This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Your Morning Coffee

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If a hot mug of joe or an icy cup of Starbucks is your preferred way to start the day, you've probably noticed that you feel, well, off when don't get your coffee fix. On those especially hectic mornings, you might even sort of hate the world. But that reaction isn't in your head, says Michael J. Kuhar, PhD, professor of neuropharmacology at Emory University. 

Caffeine can make you feel energized, alert, and less depressed, Kuhar explains. It can even improve your motor skills and learning ability. When you skip your usual stimulant high, you might feel down, drowsy, sluggish, clumsy, and irritable. You may also experience headaches, and a drop in blood pressure. In a Johns Hopkins University review of studies, researchers found that some people deprived of caffeine even experienced flu-like symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain and stiffness. Yikes.

RELATED: Yes, It’s Possible to Have Too Much Caffeine (and These Are the Caffeine Overdose Symptoms to Look For)

"You’re basically going through withdrawal," says Kuhar. While you can't become addicted to caffeine in the same sense as people become addicted to drugs, your body can become dependent on it. And since it takes about 24 hours for caffeine to completely leave your system, it makes sense that you wake up craving it.

“Lots of people have their coffee in the morning when they read the newspaper, or when they meet up with friends, and it’s viewed as this very enjoyable moment,” says Kuhar. “And the feelings you get from caffeine reinforce that association. It’s embedded in our lives as this friendly and socially acceptable ritual.”

But there are, of course, reasons you might want to wean yourself off coffee—if you're having trouble sleeping, for example, or dealing with digestive issues. It’s difficult to say when the crappy withdrawal effects will go away, says Kuhar, because it’s different for everyone. And simply seeing a Dunkin Donuts cup—or smelling a freshly brewed pot—can trigger cravings. If you're trying to cut back, it's best to do so gradually, he says, until you’re drinking a more reasonable amount, or none at all.

 

 

Source: Nutrition

It's Not in Your Head: Feeling Hangry Is a Very Real Thing

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Ever notice how when your tummy is rumbling, you're more likely to lash out at unsuspecting loved ones or even innocent bystanders? This sudden, irrational rage is often referred to as "hanger" (a combo of hunger and anger) and experts say it is a very real thing.

"When we do not eat, blood sugar goes low," explains Deena Adimoolam, MD, an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. When your blood sugar falls, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released in an attempt to raise it back to normal. But those hormones also happen to lead to irritability, which explains why you're so crabby when you skip breakfast.

Another hormone, called Neuropeptide Y, plays a role in hanger too, adds Dr. Adimoolam. Neuropeptide Y helps create a hungry feeling when your body needs more food—and it's also linked to aggression.

Researchers have documented the hangry phenomenon in relationships: A study from Ohio State University on married couples found that the lower the participants' blood sugar level, the angrier and more aggressive they felt toward their partners.

RELATED: 17 High-Protein Snacks You Can Eat on the Go

So when, exactly, does hanger kick in between meals? "It varies by every individual," says Dr. Adimoolam. "But the lower your blood sugar goes, the hangrier you are. It's our body's defense mechanism to get food ASAP." The tricky part is, hangry people tend crave cookies, pastries, chocolate, or candy, she says. These sugary snacks will raise your blood sugar quickly. But that spike inevitably leads to another crash—and you'll be acting like a crankpot all over again.

So what's a girl to do when hanger strikes? "Carry healthy snacks with you—like vegetables, fruit, and yogurt—so that when you are hungry [they] will hold you over until the next meal," says Dr. Adimoolam. Eating three full meals a day will also help curb intense hunger, and the freakouts that come with it. (Sign up for our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge to get recipes for balanced, protein-packed midday meals that will keep you full well into the P.M.!)

And if hanger sneaks up on you still, try to avoid any mentally or emotionally taxing tasks until you've had a chance to refuel, says Dr. Adimoolam. "Get in a meal and your mind will be in a much better place."

Source: Nutrition