Coffee is a luxury, treasured by all kinds of people, regardless of their dietary preferences. The total worldwide market for coffee is around $23 billion. On its face value, coffee beans are from a plant, so doesn’t that disqualify it from the carnivore diet? Lots of people would so say no to that question. If we look at the nutritional facts for one cup of black coffee, it honestly seems like coffee is negligible.
/r/ZeroCarb and other carnivore-centric forums and filled with posts like this:
You’ll find responses ranging from “It’s fine, just one cup per day” to “You shouldn’t have any or you’ll get addicted” to “Only before workouts for a boost” to “I have five cups a day with no problems”. What rule should we abide by when given all this conflicting information?
Well, in my opinion, the real answer is to quit it for a month, and then reintroduce it so you can really see how it affects you daily. Us carnivores know most of all that we’re all affected by foods to a greater degree than we think we are; it’s only after eliminating them and reintroducing them when the effects become crystal clear.
We should zero in on the actual culprit about what makes this a very debatable issue:
Caffeine. The world’s most widely-consumed psychoactive drug. The Cool Carnivore himself has a very interesting history with this drug found in magic bean juice.
I’ve been a huge fan of coffee ever since I was a kid. Black, with sugar, with creamer, with sugar and creamer, with Stevia, espresso, you name it. No matter how it’s prepared, I loved it. However, a certain event in my life that occurred two years ago has, let’s say, complicated my relationship with caffeine.
I was hospitalized for a caffeine overdose. In fact, I actually think I suffered a heart attack brought on by the use of caffeine. The simple version of the story is this: I was nearing the end of a 60+ work week, and I was working the graveyard shift at the time. Starting at 8 pm and not leaving work until sometimes 9 am. I was on my last day of work until I had a couple of days off, and I just wanted to get through it. I was exhausted from the labor I had performed the last four days.
I needed help to “get through it”. A sugar-free Red Bull to start off the night. A couple of hours later, another one. A couple of hours later, a third. I ended up leaving at around 8 am, and I was planning on driving six hours to spend the next couple of days off with my girlfriend, as we were in a long-distance relationship at the time.
I was leaving the Twin Cities for Southern Iowa, and I was exhausted from the last work week. Before I got out of Minneapolis I stopped and got a 32 oz. coffee and essentially chugged it. A bit later on the interstate, I got another and pretty much did the same. So far I’d had three sugar-free Red Bulls and 64 ounces of coffee and I was still almost falling asleep at the wheel. What the hell?
Probably an hour later I stopped at another gas station and found at the time what I thought was a treasure: a box of caffeine pills. I don’t remember how many I had, but it was a lot. Probably washed down with a Monster energy drink, too. Actually, not probably. They were.
The pills weren’t sustained release, either. They looked like this:
The last hour of the trip is when I started feeling extremely sick. I had to stop the drive every twenty minutes to pee, as caffeinated beverages are diuretics. I most likely stopped at every Casey’s General Store in rural Iowa on the way down, sweating profusely, heart racing, and sitting on the toilet wanting to blow my brains out from how bad my stomach was churning.
With half an hour left until my destination I refused to stop anymore. In my mind, I just needed to get to my girlfriend’s dorm so I could lay on her bed and go to sleep. I thought I was just overly-exhausted. When I got there we exchanged pleasantries and after me ranting about the last week of work and getting myself all worked up, she left for an evening class. Finally, I could lay down and have a slumber and end this horrible day.
So I thought.
Within ten minutes of her leaving, I was attacked by such a vicious wave of anxiety, a feeling of impending doom, that I started to panic. My heart was beating through my chest. Laying in her bed, I kid you not, EVERY pore on my body started to sweat PROFUSELY. Without exaggeration, I went from dry to soaking wet in about twenty seconds. It was at this moment I knew I had to do something.
I got out my phone and walked into the hallway with the intent of dialing 911, but I remember losing consciousness, falling, and smacking my head on the concrete floor. I’m not sure how long I was out, but I eventually came to probably a few minutes later and started thinking logistically about the situation.
“I’m on the top floor of a giant dorm/apartment building, which requires keycard access to enter. If the paramedics get here, they need to find a way in, use the archaic slow elevators to find me, bring me back down, and then escort me to the hospital.”
In this situation, it was IMPOSSIBLE to think clearly. It seemed as if half of my brain function was gone. I got out my phone again and dialed 911, and I couldn’t even communicate where I was to the operator, or even what was happening! I didn’t know the address of where I was, let alone the exact location inside the building! And get this, my 911 call was dropped because I didn’t have adequate cell service in that area!
This was the moment when I thought “I need to do something or I am going to die”. I hoisted myself up and decided to get to the stairwell at the end of the hall so I could reach the ground floor, hopefully get outside, and hopefully be able to re-dial 911. Unfortunately for me, as soon as I got halfway down the first flight of stairs, my heart figuratively beat out of my chest, I had another sticky sweat attack, and I passed out AGAIN. I was 100% convinced that those were the last moments of my life. It was utterly terrifying.
Somehow I regained consciousness and it started to feel like these mini “heart attacks” were coming in waves. I eventually made it to the ground floor and saw an ambulance with its lights on, parked outside! WTF? How did they find me? Or is this for someone else who dialed 911? I walked out and found nobody inside. Oh no, they were inside looking for me! Maybe someone else called about me?
So anyway, I took an elevator up to the fourth floor and there they were. A team of paramedics with a stretcher. “I was the one who called you guys”.
I got into a stretcher and went to the hospital. They threw me in a room for six hours, and a nurse only came in twice to give me an EKG reading and to give me two aspirin tablets. A doctor finally came in and said: “We should keep you overnight to observe you.” At that point, I’d been awake for over a day, and was completely irritable, miserable, and exhausted. I was pissed. So I checked out of the hospital against his medical advice. It was the worst example of the health care industry I have ever experienced.
After this experience I was off coffee for the time being. Obviously. A few months went by before I reintroduced it as part of my daily morning ritual. People have laughed at me for this story. “You overdosed on caffeine?!? LOL U IDIOT.”
Caffeine is taken so casually among the general public that it’s almost not even considered a drug anymore. Oh, but it is. A very serious one indeed. Millions of Americans are dependent on it. When we go through withdrawal, we go through bouts of sleepiness, headaches, and irritability. When we take it every day, lots of have mild anxiety, jitteriness, insomnia, increased sleep latency, and reduced coordination. According to a 2011 literature review, caffeine use is positively associated with anxiety and panic disorders.
Maybe it would be a wise decision for some to just drink decaf. That way, you can keep your morning agenda intact while also remaining free of the neurotoxin of caffeine.
Buttered coffee used to be the bomb dot gov on keto, but ever since becoming a full-fledged carnivore 9 months ago, I have gone in phases of coffee intake. I initially swore it off, as it is from a plant. I succumbed to its tastiness with heavy whipping cream a few months later, however. Then I quit it again. Then a few weeks pass, aaaaand I’m drinking it like I never stopped.
If I have coffee, the only residual effects I’ve been noticing as of late is me feeling almost overly-satiated from the high caloric content of any added whipping cream. It is the final remnant of pre-carnivore lifestyle. The sole remaining plant product.
If any of you can fully convince me to give it up for good! Feel free to try! Let me know of your tolerance and experiences with caffeine in the comments below.
Alternatively, you can shout at me on Twitter @AdamLivingston_.
Thanks for reading!