I know similar questions exist on PH, but I wanted to resurface it for main discussion. I find that there are a number of people on here with adrenal related symptoms such as fatigue, depression, difficulty waking up, afternoon naps, and mood swings. I've been caffeine free along with Paleo for almost two months and am feeling much more mentally stable, composed, and am just able to converse with people like I used to. However, I am feeling dead tired pretty consistently through the day and can just sleep and sleep and sleep. However, it feels more refreshing sleep and I don't wake up feeling like I haven't done anything with my day and panic, but rather overall feel more relaxed. Should I be concerned about how tired I am, or shoudl I just keep going? I want to hear people who have experienced no-caffeine diets and not those who are just giving me health advice on what "should" happen from withdrawal of a stimulant.
I always assumed that adrenal fatigue was a term used to describe the over-secretion of cortisol on a low carb diet, especially if coupled with heavy glycolysis. The sleepiness would be a way to inhibit activity so that energy could be conserved and gluconeogenesis could catch up with glucose demand.
Caffeine does increase cortisol secretion though:
Yes you should be concerned if you are tired too much. I don't think coffee is that strong stimulant and I often drink it before the sleep [and most of my friends].
In most research papers I have read, drinking 5 or more cups a day is better then drinking between 1-2 cups a day. Its most probable that some adaptation mechanism kicks in and so, hypertensive and adrenergic effects diminish. Keep in mind that caffeine is NOT the same as coffee.
I was never much of a coffee drinker until 6 months from now. I tested avoidance, just because I was in one of those 'lets-test-it' moments, not because I have any problems with it. What I experienced is big rise in hunger. Its coffee specific, for instance cocoa drink doesn't change a thing.
I believe coffee can be problematic to some people, but it usually includes other related drinks like green/black tea.
Your fatigue problem, looks exactly like my life from mine 12-32 year. What changed it is:
Fish oil, at least 500mg DHA/EPA (for depression) or more.
Ascorbate Acid powder, 4x2g (for adrenals, crucial), highly individual dosing.
Cold shower in the morning as coffee replacement (5-10 mins). Nothing beats it. Hormetic stress, helps immunity, brings cortisol up in the morning like it should (thats how our body does it to wake up). Additionally, helps immunity, training for BAT cells.
Additionally, consider the following, if you want to do it faster/better:
Piracetam, 4x800mg, highly individual dosing. Before sleep is very good idea. If you don't eat eggs, you need to add lecithin. For faster effects, combine with Hydergine. Helps sleep, boosts memory, provides oxigen to the brain.
Iodine ~1mg, Selenium 250mcg, Zinc 250mcg (helps thyroid, because of thyroid-adrenal connection)
Exercise (not too much, walking for 30m or HIIT 2 times per week).
High protein breakfast (30-50g). Boosts L-Tyrosine uptake, which energies you.
I don't think that what you're experiencing is related to a lack of caffeine. I can't say that feeling fatigued is certainly unhealthy if it is temporary (which this could be) but it's definitely a warning sign for a lot of different issues. It's possible that feeling fatigued is part of getting where you're going, but I don't think it's ever an ideal situation.
A few questions first:
You say that you have been feeling 'dead tired pretty consistently'. What were your pre-paleo energy levels like?
What "flavor" of paleo are you following?
When did you first notice the that you were feeling fatigued and how long has it been going on?
What is your quality/quantity of night-time sleep?
If you are low-carb paleo (LCP), then I think that Travis' explanation of the cortisol connection could be a factor, but there are many other variables that could be contributing.
I have definitely experienced this. Ive said it before: completely going off caffeine had the biggest impact on my health of any other change I've made. The difference was hugely noticeable between my background 25mg or so (probably less) per day, from a very weak green tea in the morning to 0mg. Avoiding tannins also made a shockingly big difference. I think it's worth any-one who has a reaction to coffee or digestive upset to experiment with the difference between a normal tannic caffeine beverage and caffeine pills, because to me there's a significant difference. Regrettably I can't stay off caffeine all the time in practice, because I often don't sleep properly and need something to be able to function in the morning. In fact, I just woke up about 3 hours ago (3am) and couldn't get back to sleep and so had a few squares of 85% chocolate (about 50mg according to the packet + whatever theobromine). Because it takes a while to withdraw from caffeine for me- I tend to have a very low background level of caffeine intake, which isn't as good as being completely clean, but which keeps things tolerable.
I've been thinking about this question about long term withdrawal very recently, because I finished a major piece of work early September, during the final stages of which I was imbibing quite a bit of caffeine per day (around 40g dark chocolate per day) and, as always, instantaneously came down with something. Thus having nothing much to do until moving house I came completely off caffeine and felt absolutely terrible for about a week. I seemed to get over the cold almost immediately (no obvious symptoms) but for the next three days I felt too tired to do anything- even watching some old DVDs (I never watch television ordinarily) or sitting up to read light books seemed too much effort! By day 5 I was able to, well, function, but still feeling in a complete daze and not up to any serious intellectual work. I spent most days therafter in the gym doing long slow cardio in an attempt to make myself feel better. Obviously there are a whole host of co-inciding factors here (tiredness, illness etc.), but caffeine seems a likely culprit. I even wondered whether I might have some sort of 'adrenal fatigue,' and experimented with upping my carb intake significantly (1.5 butternut squashes per day), but this didn't provide any relief, indeed, it seemed to make me feel worse (more sluggish and worse digestion certainly). Such serious withdrawal symptoms for a week seemed pretty ludicrous, so I looked into it and only found mention that it can last 5 days or longer (neither reliable sources). Unfortunately I didn't find any hard data on the issue, so I can't offer anything beyond solidarity. I tend to think that the tiredness after caffeine withdrawal is, if not a good thing, a necessary sign of adaptation. Whenever I've come off of caffeine I've experienced that and felt better afterwards. I do often wonder about whether, even though I feel much better without caffeine, whether I practically function better in my work strategically taking some now and then (since I certainly do my best work on a caffeine high). Being free from caffeine certainly seems to make me happier, but I wonder whether occasional caffeine is functionally necessary if I want to be able to work at my peak.
I've been off caffeine for 3 weeks now. It has been a very trying 3 weeks mentally. I've missed the endorphins badly. I have lost tons of motivation to succeed (work, socialize, etc). I gave up alcohol, pot and nicotine 7 months ago and all that was easy compared to this (well not easy but after a scant few weeks I was on fire with motivation). Now, the final evil (caffeine) and what a bitch it is. LOL. I've struggled immensely and found myself lamely surfing the Internet during the workday and even more lamely watching 5-6 hours of TV at night instead of going out. I am still working out and eating right through this (also floating). I would say unequivocally that caffeine withdrawal is underestimated and is the most difficult come off I've ever done. Johns Hopkins calls it a psychiatric disorder (google it). Oh well, screw it, I'll stick with it no matter what. My gut and intellect tell me there will be light at the end of the tunnel and I'll be better off psychologically than I was when needing 2-3 espressos every morning to function. I've got a 70 yr old family member with a lifelong addiction to dexedrine, who incidentally would cut anyone's throat who threatened his precious pills. This could be much worse! I'll get through it.
I'm on week three of a caffeine free diet. Previously I was a minimum 2-venti/day, sometimes an additional ice coffee, so I was sweating this poison out my eyes. Beginning at about 36 hours into the breaking the addiction, the headaches started, with nausea lasting about 1 full day - would easily vomit if I wasn't stationary on my bed... that initial migraine-headache hell lasted for a full day, then from day 3-6 I felt dead, tired and unable to focus. Mind you I am well hydrated, eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, lean proteins and carbs, multis- etc... About two weeks in I noticed when I would wake up I felt more physically rested-my muscles felt more relaxed. Now three weeks in I feel like I am even more relaxed, my emotions are less wacky and I just feel generally calm. There is less tension in my neck I'm not sure what that is a result of. From what I've read, i should begin to feel even better as my body learns to do life without large doses of our culture's legalized productivity drug.
I love the feeling of not being a slave to caff. I feel as productive all day as I was when caffeinated, but now I don't feel like a stupid sheep standing in line at $tarbucks.
I've never given up caffeine completely for as long as you so anything I got is of limited value. I only gave it up for about a month, but I will say I felt more "clear". Far less ups and downs. The fatigue factor was not something I had to deal with after the first few days though. I have no problem believing that naps are a good thing though, and would suspect neglecting rest when your body asks for it to be detrimental.
Hmmmm...now that I think on it I'm going to quit the coffee again. I just like the taste and the routine so much is all.
Chronic caffeine use will cause your brain to down regulate your adenosine receptors (among other receptors that are up and down regulated by chronic caffeine use). When you are awake, adenosine builds up in your brain since it is a chemical byproduct of you doing stuff. Adenosine receptors sense how much adenosine has built up so far and when it is "enough" you feel tired. Caffeine blocks those receptors (which makes you feel more alert) so your brain over time will compensate by up regulating them.
When you remove caffeine, you suddenly have a brain with too many adenosine receptors. You can sleep just fine (and you are) because your brain is able to accurately tell when there is "enough" adenosine to require sleep. But now your brain is also too sensitive to adenosine and has too low a bar for how much constitutes enough to require sleep. So you are too tired because your brain is too sensitive to the adenosine.
In time, the receptors down regulate back to where they were before you drank caffeine. I don't know how long that is. It might be as long as it took for them to up regulate in the first place (if adding and subtracting receptors takes the same amount of time, I don't know). If that is so, then it will take as long for your brain to adapt to the lack of caffeine as it did to adapt to the presence of caffeine. That was roughly 4 months for me but then again I quit because I was pregnant so that fact could have altered the timing.
Then again, it's also possible that the caffeine was masking an underlying problem that is now revealed since the caffeine is gone. So that's something to look into too.