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I would like to limit my coffee intake, which is about 5/6 glasses a day. I want to do this for health reasons and I think I'm more deppresed due to strong coffee usage (coffee makes me very tired in the evening). The problem is when I decrease coffee I tend not to focus on work as I would like to.

Do you have suggestions on how to deal with this?

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You may want to look at your health in general as well, if you need 5/6 cups to be alert. Personally I gained a lot of energy from switching to a Paleo diet, in particular perfecthealthdiet.com –  w00t Jun 20 '12 at 14:12
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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The best change to begin immediately is lowering your intake. With an intake of 5-6 cups per day, this process may take a couple weeks. Do not do this too quickly, as you said it affects your focus when you decrease intake and rushing will just result in you feeling worse and perhaps relapsing (for lack of a better word). If necessary, you can decrease intake in half-cup increments (or whatever you prefer) rather than full cups. The idea is to reduce the intake in small enough amounts that your body does not notice the difference over time. This is why it may take so long, as you may only be decreasing your intake once per week. If you start to feel slightly tired, stay at that level of intake until your body adjusts.

I am not sure if your goal is to eliminate coffee or reduce it from your daily routine, but you would jut continue this slow process until you're comfortable with how much you drink. If you're trying to eliminate it altogether, it may help to switch to another energy product (one that your body has never been dependent on) once you're intake very low, and eventually eliminating that energy product as well (which in theory should be easier than quitting the coffee straight). A good example of this is replacing cigarettes with nicotine gum. Though people sometimes do develop dependencies on the gum, the idea is that once you're off cigarettes and just on the gum, it's easier to stop the habit completely.

As for other specific strategies, there are plenty of blog posts and resources easily found on the web. If mine doesn't work for you, I suggest trying others until you find one that does! Good luck!

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Eric, thanks for your advice. I think your right that I should do this slowly. My only concern is that my overall focus may decline even when my body adjusts to a lower intake. This may be so since I may naturally be more unfocused without coffee. This may also not be true and the perception of focus might be caused by coffeine rush. –  Marcin Rybacki Jun 13 '12 at 8:19
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+1, this is how I've been managing my caffeine intake. I went from 3-4 cans of soda a day (never liked coffee) to a cup of black tea in the morning and green tea after lunch (green tea has less caffeine than black). –  asfallows Jun 13 '12 at 14:10
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Personally, I've tried twice to just "cut off" completely. First time I was quite tired for two days, but otherwise suffered no I'll effects. Second time I had a headache, and was tired the first day, and that was it.

If your experience would be similar, you could time this to coincide with a weekend, or when you get sick and take a few days off anyway.

I felt it was better to just get rid of any problems, and then slowly start drinking more if I felt like. As I enjoy a good espresso, I don't expect I'll ever quit completely though.

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Switch to Red Bull! :) Seriously though, a few years ago, I did a similar exercise, and found that Yerba Mate worked REALLY well for me. It's got caffeine, but without the nasty side effects of regular caffeinated beverages (the crash, the withdrawal symptoms--at least for me), and has a rich history.

Friends of mine have had good luck with teas and tinctures made from ephedra or "Mormon Tea", but I've never gotten a focus-inducing rush.

I've always wanted to try betel nut and coca leaf as other natural alternatives, but am unable to do so due to USA narcotics laws. That being said, these items may be available in your part of the world, and perhaps some other users could vouch for thier efficacies. Or lack thereof.

If you do choose to quit caffeine cold-turkey, I found that the perfect time to do it is when I'm sick with a cold or the flu...I'm miserable anyway, so I don't notice the withdrawal headache as much.

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Yerba Mate contains caffiene, up to half the amount found in coffee. –  Belisama Jun 14 '12 at 21:27
    
@Belisama - true dat. I just clarified my response; I was intending to note that my experience of mate has been very smooth compared to other caffeinated bevs. Of course, I'd failed miserably at communicating that...thanks for calling me out. :) –  dwwilson66 Jun 15 '12 at 10:20
    
-1 for suggesting red bull, +1 for the tip about withdrawing when sick. –  0x6d64 Jun 15 '12 at 11:27
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My technique was to quit from a very high coffee addiction by stopping completely. I had two weeks of feeling irritable, then another week or two of lowered concentration, but since then have felt much more alert than I did when drank the stuff.

I still have the occasional coke or Irn-Bru but it isn't an essential any more.

Good luck.

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Try Rhodiola rosea. It's an adaptogen, an herb that helps your body adapt to stress.

The Russian military studied it and gave it to fighter pilots to increase their energy levels and attention spans.

I find it gives me lots of energy, but without the "buzz" or ragged-edge that caffeine tends to have. I also find it great specifically for reducing anxiety.

You can find it in health food stores in capsules for about $0.50 per day. (60 caps for $29.95, take once a day on an empty stomach.)

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I think coffee is a great thing, when used properly. My method is to work out regularly. This is what really improves your focus ability. but of course, at first energy can be a problem: it takes a lot of effort to start jogging or doing some other form of cardio exercise. But that's where coffee can help you: it can help you push yourself hard. I set myself a rule to drink coffee only before workouts, not during the day.

I noticed that over time the body builds up tolerance against caffeine, and coffee does not give the desired effects. So recently I've been drinking less and less coffee, while keeping up with regular and frequent workouts. So I'm reducing the intake gradually, while workouts help me keep focused. And gradually I'm planning to give up drinking coffee completely.

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