Caffeine Tolerance: Causes, Prevention, and Reset

caffeine tolerance
Caffeine tolerance is a common term associated with caffeine use and it determines greatly how a person responds to a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine tolerance is different to caffeine sensitivity. Tolerance is acquired over time, while caffeine sensitivity refers to one’s genetic predisposition to processing the caffeine molecule.

Caffeine Tolerance

A first-time caffeine user or one that has abstained use for an extended period has a zero tolerance to caffeine. Caffeine is a foreign substance according to the body.

This is when caffeine works the best, often described as producing the following effects:

  1. Feelings of euphoria.
  2. Extreme alertness.
  3. Positive feelings.
  4. Increased motivation.
  5. Increased energy.

Consuming the same amount of caffeine the next day will result in a lesser degree of those effects.

As a person continues to consume the same dose habitually, those effects can reduce pretty rapidly.

Soon that same amount of caffeine produces only a sense of “normal” rather than all of the effects initially experienced.

By “normal” we mean that without the daily dose of caffeine a person feels extremely tired and fatigued way beyond the point they felt tired or fatigued before that initial dose of caffeine.

At this point, caffeine seems to bring the user to “normality”, instead of producing the “superhuman” effects it once did.

How Fast Does Caffeine Tolerance Happen?

One study1 found that complete caffeine tolerance occurred after just 1-4 days among their study participants. They measured this by noting the increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and plasma epinephrine levels. After 1-4 days these levels were back to their baseline.

Another study2 showed caffeine tolerance occurs in part because the brain quickly develops more adenosine receptors to compensate for those blocked by the caffeine molecule.

You can expect the initial euphoric feelings to flee pretty quickly unless…

The daily dose is increased every couple of days to compensate for the increased adenosine receptors and other physiological changes.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to be in danger of consuming dangerous daily amounts of caffeine in order to achieve the desired effects.

Many people know that an entire pot of coffee might be too much and will just settle for that “normal” feeling. However, others continue to chase caffeine’s fleeting euphoria with ever-increasing doses, which can be destructive or even deadly.

Resetting Tolerance

Fortunately, caffeine tolerance can be reset or prevented.

  1. Caffeine Tolerance Reset
    Those habitually addicted to caffeine should conduct a caffeine detox to eliminate caffeine from their system. This allows a return to normal non-caffeine functioning. This can take 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the daily amount of caffeine consumed.  Wean Caffeine is a systematic way to reset your caffeine tolerance without the horrible withdrawal from going cold turkey. 
  2. Occasional Caffeine Consumption
    A person can avoid caffeine tolerance by never allowing it to develop in the first place.By consuming caffeine only occasionally, the desired effects will be experienced every time. By only consuming caffeine when it is really needed is probably the healthiest way to use caffeine. This means to only consume caffeine once or twice a week with several days between each dose.

    Just be warned that consuming caffeine too late in the day has a greater chance of resulting in sleeplessness that night with a zero tolerance.

By resetting or preventing caffeine tolerance, a dose of about 100-200mg will produce the effects described above once again. The key is to avoid habitual caffeine consumption.

This is extremely difficult for some people in the same sense it would be difficult for most smokers to have 3 cigarettes just every 3 days. Caffeine has an addictive nature and some just can’t seem to use it moderately, but only on an all or nothing basis.

If you have built up a tolerance to caffeine it may be time for a reset.

Then you can decide if caffeine will play any part of your life in the future based on your ability to control how much you consume.

Can you describe your level of caffeine tolerance or have a question about it?

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  • Thomas

    To make a lasting change in one’s life, one needs Jesus. Only he can really change you. If you have an addiction, you need to pray for him to help you quit. You’ll be amazed by the results.

  • nora

    Im hypo-sensitive to caffeine.I drink about 6dl-to 1liter strong coffee daily. My lust cup is around 11pm and as soon as i finish it fell asleep. I like the taste, the smell. But it rarely boost my energy. I wish it would 🙂

  • Seriously Bro?

    Seriously, you’re talking Jesus on a forum about Caffeine consumption?

    “The power of Christ compels you to NOT drink that cup of coffee!”

    Sounds like Mormonism IMO.

  • shahana

    black coffee causes or prevents cancer ?

  • shahana

    Drinking black coffee everyday ..is it dangerous?

  • Ted

    There are positives and negatives to drinking coffee and we have them listed on this site. We encourage you to spend some time reading Caffeine Informer in order to make an informer decision for yourself.

  • Gibran Shah

    Can I avoid the tolerance by keeping my coffee intake to a minimum? Say by consuming no more than 50mg per day? Or will tolerance build up no matter how much caffeine I take in?

  • jenny

    Amen

  • Ted

    If you consume caffeine everyday , you will become tolerant to the amount you are consuming even amounts as low as 50 mg.

  • hail

    to make a truly lasting change in one’s life and beyond, one needs satan. Only he is willing to change the world in an impactful way unlike the liar jesus christ

  • Gmoney

    If i have caffeine every other day (say 100mg) will i prevent tolerance or would i be better off having that amount twice a week (every 3 days maybe) or once a week or how should i go about that. What is a good cycle to prevent tolerance so every time i take it so it doesn’t lose potency and effectiveness? I use it as a pre-workout supplement and appetite suppressant along with ephedra so that’s why I ask. Right now it gives me a really huge boost in energy and appetite suppression but i dont want to lose the effects.

  • Ted

    In my experience as well as through the research writing the article, I would advise you to have at least 2 days in between doses but 3 is probably even better. Perhaps only use it on your hard workout days, say Mondays and Fridays. If you have been taking it daily and cut back to once every 3 days, you will most likely experience some withdrawal symptoms so be prepared for that.

  • TheRealist

    If you’re trying to spit some AA shit, the idea is, is that you simply need a higher power to help you quit, not Jesus specifically, if Jesus is your higher power, then so be it, but don’t sit here and tell people they need Jesus in there life to help them quit, and for the record, not everyone believes in the ideas of AA, therefore, not everyone here is even going to buy into the higher power idea!

  • Gmoney

    thank broski

  • jrock

    what would happen if i take 1-2grams of caffeine powder on a daily basis

  • Ted
  • Loz

    Has anyone actually been successful in having, say, one cup of coffee a week? Or do you always end up increasing your intake and having to detox all over again? I’m not really after a caffeine buzz, just wondered if it might be easier to “mostly” give up coffee if I knew that I was allowed one on occasion

  • Ted

    I think so unless you have a tendency towards being addicted to things. I’ve been having a coffee per week for the last 6 months after detoxing. I usually pick the day I’m the most tired… usually Monday lol

  • Loz

    Thanks Ted. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it but I figure it’s worth a shot! Do you find you have to battle cravings and/or withdrawal symptoms the rest of the week, or have your body/mind become used to this particular routine? I’m thinking of nominating a particular day/time (Sunday around 10) so that I’m not constantly thinking about whether today is the day…

  • Ted

    I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms but as for cravings I wish I could feel like I do on the coffee day, everyday. Coffee works so much better when you only have it occasionally. See my article here:

    https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-tolerance

Last Modified: November 16, 2017

References

  • 1. Robertson, D. A. V. I. D., Wade, D. A. W. N., Workman, R. O. B. E. R. T., Woosley, R. L., & Oates, J. A. (1981). Tolerance to the humoral and hemodynamic effects of caffeine in man. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 67(4), 1111.
  • 2. Chou, D. T., Khan, S., Forde, J., & Hirsh, K. R. (1985). Caffeine tolerance: behavioral, electrophysiological and neurochemical evidence. Life sciences, 36(24), 2347-2358.
  • 3. Evans, S. M., & Griffiths, R. R. (1992). Caffeine tolerance and choice in humans. Psychopharmacology, 108(1-2), 51-59. Study link