Better Choices, Better Results


I mentioned in a recent post that when I drink a soda, it’s diet and caffeine-free.   I’ve chosen to be caffeine-free for several reasons that are all my own:

  • I don’t like being dependant on a chemical.
  • I noticed instances of rapid heart-beat prior to giving it up.
  • I felt like it was contributing to my “addiction” to soda products.  (I love those little bubbles!)
  • I’d heard that it lead to bone loss.

I gave up caffeine in August of 2010.  I’d done it twice before, but had gone back on the caff-wagon after a couple of months.

This time, I think it’s for good.  I’m not anti-caff for everyone.  I think people can choose for themselves whether they want caffeine or not.  It’s not an illegal substance.  However, here are some facts that I found on about caffeine.

“Caffeine is naturally found in certain leaves, beans, and fruits of over 60 plants worldwide. Its bitterness acts as a deterrent to pests. The most common sources in our diet are coffee, tea leaves, cocoa beans, cola, and energy drinks. Caffeine can also be produced synthetically and added to food, beverages, supplements, and medications. Product labels are required to list caffeine in the ingredients but are not required to list the actual amounts of the substance.”

Caffeine consumption is increasing in America, with the average American consuming 280 mg per day.  Since I don’t drink coffee, my caffeine delivery system was through diet soda.  Referencing the chart below, I found that a diet coke contains 47mg of caffeine.  If the average American consumes 280mg per day, that meant I was probably drinking 6 sodas per day.  My memory of my soda habit confirms that.  Six sodas per day! 

In the case of our weight loss surgery patients, caffeine also tends to act as a nonspecific appetite stimulant—for bad carb choices.  So it’s a SABOTAGER of success; it makes the work that much harder.   When I think about my own journey as someone who is trying to lose weight and simply consume better food and beverages, I think about the time-frame between my decision to give up caffeine and my decision to focus more energy on eating healthier.  Three months after I quit caffeine, I was ready to move on to better food choices, and I haven’t really struggled with my eating plan.  In fact, I lost 4 pounds over Christmas, while on vacation!

There’s even bad news for people who choose decaf tea and coffee: there’s almost always some caffeine left in products like tea or coffee that are labeled “decaffenated’.

Here’s a chart I found on the same website:

Sources of caffeine Caffeine content
Plain, brewed 8 oz 135 mg (range 102-200)
Instant 8 oz 95 mg (range 27-173)
Espresso 1 oz 40 mg (range 30-90)
Plain, decaffeinated 8 oz 5 mg (range 3-12)
Tea, brewed 53 mg (range 40-120)
Green tea 8 oz 25-40 mg
Black tea 8 oz 40-70 mg
Soft drinks  
Barq’s Root Beer 22 mg
Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz 35 mg
Diet Coke 12 oz 47 mg
Dr. Pepper 12 oz 42 mg
Dr. Pepper, diet 12 oz 44 mg
Jolt Cola 12 oz 72 mg
Mountain Dew, regular or diet 12 oz 54 mg
Mountain Dew, MDX, regular or diet 12 oz 71 mg
Pepsi-Cola 12 oz 38 mg
Pepsi, diet 12 oz 36 mg
Sunkist Orange 12 oz 42 mg
Tab 12 oz 46.5 mg
Vault 12 oz 71 mg
Energy drink  
Full Throttle 16 oz 144 mg
Monster Energy 16 oz 160 mg
Red Bull 8.5 oz 80 mg
Rip It 8 oz 100 mg
SoBe No Fear 8 oz 130 mg
Spike Shooter 8.4 oz 300 mg
Medicine: over the counter  
Excedrin Extra Strength 1 tablet 65 mg
Bayer Select Maximum Strength 65.4 mg
Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength 60 mg
NoDoz Maximum Strength 1 tablet 200 mg
Pain Reliever Tablets 65 mg
Vivarin 1 tablet 200 mg

It wasn’t easy for me to give up the caffeine monster. 

“There is no doubt that there are withdrawal symptoms that you can experience. These symptoms include headache, tiredness/fatigue, decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness/attentiveness, drowsiness/sleepiness, decreased contentedness/well-being, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and felling muzzy/foggy/not clearheaded. The onset of withdrawal symptoms typically begins 12-24 hours after abstinence, with the peak intensity occurring at 20-51 hours. The withdrawal symptoms last for a range of two to nine days. This is a considerable amount of time that makes it easy to understand why people would have a hard time cutting caffeine from their diet.”

I gave it up on a Thursday, and by Sunday, my withdrawal symptoms were gone. 

I think it was worth it.

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