When I started on my blood-pressure reduction mission nearly two months ago, I also cut out the caffeine. Salt and caffeine are two well-researched and acknowledged blood-pressure raisers. And while salt is (surprisingly) not that hard to live without (at least in the quantities I was consuming beforehand), coffee is a different matter.

I really don’t like the way caffeine makes me feel: Jittery, heart pounding, lowered anxiety threshold (it takes less to get you upset). But I’m addicted to the taste of Greek coffee; in my humble opinion, the greatest coffee EVER (as my kids used to say)! So a couple of weeks ago, I dared to have my beloved cup with my wife on a Saturday morning, and….that was it….I was back to a full-blown three cups (doubles) a day. Now, this is Greek coffee we’re talking about here, not some pansy Tim Horton’s cup of slop-water – there’s a reason I’ve nicknamed it, The Defibrillator.

One of the interesting things I noticed was that my nice steady weight loss (17 lbs so far), immediately stopped. Nothing else changed: I was still riding bike and/or kayaking daily, my eating pattern was consistent, and the salt intake remained low. But I also noticed that I was eating more at each meal and was a lot hungrier. A week into it, I realized that the caffeine had lowered my anxiety threshold, and that almost immediately I was using food to medicate the stress.

So last week-end I went off the caffeine once again, enduring three days of misery: Brain fog, lethargy, and passing out by 9 PM. Yesterday was the first day that I felt normal again and lo and behold….the weight started dropping again! One may well argue that weight is such a multi-factorial issue that it’s impossible to draw a conclusion from this experience. OTOH, this isn’t a scientific experiment; it’s a personal experience of what seems to work and not work, for me.

Nevertheless, there is some intuitive sense in the conclusion that caffeine may well play an interesting role in weight loss/gain, by mediating anxiety and stress levels. So, if you’re a person who uses food for comfort and pleasure (and human beings are hard-wired to do so), it is very possible that caffeine intake and weight are correlated.

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