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Ever quit caffeine?
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Stephen Carvalho
(GuinnessSteve) - F
Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 10:24:18 MDT Print View

As I type this, I'm sipping my precious coffee. But if I want to thru hike the Long Trail next summer I'm thinking detoxing from caffeine may be a good idea. I usually take VIA on the trail, but if I kicked the habit I could leave my mug and the VIA packets at home and use less fuel and therefore carry less. Another possible advantage would be that I can get going earlier in the morning as I'm not heating and drinking coffee. However, I don't really function right now without coffee. Anyone here kicked the habit? How do you function in the morning now?

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 10:44:12 MDT Print View

Try easing into at first by trying a herbal tea-then slowly ween your self off...

Edited by Creachen on 08/02/2010 23:05:12 MDT.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
caffeine on 08/02/2010 10:56:28 MDT Print View

I've reduced though not quit. I switched to decaf a few years ago for a gentle transition.

I've found, however, that that I do like a hot drink now and then and I miss that more than caffeine itself. I've discovered miso soup as a replacement because it's hot, tasty and contains protein rather than sugar so it doesn't give you a sugar low later. (I've always put sugar in coffee and tea.)

Stephen Carvalho
(GuinnessSteve) - F
Re: caffeine on 08/02/2010 11:13:23 MDT Print View

I'm a black coffee, black tea kinda guy so that's not a problem for me. I'm hoping that whenever I do this hike it'll be warm enough in the mornings that I won't miss the warmth of coffee or tea. I'll probably bring herbal as a little treat for at night once in a while. But that can be drunk from my Heineken pot so there's no extra weight there (unless I add the silicon lip protector I've been meaning to add).

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
quitting on 08/02/2010 11:19:06 MDT Print View

I was drinking 5 cups of coffee a day when I decided to quit. I just went cold turkey. There were 2 or 3 awful days--headaches, fatigue, etc., but after that I was fine.

My advice would be to quit before your hike. There is nothing like the feeling of waking up fully alert and ready to hit the trail, versus feeling half dead until you get that first cup of coffee. I've done multi-week hikes before and after quitting caffeine. On the trip where I was still hooked, I was frequently tired and very slow to get going in the morning. On my trip after quitting, my energy levels were much better.

And, of course, from a UL perspective, quitting coffee means saving a few ounces of coffee and stove fuel from your pack weight.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
quitting caffeine on 08/02/2010 11:27:45 MDT Print View

I had quit caffeine for many years; took me a few days and some awful headaches, after that I felt fine, actually better than now that I am back on that stuff.I got to where I only drank it if I really , really needed it, and boy did it work then. I am thinking about quitting again, not so much for the extra weight/ time while backpacking, but because I don't like knowing that I have to have it or else I am off. It's an addiction, no doubt. But yeah, quit well before or after your trip. Good luck.

Stephen Carvalho
(GuinnessSteve) - F
Re: quitting caffeine on 08/02/2010 11:32:11 MDT Print View

Well, I can't bring myself to quit caffeine now when there's the impending winter between now and when I take this trip. I like hot coffee on a cold morning and there's going to be plenty of those before next summer! But I figured I'd give myself a month before the trip and go cold turkey. I hear it takes four days of withdrawals before you're ok again, but I didn't know if I'd operate properly in the morning without it.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
I taper off. on 08/02/2010 11:38:42 MDT Print View

In the past, I was a pretty extreme caffeine addict. Nowadays I drink coffee in relatively moderate amounts for most of the year, and then as backpacking season approaches, I gradually taper off to zero. My experience is that the amount of caffeine I need in order to function in the morning is simply whatever amount my body is used to. If I get my body used to needing zero, then zero is the amount I need in order to function in the morning.

I actually find it easier to go without caffeine while backpacking than while in civilization. Your body can't sleep while its large muscles are working, so, e.g., if you're ever having trouble staying awake in a darkened movie theater, a trick that helps is to swing a leg back and forth gently. Sitting at a desk in an office in the afternoon, I tend to get sleepy around 3 pm and feel like I need a cup of coffee. But when I'm out on the trail walking, that just doesn't happen.

Unless you want to feel really sick and miserable during your hike, I would suggest not trying to go cold turkey starting at the trailhead.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
coffee tricks on 08/02/2010 11:57:30 MDT Print View

That's interesting about moving the legs. Back in the 70s I drove from LA to Boise non-stop fairly often and figured out that very deep breathing and hyperventilating would bring me back. I pretended I was flying an airliner solo and had to keep things on the level.

I quit coffee and caffeine for about 6 months last year because of all the headaches I got from it. Before that, I had quit quiting for many years. I started smoking heavily in the last half of the 90s and then quit that - that was hard and you see that you really don't need it even though you want it bad. Quiting coffee last year got me into a much more moderate level now. I think everyone would agree that getting out as often as possible during the work-week to get the oxygen/energy levels up helps cut the need for coffee. To just quit without changing lifestyle is tough. I think wanting to drink coffee is an impulse like yawning - it's a sign that you need to breath much more. Smoking is similar I think - it makes you take a deep breath!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: quitting caffeine on 08/02/2010 12:14:00 MDT Print View

Quit now. Make it a lifestyle change. A nice hot cup of herbal tea with a bit of low GI agave nectar is wonderful on a chilly morning, as is a mug of skim hot cocoa (a bit of caffeine in the cocoa, but not much, methinks). That there are cold mornings between now and then is simply another excuse not to quit! I'm great at excuses! So make the change now and find delightful non-caffeine hot drinks instead. Then you'll really not need coffee by the time you do your hike next year.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 12:18:33 MDT Print View

We're all different -- so no single correct answer here -- but for me, I like the idea of not being tethered physically or emotionally to any one person, thing, or place.

I enjoy my morning cup of coffee, but can skip it if need be. I don't prepare coffee when I go on multiple-day hikes. I try to train myself to remain positive and content (within reason) -- regardless of whether I am at home or traveling -- enjoying coffee (or whatever) -- or not.

Usually, when I sense a craving for something (I love ice cream, for example) -- I will just enjoy it -- but I will also stop for months at a time if the craving starts to linger.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 12:46:42 MDT Print View

I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning, but if I don't have it I get a mild headache.

When backpacking, I don't want to deal with making coffee, so I bring "Jolt" gum. A single piece in the morning does the trick.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 13:06:53 MDT Print View

'When backpacking, I don't want to deal with making coffee, so I bring "Jolt" gum. A single piece in the morning does the trick.'
Before I started my current custom of tapering off to zero completely in the summer, one of the dodges I used to use for servicing my habit on the trail was chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 14:00:51 MDT Print View

i was drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day. and i didn't drink that watered down gas station stuff - i had a ritual of intensifying it. people who thought they were tough cause they liked Starbucks straight black went runnin for their mommas haha :)

but i quit a couple months ago. i couldn't take it anymore because the amount of caffeine in coffee messes with my metabolism too much - i'm hypoglycemic, and the rush and wane of caffeine would lead to me needing to balance my metabolism with other unhealthy choices (like extra clif bars).

i've since switched to the occasional cup of tea. even the strongest tea has half the caffeine of sub-par coffee. get yourself some really good stuff. i get the earl gray from Adagio teas - it's delicious.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 15:00:45 MDT Print View


Interesting that you ask about detoxing from caffiene with a "trail name" like GuinnessSteve. :-)

>>We're all different -- so no single correct answer here -- but for me, I like the idea of not being tethered physically or emotionally to any one person, thing, or place.<<

Personally I've been drinking coffee with caffiene in it since I was in the single digits age group. I used to add milk and sugar but these days it is straight up black. I usually have two cups or so in the morning during the work week. Weekends are hit and miss. Some weekends I'll have a cup with breakfast and others none at all. I don't crave it or miss it if I don't have it. I can have a cup of coffee after a nice evening meal in a restaurant and go home to bed immediately without tossing and turning.

I recently did a 10 day trip on the AT where I only had one or two cups of coffee while on the trail and only then at a really nice hostel.

Giving up my two a day beer habit was of more concern to me. Alcohol dehydrates the body and I have experienced dehydration in the past while hiking.

I did not "have to have" either of these beverages on my hike. I did celebrate at trails end with a large smokehouse burger, two beers and desert at a restaurant where we got off the trail.

We are all different! Listen to what your body is telling you.

Party On,


Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Ever quit caffeine? on 08/02/2010 18:31:40 MDT Print View

Yeah. No problem. You have a couple of days of headaches. I quit my six pack a day of Dr Pepper after college.

Then I started drinking coffee after a couple of years working. Got up to 5 cups a day before quiting. My wife gave up caffiene when pregnant so I did it with her. I didn't want to make coffee myself (lazy I know) at home and won points not drinking it around her. I'm back to 3 cups a day but thinking of stopping since it really does change your metabolism. I'd rather be on a more even and natural keel.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Ever quit caffeine?" on 08/02/2010 20:28:11 MDT Print View

I've never deliberately quit caffeine, I suppose I have seasons of heavy consumption of caffeinated beverages and moderate to non-existent periods of consumption. Currently, like the cat-fish I can be at times, I'm enjoying those atrocious Monster Lean energy drinks, yeah I know, it'll probably rot my gut and I look like a tool drinking them. Last month it was iced Americanos every morning, the month before that it was one caffeinated GU gel before a run and during and that's it. I would have no issue giving up caffeine for an extended period of time on the trail, I think it has a lot to do with my erratic usage, it's comes and goes. I've heard though with other individuals that the process of eliminating or even cutting back caffeine consumption can have quite a hold on them.


Locale: East Bay
Cold coffee on 08/02/2010 22:03:29 MDT Print View

I'd quit a whole lot of things before I quit coffee...

Just came back from a 3 day trip with my family. Mixed Via with some water, powdered milk and Splenda into a 500 ml bottle and shook it all up with cold water, presto morning ice coffee and no cooking! Was very good just along with my Trader Joes Granola and I loved not firing up the stove!

(tacksman99) - F

Locale: So Cal
Coffee on 08/02/2010 22:24:28 MDT Print View

Mom never raised a quiter.

Michelle Daher
( - F
Quit caffine except for backpacking on 08/02/2010 23:03:48 MDT Print View

I have had to pull myself off caffine a number of times--I'm extremely addictive towards it! One cup and I'm yawning all day long, my body begging for more. I could drink it instead of water (or at least my body requests that I do).
That being said, I don't drink it when I'm at home, but I do drink it on the trail. I drink it so that I can "get up and go" before hitting the trail. For me (being a female), there is nothing more distressing than needing the trowel while on the trail, particularly in the middle of a coverless area. I do have to get off coffee when I return home, though. The way I do it is to pick a day when napping is an option because due to the yawning issue, I need a nap in the middle of the day to get through the detox.
I love the little VIA packs of Starbucks for a lovely and simple cup of joe--with powdered milk & sugar or mixed with some hot chocolate mix.