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Last Updated on August 12, 2021

Your Body on Caffeine Addiction: 70 Cups of Coffee in 7 Days

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Your Body on Caffeine Addiction: 70 Cups of Coffee in 7 Days

A previous boss of mine once proudly stated that he drank 10 cups of coffee every single day.

Completely baffled, yet also intrigued by that statement, I couldn’t help but wonder how he might feel.

Is his sleep restful? Does he feel productive and healthy? Is drinking this amount dangerous?

That’s why I decided recently to voluntarily get addicted to caffeine – I drank 70 cups of coffee in 7 days. Here’s how the caffeine addiction unexpectedly disrupted my health, well-being and productivity.

Day 1: How to deal with caffeine intoxication

The most cups that I ever drank in my life regularly was about 4 cups of coffee a day, which means I didn’t know how my body would react to the caffeine intake in the first place – this was scary, to be honest.

What gave me some security was ranking under-average on the HEXACO personality-test on emotionality (regarding traits such as fearfulness, anxiety and sensitivity). As caffeine has been shown to increase the effect of those traits.[1] If you rate high on the personality test on emotionality, you might feel the effects of the caffeine intake quite strongly.

As I decided to start this experiment late in the day on a whim after immense amount of procrastination, I immediately needed to face two challenges:

  • Not destroying my sleep quality
  • Dealing with caffeine intoxication

The effects of caffeine intoxication were clear after drinking 6 cups of coffee and dealing with stomach problems, I wondered if this challenge can actually be fatal. It happily turned out that the lethal dose of caffeine is considered to be around 10 grams.[2]

This means that I needed to drink about 130 coffees to potentially end myself. I felt safe.

What I didn’t know is that the effects of caffeine intoxication can start at blood-levels of about 250mg.[3] Even if I considered the half-life of caffeine, which turns out to be approximately 6 hours, I already passed that benchmark.[4]

While I dealt with gastrointestinal problems from the get-go, at that point I also dealt with rambling flow of thoughts and speech, restlessness, severe sweating bursts and later on insomnia.

At that time, I worked for my eCornell certification in Plant Based Nutrition and various other projects. I was busy but I wasn’t being productive. I had to postpone nearly all of the endeavours.

How to deal with the acute, negative effects

As caffeine has been shown to increase your cortisol levels, it’s important to implement stress relieving tactics in your day. I ended the first day with a long-walk, while listening to soothening piano music.

I also played a calming instrument at the end of the day, wore blue-light blocking glasses and shut down my mobile phone atleast 2 hours before going to sleep. Regarding diet I ate 3 kiwis[5] and drank a chamomile tea, which are linked to melatonin production and decreased cortisol levels.[6]

These are all stress-relieving tactics that have worked for me in the past. We all should have at least 3 tactics on your hand that we can implement to relieve stress in our daily life. The more often we use them, the more effective they become, as our brain starts to associate these tactics with stress relief.

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Day 2: How it made me nearly depressive

I like to go to sleep and wake up early. Yet the 10 cups of coffee completely disrupted my natural sleep cycle.

After planning to wake up at 5am, I ultimately woke up at 8am after 7 hours of sleep.

I woke up with slight nausea, probably from the caffeine intoxication of yesterday. At that point, I also realized that the second day would be the hardest day of the challenge. Considering the half-life of 6 hours, I still got about 200mg of caffeine in my blood at that time.

While one cup of coffee used to pump me up quite good in the past, I now couldn’t feel a difference at all in energy levels. I have noted energy increases at 3 cups of coffee. Which funnily enough put me back into the caffeine intoxication blood-levels.

While I planned to exercise quite early in the morning, I only found the willpower at 3pm on day 2. But going for this jogging session might be the best decision that I ever did on this challenge. Here’s why:

How I cracked the code to the challenge

I’m still not sure if it was the increased blood flow to the brain or the unbearing circumstances of the challenge that made me come up with the solution to the caffeine problem.

I decided to deal with the three most productivity-reducing challenges on the experiment:

  1. Random, excessive sweating
  2. Gastrointestinal issues
  3. Impaired thinking and increased anxiety

I dealt with the random, excessive sweating while adding ice to my coffee and drinking a cold smoothie at the same time. While cold beverages are regulating your body temperature, they also decrease the blood flow to your digestive system. They therefore might also slow or hinder the absorption of the caffeine.

The gastrointestinal issues have been treated with increased fiber intake. I aimed to eat atleast 50grams of fiber every single day. This is 150% of the RDA.[7]

The impaired thinking and increased anxiety were obliterated by daily exercise or random naps. I actually felt like I took control of the experiment.

Yet I was proved wrong in the following days. Here came day 3.

Day 3: Awake for 23 hours

The most amazing part of this caffeine challenge was the tolerance build up.

The third day I woke up at 4:30 in the morning while having my last 3 coffees less than 9 hours ago.

Falling asleep was easy. This was the first day I woke up energized and motivated during the challenge. I gulped down 3 cups of coffees and went for a workout.

The gastrointestinal issues should have been sorted out because this was my first day that my stool was on the Bristol scale between type 2-4 again. This might sound weird but the consistency of our feaces is an indicator of our overall health.[8]

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I ended the day at 3am after going out. This was the moment that I realized that I was awake for 23 hours.

I wondered if this caffeine challenge was indeed ending me, without me even noticing it.

How fast does your body build up a caffeine tolerance?

A first time coffee drinker or one that has abstained from caffeine for a long time has no tolerance to caffeine. This is when caffeine works the best and produces the following positive side effects:

  1. Alertness
  2. Euphoria
  3. Motivation

In the caffeine challenge, I didn’t see those positive effects after a couple of days. In fact, according to this study, caffeine tolerance can start to build up within 1 days.[9]

Caffeine works because it blocks our adenosine receptors. This increases our state of arousal and our capacity for performance.

But here’s the thing:

Your brain knows that something is not quite right after caffeine consumption and is producing more adenosine receptors. Apparently the feelings of fatigue are crucial for our survival, which means the caffeine tolerance starts building up.

If you drink the same amount of coffee for several days, you don’t see positive effects anymore. Unless you increase the dose of the substance.

Welcome to the caffeine rat race!

Day 4: The caffeine rat race

I soon realized that the morning on caffeine addiction are absolutely horrible. On day 4 I could barely open my eyes. It felt like someone sewed them together mid-night.

This is a phenomena called sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is the grogginess one feels after 15-60 minutes after waking. I noticed that the caffeine addiction increases this feeling.

Important:

Do not drive a vehicle or make important decisions within that time frame, especially if you’re on high doses of caffeine.

You can decrease the effects of sleep inertia by taking a short nap (under 30 minutes), exercising or, ironically, drinking a caffeinated beverage.

I assumed that sleep inertia might be incur on this challenge because the caffeine-level is lowest in the morning. Excess caffeine intake increases your levels of adenosine receptors in your brain. The more adenosine receptors you have, the more fatigued you will be, especially if you have no caffeine in your blood.

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Caffeine addiction and the law of diminishing return

In economics, the law of diminishing return refers to a point at which the level of benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

I like to drink coffee. I’ve experimented with caffeine before and I realized that 2 coffees a day are giving myself the best results long-term. The first day I already noticed that the next 8 coffees are not giving me much benefits.

To the contrary:

While 2 coffees used to produce euphoria and increased motivation, they now produced no effects at all. Combined with 8 other coffees in a day, they instead resulted to increased and anxiety and slight nausea.

Day 5: The 12-hour work shift

After drinking 8 cups of coffee plus having a jogging session before 2pm, I felt ready to tackle my first work-day after my holidays.

What I lacked in energy in the morning, I compensated with energy in the evening. I finished work at 1am, with decent overtime. This made me realize that there’s a different energy curve in coffee addiction:

The energy curve in coffee addiction

There was an upside to the caffeine challenge. While energy levels during the day are usually correlated with time of the day (and therefore light-levels), body temperature and nutrient intake. These factors are based on our circadian rhythm and therefore mostly out of our control.[10]

On this challenge instead, I felt like I could exercise some level of control on my energy levels by altering my caffeine intake. If I ingested 200mg of caffeine (3 cups of coffee) or more I noticed a slight increase in energy.

While my energy pre-challenge was more even during the day, I noticed more ups and downs during the challenge. Overall I must conclude that I had more energy and a way higher baseline of my energy on my usual, lower caffeine intake.

Day 6: Surviving after a hard work day

After waking up at 10am, my stomach was turning. It’s another day of late shift and I’m struggling to deal with the basic challenges of human life again on this experiment. Getting out of bed seemed impossible.

What followed were 8 hours of stressful work. After finishing work at 11pm, I got anxious about the early shift at the 7th day.

The anxiety producing effects of caffeine

Anxiety is an unpleasant, high-arousal state, classified by high sympathetic (fight-or-flight) activity. Caffeine has been shown to increase the level of your sympathetic nervous system.

Regular consumption of high caffeine doses can lead to a a condition known as caffeinism.[11] On this experiment, I suddenly realized how I stressed out about unimportant things and could barely make a decision.

In a leadership position, staying cool-headed and being decisive is important. The caffeine intake aggravated both of these traits in myself.

Day 7: Surviving on 3.5 hours on sleep

This day was a real stress test. I had to wake up at 4:30am for my early shift which started at 6am. Normally, I can deal with acute sleep loss quite easily but I could barely open my eyes on that day. My head was flushed.

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After ingesting more than 4 coffees in less than 1 hour, I stumbled to open the fitness center and start training clients. After 7 hours of drudgery on a sleep-deprived basis, I called it quit.

After gulping down the last cups of brown liquid in a coffee shop, my foggy brain forced me to do an impulse purchase of expensive clothes. I earned it.

How your caffeine addiction is torching your money

On the last day, I treated myself with a double espresso at the said coffee shop. I paid $5 for that beverage.

While this might not be a huge expenditure, it can definitely add up in the long-term. Five double espressos a day would cost me $25. If we multiply this by 365 (days in a year), we end up with $9,125.

This is enough money to pay for a 20-days, exclusive 5-star hotel vacation on the breath-taking archipelago of Fiji every single year (with flight prices included)!

If we add all the impulsive purchases during that time and multiply it by 50 (weeks in a year), partly due to caffeine and/or sleep deprivation,[12] we can add easily another 2-3 weeks to this chic holiday.

Day 8+: How to deal with the caffeine withdrawal

After I drank the last cups of coffee, I went to sleep for at least 12 hours. The following two days of the caffeine challenge were marked by withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased exercise performance
  • Brain fog
  • Sleepiness

The most debilitating factor was sleepiness. The next 2 days I slept double the amount that I usually did, 12+ hours. My alarm clock used ‘wake Florian up’ – it was not effective.

While I went through the motions in my work, I felt like I didn’t produce anything productive at all.

Conclusion

The caffeine addiction unexpectedly disrupted my health, well-being and productivity.

I can now state with good conscience that drinking 10 cups of coffee a day was not beneficial for myself. And we’ve discovered a lot of scientific evidence, proving that:

Caffeine has a diminishing rate of return on our productivity and well-being. It can also increase our anxiety and reduce our thinking capabilities. This can decrease our effectiveness in dealing with the daily challenges that we face as busy professionals, where we need a clear head and decisiveness.

While caffeine might produce short-term productivity gains (due to the altered energy curve) and therefore might help us reach deadlines, it’s not recommended to use it in high doses in the long-term.

To watch the raw, vlog-like video of the challenge from this article. Check out the following video! Warning: It’s not for the faint-hearted.

https://youtu.be/3nqnsktX0Ts

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2021

20 Delightful Tea And Coffee Recipes You Should Try At Least Once

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20 Delightful Tea And Coffee Recipes You Should Try At Least Once

It’s likely that you drink a fair amount of tea or coffee every day. Even if you don’t drink them daily, you probably don’t stay away from occasionally sipping a cup of tea or coffee, as you fancy. Be it a cold winter day or a hot summer afternoon, these caffeine packed beverages are a popular choice. With the extra touch of additional ingredients for taste and health, your caffeine beverage now comes in a variety of creative recipes. Here, below, are 20 delightful tea and coffee recipes to jazz up your regular caffeine dosage and shake you free from your thirst.

1. Easy Chai Tea

1

    Easy chai tea is a “throw-in-what-you’ve-got” tea that you can literally spice up with exotic spices to keep you warm through a cold winter. Although winter is almost over, you can’t go wrong trying out this simple recipe. It could even replace your morning and evening beverage—who knows?—since it’s so very simple to prepare. (Click here for the recipe)

    2. Hot and Spicy Himalayan Tea

    2

      A nice infusion of a whole lot of spices and Darjeeling tea, this hot and spicy Himalayan tea is what has been keeping the people high in the Himalayan mountains warm for ages. Get the taste of Himalaya in a cup with this recipe. (Click here for the recipe)

      3. Hot Cranberry Tea

      3

        “A cup of tea can solve anything.” When the cup of tea is as good as hot cranberry tea, you don’t worry about having to solve anything. The hot cranberry tea smells just as good as it tastes. You can get inventive making it with the spices that are readily available in your cupboard. (Click here for the recipe)

        4. Hibiscus Lemongrass Tea

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        4

          Hibiscus is slowly gaining popularity in the beverage industry for the health benefits it brings, along with its authentic color and taste. Try hibiscus lemongrass for once instead of lemon in your tea and see. It is just as good iced as it is hot and is easy to prepare. (Click here for the recipe)

          5. Matcha Tea

          5

            Matcha tea comes with plenty of health benefits. You can prepare matcha tea at home in several ways. In the simplest version, all you have to do is measure the required amount of matcha tea powder and mix it with a small amount of boiling water. Then, you add additional water as necessary. (Click here for the recipe)

            6. Perfect Vanilla Tea

            6

              Vanilla comes second in the list of the most expensive spices in the world. Its elegant flavor explains why vanilla is loved so much in a wide variety of pastries and beverages. Perfect vanilla tea is a perfect blend of plain tea and exotic spices to create a perfect mug any time of day. (Click here for the recipe)

              7. Lemon Spiced Wellness Tea

              7

                Feel a bit under the weather? Tea. Even better: lemon spiced wellness tea. It contains no sugar but you can sweeten it as you like. This is your road to wellness. (Click here for the recipe)

                8. Chocolate Mint Cappuccino

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                8

                  Most of us start our day with a big cup of coffee. Hot chocolate mint cappuccino coffee to start a cold winter day- nothing is more soul-warming than that. The invigorating flavor of mint and the richness of chocolate in this cappuccino will take your coffee experience up a notch. (Click here for the recipe)

                  9. Italian Cappuccino

                  9

                    In Italian, cappuccino literally means “little cap”. The frothy, foamy little cap of milk and cream on top of the espresso base has won millions of hearts around the world, making coffee the most popular beverage. It’s best when you use fresh coffee to prepare this drink. This Italian cappuccino would be a nice start to the day during a cold winter or any time of year. (Click here for the recipe)

                    10. Caramel Macchiato

                    10

                      Caramel always leaves its mark when used in any kind of food or beverage. This delicious cup of caramel macchiato is sure to leave you wishing for more. You can try it with different kinds of flavored syrups as substitutes to caramel. Try a cup of warm caramel macchiato with some cookies for a perfect snack. (Click here for the recipe)

                      11. Coffee Frappe

                      11

                        You don’t always have to take your coffee hot; try a frappe. If you like blended coffee drinks, blend vanilla ice cream, vanilla extract, coffee, milk, ice, and simple syrup in a blender until smooth; pour it in a tall glass; top it up with whipped cream and sprinkle the cocoa powder. Enjoy! You can prepare it in an instant. (Click here for the recipe)

                        12. Walnut Coffee Frappe

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                        12

                          Blend in some walnut with your coffee frappe and there you have your walnut coffee frappe! This delicious coffee shake will shake you up with its rich texture and taste. There isn’t any better way to enjoy the taste of walnut in a beverage. Treat your family to this delightful frappe to win them over. (Click here for the recipe)

                          13. Easy Peppermint Mocha

                          13

                            If you love the peppermint flavor, you will love this even more: mocha and peppermint. They blend perfectly together. This simple peppermint mocha is easy to make with easily available ingredients and the taste will stimulate your taste buds. The crushed peppermint candy cane topping makes it delightfully minty. (Click here for the recipe)

                            14. Cinnamon Dolce Latte

                            14

                              The simple cinnamon syrup is the secret to this wonderful coffee treat. After all, it’s a cinnamon dolce latte. The heartwarming taste of butter and brown sugar also mix together beautifully in this latte. You can leave out the butter and this drink still stands out for its delightful taste. Give it a try at home and save yourself a trip to Starbucks. (Click here for the recipe)

                              15. Skinny Caramel Frappuccino

                              15

                                This Starbucks-style Frappuccino is cold, creamy rich and truly satisfying. You might be wondering why they call it “Skinny” Caramel Frappuccino. Every ingredient, including the sweetener in this beverage is sugar-free and fat-free to make sure that you stay “skinny” like you want, and there’s guaranteed satisfaction. The recipe claims to have only 50 calories per serving. (Click here for the recipe)

                                16. Chocolate Cherry Jubilee Frappe

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                                16

                                  There is no wrong time for a frappe, so here’s another frappe with creative flavors. Mix in a cherry flavor to your coffee frappe to add a new taste twist. This drink is chocolaty and the cherry flavor blends really well with it. I’m sure you will love this chocolate, coffee and cherry combo. (Click here for the recipe)

                                  17. Lemonade Sweet Tea

                                  17

                                    Lemon goes very well with any kind of tea, hot or iced. A tall glass of hot lemon tea early in the morning helps cleanse your digestive system, experts say. This tall glass of cold lemon tea is equally revitalizing and thirst quenching. (Click here for the recipe)

                                    18. Ginger-and-Honey Sweet Tea

                                    18

                                      Tea is known to have antioxidants that help you fight aging. Add ginger and honey to it and get a healthy and delightful iced tea. Sip and savor this iced drink on a summer day to beat the heat. (Click here for the recipe)

                                      19. Minty Iced Green Tea

                                      19

                                        People love green tea for the health benefits they believe it has. Studies show that drinking green tea helps fight cancer and heart diseases. Mint leaves add a cool, refreshing flavor to this simple green tea. This makes a healthy beverage perfect for quenching your thirst any time and in any season.  (Click here for the recipe)

                                        20. Nutella Blended Coffee Drink

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                                        20

                                          The infusion of the flavors in this blended coffee is over the top. Chocolate, coffee, Nutella; people love them already for what they are individually. The combo of these three is a unique flavor that you will love even more. (Click here for the recipe)

                                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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