The Great Coffee Experiment


Caffeine Tested, The Live Series and Daily Logs

It’s December 2016. The time has come to embark on a little Coffee Experiment. Actually, let me rephrase that, a Great Coffee Experiment. That warm, rich and delicious mug of coffee is going to be put to the test. During this time, I am going to document my results experiences and observations here on Shirt and Tie Fitness.

What Is the Great Coffee Experiment?

 There are plenty of resources out there on Coffee. The pros, the cons, giving it up, what to do and what to expect. There are however, from my research, little if not any that look at a specific individuals response to Caffeine both during and after consumption. That looks at the daily experiences of an individual when consuming and when not consuming it. That does not just point to a study, but to actual tangible results.

The aim is therefore quite simple:

To be subjective, to look into my biofeedback and reaction to caffeine.

My motif is twofold:

 To ascertain whether I have a hardcore dependency, a more serious addiction, or both.

 To ascertain whether my health and or life, is better on or off caffeine.

What is to follow is a journal, a resource for others to witness the effect the bean can have on an individual. It can be used for cross reference with any of my loyal readers, to provoke thought or change in your life, or for your simple curiosity.

I’ve decided it will be best to run with two phases, a phase in where I continue my consumption, followed by a phase where all consumption is ceased.

The second phase will be the real challenge; no caffeine is going to be purposely consumed during this period. That means Tea/Cocoa is also going to be ditched. Once the withdrawal symptoms have passed, and I hope this to be quick and painless, the real insight will hopefully be obtained.

I have decided to utilize two phases, so that you can gain an insight into my daily habits, the variables at hand. By fully understanding my position at present, you can cipher the results for yourselves.

Moreover, it would be great if you followed along. I’d like participation from the readers. I’d like you to get involved and ask questions along the way. To suggest, or help to streamline the experiment. I’d like you to share this series and get the word out. I’d like to help others in a similar situation like my own that relapse and may be experiencing more negatives than positives.

You may just learn that coffee may not be for you either.

Or you may learn that kicking it to the side is not required or unnecessary torture.

What This Is Not

Disclaimer: The aim is not whether to prove if Coffee is healthy or not. I will leave that to the experts. There is plenty of evidence for that in either direction. It is in fact one of the most debated and studied substances out there. If you don’t understand the true extent it is analysed and scrutinized, or even bashed in the media, run a simple Google search.

I’ve read enough of these; in fact, I’m entirely confused. I need to go back to basics. This about my health and my experiences, not what happened in a labatory to an obese mouse.

This is also not a study on caffeine directly. Not on energy drinks or other caffeinated beverages. Although for the purpose of this study, these will also not be consumed.

What You Can Expect

Part One: December – Continued Caffeine Consumption at 1-3 cups a day

Part Two: Dry January; Complete Abstinence

I will be releasing 4 posts, at weekly intervals.

Each weekly post will include a daily log. This will save monotony.

These logs will look to show the status of important parameters for health: my mood, cognition, digestion, fitness, sleep habits, libido etc. I will also document any other information that I think will be of benefit.

Why The Experiment

So why even do this? In a nutshell, I need to see how Coffee is and has been impacting my life. As a high-strung individual, guilty of thriving on stress, I know that the time has come that I need to take better care of myself.

As a health bio hacker and fitness enthusiast, an on-going goal is to balance my hormones most optimally. To ensure my endocrine system is functioning correctly and the nervous system is not overactive.

As you will shortly read in my background, being the person that I am and the way I go about my life, my cortisol and stress levels have often peaked too high. Coffee has always been a significant player in my lifestyle, and one of the variables I am yet to properly manipulate. I believe it could be a crux on my health; in more ways than one. But aren’t we all guilty of knocking back too much Joe. It is a drug after all.

What I used to drink as a strategy to pick me up, has now become more of a necessity.

The Challenges I Will Face

Part Two of the series is where the difficulty is obviously going to lie. It is not going to be easy. As an office worker, I am aware that this is going to be an uphill battle from the very start. An office is literally the breeding ground (no pun intended) of coffee consumption. Visually, not only is Coffee on virtually every desk, the coffee shops sitting outside and the walking coffee elite will be a constant reminder.

And it goes beyond just sight. Even the smell is enough to get you. So that’s two of my senses on alert and at danger of sabotaging the experiment.

It is also a cultural phenomenon and has a rich historical background. No matter where you turn it seems to appear. It’s drunk all over the world and is associated with many past times and events.

I’ve also an insight into the difficulties that are soon to commence. My I’ve already experienced them; I’ve tried doing this before. But I lasted a measly 3 days and I didn’t even make it passed the Coffee Hangover. So I need more time to assess the situation; I need to reduce the dependency before the real results can glean to the surface.

It will require discipline but will also require common sense. The very nature of the compounds present in Coffee has incredibly addictive properties, at least in my own experience. Caffeine is believed to be a culprit here but I am sure there are others that play a role. I love a cup of Decaf so this would explain this very phenomenon. I will therefore not even reach for a cup of Decaf in phase two. This could sabotage the entire experiment and would mean I am not giving up Coffee in its true sense.

For the reason I outline above, this is not going to be easy.

Having manipulated other variables in my life to increase my health, this is the last one left.

Who Am I – A Background to Your Hamster

 First, a background. I am a 25 year old male and regular coffee drinker. When I say regular, I mean an everyday drinker. I’ve been drinking the strong stuff consistently since I was 19, and have drunk it in numerous quantities and ways during this time.

I would not say that I have ever drunk Coffee in excess. How much have I been drinking you may wonder? 1-3 cups a day, or roughly 100-300mg of Caffeine. Not excessive by a long shot (again no pun intended)

It was initially adopted as part of my fitness pre-workout ritual, in my early days of weightlifting at University. I consumed it with breakfast and at no other time. At aged 20, I adopted an Intermittent Fasting regimen that ran through until I was 22 (2012-2014). I decided to drop fasting for reasons bigger than this series, but one thing was to remain.

It was during my Intermittent Fasting days that I fell in love with Coffee. Some may say obsession. Besides how you frame it, it cannot be denied that coffee really took a strong hold on my daily morning routine. I began to realize and witness its fat-burning potential, and also began to see it as more of a supplement than a drink. I’d prepare a French Press every morning before University classes, enough for two strong mugs and knock this back pretty quickly. It would keep my hunger down to mid-day when I would consume my first meal.

As any new coffee drinker is aware, especially one that drinks it black and on an empty stomach, in the early days the Euphoria I was to receive can be described no other than sensational.  A peak, sharp mental and physical energy followed.  My performance in class and at the gym increased, I experienced little fatigue, and all the while had a bright and positive and dynamic outlook. It kind of reminds me of how I imagine NZT would be from the film and TV Series Limitless, but I digress.

It was also during my University days that I began to experience some negative episodes in regard to my health. There was prolonged periods of Insomnia, Anxiety, Nail-biting, and lowered libido to name but a few. I was in denial that these were issues, but would have put them down to a calorie deficit or ‘cutting’ on the Intermittent Fasting approach, the stress of university and stress of training. I never would have put coffee in the frame..

Following University and some lifestyle and diet changes, my health picked up and I began to work in the City and in an Office. It was here that Coffee cemented its place yet again. It became a central pick me up in the morning, and a great excuse to get out of the office mid-morning for a break. And that it essentially where I am at today, in 2016. Drinking coffee daily in the office.

 What Have I Tried Already

 I have also tried numerous suggestions when drinking coffee to try to make it work for and not against me. These include:

To the Ray Peater’s: Consuming it with Sugar, Milk and or/ Cream,

To the BulletProofer’s: Butter, Coconut Oil.

Drinking it in moderation and limiting the dose (which I soon find gets out of hand)

Taking supplements such as Ashwaganda, L-Theanine

Drinking the Coffee at the same time I eat meals

And so on and so forth

My Stance At Present – Hypotheses

 So no matter which approach has been used, Coffee has to date, liberated the major three stress hormones: Adrenaline, Cortisol and the Norepinephrine. The three ugly step-sisters. Apologies to anyone out there with three ugly step-sisters, it must be hard to look at them let alone read that sentence.

Maybe I don’t have the genotype that efficiently handles Caffeine, or I am a slow metabolizer, or I’m overly sensitive?

Maybe it’s a component of the bean that my body just cannot handle or process?

Perhaps it’s not even the bean itself but how it is prepared or the chemicals and pesticides used to grow the darn things?

No matter the issue, these details only distract from the wider issue that Coffee may not be for me.

Onwards and Upwards:

So as the brilliant William Blake once stated: “The true method of knowledge is experiment.” And experiment I will. In Phase 2 there will be no tea, no decaf. No substitutes will pass my very lips. It will be hardcore cold turkey. And how apt with Christmas right around the corner

A final note, this series is part-inspired by Michael Allen Smith over at Critical Mas. He produced a series in a similar fashion. He based his experimentation on the mighty potato, and took it upon himself to eat only potatoes as a way to leverage weight loss. If this interests you, you can read about that here:

How Will I Drink It:

I will drink it black, and have become somewhat of a coffee snob; only truly liking French Pressed coffee. At times I have drunk it on an empty stomach (intermittent fasting days)

For the purpose of this series I will be consuming it black,  and with breakfast.

I will be drinking 1-3 mugs a day, less on the days of rest, more on the days of training, but you will get the full detail in each daily post.

coffee black

The Variables That Will Remain Constant

 It is important to highlight to all readers that I want to keep the two months as constant as physically possible. Despite December being the month of none other than Christmas, I am to continue with my current lifestyle over the period.

This way, the Coffee is the only factor being manipulated.

Like so, I list and present below a brief outline of my current life schedule:

  • Work 9-5 in an office, rise at 6am, go to sleep at 9pm.
  • Full-Body Weight Training 4x a week using Stronglifts 5×5 Programme
  • Eat 2800 calories on my training days, with a 25% protein, 50% carb and 25% Fat split
  • Eat 2500 calories on my rest days, with a 25% protein, 25% carb, 50% fat split.
  • For any more information, or questions on my current set up, write your comments at the bottom of this page.

 Without Further Ado

 So before we begin with Phase 1, let me leave you with this. I’ve enjoyed my 5 years of coffee drinking. Really I have, its enabled me to achieve great things. I’ve experienced the highs and the lows. But enough is enough, I cannot remain a slave to Coffee; I want to be in control of my consumption.

Will I drink it again; most likely. But let’s see how this pans out before I jump to any conclusions…

So stay tuned and await the first update…

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