For much of my life, I needed large amounts of caffeine just to get by. As a kid, that meant a liter or two of Dr. Pepper a day. As an adult, it meant energy drinks and green tea. Because of my addiction, I was always twitchy and nervous, and could never sleep well or put on muscle, because the body needs sleep to maintain healthy testosterone levels. I tried to quit over and over again, only to experience debilitating headaches and extreme lethargy which drove me to return to my addiction.
A few years ago, I decided that enough was enough: I was going to kick my addiction once and for all. But this time, instead of relying on sheer willpower, I resolved to figure out how caffeine addiction works in the brain, and use that knowledge to find an easier solution. What I discovered was that caffeine abuse causes deficiencies in two amino acids: Tyrosine and Phenylalanine. By fixing those deficiencies, I was able to shortcut the entire withdrawal process and overcome my addiction in 4 days- other people I’ve spoken with have done it in as little as 2 days.
You see, caffeine works by causing your brain to overproduce dopamine. Dopamine is made from L-Dopa, which is made from Tyrosine, which is made from Phenylalanine. Extended caffeine use uses up your stores of Tyrosine and Phenylalanine, so your brain reduces its dopamine production to conserve them. It then takes progressively more caffeine to force your brain to use its remaining amino acid stores to produce dopamine- meaning you consume more caffeine, let have less energy and feel terrible.
Thankfully, this addiction can be cured very quickly by supplementing either Tyrosine or Phenylalanine for just a few days. Best of all, this hack allows you to avoid the headaches, lethargy and other withdrawal symptoms that most people experience when quitting caffeine.
Dosages: How Much and When
You’ll need to acquire a bottle of Tyrosine or Phenylalanine pills (pros and cons of each below). Ideally these pills should be 500 mg each; 250 mg is alright, but don’t get anything larger than 500 mg, as you’ll want to reduce the dosage over time. The dosage is the same regardless of which amino acid you choose.
For the first two days, take 1000 mg of your chosen supplement first thing in the morning, and another 1000 mg at lunch.
For the next two days, take 500 mg first thing in the morning, and another 500 mg at lunch.
For two days after that, take 500 mg first thing in the morning only.
You probably won’t need to go for the whole six days- I only needed four days, and many people only need two. If at any point you feel that your desire to consume caffeine is gone and your energy levels are back to normal, you can end this regimen early.
Tyrosine or Phenylalanine?
This hack works with either L-Tyrosine or DL-Phenylalanine, and the choice comes down to individual preference. Because Tyrosine needs one fewer step to convert to dopamine, you may find it more stimulating, which you may or may not want. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, as your body uses it to produce other amino acids including Tyrosine. Tyrosine, on the other hand, cannot be converted back to Phenylalanine.
My personal preference is to use DL-Phenylalanine, because it will also fix a Tyrosine deficiency, whereas Tyrosine won’t directly fix a Phenylalanine deficiency. However, if you want something that will produce a mild stimulant effect, Tyrosine is more likely to be the better choice for you.
Once you’ve cured your caffeine addiction, you can consume caffeine on occasion without becoming addicted again- but be warned, you’ll most likely find that it has a stronger effect on you than it did before. You may instead want to switch from caffeine to one of several alternatives that have similar benefits with fewer side effects.
Instead of consuming caffeine every time your energy level starts flagging, you should deal with energy slumps by drinking a tall glass of water- and, optionally, taking another Tyrosine or Phenylalanine pill. You’ll be surprised at how often a glass of water is all you need.
Now that you’re rid of your caffeine addiction- and the accompanying nighttime jitteriness-, you should capitalize on the opportunity to build healthier sleep habits so that you can have more energy and be more productive every day. And, as mentioned above, produce more testosterone. (Hint: Muscles and boners)
My experience with caffeine addiction is one of the main reasons why I write so much on sleep and body hacking, rather than just focusing on diet and exercise like so many other fitness writers. If you want to learn to consistently get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night, enter your e-mail address below to get future articles- as well as the most popular of my old articles- sent straight to your inbox.