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Why I’m Cutting My Caffeine Consumption

When you’ve gone to the gym, have you ever seen someone chugging a brightly colored drink as they warm up? That drink is probably pre-workout, an energy drink loaded with high levels of caffeine. And despite claims that it’s non-addictive, I beg to differ.

caffeine

For the last several months, I’ve been drinking pre-workout before going to the gym. I’ve never been a huge coffee person, so it seemed like the perfect solution to get energized for a workout. Just mix a scoop into a glass of water, chug it, and go! I’d never really found one I loved, but there were plenty of flavors: peach, cherry lollipop, green apple, fruit punch. But somehow, it hadn’t occurred to me that there could be something wrong with it.

Not long ago, I started noticing that whenever I took pre-workout, I’d end up jittery all day. I couldn’t take pictures without my hands shaking. I was tired all the time, but I could never go to bed early or get quality sleep. It felt like no matter what I was doing, I was going to burn out– and fast. But I knew that taking more pre-workout would be too much caffeine, so I didn’t want to go too crazy. After all, pre-workout powder can have quite a few effects:

  • tingling
  • jitters
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney damage

But I didn’t know it at the time.

My first indication that something was wrong with taking it was my resting heart rate. What a weirdo, right? How would little old me know my resting heart rate? Easy: my Fitbit Charge 2 HR. I’ve had that thing strapped to my wrist for months now, monitoring my workouts and daily movement. Did you know that your resting heart rate will change over time based on how physically fit you are? A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, but it’s often lower for people who work out. For me, anything over 65 makes my heart feel like it’s racing and I can’t catch up. But here’s the thing: I worked out almost every day for a long time, and no matter what I did, my resting heart rate was never lower than 57 BPM. No matter how much I worked out, Dave’s resting heart rate was lower than mine. It didn’t seem fair: I worked out so much, and he works out a few times a week! Why was his resting heart rate lower?!

On Friday, I went to the dentist, and because they considered me to be a new patient, they checked my blood pressure and resting heart rate. The dental hygienist was concerned that my heart rate “seem[ed] a little low,” but my blood pressure was fine. Still, I was worried. Could my high caffeine habit be affecting my health at all? Would it affect it over time? The DH didn’t know what pre-workout was, so I googled it and found out the potential side effects. When I got home and read a blog post from another blogger on how she was looking to cut caffeine, I knew I had to, too. Too much caffeine can cause some serious health problems, and the last thing I’d want to do is to risk my well being. After all, that’s partly why we went plant-based!

One last thing that I wanted to do when considering quitting pre-workout was to see how it would benefit me. I knew I’d be saving money immediately, because those pre-workout tubs last about a month and a half. Beyond that, though, I found that cutting down on caffeine could decrease anxiety levels, lower my blood pressure, and I wouldn’t get any of those horrible caffeine headaches when I haven’t had it. After this week’s headaches, that seemed like a pretty solid trade-off.

So you’re probably wondering: how has it gone so far?

This week has been interesting. While I’ve still managed to go to the gym every morning, Monday and Tuesday were really tough. I had headaches like no other and went to bed earlier than I had in months. Excedrin Migrane just didn’t cut it! Today, however, I was focused and alert all day. In the mornings, I fueled up for the gym with a banana about half an hour ahead of time, and made sure to drink a cup of ginger tea before leaving. Waking up this week hasn’t been as tough as usual, and it seems like I’m sleeping a lot better. Even more, I’m no longer nauseous when I go to leave the gym, which is a huge plus! I just didn’t think that was normal… and it wasn’t. And today, my resting heart rate was 54 BPM.

But after all of this, do I plan to cut out all coffee and caffeine forever and always?

No, of course not. I like chocolate, which naturally contains caffeine, and what’s life without a little chocolate? I don’t really like many caffeinated teas, so that shouldn’t be a problem, and cups of coffee will be relegated to just weekends. It’s just not really my thing. 🙂 Pre-workout is an extenuating circumstance in regard to caffeine, and it’s just not something that I feel comfortable putting into my body. If it’s full of chemicals and just not natural, there’s probably nothing good about it. {Fun factaroo: Dave said this to me months ago… and I’m just listening now. Clearly, I’m a little stubborn. 😉 }

Questions for you:

What’s your favorite way to get amped up for a workout?

How do you deal with headaches? I usually try to drink more water or herbal (non-caffeinated) tea, but I know some desk stretches can help, too!

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