What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Coffee?

Don’t feel like yourself until you’ve had your cup of coffee? You’re certainly not the only one. Coffee can do wonders for our energy, but sometimes our dependence on it might be a wake-up call that we need to cut back. If you’re thinking about kicking your habit, here are seven things that can happen to your body when you give up coffee.

1. Some people experience headaches

When you stop drinking coffee, you initially might experience some headaches — thanks to the caffeine withdrawal. “Caffeine causes blood vessels in the brain to constrict, which slows blood flow,” according to Healthline. But when you cut off the caffeine supply, those blood vessels open back up. “This sudden change in blood flow can cause painful withdrawal headaches that can vary in length and severity as the brain adapts to the increase in blood,” Healthline says.

The good news is your body eventually will adapt to the blood flow increase, and the headaches will subside. Even better, you might have fewer headaches overall once you’re off coffee. That’s because you won’t have to worry about withdrawal symptoms on those days when you’re too busy to grab a cup. But on the flip side, caffeine can be effective to treat headaches, so it all comes down to your individual situation.

2. Your mood might take a turn for the worse — or better

A woman sits at her desk with her head in her hands.Credit: fizkes/Getty Images

Giving up coffee can be difficult — mentally and physically. And in the early stages, you might experience anxiety, trouble focusing, irritability and a depressed mood. “The stimulant effects of caffeine can lead to feelings of well-being and increased energy, which go away when caffeine intake ends,” according to Healthline. “For this reason, your mood may take a hit if you decide to quit caffeine.”

But once any withdrawal symptoms subside, your mood might see some overall improvements. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, coffee actually can increase anxiety. “Drinking two to three cups of brewed coffee give fast metabolizers a calm sense of heightened focus,” Cleveland Clinic says. “In contrast, just one cup can make slow metabolizers jittery or nervous, or trigger a headache or palpitations.” So for some people, giving up coffee might restore some balance to their lives.

3. Your energy might lag — but then become more stable

If you don’t feel truly awake in the morning until you’ve had your cup of coffee, you’re definitely not alone. “Caffeine helps increase alertness and reduce fatigue by blocking receptors for adenosine, a neurotransmitter that can make you feel drowsy,” according to Healthline. “This is also why it has been proven to enhance athletic performance, improve energy and reduce chronic fatigue.” And cutting coffee out of your daily routine can make you feel seriously drowsy — at least for a little while.

Once you’ve gotten over the withdrawal symptoms, you should notice your energy ticking back up. And it might even be better than it was when you were a coffee drinker. Although caffeine helps to reduce daytime drowsiness, it also can contribute to it. One study on caffeine and sleep found consuming caffeine within six hours before going to bed can significantly disrupt sleep. Even caffeine taken at the six-hour mark prior to bedtime reduced participants’ total sleep time by an hour. So giving up coffee actually has the potential to increase your energy level (other health issues aside) after you get over that withdrawal hump.

4. It might lower your blood pressure

There’s conflicting research regarding whether coffee improves your cardiovascular health or increases your risk of disease over the long term. But at least acutely, many people experience a spike in their blood pressure when they drink a caffeinated beverage, and they have a higher average blood pressure as a result. “Some researchers believe that caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened,” according to Mayo Clinic. “Others think that caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase.”

Mayo Clinic suggests taking your blood pressure before drinking a cup of coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) and then checking it again after 30 minutes and two hours. If your blood pressure increases by five or more points, that might mean you’re sensitive to caffeine. So be sure to tell your doctor about your caffeine consumption, especially if you have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular issues.

5. The dentist will notice

A dentist checks a mouth.Credit: Bojan89/Getty Images

One part of your body where a change to your coffee habit might be especially apparent is your teeth. The tannins in coffee (and tea) build up on tooth enamel, causing discoloration. So your dentist is probably well aware you’re a coffee drinker — and they’ll notice when you quit.

Caffeinated beverages also can dry out your mouth, according to the American Dental Association. And that can lead to bad breath, as well as bacteria buildup that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, people who add a lot of sugar to their coffee also are putting themselves at risk of tooth decay. So if you do still consume coffee, the American Dental Association recommends limiting the sugary additions and drinking plenty of water to help cleanse your mouth.

6. Digestive issues might diminish

Drinking coffee, especially in excess, can lead to several gastrointestinal effects and aggravate existing issues. Coffee stimulates the bowels, which can cause an upset stomach and loose stools. And it can trigger acid reflux in some people. Plus, caffeinated beverages tend to cause frequent urination — and even decaffeinated coffee can irritate the bladder — which can exacerbate bladder issues.

Furthermore, drinking coffee can interfere with some nutrient absorption — especially calcium, iron and B vitamins. This is particularly true for those who have a high coffee intake, an imbalanced diet or digestive problems. So by removing coffee from your digestive process, you might alleviate several issues.

7. You’ll miss out on coffee’s health benefits

pouring coffeeCredit: yipengge/Getty Images

Although certain people might do better cutting coffee from their diets, it’s not all bad news. Coffee has several health benefits that you’ll miss if you give it up. According to Rush University Medical Center, these are a few benefits of coffee that recent research has found.

  • Lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and melanoma
  • Improves liver health
  • Protects the brain against dementia
  • Might help you live longer

Plus, coffee can boost your metabolism and improve physical and mental abilities. And it’s a huge source of antioxidants for many people.

So should you give up coffee? Not necessarily. If you consume coffee in moderation and without all those sugary additives, you’re probably fine to keep sipping (unless your doctor says otherwise). But if you’re experiencing negative effects, such as reflux or insomnia, you might want to reconsider your habit. And definitely don’t rely on it as a replacement for proper sleep. “Enjoy a daily cup or two of coffee … but don’t use it as a substitute for other healthy behaviors,” according to Rush Medical Center. For instance, if you’re lagging in the afternoon, take a quick walk instead of grabbing another cup of coffee. You might just find you don’t need as much coffee as you thought.

Main image credit: amenic181/Getty Images

77 comments

Lorraine A

Years ago back when coffee wasn't good for you, my dr had me cut down to 1 cup a day. I now find that if I drink coffee or tea in the afternoon I don't sleep at night I guess I will stick with my one cup in the morning.

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Mia B
Mia B21 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Jessica K
Jessica K22 days ago

What happens to me when I give up coffee? Yeah, well. No one wants to see that. Thanks.

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Salla T
Salla T22 days ago

Ty

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Salla T
Salla T22 days ago

Ty

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Mariana O
Mariana O23 days ago

I can't give up my morning cup of coffee

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Ruth S
Ruth S23 days ago

I gave up Coca cola for the most part and had a lot of these symptoms from the caffeine withdraw.

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Ruth S
Ruth S23 days ago

Thanks.

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Emma L
Emma L23 days ago

thank you for posting

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Angela K
Angela K23 days ago

Never .....

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