much better.

Now I take it irregularly and it is amazing.

Another Redditor, leemobile, said:

This! If I drink coffee on a regular basis, it quickly loses it’s stimulating effects. At least for me anyways.

Now I just drink it once or twice a week, and it really helps me focus.

1.6 billion cups daily

Another scholarly article, in the journal Current Neuropharmacology, states that “the use of caffeine to stay awake and alert is a long-standing habit. Coffee is the most popular beverage after water and is consumed worldwide in daily amounts of approximately 1.6 billion cups, which is quite an impressive figure.” And that doesn’t include tea, medications, supplements, candy and energy drinks.

The article gives a history of coffee use with historical anecdotes and is well worth reading. It states “in epidemiological reports, a link between chronic caffeine consumption and a significantly lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, has been described. … [M]oderate-to-high consumers develop tolerance to caffeine and only low or nonconsumers can eventually benefit from an acute administration.”

The paper says researchers are still investigating the effects of caffeine dependence. A problem researchers encounter is that different products contain different concentrations of the chemical, so it has been hard to verify amounts taken. Plus, many caffeine users used other substances, including alcohol and nicotine, simultaneously. These substances may interact with caffeine and have overlapping effects.

Provides energy

The article states:

Caffeine’s psychological effects are also responsible for its widespread use, as they can provide energy and improve cognitive skills; they are a direct result of the caffeine-induced chemical activation of different neuronal pathways through alterations in neurotransmitters’ release. These effects can cause both psychological and physical dependence. It has been demonstrated that caffeine is able to induce an abstinence syndrome during withdrawal after prolonged use and can lead to addiction and tolerance mechanisms …

Risk reduction

An article on Examine.com titled Do I need to cycle caffeine states that if you take it to reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease, Type II diabetes or to reduce headache bouts, cycling is not required.

“Actually, it is probably recommended to keep chronic coffee or tea (not just caffeine) intake for diabetes risk reduction, as the negative effects on glucose metabolism by caffeine are reduced with tolerance,” the article states.

My own experience with caffeine is that if I maintain the amount I take at a certain level every day, I still get some of the stimulating effects, though not as much as before tolerance developed. And I avoid the headaches, sleepiness and bad moods that come with withdrawal. When I start to take more than usual (two mugs), I can’t sleep at night, and I just don’t enjoy it as much. Plus, if I start to have three or four cups a day, coffee is just another beverage and not a treat that I look forward to.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in The Viter Energy Mints Blog

Is caffeine an appetite suppressant?
Is caffeine an appetite suppressant?

by Tina Sendin October 22, 2018

The holidays are upon us. It’s only October but with the rate this year has gotten to the tail-end, we’ll all be wearing our favorite sweatshirts (forcibly or otherwise) and devouring the holiday away in no time.

The forward-looking you will already be starting to watch that *extra holiday weight* before the holiday even starts.

But one step at a time, right? After all, there’s a few weeks left before the celebrations and holiday parties officially kick in.

If the java lover in you has ever been curious whether caffeine can help curb the appetite, now is the perfect time to find some answers.

The word on the street is that caffeine is one of the best appetite suppressants.

Spoiler alert: researches tell us the jury’s still out on this one. 

Read More
Caffeine sensitivity: all you need to know
Caffeine sensitivity: all you need to know

by Tina Sendin October 18, 2018

Have you been drinking coffee for years and starting to feel weird sensations after a cuppa? You’ve got to know something.

If you suddenly find yourself going through unusual post-caffeine effects such as anxiety, headache, faster heartbeat and tremors, you may be experiencing a shift in how your body metabolizes caffeine.

Two words: caffeine sensitivity.

Caffeine sensitivity is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s all a matter of our body adapting to caffeine in our system.

However, if all of a sudden you start to feel things that didn’t use to happen after having your caffeine fix, then it’s time to watch that caffeine intake!

Read More
8 ways caffeine affects your concentration and mental performance
8 ways caffeine affects your concentration and mental performance

by Tina Sendin October 15, 2018

What if I tell you that aside from perking you up, caffeine can also help you concentrate and become more productive?

If, during mind-numbing, brain-wracking moments, you want to feel like Popeye going for a whole can of spinach, just reach out for the coffee-maker and you’re likely to feel the same! (For the best java experience, know when’s the best time to drink your coffee here.)

Caffeine can also help you absorb information and remember them more efficiently.

Yep! Our favorite stimulant can boost mental performance in more ways than one. Have a cuppa and you’ll find yourself retaining more information from classes and business meetings, kill it in planning and problem-solving, and finish those day-to-day tasks efficiently.

Without further ado, here are 8 ways caffeine can help us take a step closer to becoming Einstein-genius:

Read More