Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that caffeine kick

April 07, 2020 4 min read

Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that caffeine kick

Caffeine cycling for chronic users brings back that old black magic. If you’re a regular or chronic caffeine user, you may have noticed that the stimulating effects of the substance aren’t as strong as when you first started to consume 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.

 

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 mood. [1]

The article says:

Increase 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. 

Caffeine as a stimulant can get people hooked. Those who love having a regular caffeine fix (like two or more cups a day) may develop “physical, emotional and psychological dependence on it and may experience a caffeine withdrawal syndrome after abrupt cessation of caffeine intake.” [2

However, note that caffeine - while habit-forming - is not necessarily addictive. 

 

CAFFEINE TOLERANCE

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.

To learn more about what really constitutes "addiction" and why caffeine is NOT addictive, read the article "Is caffeine addictive? No, but it sure is habit-forming."

An article on Caffeine Informer talks about caffeine tolerance. [3] It says that 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."

Fortunately, some health and wellness enthusiasts seem to have found a way around this. It’s what they do to decrease tolerance and make the most of caffeine. They call it “caffeine cycling.”

 

WHAT IS CAFFEINE CYCLING?

Caffeine cycling is a technique that involves momentarily stopping coffee consumption, or at least easing off on it. The concept stems from the fact that stopping caffeine consumption can reduce tolerance and optimize the stimulant’s effects on the body. 

According to an article from Lifehacker on the topic: [4]

“Cycling” caffeine, as it is sometimes called, is a brief period of stopping yourself from sweeping through your favorite coffee pit stop for a quadruple-shot latte or any other caffeinated drinks—typically for one month to reduce tolerance. As you may have noticed, the feel-good effects of caffeine reduce over time with habitual consumption.

 

One study found that tolerance happens with one to four days. To reset the tolerance to zero, a person should do 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. [5]

The Lifehacker article adds: [6]

Cycling caffeine (even briefly) can do a lot for you depending on what your goals are. For example, if you want increased focus and appetite suppression, then you might consider cycling your caffeine to renew your tolerance. On the other hand, if you seek caffeine’s benefits on enhanced performance during endurance exercise, Examine says that cycling caffeine is not needed, since those benefits “do not seem to be reduced with time.”

 

SHOULD YOU CYCLE CAFFEINE?

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. [7]

“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.

According to Gym Meals Direct, whether you should cycle caffeine depends on your reason for consuming it. [8]

“If you are taking caffeine to increase exercise endurance and performance, then building up a tolerance to caffeine won't have an adverse effect. Although, it may be less effective in increasing power output. 

If you are taking caffeine for its benefits on focus, mood (euphoria), fat burning and appetite suppression, then you may want to look at cycling caffeine, as these effects are all negatively impacted by increased caffeine tolerance.” 

 

HOW SHOULD YOU CYCLE CAFFEINE?

Again, it all depends on what you’d like to get from your caffeine intake.

You may choose to skip your caffeine fix on random days, or perhaps you could follow a pattern.

Some people drink coffee for three days straight before going off it for the rest of the week. Others skip it every other day.

There’s really no hard and fast rule for cycling caffeine. But the idea is to reduce tolerance by examining your intake, how your body reacts, and whether you experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. When you experience the latter, you can recalibrate and maybe go through caffeine cycle in a way that your body can slowly ease into it.

 

YOUR TURN

Are you keen to try it? Have you ever tried caffeine cycling? Leave a comment on the section below and let us know how it goes!

 

 

SOURCES 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1874449/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430790/

[3] http://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-tolerance

[4] https://vitals.lifehacker.com/when-you-should-or-shouldn-t-cycle-caffeine-1742908307

[5] https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-tolerance

[6] https://vitals.lifehacker.com/when-you-should-or-shouldn-t-cycle-caffeine-1742908307

[7] https://examine.com/faq/do-i-need-to-cycle-caffeine/

[8] https://www.gymmealsdirect.com.au/blogs/news/should-you-be-cycling-caffeine

 

Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin


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