In Defense of Caffeine and Coffee

This is more of a personal story than a list of facts, but here it is anyway:

From the standpoint of metabolism and adrenal recovery, caffeine is not the most helpful. It can tax the adrenals and spike cortisol making it difficult to completely restore the metabolism.

It is also used as a “diet aid”, as it can suppress the appetite and artificially speed up the system. This can only work for so long, eventually causing burnout, crashing and probably a slower system altogether in the long run.

I have been very addicted to coffee in the past. It was a crutch to my “intuitive eating”, and I would use it to stretch the time and hunger in between my “intuitive meals”. This was at a time when I was not eating very many carbs, and coffee was not only my appetite suppression, but my energy. I would always drink coffee with cream and no sugar. It was always the thing that I would go for if I was hungry but it wasn’t mealtime and I needed something to tie me over- it was very much my “happy” little vice.

It got to the point where no matter how much caffeine I drank, I didn’t feel a thing, yet I always craved it.

And while I don’t think that a life without coffee is anything that needs to be remedied, (if you don’t drink coffee, I am not telling you to start) my attempts at cutting out coffee completely made me sad! I really like coffee. I like the taste and I like the morning ritual. I didn’t want to be addicted to it, but I didn’t want to live without it completely either.

Adding It Back In

Of course we know that anything can be used and abused, coffee being a prime example of that, and caffeine is also addictive (they tell me). But after a few months without coffee at all (and upping my carbs) I decided to add it back in, thanks to reading Ray Peat.

He is a fan of coffee and claims that it supports the thyroid. How does that information compete with the evidence that it depletes your adrenals? No clue. One is wrong, both are wrong, one is right, one is wrong. Both are right. I don’t care. However, he always suggests it be consumed with food, or at least sugar. so it doesn’t spike and crash your blood sugar, which I have taken to heart.

So, I started back in with one in the morning with my breakfast….

and guess what?…

Having more carbs in general in my diet, makes me crave coffee way less as the day goes on. My body isn’t crying out for energy and stimulation as much as its used to be. And when I think I want a coffee in the afternoon like I used to have (due to boredom, or thirst, or hunger) imagining myself actually drinking a coffee -I realize I do not actually want it at all.

I happened to get my blood tested one morning after my coffee in that first week that I had added coffee back in, and the results came back without any elevated cortisol, so…. booya!

One cup (often a STRONG one) in the morning seems to end up being enough.

And I am very thrilled by the moderation…

Note: This is not a very scientific post…. obviously, but I figure some of you would like to know that a small to moderate amount of coffee isn’t going to senselessly ravage your adrenals.

Still, don’t forget about sleeping, working on stress, and eating food over drinking coffee, and you can probably indulge moderately.

So Fuck It! And drink a little coffee if you want.

11 comments

  1. Suzanne H says:

    I have slight adrenal fatigue and decided to try giving up coffee for a month (I was only drinking one or two cups a day). After that month I decided to try decaf and found a kind that tastes good. There’s no way I’d go back to caffeinated. I do not miss that sweaty, jittery feeling it used to give me.

    • Caroline says:

      Sounds good! Whatever works. I had also heard (should have put this in the post), that if you have extreme adrenal fatigue, it can tax your body MORE to cut out cold-turkey since it relies on it as part of it’s energy/cortisol balance. Phew! But glad you found something that works.

    • Camila says:

      same here suzanne! I’ve weaned to 8oz of half-caf and that’s enough to boost without sweating. I used to think I had a profuse sweating problem, until I realized: it’s the coffee! I’d DRIP! :O ick…I’d drink decaf completely, but without it, I can’t, umm, remain regular. I’ve tried a LOT for this issue (magnesium, probiotics, etc). Not sure how to solve that one. :/

  2. Kait says:

    I love this!
    I gave up coffee for 4 years because “it was bad for me” and “adrenal health”. Those 4 years I lived an herbal tea farce and all I really wanted was a coffee. My health/skin/energy/weight nothing was significantly better without coffee, and I always had this backseat craving for it.
    I just started drinking it again and I’m so glad I did. My mornings are awesome…I crave that dark bitter earthiness and I have it and I’m happy. I don’t care…I love coffee 🙂

  3. ocolshit says:

    Ha I love the blog title. And coffee too… I have one strong cup in the morning which is usually enough, then some days if I’m a bit drained around 3pm I have another cup of instant which isn’t as strong but really gets me through the afternoon slump. Coffee rules.

  4. Grace says:

    Love the blog! I have a history of EDNOS and restricted eating and over exercise (like many it seems haha) but I became ADDICTED to coffee to fuel y body since I was so tired all the time from over-exertion, and to started to get to the point that I would have 4-5 cups a day and felt nothing…no caffeine worked at all!

    I now eat around 3000 calories per day and 380-450 grams of carbs per day (5’6 115 pounds). I was kind of wondering how many cabrs you eat a day or calories since you say that carbs help you with energy! Sometimes I still need my coffee! A lot! haha and if my carbs come from mainly veggies, high fiber breads and isntant oatmeal then maybe it’s a different kind of effect on the body as plain simple carbs? h goodness….sorry for all the questions! haha

    • Carrie says:

      What I would say, is that even if you are eating enough carbs, it is still possible to be dependent on coffee just because you are so used to it. Also, people with a history of eating problems can tend to get addictive around anything that can be used as a dietary replacement, and it takes a lot of awareness to allow a “coffee compulsion” to naturally slow down without deliberate “cutting back”. So I would cut back little by little if you think it is important! And I wouldn’t beat yourself up at all.

      You still seem very nervous about whether you are doing it all “right”, and I am here to tell you that you will never do it “right”, because there is no perfect “right” way to eat and live. There is good, better, yummier, boringer, “isnt that interesting” and so on. There is a progression of oeace with your food, but you will never get in bed one night and say- now I have found the PERFECT THINGS to eat. I have done it right and will continue to eat this perfect way! That is not reality, or … even what we would want. Its all just a process, and you are definitely very thin… and still have gotten to a nice amount of calories- however- don’t assume its enough- and don’t assume that you are eating too many carbs! Veggies, high fiber breads and instant oatmeal?? Sounds like you are still afraid of carbs at large, which is ok, you have to go at your own pace. But there is still a lot more peace and joy to be had around food- just keep on keeping on going in this direction.

      • Grace says:

        Thanks for the reply! What do you mean when you say carbs at large btw? And your right….theres absolutely no right way to eat, I can eat what I enjoy 🙂

      • C says:

        You are so welcome! “Carbs at Large” I mean … you are trying to eat more carbs, and feel like you might be even eating too much. And mostly eat “veggies and high fiber breads and oatmeal”, you may still be afraid of carbs, generally.

  5. Grace says:

    Oh okay I see what you mean! I guess the reason is because again because of the rest of the world watching their carb intake and it’s like 150-200 g. and here I am at 400 g. haha! But you know what? F that! 😉

    And I just honest to goodness enjoy oatmeal and all that 🙂 And believe me, I eat bagel bites, pizza rolls, pizza and TONS of cereal all the time 😀

  6. Carolina says:

    Whenever a friend tells me about giving up coffee “for health” and “on doctor’s orders,” I usually argue that doctors are largely in the business of keeping themselves in business, because there is no money to be made from healthy people.

    I’m a coffee drinker. Mornings don’t happen without coffee. Coffee doesn’t happen without cream and sweet. For nearly 12 years, while indulging a low-carb bias, I was drinking 2-3 mugs of coffee with cream and Splenda every morning. Once I started putting sugar in my coffee instead of Splenda, one teaspoon of sugar for a 12-oz mug, my consumption significantly decreased. Nowadays, I am usually satisfied with one mugful in the morning. On rare, I will have a Starbucks latte in the afternoon or early evening. It comes in handy for warding off hunger and sleepiness when attending an opera at the Met.

    The reduction in my coffee intake after starting to add sugar tells me that the fake sugar was creating a void in my body, which increased my desire for caffeine, and led me to overconsume both coffee and cream. The body won’t be so easily swindled. “Hey, where’s the sugar you promised! SEND DOWN SOME MORE!”

    Anyway, I love all things coffee, as it well should be.

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