|Heidi Moretti, MS, RD|
Clinical Registered Dietitian
In this post we’ll cover why and how to stop drinking coffee so you avoid or minimize caffeine withdrawal. Learn what can you drink instead of coffee to help your natural coffee detox. We’ll review the top coffee substitutes that can actually give you both the flavor and feel of coffee including the (caffeine free) energy boost.
Why Stop Drinking Coffee?
Before we get into the how to properly quit coffee, an important disclaimer about coffee. Coffee is not the bad guy. In fact, according to science, coffee can be very good for our health.
With so many studies on coffee, it is very easy to get lost in all this data. What most experts agree with however, is that if coffee agrees with you, it can benefit your health. The studies show that drinking coffee can boost energy, help to burn more fat, improve brain function and even prevent conditions like type type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and others.
As you can see, not that bad, right?
Top 3 Reasons To Stop Drinking Coffee
Time to get right into it. Here are the top three reasons why you should consider stop drinking coffee. Which one of these apply to you?
1: Most of us drink way too much coffee
Time to be honest with ourselves. Caffeine is the most commonly abused substance in the world. For many people, drinking coffee is more than a drink. It’s a habit or a daily ritual. And it can be addicting if we are not careful.
Are you being careful with your coffee consumption?
For most healthy adults, consuming less than 400 mg of caffeine is ok. With that said, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.
2: “My coffee doesn’t work anymore”
The more we use caffeine, the more the body gets used to it. So it doesn’t have the same effects it once had.
Everyone remembers that feeling the first time they tried coffee or other caffeinated drinks. So giving your system a break from coffee can help to get the most out of your coffee in the future. So it can work better for you again.
3: “Wired & Tired”: The Caffeine Roller Coaster
So many people fall under this one, and may not even be aware of it. And you don’t necessarily need to even like coffee either.
It may start as a few extra cups of coffee for those days you missed sleep or needed a little more boost to meet your deadlines at work. That end of the month report, or that email you forgot to opened. Before you notice, you are hooked and can’t function without your morning and/or afternoon coffee.
Then since your body gets used to the coffee, you need to drink more.
This vicious cycle evolves and you constantly have to drink coffee to function.
If you find yourself in this category, you should most definitely consider stop drinking coffee and reset. It’s just important to know how to do it right to avoid caffeine withdrawals, which we’ll cover next.
How to Stop Drinking coffee? The 3 Steps Protocol
Naturally and safely quit coffee while minimizing caffeine withdrawals
1: Calculate Your Daily Caffeine Consumption
It’s amazing how much caffeine is added to popular snacks, foods and beverages. The idea here is to have your caffeine consumption under control. In many cases, it’s not just your coffee.
In addition to coffee, read the label to make sure there is no caffeine. Common “suspects” include: energy drinks, energy bars, powdered drinks, green or black tea, pre-workout and fat loss supplements.
Just to give you an example, we recently tested an antioxidant supplement that had green tea extract as one of the ingredients. A powerful antioxidant, indeed, that is also loaded with caffeine.
2: Reduce Your Caffeine Intake (Gradually)
What happens when you stop drinking coffee cold turkey?
If you have been drinking coffee for awhile, chances are you will face the infamous caffeine withdrawals. And some of these symptoms can be quite horrible; nausea, headaches, “brain fog”, low energy, irritability, and flu-like symptoms are common ones.
So to mimzine these, you want to gradually cut your caffeine consumption. Here are a few helpful guidelines:
- If you drink multiple cups of coffee a day, reduce the number of cups by one (or even half a cup) each day.
- Replace each cup of coffee with coffee substitutes.
This does more than just a coffee like flavor. Some of these herbs can boost your energy, mood and brain function without the caffeine.
See the Replace section below to see which options are the right ones for you.
- Wait for two days to see how you feel. If everything is ok, continue to reduce.
If you notice coffee withdrawals or lack of energy, do not continue to reduce and give your body a chance to cope. This is also where coffee substitutes such as tulsi and ginseng can help (see below).
- When you get to one cup of coffee a day, reduce the amount of coffee by 5-10 grams every two days, until you are (finally) caffeine free!
- Continue coffee free living for at least 4-8 weeks.
How long does it take to stop drinking coffee? when done gradually, most people may need anywhere between one to two weeks. With that said, if you need more time, give yourself more time.
3: Replace Your Coffee with Herbal Coffee Substitutes (Caffeine Free)
There are two reasons why this step is so important:
- The habit of drinking coffee: more than just caffeine:
Most people miss the habit of drinking coffee. It’s always easier to stop something you like, when you replace it with another enjoyable thing.
A big reason why so many people get addicted to coffee, is that there’s also a mental link. Your brain associates drinking coffee to pleasure.
So having a coffee substitute that provides a similar experience may help.
- Energy & focus (caffeine free):
Certain adaptogen herbs and medicinal mushrooms can still give you energy and focus without the caffeine.
What Can I Drink Instead of Coffee?
With coffee substitutes, the idea is to still get a somewhat similar experience to coffee, taste and feel, only without the caffeine.
Certain medicinal mushrooms and herbs have gained popularity as coffee alternatives, mainly because they have a “feel good effect”.
In other words, you don’t have to take them for weeks to feel something. You can feel the benefits right away.
Below are the top options for you to drink instead of coffee:
1: Hawaiian Medicinal Foods Coffee Break
Why? Rich, bold coffee like flavor, energy, health benefits (caffeine free)
Coffee Break was developed by the famous Hawaiian medicinal foods company who is known for their natural ayurvedic, amazonian and chinese medicine herbal blends.
This natural energizing coffee substitute is a blend of medicinal mushrooms and herbs shown to support your immune system, help your body cope with stress, reduce inflammation and even have anti-aging benefits.
Directions: Add 1-2 tablespoon of coffee break into hot water.
Iced coffee lovers: mix 1-2 tablespoon with your favorite nut milk.
Coffee Break Ingredients Analysis: Our Notes
Coffee like Flavor:
Roasted chicory root, dandelion root, barley and rye extracts (non-GMO) blend to provide a rich, bold coffee like flavor and consistency (body).
We get a lot of questions about chicory coffee and dandelion coffee. Both chicory and dandelion roots are common ingredients in many coffee substitutes. On their own, however, they do not taste like coffee. In fact, it is very hard for anything natural that is not coffee to taste or feel like coffee, which is why we appreciate the work and research the medicinal foods did on this blend.
“Feel Good” Effect:
- Chaga medicinal mushroom: immune system, anti-inflammatory support
- Reishi mushroom: anti-aging, stress support (adaptogen)
- Maca root: energy, mood support
- Beet root extract: kidney support.
2. Dr. Group’s Ginseng Fuzion
Why? Added energy and mood support (caffeine free)
So you reduced or stopped drinking coffee, and now that time after lunch comes. This is where you normally had your second cup of coffee.
You are crashing, have a severe “brain fog”, or just feel completely unmotivated to do anything productive. Is there something you can do (rather than drinking coffee) to help?
Meet Ginseng Fuzion.
Developed by Dr. Edward Group, this certified organic herbal blend uses five of the most studied types of ginseng. The result is a liquid formula designed to naturally promote energy, reduce stress, and boost your physical and mental performance.
We find that the liquid drops of Ginseng Fuzion make it really easy to use anytime you need that lift, even while on the go. If you got used to drinking coffee in the morning or afternoon, try to take Ginseng Fuzion instead. Especially in the first few weeks of your coffee detox process.
Directions: place half a dropperful (1 ml) in your mouth or add to water/other drinks. (Up to three times a day). If you miss the flavor of your cup of coffee, add to your Coffee Break drink.
Ginseng Fuzion Ingredients Analysis: Our Notes
- Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng): mental focus and memory, sexual health
- Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): stress support (adaptogen)
- Indian Ginseng/Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): stress support (adaptogen)
- Peruvian Ginseng/Maca (Lepidium meyenii): energy, sexual health
- Five Leaf Ginseng/Jiao Gu Lan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum): physical stamina, mental sharpness.
3. Dr. Group’s Tulsi Extract (Holy Basil)
Why? Calm stress and nervous system, support adrenals, balance mood, energy (caffeine free)
When you drink coffee, the caffeine triggers your adrenal glands to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Also known as the body’s “fight or flight” stress response, as a part of this response we become more alert and have more energy.
So in the beginning, drinking coffee gives us energy and focus. Overtime however, especially when we drink too much coffee, the adrenals can’t keep up and we end up feeling tired, fatigued, depressed or stressed.
While drinking tulsi tea is very popular, Dr. Group’s Liquid tulsi extract is a better fit for this purpose. The extract is more potent, and the liquid drops are much easier to use.
Directions: place one dropperful (1 ml) in your mouth or add to water/other drinks. (up to two times a day). If you miss the flavor of your cup of coffee, add to your Coffee Break drink.
Herbs for Energy: Natural clean boost without stimulants.