The Caffeine Cult

Let me preface this article by saying: I get it. I used to live for coffee. I’ve heard all the excuses in the book, and even crafted some pretty elaborate ones myself to justify my addiction to coffee/ caffeine. This article is not here to judge, it is simply here to inform. We live in a society that has completely glorified and embraced this stimulant as a part of normal, every day life, and very rarely do we address the dark side of caffeine.

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I first started consuming caffeine (in the form of revolting, mostly-sugar, vanilla lattes from Tim Hortons) to get through late-night study sessions during university. First of all, I’m almost positive the coffee machines at these large chain coffee shops are hooked up to Satan’s asshole (shout out to Starbucks, Tim Hortons, McCafé, and Dunkin' Doughnuts). These chains not only serve you bullshit quality coffee made with tap water, but also pump in as many toxins as seemingly possible (emulsifiers, refined sugar, preservatives, hfcs, maltodextrin, more sugar, syrups, carrageenan, etc). The problem with coffee and caffeine actually runs much deeper than the additives in these drinks, but we’ll get to that later.

My addiction to caffeine transformed over the years: I started to use it before exercise in the form of XXL Americano Starbucks iced coffees, and then discovered pre-workout. Mid-university I was also introduced to caffeine pills, which I did not use regularly, but occasionally if I needed a quick pre-exercise boost, or to stay up to study. At the time I didn’t think twice about caffeine because our society is beyond accepting of this drug. I didn’t even think to question it, my parents drank it, and so did just about every other human I knew. Coffee shops are on every corner, they were all over campus… caffeine is deeply ingrained into our culture.

When I started to develop a larger sense of what “health” meant, I cut out all the dairy from my life which eliminated many of these beverages- but continued to drink black coffee as a pre-workout, as well as (often on TOP of the coffee) these brightly-coloured pre-workout powders. At the time I was doing this, I was at my leanest body weight of my life, legitimately rocking abs. “Awesome” you might be thinking to yourself, which I did too at the time... but what most people don’t know is that my period was coming about once every 6 months. Despite looking the healthiest (and eating a lot of healthy food, exercising, and feeling awesome), my adrenals were basically being propped-up by my caffeine addition.

My understanding of health continued to grow and by 2015 I started to acknowledge that I had a problem with pre-workout powders. I stopped consuming all pre-workout (despite working at a gym at the time, where the stuff literally flows like cocaine in a strip-club), and stuck to only 100% organic, black espresso. Australia (where I was living at the time) is the land of coffee. The stuff is revered as this sacred ritual, and the coffee there is not like in North America. In Australia, espresso/ tiny portioned coffees are the norm, whereas back home the coffee is served to you basically by the jug. At this point the Bulletproof craze also took over, and I started to buffer the impact of straight-black coffee by including fat, and incorporating other beneficial ingredients like adaptogens. I started to realize that coffee itself was not the healthiest, that it was highly acidic and probably not the best way to start the day. I used it exclusively as a pre-workout, but these would be 4-shot espresso’s blended with brain octane oil, and a bunch of other goodies (ashwagandha, chaga, reishi, etc). “I am not addicted,’ or so I said. “I used it only as a pre-workout, and exercise is healthy,” I repeated like a broken record.

Fast-forward to today, and I am over a year coffee-free, and currently on day 40 off caffeine completely. Why? Read-on, homies.

 

Quick Business

Before diving in, I’ll also acknowledge that life is meant to be lived, and that you should absolutely pursue whichever path you feel. Nothing in life is innately “good” or “bad”, but actions have reactions. Being truly honest with myself about my relationship with caffeine has been transformative in every aspect of my life, and has enabled me to unlock an entirely new portal to my existence. Most of us live in this constant level of white lies with ourselves, we justify our decisions to feel less bad about the things we do that we know we probably shouldn’t. We navigate life with one foot in the world of Truth and one foot in the world of lies. When we do this, we generate distrust in the world, and everyone around us. If you can’t be 100% completely honest with yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? How can you trust a world in which you, the one person you are in charge of, can’t even be trusted?

A brilliant analogy by my hero Jason Christoff is that the “caffeine lie” is like a block from the Jenga game. You take out the caffeine lie, and down comes the whole tower, because you are forced to acknowledge that you wake up tired, you wake up tired because you don’t sleep well, you don’t sleep well because you drink wine and watch TV before bed, which you do because maybe you hate your job, maybe you hate your partner, or maybe are unsatisfied with your life in general. Triggering, I know. Most people navigate life with wool over their eyes, just doing the motions of living, because pursuing deep fulfillment goes against all the things society is trying to shove down your throat. If you wake-up to this greater existence, you begin to realize life is not about things, status, and money, but about people, experiences, and connection. Shifting the paradigm is triggering for most because it might mean you’ve been giving your life to something that doesn’t matter, and it’s easier to just keep going with your eyes closed instead of waking up and diving into the unknown.

Jason Christoff is actually the man who inspired me to stop drinking coffee all together. It was in reading his articles and references about coffee that it clicked in my brain. Many things in my life are cultivated out of a strong trust in my intuition, and when I read Jason’s words, I knew it was the Truth.


As you read this article, listen to the voice that will fight everything I write… observe the resistance. Acknowledge the resistance, and explore it. Caffeine is such a controversial topic because you can feel the whole Jenga tower wobbling, you can feel all the other aspects of your life being put into question. Don’t be afraid, knowledge is power. If you chose to continue with your relationship with coffee/ caffeine- do it from a place of informed consent. Understand the effects and make a conscious choice to have it be a part of your life, but don’t just breeze through life unconsciously like a rag doll being dragged along the floor by a snotty toddler.

 

The Coffee Cult

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. But just because something is socially accepted, does not make it healthy or beneficial. Slavery, genocide…. our mob-mentality is awesome at justifying behaviours because they’re culturally appropriate at one-point in the time-space continuum. Alcohol is a great example of a completely socially acceptable POISON. We serve it in restaurants, in shops, we gift it to loved ones… we have quite literally welcomed poisoning ourselves and our loved ones as an acceptable social behaviour. On top of that, we are constantly being fed lies by studies funded by lobby-groups, and so it is really up to you to investigate what your body requires to thrive. Until recently, the food pyramid suggested Cheerios were a part of a healthy diet, meanwhile the Heart Associations hailed dietary cholesterol as the root of all our heart problems. Both organizations have completely recanted their previous beliefs. It is common knowledge today that the sugar lobby paid-off Harvard scientists to demonize fat as the source of our health problems, which completely took over the way our society consumes food, and played an enormous role in creating the most obese, sick, societies that have ever existed on this planet.

So you can’t trust what your friends are doing, or what the government/ corporations are recommending, and you can’t trust science.. who CAN you trust? Well, you can trust yourself. This is really important, because even in foods that are universally considered healthy (like turmeric), each human is so bio-individual that even turmeric isn’t for everyone. The good thing is that all you have to do is start to listen to your body. Listen to the aches and pains, to the indigestion, the fatigue, the bloating- they are literally your body communicating with you. 

 

Losing your ability to communicate with your Body.

Ok, so far you’re probably agreeing, right? Listen to your body- pretty straight forward. Now enter the problem with stimulants, depressants, and pain relievers. Any time we consume them, we trick our bodies into feeling something they are not in fact feeling. You lose the ability to communicate properly with your body because your body’s language is being masked by the effects of these substances.

For many of these substances, blocking this communication between you and your Body is literally their purpose; things like sleeping aids, anti-nausea, coffee, and Tylenol… they are suppressing the body’s natural sensations. The innate belief system is that the body is feeling things it shouldn’t, and that simply by silencing the noise- it doesn’t exist. Well, it doesn’t work like that.

The body’s natural state IS health, and so if you’re relying on exogenous ways to feel good, sleep well, have energy, etc- you’re ignoring the real cause of your problem, and just suppressing the negative impact (...for now). For example, if you consume coffee every day, your body is not energized enough to get through the day. Instead of addressing sleep issues, adrenal or blood glucose problems, etc, you are artificially getting through the day with exogenous source of energy. This is taking a toll on your system every day until the day you burn out; adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression, “mid-life crisis,” call it what you want- if you fail to address the underlying causes of your need for band-aids (stimulants, depressants, and pain relievers), you are essentially a ticking time-bomb.

 

Caffeine is also a known appetite suppressant, and I’ll keep this point nice and short. If you feel the need to suppress your appetite, you fall into at least one of 3 categories:

1. You are consuming a nutritionally deficient diet;

2. You need to control your blood sugar (more on this later);

3. You have an unhealthy emotional relationship with food that needs to be addressed (it has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with the emotions triggering you to eat).

Simply dulling your body’s cries for food is not the answer, and is totally disempowering. Hunger is a symptom, and the 3 reasons above are your root causes. Find the root cause, address it, and your hunger will disappear. 

 

By introducing caffeine into your system, not only do you lose the ability to properly communicate with it, but you also lose the clarity of your divine human intuition. Your intuition is a guiding compass, and when you interfere with your body’s natural responses, you lose the clarity and level of trust in your gut feelings. Your intuition gets murky when your brain is thinking one thing, meanwhile something else is going inside. A clear mind-body connection and open lines of communication is paramount in honing a strong sense of intuition.

The things you think and the way you feel is rooted in the lifestyle you lead. Instead of suppressing your body’s voice, consider addressing the root cause of your problems. This is scary for many people because it often means up rooting most of your lifestyle, which can include your job, certain friends, hobbies, and the way you spend your time. 

 

Caffeine half-life

No matter how well your body responds to caffeine (some people, including me, have a gene that metabolizes caffeine quickly), the existence of caffeine in the system at bed time will interfere with the production of melatonin. Caffeine causes a spike in cortisol in the body (a stress hormone), and cortisol interferes with the body’s production of melatonin (the rest hormone). Think of it this way, cortisol is released when your life is at risk/ when you’re under extreme stress: the body knows it needs energy to run, alertness to escape danger… it’s not time for sleep. That same rush of adrenaline you get when you nearly get in an accident is the type of cortisol boost our ancestral bodies are used to, and these isolated instances are then followed by long periods of rest. The lifestyle of today’s modern society promotes low levels of chronic stress, which cause your body to be on “alert mode” 24/7. Caffeine is a massive culprit of this problem, by being a regular trigger of cortisol release.

I hear you now because these words came out of my mouth many-a-times: “but I only drink it in the morning!” It doesn’t matter. The half life of caffeine is about 6 hours, so even if you have a single latte in the morning, there will still be a significant amount of caffeine in your body when it begins naturally releasing melatonin to help you enter a deep sleep. A 200mg cup of coffee at 9am will leave you with 50mg of caffeine in the blood at 9pm. And this presumes you had only one cup in the morning. Coffee, tea, chocolate- any form of caffeine will add to your daily caffeine tab. You may fall asleep with no problem, but the same reason to avoid exercise or blue-light exposure too close to bed-time: your sleep won’t be as deep/ restful. This of course impacts the way you feel when you wake up and throughout the day, and will have you reaching for more caffeine to “solve” the problem, when in reality it is just perpetuating it. Many variables also slow down the metabolism of caffeine (resulting in an even greater amount of caffeine in the system at bed time) including hormonal contraceptives, and pregnancy. Factoring these in, the half-life can run up to 10 hours…!

 

Caffeine IS NOT Free Energy

Many people (old me included) just assume coffee gives you “free” energy, but it does not work like that. Although it is energizing, caffeine is not free energy. If you’ve made your way reading all the way until this point, congratulations- let’s take a short movie break.

In a nutshell, by blocking one of the body’s key sleep inducing molecules (adenosine) caffeine tricks your body into thinking it’s not tired- which I explored earlier as a disconnection between you and your Body. The increased firing of neurones in the brain triggers the pituitary gland to release hormones that trigger the adrenals to produce adrenaline (epinephrine), which puts your body into “fight or flight” mode. A single cup of coffee triggers this fight or flight response for 3 weeks (yikes). 

Caffeine also increases dopamine levels in the same way that amphetamines do (heroine and cocaine also manipulate dopamine levels by slowing down the rate of dopamine re-uptake). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure centre in certain parts of the brain. So short term you get a boost, but when the adrenaline and dopamine wears off, your body craves more caffeine to feel good, which has you reaching for more caffeine, and locks your body in this “fight or flight” mode all god damn day.

 

Speaking of heroin… 

Fun fact: 

In 2011 there were 3,147 poison control center calls (in the US) for heroin... and 3,667 for caffeine.

 

Caffeine and Insulin

Keeping balanced blood sugar throughout the day is crucial to supporting your body’s overall health. When you spike your blood sugar, your body is forced to secrete insulin (literally to keep you alive); this process puts a large burden on your health and can lead to insulin resistance. This process is corrupted in diabetics, where the body is not able to match the amount of insulin required to balance the blood sugar- which of course is fatal. Even if you are not diabetic, maintaining balanced blood sugar will ensure a healthy weight, promote longevity, balance energy, and happy hormones. Most people today know that when you introduce high-glycemic foods into the diet, your blood sugar spikes, and then consequently crashes (what goes up, must come down), which is why sugar and high sugar foods have been under fire lately. But what most people don’t know is that coffee indeed has the same effect on the body.

A reaction to the release of adrenaline (caused by caffeine consumption) is that the liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for extra energy. This is a useful strategy by the body because cortisol suggests danger, and the body needs to be alert, energized, and ready to run from imminent danger. However, today’s societal stress does not involve running from a woolly mammoth or sabre tooth tiger; our stress is non-life threatening, and constant. In short bursts (like vigorous exercise) it induces hormesis; which is beneficial stress, followed by periods of recovery. These stressors force the body to adapt, and become more resilient. When consuming caffeine every day, on top of every other low level chronic stressors (sedentary/ stressful job, stressful relationships, etc), the body begins to break the fuck down.

So coffee forces the liver to dump glycogen into the blood, which spikes your blood sugar, and then soon after triggers a crash, which has you reaching for more sources of caffeine AND SUGAR!  I genuinely believe controlling your blood sugar is the absolute key to good health, and am not alone in thinking this (see bottom of article for books, articles, and other resources). If you find yourself needing a nap, always hungry, reaching for caffeine or sugar, or have hit a fitness plateau/ an inability to lose weight... odds are your blood sugar is imbalancedAF. 

Low levels of underlying chronic stress also impact fertility. When your body is in “fight or flight” mode (which it enters with the consumption of caffeine and subsequent release of cortisol), fertility and reproductive health takes a back burner on the list of priorities. Having low libido, irregular ovulation, and PMS, are all signs that it’s time to cut back on your caffeine consumption.

 

This is why caffeine and fasting are NOT HOMIES. So many people suggest caffeine (coffee/ tea) are acceptable during fasts because they contain no calories, and this truly demonstrates a superficial understanding of the body as a holistic entity. Many “experts” and entire communities (*cough* the Bulletproof cronies) push coffee as a way to get through a fast- which makes no sense once you understand the impact that caffeine, cortisol, and adrenaline have on not only the adrenals, but how the body releases glucose (thus creating a metabolic response). Even when the liver glycogen is completely depleted (during a fast or post vigorous exercise), the caffeine induced cortisol spike can cause the body to undergo gluconeogenesis, whereby the body actually turns protein (muscle) into glucose. “Fight or flight” is the trump card: your body will literally create sugar out of your muscle tissue to help you “escape” from the stressor. Little does your body know that the stressor is actually self-inflicted.

 

Caffeine IS Poison

Flip to “poison” in the Becoming Fully Human dictionary and you’d justifiably find this: 

 The Unicorn Frappuccino® Blended Crème brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood drug dealers over at Starbucks.

The Unicorn Frappuccino® Blended Crème brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood drug dealers over at Starbucks.

 Unicorn Frap ingredients list... somehow this is legal?!

Unicorn Frap ingredients list... somehow this is legal?!

But the poisonous nature of caffeine exists even without the added chemical-shitstorm of modern caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a xanthoid alkaloid, and is naturally bitter in taste; its purpose in the plant kingdom is to be a natural defense mechanism against herbivores. Leave it up to humans to cultivate nature's pesticide, roast the shit out of it, and drink it. 

Speaking of roasting- during the roasting process, coffee develops acrylamide. Acrylamide is a neurotoxic and carcinogenic substance that exists in all coffee as a result of roasting it at high temperatures. Yes, even your certified organic Peruvian blend roasted in small batches in a solar-power generated farm being run by monks. Coffee is also highly susceptible to the development of mycotoxins, which are toxic chemicals found in moulds that grows in edible crops. A healthy body has no problem processing small isolated exposures to such toxins, but regular exposure (like a daily cup of coffee) can cause chronic health issues similar to exposure of mould contamination in a damp, poorly ventilated building. Common mycotoxins found in coffee crops include Aflatoxin B1 and Ochratoxin A, both carcinogens.

Coffee is also one of the most chemically treated crops on the planet. Up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are sprayed per acre of conventional coffee. If you are adamant about continuing your relationship with coffee, buying organic is seriously a non-negotiable. Organic beans are still susceptible to mycoxotic fungus, but at least you won’t be ingestive toxic fertilizers and pesticides. 

 

Caffeine consumption is also inextricably linked to the development of cysts in women, particularly those with pre-existing hormonal imbalances (PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, and Fibrocystic breasts).  

If you’re struggling with your period, fibroids, cysts of any kind in the breast or ovary, endometriosis, infertility, low sex drive, moodiness, low energy, and weight issues – coffee is making all of these problems much worse.
— Alisa Vitti, author of "woman code"

But it doesn't stop there, caffeine consumption in the pre-conception period increases the  likelihood of early pregnancy loss... by 74 PERCENT. This statistic applies to both men and women in influencing the odds of miscarrying, "male preconception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females". Caffeine consumption is also linked to infertility, and depletes the body of micronutrients essential for healthy hormonal balance. No bueno ladies, no bueno.

 

You might be thinking, “if it was poison, wouldn’t it be illegal?” Well, clearly not considering we legally trade alcohol which is poison by definition. But in 1912 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually sued Coca-Cola over its caffeine content, and won. Despite being legally required to remove caffeine from their beverages, Coca-Cola went on with business as usual. The FDA revisited the issue in 1980, but by then the conglomerate was so big that they dropped the case.

 

The Coffee Lobby

But what about all the studies proving coffee is healthy? 

Until very recently, we were being told that refined sugar was healthy (or at least not a major issue), and that the consumption of dietary fat was the reason people were fat, and sick. The food (and drug) industry are a cesspool of lies and ulterior motives. We as a society base the recommendations of healthy diet on scientific studies, which are funded by people with narrow interests. Dietary fat was demonized for so long because the sugar lobby paid scientists (approximately $50,000) to falsify a major scientific study to cast doubt on the role that sugar plays in heart disease, and put the blame on fat instead. This is not conspiratorial, it’s a FACT. We’re being manipulated by industries that want to turn a profit, and the coffee lobby is no different. 

The National Coffee Association (NCA) is no different than the National Rifle Association in their advocacy for their cause, we just don’t hear about them much. The NCA is one of the oldest trade associations in the America, but every country has their version of it, and there is even an international body (International Coffee Association) which operates under an umbrella of the United Nations because of the great economic importance of coffee. These groups are charge of market and scientific research, domestic and international government relations (including lobbying), PR, and education. Basically this group of people you never heard of who have bottomless resources and are in charge of making sure the coffee industry thrives are also in charge of the science that keeps shoving the benefits of coffee down your throat. Not exactly the kind of motive that prompts scientific Truth telling. And if that wasn’t enough, the Chairman of the the NCA (Willard Hay) is also the senior VP of Starbucks… *drop the mic*.

 

The result of a lobby-based science is a lot of profit-driven misinformation. Studies showing coffee causes brain damage, others that it prevents it. Studies showing coffee causes cancer, others that it prevents it. The back-and-forth goes on, and on, but let me break it down real quick.

Red flag number 1:

There are numerous studies (not funded by the coffee industry) that despite their efforts, cannot replicate the lavish findings of certain pro-caffeine studies.

Red flag number 2:

Most of the research on caffeinated coffee is epidemiological, which means it uses studies that look at associations rather than cause and effect. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, so when Channel 7 news announces that coffee and wine are the answer to longevity, you can be sure as hell the science is #weakAF and being manipulated for marketing purposes.

Red flag number 3:

In his book ‘Change your Brain, Change your Life” neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen compares MRI of the brain immediately before and after coffee consumption, and shows over 50% decrease in blood flow to the brain after a single cup. Brain scans after a single cup mirror degradation levels of long term alcoholics and patients with Parkinson’s disease. Remind me again how caffeine protects from neurodegenerative disorders when it quite literally cuts off blood flow to the brain?  

Red flag number 4: 

If coffee and red wine are “healthy,” then why aren’t pregnant women encouraged to drink it? No, seriously.

 

The most important thing for me in navigate the bull-shit ridden world of the Church of Science has been using my intuition. I can read a headline, close my eyes, and ask myself how it feels. There are so many people with ulterior motives, monetary incentives, etc, that make it basically impossible to know if the information we’re being fed is truthful or not. Learn to trust your powerful human intuition, harness your innate sense of Knowing, and follow your gut instinct.

 

Types of Caffeine

caffeine levels.jpg

This chart shows relative quantities of caffeine in regularly consumed caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is caffeine, and it is definitely better to opt for none of it, but being mindful of minimizing your exposure, especially after midday, is a step in the right direction.

 

Coffee

 Coffee in its natural state.

Coffee in its natural state.

Does coffee contain antioxidants? Sure, and so does red wine. Anyone who tries to tell themselves they’re drinking coffee for the antioxidant properties is, well,  completely full of shit. You know what else has antioxidants? Food. And guess what! With food, you get all the anti-oxidant benefits, without all the poison. A 2005 study showed that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, “not because it is especially high in antioxidants, but because Americans drink so much of it.” Now that’s putting the sad in Standard American Diet. If you are truly consuming coffee for the anti-oxidant properties (… I still don’t believe you…) opt coffee fruit extract instead. I’m doubling down on coffee because not only does it contain high levels of caffeine, but the process in which it is created (roasting) generates neurotoxic carcinogens, on top of the heavily pesticide sprayed crops, on top of the mycotoxins.

 

Tea

 Because the whole leaf is ingested (as opposed to steeped), matcha tea boasts 150x the anti-oxidant load of regular green tea, and about 35grams of caffeine per tsp.

Because the whole leaf is ingested (as opposed to steeped), matcha tea boasts 150x the anti-oxidant load of regular green tea, and about 35grams of caffeine per tsp.

Tea often gets a better rap than coffee for two main reasons. Firstly (and this point would be more important IMO) is that tea contains significantly less caffeine than coffee (refer to chart). Secondly, tea boast many nutritional benefits. Green, black or oolong tea all come from the Camellia sinensis plant and contain polyphenols, antioxidants, boost metabolism, and may even prevent bone loss. Note that caffeine is caffeine, and despite the benefits- all I write still applies (to a smaller degree) to caffeinated teas.

 

Cacao

 Learn how to make your own crap-free chocolate  HERE .

Learn how to make your own crap-free chocolate HERE.

Cacao (or its heat-treated cousin cocoa) are “chocolate” in its purest form, before the addition of sugar, milk, etc. Cacao does contain a small amount of caffeine, however it also contains a healthy dose of magnesium. Per 100 grams of dark chocolate, you’re getting about 43mg of caffeine and 146mg of magnesium. Magnesium does helps buffer the impact of caffeine, and cacao also packs an insane nutritional punch. 20x the antioxidant power of blueberries, plus calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids. I must note that aside from the caffeine content, the health-factor of chocolate relies almost entirely on the other ingredients. 100% cacao is extremely bitter, and is conventionally sweetened with refined sugar/ high fructose corn syrup, milk solids, and filled with preservatives and artificial colours and flavours. Personally, I do consume cacao, but I make my own chocolate (or opt for a brand I trust) that contains no nasty ingredients.

 

Pre-workout powders

Are death. Straight up. I used to consume degenerate quantities of them before exercise, and felt like it was totally fine because this behaviour is promoted heavily in the “bodybuilding” and fitness world. First of all, as a consumer- we are being preyed upon by these supplement companies that use fitness models to allude that in taking these brightly coloured toxic shit-storms, we will somehow attain their bodies. I have so much respect for athletes like Alexa Clarke that openly use absolutely no supplements or pre-workout. These bright blue, yellow, and pink powders with names like “whacky watermelon, electric blue raspberry, and lime margarita” are filled with fillers, preservatives, artificial colours and dyes, and lethal amounts of caffeine. There is basically no quality control in the fitness supplement industry, and these products are constantly being either re-called or banned. You are not a lab rat, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that a hi-lighter coloured powder called Tropical Storm is not healthy. Pumping your body with artificial energy and all the crap associated with these powders just prior to vigorous exercise (which itself inflicts extreme stress on the body) is begging for adrenal fatigue (read: weight loss plateau, stubborn belly fat, and even weight gain).

There are many other ways to tap into your body’s natural abundant energy system. First of all, and needless to say (but here I am saying it) sleep quality is paramount. Check out my article on 16 ways to optimize your sleep HERE.

 

Alternatives

Here are some alternative beverages to help you achieve the same goals you we’re pursing while caffeinating, but without completely assaulting your body in the process.

 Despite looking like coffee, this morning tonic is a blend of bone broth and adaptogens (reishi, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and pine pollen).

Despite looking like coffee, this morning tonic is a blend of bone broth and adaptogens (reishi, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and pine pollen).

1. Adaptogens: are powerful tools to incorporate in your day-to-day life. Unlike stimulants, adaptogens don’t artificially stimulate or dull the body’s natural processes. By supporting adrenal functions, they help normalize the body’s imbalances, help battle the adverse effects of stress. So in helping balance your body, they promote your body’s natural state: which is health. (I will be coming out with a complete roadmap to adaptogens soon!)

2. Beetroot kvass: is an incredible substitution for pre-workout energy. The nitrate by  in beets boost energy by increasing the oxygen that can get extracted from your blood. Increased blood flow to the muscles = increased production of energy (more strength, more stamina). The kvass has the added benefits of gut healing and immune boosting probiotics, high mineral, and no nasty sugars, preservatives, and additives. Learn how to make your own kvass HERE.

3. Essential amino acids: these are another beneficial add-on to your natural pre-workout stack (skip the BCAAs, and find out why HERE).

4. Chaga tea: technically this guy is an adaptogen, but I thought to give a special mention to it because of how similar it is to coffee or tea in taste/ feel. Unlike stimulants, it won’t give you “fake” energy, but Chaga is a nutrient-dense superfood that fights inflammation, prevents cancer (by repairing DNA), lowers blood sugar, boosts the immune system. You can get a duel-extracted powder and just add it to hot water, or try making your own tea HERE. This recipe actually incorporates coffee (decaf), in a way that is much less acidic. If you are going to have coffee, this is definitely the way to do it. 

5. Red raspberry leaf tea: this tea tastes awfully familiar to black tea, but without the caffeine, and with all the added benefits of the raspberry leaf plant! This tea is particularly beneficial to women, as the tea contains fragarine which helps tone the uterus. I like THIS brand.

6. Decaffeinated coffee: giant leap in the right direction. Decaf still contains small amounts of caffeine, but much less of an assault on the body and a great way to ween off the stuff. Opt for “swiss water methods” of decaffeination, which use only water; many methods use highly toxic ingredients to extract the caffeine from the bean.

7. Roasted dandelion tea: has a very similar taste/ texture to coffee, and is a potent liver detoxifier. Naturally caffeine-free, opt for the roasted variety (the regular tea is more similar to a conventional herbal tea), and make sure you read the label because many dandy-blends contain added sugars. I like THIS brand.

8. Coffee fruit extract: boasts all the anti-oxidant benefits of coffee (actually higher levels than blueberries) but at a fraction of the caffeine content (4.4 mg of caffeine versus the 100 to 150 mg of caffeine in a single cup of brewed coffee).

 

Not addicted? Cool, prove it. 

No, seriously! You don’t have anything to prove to me- and trust me, I’m not judging. But if you genuinely think to yourself that you are not addicted, then try stopping. Challenge yourself to 30 days with no caffeine, or depending on your level of addiction- try weekends caffeine-free, or cut back “no caffeine after midday” and eventually “only 1 coffee a day”. 

 

Let’s Wrap Things Up.

The impacts of caffeine on the body are much farther reaching than I address in this article. But hopefully you’ve been equipped with new information to help you to take back your power and make informed decisions about your health. If nothing resonates and you think I’ve been sent in by some fictional anti-lobby to corrupt your mind and spread anti-caffeine propaganda.. that’s fine too.

Does not drinking caffeine make you a better person? Of course not. Life is not some competition of who is the healthiest or who has the most willpower. In fact, this has nothing to do with willpower at all. It does have everything to do with connecting with your Self, listening to your Body, and taking care of your meat vehicle because it is a gift to be human. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide how you want to treat your body, and what kind of life you want to have- but coming from an ex-addict, I feel confident in saying that you can only truly understand once you come out the other side. It is about realizing how good you can feel, and overcoming obstacles you thought were impossible, trusting your body’s wisdom, and embracing your natural state of health.

I think its so important to ask yourself why you do what you do. What does the role of caffeine play in your life? Stimulants are a band-aid for most, and there is so much information today on actionable ways to address the underlying problems that are being suppressed by caffeine addiction. Also, intentions and purposes shift greatly over time. Despite having a “healthy” relationship with caffeine (total oxymoron..) at points in my life, I would very quickly slip into the role of the addict. It would go back and forth for years until the point when I realized that coffee and me needed to sever out relationship for life. Despite still loving the smell (I write to you from inside a coffee shop!) I know deep down that the brown bean juice is not serving my highest good. 

What relationship do you currently have with caffeine, and how has it changed over the years? Are you trying to cut back, or did reading this just make you pour yourself a jug of coffee and short 3 lines of pre-workout? Comment below.

 


A Deeper Dive

BOOKS

Change Your Brain Change Your Life, by Dr. Daniel G. Amen

Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug, by Stephen Cherniske 

The Truth About Caffeine, by Marina Kushner

The Blood Sugar Solution, by Dr. Mark Hayman 

Tribe, by Sebastien Junger

 

ARTICLES

1. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat

2. https://www.medpagetoday.com/primarycare/dietnutrition/1619

3. http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/06/13/ten-reasons-to-quit-your-coffee/

4. https://naturespoisons.com/2014/02/04/caffeine-addicted-to-poison/

5. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/04/coffee-millions-of-years-of-poison-and-brain-manipulation/

6. https://www.acsh.org/news/2003/07/25/wileys-proto-fda-vs-coca-cola

7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/sugar-harvard-conspiracy-1.3759582

8. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0103/Organic-coffee-Why-Latin-America-s-farmers-are-abandoning-it/(page)/2

9. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1177258/Are-wrecking-brain-Chilling-pictures-reveal-shocking-effects-alcohol-cigarettes-caffeine-mind.html

10. https://www.floliving.com/3-reasons-why-women-cant-drink-coffee/

11. https://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

12. https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/satchin-round-2

 

#SCIENCE

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305706000645

2. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/3838675

3. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/2/364.short

4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2548255?redirect=true

5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3bea/77aa6466c6526ca916e957077e72f0ded1a4.pdf

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24325083

7. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2548255?redirect=true 

8. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat

9. https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/22/4/535/2529893

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17195275

11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997392/

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2079614

13. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414529

14. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/couples-pre-pregnancy-caffeine-consumption-linked-miscarriage-risk 

15. https://watermark.silverchair.com/

16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21954354 

17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14726276