You may be overwhelmed to find out that your brand new preworkout that cost you $50 is doing you more harm than good in the long run. As you may know, the main ingredient of most such supplements is caffeine, a chemical responsible for the wakefulness and alertness that the preworkout gives you, also found in regular coffee. The other things you may find in your preworkout are usually fillers, such as the cheap-as-dirt creatine, which is a functional supplement otherwise, but serves no purpose in a preworkout supplement. If you are using your preworkout multiple times every week, with a few additional cups of coffee or tea, you most probably have a caffeine addiction. You are about to learn the “why” and the “how” of losing the addiction for good.
Being addicted to anything is a negative thing in almost every case. The only exception to this is being addicted to things that are good for you, such as learning, eating healthy (not in amount but in frequency) etc. Caffeine is not one of those things. It is a stimulant, which is by definition a substance that raises the levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body. This includes caffeine, cocaine, tobacco and alcohol. All of these are drugs. With common use of stimulants, something called drug tolerance occurs. Due to the repeated use of a specific stimulant, its’ effects minimize over time, as the body gets more efficient at metabolizing it and counteracting the effects in other ways. This means that you would require increasing dosages of caffeine, and thus preworkouts, in order to achieve the same effect as for the first time.
Doing this can quickly evolve into a dependence, as caffeine withdrawal symptoms include lack of focus, headaches, fatigue and depression. If you get a headache and feel sleepy every time you try to quit caffeine, you may unconsciously opt to continue increasing the dosages forever. This results in the kind of people who cannot talk to people before they get their coffee, as irritability is also a reoccurring theme with addictions and dependencies. The ones that drink more than five cups every day, with the addition of their preworkout. Some even throw away coffee completely and start consuming their preworkout supplement multiple times daily. It is easy to see why having a dependency or an addiction is bad.
You have decided that you will not be in the control of a substance anymore. It is time to do something about it. What do you do? Some people suggest lowering the dosage over time, while others suggest quitting cold turkey, at once. Both of these approaches have their flaws, and a better one does exist. Lowering the dosage over time stretches the process out over a much longer period than it could be. It takes a couple of weeks without any caffeine whatsoever to lose the dependency, meaning that if you quit now, your body’s adenosine production would regress back to normal in about a month. Quitting cold turkey is increasingly difficult depending on how addicted the individual is. It is much more difficult to quit at once if you are consuming 1000 mg of caffeine every day.
The best approach combines the two in a manner that makes losing the addiction much easier. Firstly, you “attempt” to quit cold turkey. “Attempt” means that you do it for as long as you can, even if it means only three days. Then, you get to drink one cup of tea or coffee— not preworkout. This would result in 20-100 mg of caffeine; depending on what it is you are drinking. You now attempt once more and try to get a new record on your caffeine fast. This goes on in circles until you are able to reach 30 days without caffeine. You may then start introducing it back, but only at the previously mentioned amount and frequency.
None of this is to say that one cannot consume caffeine without acquiring an addiction. The frequency and the amount are the things that matter the most. In order to stretch out the tolerance gain for as long as possible, it would be best to consume caffeine 2-3 times per week at most, with dosages not exceeding 300 mg each, and this is the upper limit.