Rethinking Our Approach to Casually Consuming Caffeine

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“What would you like — tea or coffee?” is the first question you’ll be asked when you visit someone. The question assumes you must drink either of the two. If you deny having neither, some people will say “Oh come on! Have a little bit.” It’s irritating to have people pushing you into bad habits you’ve long left.

I haven’t had coffee for months. A few days after quitting coffee, I quit caffeine completely in all foodstuffs. I’m saved from explaining my choices only because the COVID lockdown continues in India. Else, I’d be denying caffeine 10 times a day, for it’s that prevalent in our country.

Starting from 2015 until a few months ago, I’d pretty much had caffeine every day, multiple times a day. At one point I was having 3cups of coffee and 2 cups of tea a day.

I’d proudly display my caffeine obsession to others in my life and on social media. It felt good to be a part of a community of coffee lovers. It gave me something to talk about.

What a fool I was! Bragging about my own demise. I’m willing to wager that most people are like my past self. They consume caffeine in all sorts of beverages and pre-workouts thinking it’s healthy for their system. The reality, however, is grimmer than we show it to be.

Why Do We Drink Caffeine?

If I ask you why you consume caffeine, you’ll probably go to Google, find a bunch of health benefits, and slap them in the comments. But, did you really start drinking because of that?

I mean, did you really start drinking to get nutrients, lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, protect your liver, and improve heart health? No, you didn’t. These (often fanciful) benefits are only justifications for a preexisting habit.

Furthermore, in this article by Healthline, all the benefits of caffeine start with “May” or “Can,” instead of “Will.” In simpler words, caffeine, “may improve heart health” or “may reduce the risk of cancer.” Even the science isn’t clear.

Caffeine may prevent cancer or it may not. But we translate it as “It will prevent cancer.

Suspicious science

In her recent article Megan Holstein cleverly pointed out the suspicious nature of scientific studies that promote caffeine intake.

Just like her, I too have more energy than 95% of people around me even though I don’t consume caffeine. At the most, I take a 20 min nap around lunch. Compare that with the perpetually tired state most people live in always chasing the next cup of joe. says,

“Many studies have been done to see if there’s a direct link between caffeine, coffee drinking, and coronary heart disease. The results are conflicting. This may be due to the way the studies were done and confounding dietary factors. However, moderate coffee drinking (1–2 cups per day) doesn’t seem to be harmful.”

Read the lines carefully — “doesn’t seem to be harmful.” The same thing can be said for a myriad of substances like alcohol or even potent drugs. Yes, people can handle drugs, alcohol, and caffeine (for it’s just another drug) in moderate amounts. But that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.

Perhaps we should put it this way — “caffeine harms the body but most people recover easily” instead of saying “caffeine is not harmful.”

Social Interaction and Routine

There’s a high chance that you’ve never thought about caffeine in the light of what I’m talking about it. Why? Because you never started consuming it by weighing the pros and cons.

You have caffeine because either it’s a comforting routine or a way to foster social interaction. Let that fact sink in.

Mind you, I was of the same breed. I liked the smell of coffee and the delight of having something hot on a cold morning. Plus, the coffee shop was always a preferred place to meet. Whether it’s a work meeting or a personal one, cafes are the place of choice. It’s perhaps the most common option for first dates as well.

Coffee (the most common source of caffeine) is not just a beverage. It’s a cult that pervades the countries and continents. It connects people like nothing else. No one cares if you stop having coffee in your home. But people do question you sipping water when they’re piling up on espressos in Starbucks.

This is the real reason we all are consuming bucket loads of caffeine. And thus, “How can it be harmful? Everyone does it” is a common excuse to continue with our compulsive behaviors.

Finally, companies benefit from this widely established social phenomenon. No government will ban coffee and no science will outrightly deny its consumption for there’s simply too much vested interest.

Similarly, doctors will never tell you to quit caffeine but have it in moderate amounts and before noon. But we never adhere to those guidelines, do we?

When I came across all these facts, it was as if I came out of a matrix. Outside this matrix, you can clearly see how people are deluded into believing things are good when they are not.

Only when I was out of this matrix was I able to clearly discern the ways in which caffeine is making your life worse. I share these with you in hopes of getting you out as well.

The Biggest Myth About Caffeine

What people perceive as alertness after having caffeine is pure restlessness. Caffeine is primarily a nervous system stimulant. It harms concentration instead of increasing it.

It stimulates the body into “fight or flight” mode by boosting alertness through the central nervous pathway and encouraging more blood to be transported around the body. This can also lead to higher blood pressure.

By increasing the heart’s contractions and general blood flow caffeine can, in some instances, lead to palpitations or even heart problems when consumed in sufficient quantity.

These palpitations are ‘jitters’. They make you anxious, stressed, and restless thereby, counterintuitively, making you less focused. Caffeine hits the bloodstream within 5 minutes of consuming it and can cause jitters for several hours.

True focus doesn’t come by stimulating the system. It always comes from a place of relaxation. When your mind and body are relaxed, you can enter into a state of flow. But if your heart starts beating faster and you experience jitters, you can’t work for long without getting distracted.

Yes, tou may feel alert for a few minutes, but the crash is just around the corner. And the crash is more dreadful than the state of tiredness you were in before having caffeine.

Earlier, after drinking coffee at 6 am, I would crash at 9 am out of nowhere. Imagine, I had to take a nap as early as 9 in the morning. Needless to say, this harmed my productivity instead of increasing it.

Why do caffeine crashes happen? Caffeine blocks adenosine in your brain, which is what your brain produces when you’re tired. But when you’re drinking coffee, your brain doesn’t stop producing adenosine. So when the caffeine wears off, adenosine floods your brain’s receptors, making you tired and ready for bed.

So get this fact straight — caffeine is not giving you energy or focus. It’s merely masking the fact that you’re tired. This brings me to my next point.

How to Avoid Tiredness and Have Energy

That’s sleep, folks. If you’re not sleeping right, there’s little you can do to improve your state.

Since I don’t consume caffeine, I naturally fall asleep around 9 pm and wake up at 5:30 without an alarm clock. I’ve been doing this for months now.

On the other hand, if you drink coffee in the morning, you may have a crash around noon. You then drink another cup to get out of that crash. But that worsens the situation and you find yourself having two more cups in the evening.

With all that caffeine in the system, you’re not able to get quality sleep and you inevitably reach out for a larger cup the next morning. The cycle continues until you put an end to it.

It takes around 10 hours for caffeine to be removed from your system. Assuming most people sleep around 10 pm, it’s thus generally recommended to not have caffeine after noon. If you do, you’re messing with your sleep that leaves you more tired the next day.

Moreover, caffeine is a drug. The more you consume it, the more you’ll want. Your body will need more and more caffeine to get the same amount of kick from it.

Why be addicted to anything in life when you can avoid it? It’s just as simple as that.

Being Always Dependent on Artificial Energy

Caffeine consumers, like my past self, are prone to dependence on stimulants. As we saw above, caffeine is not giving you energy, but rather masking your exhaustion. Thus, when the effect of caffeine wears out, you become that much more tired.

Life sucks when you always need another cup of coffee to get through the day. When I quit caffeine, for the first few days I had low energy. This was the withdrawal period when all my tiredness was coming to the surface.

Due to regular consumption of caffeine, I wasn’t aware of the fact that I lacked quality rest. Quitting the habit made that fact apparent.

I used this period to catch up on my sleep and establish an even stronger sleeping ritual. Soon, life after caffeine was full of stable energy levels. There were no more highs and lows.

Couple with improved sleep, I also practiced tons of energization exercises, and breathing techniques whenever I felt a dip in energy.

A Slew of Negative Benefits

Even if you’re disciplined about not having caffeine after noon (as I’ve tried), it still has proven negative effects like insomnia, high blood pressure, bowel problems, upsetting your stomach, anxiety and panic attacks, miscarriages, and many more. It makes me wonder if the little kick is worth it after all.


If you’re still here, I think you’ve found some truth in the above points that resonates with you. Most people are delusional when it comes to caffeine, simply because of its prevalence in our times.

However, if you step back and think from the first principles, you’ll definitely want to at least cut back if not abstain. At any rate, my goal was to help you make an informed decision so you’re not blind to dangers.

That said, I now give the baton to you in hope that you make the best decision for your health.

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Written on May 16, 2021