Sunday, March 30, 2008

Adventures in Caffeine

For most of my life I have been immune to caffeine. The down side was that if I needed to drive all night or get up early, caffeine was useless to me. On the other hand, after a hard day's athletic contest when I was fairly dehydrated and could drink 240 ounces of diet soft drink to rehydrate and not lose a wink of sleep.

All that changed recently.

A couple years ago I lost about fifty to sixty pounds (I lost more, but regained some of it. I've been at my current weight for more than a year or so). In order to stay hydrated (because I don't like the taste of the local water) I drank about ten to eleven liters of diet creme soda a week for the last three years. The manufacturer switched over to a caffeinated version. It didn't bother me until I read Taubes and couldn't bring myself to eat any more sugar or white flour.

Among the other changes that made in my life I became sensitive to caffeine. I could feel it. I didn't like it. I went cold turkey. Luckily for me, the immunity also meant no withdrawal effects at all. I haven't touched creme soda since.

But, recently we did a road trip. We drove late, then because of some problems with hotel rooms, had to drive sixty miles more. A storm warning had us getting up early, an hour earlier than the "early" we had planned on before the extra late stop.

Much to my surprise, four ounces of diet pepsi, spread over twelve hours of driving, kept me alert and awake. But, the next morning I found myself wanting another ounce. I still had eighteen ounces left ...

Dang. I cut myself off immediately, but it was an amazing learning experience. Caffeine had gone from neutral and a non-issue to extremely unpleasant, to useful in measured amounts, to very, very attractive, in less than a week.

Oh, and I'm drinking diet root beer now, and water.

On the Shangri-la Diet I used to eat six slices of bread a day, two cups of yogurt with half a cup of sugar, etc., every day. I now eat only 240 calories or less a day of full grain bread, no sugar and no white flour. I actually have enjoyed the change, though it has been interesting. Has not made much of a difference in my weight. My SLD calories come from three tablespoons of extra light olive oil a day.

When I'm out I tend to get chicken salads. There is always a grilled chicken salad on the menu. Just take the dressing on the side.

My rotator cuffs are getting much, much better, which means I'll be able to restart some sort of serious exercise again, which seems to make a big difference for me. From 245 to 189 or so, it is just SLD. From 189 to 167 it is SLD and exercise. I'm still learning to understand my body and how it all works, just grateful it still does.


Clark Goble said...

If you want to stay thin I'd advise staying off carbonated pop. I'm a hypocrit in this but I've been so busy the last 3 years I find I need a liter of diet Coke to get started at work after being up half the night with sick toddlers. But now that things are finally calming down and I'm able to do more exercise I'm definitely going to be going off the pop bandwagon. Not because of the caffeine. (Indeed I'll probably take caffeine pills for workouts) But because of the carbonation.

Stephen said...


Guess I'll have to switch to water then.

I've wondered.

Cheryl said...

I'll drink soda occasionally --and I'm also like that. Caffeine doesn't do much for me. But luckily, I've never wanted it to. I don't like soda for many reasons, and I think mostly it has to do with how winded I feel. Somehow, it affects my asthma. Seriously, that sounds scientifically impossible, but I swear it makes my breathing harder.

I lost 36 pounds (hopefully I lose the last pound this week!) this year, and my husband lost 46 pounds. He's very strict about what he eats, but he still drinks his caffiene-free diet coke. He doesn't like water and that's why, but he'll also make crystal lite (or buy the generic brand) with our water and loves it. No calories! Just yummy flavored water (raspberry, lemonade, etc.). That's always a good option.

Glad you're staying healthy! I know how hard it is to get there, but staying there is the key...

Anonymous said...

I used to run triathlons and I'll tell you...stay of carbonation period. You'll notice a big difference in your health and your performance.

I assume you're excersizing as well...

As for staying awake on the road. Sunflower seeds are the trick with cold, cold water.

Stephen said...

Aaron, you know, I ate sunflower seeds along with everything else this trip. I'll have to try it with sunflower seeds and water alone.


I am exercising. Long walks, weights, some sprints.

Anonymous said...

I thought I would share kind of a funny anecdote in my life. Since joining the LDS Church, I have usually tried to avoid pop with caffeine. Now I avoid pop period, but that is a different story. Well, I was very medicated at one time and my mom said I looked scary as we worked at the same company. I couldn't actually focus sometimes reading the script on the screen and talking to customers. I even dozed off once talking to a customer. My mom was in a different department, but she saw me in that zombie state and made me go to the break room and drink some Mountain Dew. As it is not specifically forbidden like tea and coffee, I do so. It seemed to help wake me up. --Barb

Jonathan Mahoney said...

@aaron - Wouldn't you do pretty bad if you only ran the triathlon. I always thought one would be more successful if he/she incorporated a little swimming and cycling. :-P

Tomster said...

After losing a good deal of weight myself, I've found that the best way to stay thin is to up my protein consumption by replacing carbs. For example, I eat Fage Greek yogurt almost every morning with oats, instead of the banana nut muffin and coffee (which does nothing for you, I know!) I used to devour. It's worked wonders, and took just 4 months to shave 25 pounds off. Of course, I'm a regular at the gym, too, but I power-lift - no real aerobics.