When a person consumes caffeine, that boost of energy comes from the body interpreting the jolt of caffeine as stress. Stress kicks off the body’s fight-or-flight mechanisms. One of the many hormones meant to offer a short burst of energy to help the body remove itself from the stressful situation is adrenaline.
However, there isn’t an endless supply of adrenaline in the body. According to “The Hidden Dangers of Caffeine” on NaturalNews.com, when the supply of adrenaline burns out, the body’s metabolism slows down as it tries to conserve energy and replenish supplies. If that sluggish feeling prompts the consumption of another cup of coffee, then an individual ends up taxing an already exhausted system while forcing the body to remain in fight-or-flight mode.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much Caffeine?
When the caffeine-induced adrenaline high burns out, the individual may be left headachy, irritable, confused, and fatigued. Using caffeine to counteract those feelings increases those reactions while adding in anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and even depression.
The body ends up in a state of adrenal exhaustion. The limbic system runs on emotions, not thoughts. This means that the body can’t tell the difference between the stress of running late for work and the stress of running from a charging elephant. In The Four-Day Win by Martha Beck (Rodale Press, 2008), she lists things like too much exercise, lack of sleep, and overwork as also using up the body’s supply of adrenaline.
This creates a vicious cycle. The individual is tired, so they have some coffee to get a boost. When they crash, they go for more coffee only there is less adrenaline in the system and the body burns through it faster. Then the individual may drink more coffee sooner to stress their system and get that increase in adrenaline.
The Caffeine Diet Aid Myth
If the individual reaches for a chocolate bar or a sugary snack to counteract a low energy crash, they are still only giving themselves a quick pick-me-up. “The Hidden Dangers of Caffeine” cites health expert Gayle Reicher who claims that people are left feeling exhausted after a day of ups-and-downs in their energy level.
When a dieter goes for coffee with artificial sweetener, unsweetened tea, or diet soda they may keep their calorie count down, but they are still straining their body. Some weight loss experts blame stress hormones such as cortisol and glucortiocoids for keeping fat around the abdomen. And remember, the body reacts to adrenal burnout by slowing the metabolism – definitely not good for weight loss.
However, eliminating caffeine all at once isn’t wise. Cut consumption of coffee, tea, or soda gradually, by a cup or two each week until you have eliminated it or brought the level down to a place you can live with. Check the diet for hidden caffeine in chocolate or chocolate- and coffee-infused or -flavored liquors. Drink more water while reducing caffeine to counter dehydration.