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What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Coffee

Thinking of ditching those daily cups of Joe from your diet? Here's what you need to know first.

For many people, coffee is a lifeline used to power through a hectic schedule and long days. In fact, about 90 percent of Americans consume an average of 200 milligrams of caffeine a day—the equivalent of two six-ounce cups.

Research has shown that drinking coffee in small doses can have various health benefits, but still, it's considered a highly addictive substance. So, what happens to your body if you decide to quit your java habit?

The answer might surprise you. Research shows your energy levels and performance might actually improve… that is, once you've made it through the withdrawal period (if you experience one).

Here's a full breakdown of exactly what you can expect to happen to you and your body if/when you decide to stop drinking coffee.

You may experience less anxiety.

woman less anxiety

Do you ever feel a wave of anxiety after drinking coffee? Caffeine may be the culprit. Research from the Center for Occupational and Health Psychology found that it can take as little as 150 milligrams of caffeine (a small cup of coffee) to induce anxiety in some individuals.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, caffeine can cause anxiety-related symptoms such as rapid heart rate, heavy breathing, and panic. If you are prone to panic attacks, mild or severe anxiety, or have a history of anxiety symptoms, you can be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of caffeine.

Caffeine is made up of a group of chemicals known as methylxanthine, which are proven to stimulate the central nervous system and cardiac muscles. When we lower our caffeine intake by eliminating coffee from our diet, we lower these simulations and return our CNS and cardiac muscles back to their resting state. This is especially helpful for people who struggle with anxiety and panic disorders because it helps them avoid rapid heart beating and other symptoms of panic.

You'll have more energy.

woman energized

Caffeine is one of the most widely-used addictive substances in the world because of the boost in energy it provides when you need to get stuff done. Although it's known for giving us energy right after having it, regular consumption over time can actually lead to more fatigue than usual.

Mainly, this is because coffee is used as a bandaid for the bigger causes of fatigue.

"It isn't normal for us to be as tired as we seem to be throughout the day," says Jade Dinsdale, health coach and nutritional specialist. "When we don't have caffeine to rely on, we can look at our sleep, stress, hydration, nutrition, and exercise to get to the bottom of what is causing fatigue."

Coffee is also known to disrupt our natural sleeping patterns, which in turn makes us more tired throughout the day and leads to this next point…

You'll sleep better.

man sleeping well

You've likely experienced a sleepless night after drinking a cup of cold brew too late in the day, and there's an obvious reason for that.

"Caffeine alerts the body to pump adrenaline and cortisol, keeping it alert and activating the sympathetic nervous system," says Dinsdale. "Not only does it take caffeine hours to wear off, which stops your body from resting, but it can also affect your circadian rhythm, causing disruption in your sleep cycles."

There is something that many scientists refer to as the "sleep sandwich"—aka a period of caffeine deprivation sandwiched between every two days of caffeine consumption. This period of caffeine deprivation is also known as sleep.

If we aren't careful with our consumption of coffee, we can alter this natural rhythm and hinder our daytime performance. In a 2018 study, the majority of college students who reported drinking coffee during the day were more fatigued the next morning than those who consumed little to no caffeine. The study suggests that although we go straight to coffee to help us work harder, it might actually be negatively affecting our energy levels.

So, while you may think drinking coffee will help you stay awake, it may actually be causing you to be more tired by messing with the quality of sleep you're getting. Giving it up means there's a good chance you're going to snooze better through the night.

RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.

You may go through some mild withdrawal symptoms.

woman headache

This may be the thing you're most fearful of when it comes to kicking a caffeine habit. And although a caffeine withdrawal is almost guaranteed in people who regularly consume coffee, it's comforting to know that, on average, the withdrawal will only last one to three days.

Common withdrawal symptoms include headaches, irritability, fatigue, and sometimes restlessness. Headaches and fatigue are the most common of the withdrawal symptoms among coffee-quitters.

The good news? Although withdrawal symptoms can occur, a very small percentage of people report the symptoms being severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. A study from the Food and Chemical Toxicology found that only 5.5 percent of people who had kicked their caffeine habit reported that it got in the way of their day.

So yes, you might experience some withdrawal symptoms if you're a heavy coffee drinker, but they're likely to only last a few days and will not be as intense as you may think.

Your weight probably won't change much.

scale weight loss

It's a common belief that drinking coffee increases your metabolism and can help you lose weight. Unfortunately, studies show that there isn't a big difference in metabolism between coffee and non-coffee drinkers.

If you're wondering whether you'll lose or gain weight after eliminating coffee from your diet, it's important to ask yourself about the types of coffee drinks you're consuming now. Do you enjoy the daily mocha latte from Starbucks? Well, a grande Caffè Mocha from Starbucks contains 360 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates, and 35 grams of sugar, so eliminating this every day could be beneficial for your health overall and could result in dropping some pounds (as long as you don't replace it with another high-calorie, sugar-filled drink). If you're a black coffee drinker though, you may not see any results in weight loss.

Another thing to consider: How you handle cravings or withdrawal symptoms. If you decide to quit coffee, it will be important to avoid filling those caffeine cravings with other comforting food items that are heavy in sugar.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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