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Does low carb increase sensitivity to caffeine?

Junior Low-Carber

I'm just wondering because I find that on a vlc woe I don't tolerate caffeine very well. A couple of cups of regular coffee makes me feel kinda antsy, almost overly anxious, when eating vlc. On the other hand, when eating the typical American diet, I can drink a full 10cup pot in the morning with no problems. I mix decaf and regular currently and that works well, I was just curious to see if there was a reason for it, and if anyone else finds the same thing.

Expert Low-Carber

I don't have a problem with the caffeine at all. I've been VLC for nearly 3 years, and I drink 3 cups of very strong coffee (my sister-in-law says it will strip paint off walls) every day. Granted, I put heavy cream in it, which makes it easier on my stomach, but I don't think it changes the effects of caffeine. I also drink 2 or 3 cups of green tea every day. However, if I don't have any caffeine, I don't get a headache and I don't find my alertness affected. I just miss my coffee.

Actually, I have had discussions about this with my son, and I think there is something about coffee (but not the caffeine, per se) that makes me feel good. He has recently discovered Starbucks, and he finds that their White Chocolate Mocchiato (sp?) has a calming and relaxing effect on him, which is different from the caffeine hit he gets from Monster. Yes, I am aware there are sugar issues here, but he's an adult and makes his own choices.

Expert Low-Carber

I don't have that particular problem with caffeine, although I drink more tea than coffee, so maybe I'm not getting such a concentrated dose at any one time (though I get through a fair amount of tea though).

There is a school of thought that says that any increase in one's metabolism may increase one's need for nutrients, and some people say that caffeine increases the metabolism (not sure if that's universally agreed though). So the symptoms could be your body calling out for nutrients of some kind. What they might be, I'm not sure. Fats? vitamins? glucose even?

One thought: If you currently take cream with your coffee, you might try replacing that with some full-cream milk (unhomogenised, ideally). Yes, it has a few carbs in, but actually that's the point. The lactose might be just the kind of "missing" nutrient your body is calling for, and you can always ease back if it causes problems.

I'm not a big fan of decaff, as I wouldn't trust the chemicals they might use to decaffeinate it.

Expert Low-Carber

No problems here. I went VLC since late 2007 and never gave up caffeine. I should have but one bad habit ain't so bad...

DFH's blog for diet and health: http://dietforhumans.com/

Advanced Low-Carber

I'm curious why you would WANT to be able to drink a 10 cup pot of caffeinated coffee?? Coffee has a diuretic effect which you don't need on a VLC (LC has its own diuretic effect). And you should be feeling moe energized without all the blood sugar ups and downs a high carb diet causes.

A few cups of coffee a day are ok, but why more????

Advanced Low-Carber

I'm not sure if this helps, but, while I have no increased sensitivity to a few cups of coffee in the morning than I used to (as far as I can tell), I do experience what you describe when I take Excedrin Migrane for a headache. I attribute it to the high dose of caffeine in a short period of time.

Maybe the high carb diet nullifies some of the effects of the caffeine (as it does for vitamins, etc.). Maybe increased sensitivity isn't a bad thing, and that's actually the real "normal" response, but its something we're not used to because eating poorly has become the new "normal".

Junior Low-Carber

Very interesting. I've wondered this same thing because I'm much more sensitive to caffeine since being on low carb. 1 cup of coffee is it for me.

My weight loss blog: Lose A Skinny Chick

Junior Low-Carber

jkanknitz, I'm not trying to drink a pot of coffee everyday, just wondering why I get the jitters from a couple of cups when I'm eating vlc, but not otherwise.

Weeji, you may be right.

Expert Low-Carber

The anxiety you mention definitly suggests to me some sort of temporary nutritional deficiency which the caffeine seems to be triggering.

So on VLC and slightly less caffeine you have no problems.
On non-VLC and your normal caffeine intake you have no problems.

That might suggest that your former diet was supplying some nutrients that your current diet isn't, or was supplying them at a slightly higher level.

The caffeine might be doing something (e.g. raising cortisol), that is increasing your need for said nutrients.

The things people tend to be deficient in are vitamins, D, A, K1 and K2, and maybe E.
The minerals people tend to be deficient in are potassium, magnesium, and if they have believed the anti-salt propaganda, sodium. To a lesser extent I believe, selenium and maybe boron.
You also need calcium in the diet; vitamins D, A and K should help to make best use of it.
If your water is hard and you drink enough of it unboiled, you will get some CaCO3 from that; OTOH, if it is fluororidated, you might not want to drink too much of it (if any).

Most of those you should be able to get from foods if you look around carefully, with the exception of D (D3), which you may need to supplement with in the winter.

And of course you need to be getting enough fat and protein, but hopefully most variants of LC should take care of that.

There are plenty worse things out there than coffee, IMHO.