Ever wonder why you crave something extra sugary and sweet after consuming too much caffeine? There is a scientific reason behind this phenomenon. Let’s take a look at what causes your body to crave sugar after drinking too much caffeine and how to fix it.
Too Much Caffeine Affects the Brain
Studies performed by experts at Cornell University have discovered that with the consumption of caffeine comes a decrease in sweetness perception. During their study, participants were split into two groups – one group consumed regular coffee while the other group consumed decaf coffee with added quinine, which mimics the bitterness of regular coffee. The results showed that the group who consumed the decaf coffee were able to perceive sweetness easier and at a higher rate than those who consumed the caffeinated coffee. Scientists believe that the caffeine is responsible for blocking sweet-taste receptors. What does this mean? When we are unable to taste sweetness, we begin to crave sweets even more! Unfortunately, marketing professionals are beginning to use this information to their advantage, advertising high-sugar treats alongside their coffee products.
How to Kick the Habit
Have you noticed an increase in your daily caffeine intake? Our bodies can build up a tolerance when we regularly consume too much caffeine, causing us to consume even more to achieve the same effects. The higher our caffeine tolerance becomes, we might find ourselves munching on increasing amounts of unnecessary treats. Sound familiar? Are you in need of some serious help? Here are 4 easy steps to quit your caffeine habit:
4 Steps to Quit Caffeine
- Scared of the imminent withdrawal if you go cold-turkey? Start with small changes. If you love your daily ritual of a hot beverage, begin by slowly replacing your coffee or tea with a caffeine-free option over several days to weeks.
- Always in need of that afternoon pick-me-up? Try turning to a healthy snack for your energy boost instead. Choosing fruit such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas, or berries will help you avoid your afternoon slump without the after-effects of a sugar high. Not a fruit-lover? Reach for some trail mix including peanuts, dried fruit, and roasted edamame for similar results.
- Learn to prioritize and improve your sleep habits. With the proper sleep patterns, you will wake more well-rested and less likely to encounter that afternoon crash. Once your sleep habits improve, you will find that you won’t crave a liquid energy boost anymore.
- Try changing your regular exercise routine during the first few days of caffeine “detoxing.” A relaxing yoga session or light strength routine instead of your regular intense workouts will give your body time to adjust. After about three days, you should be able to resume your normal exercise routine.
Quitting a caffeine habit can be a daunting challenge. Is it worth it? Improved sleep quality, better energy, and improved overall health are just some of the health benefits you will see. The decision is up to you!
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.