Can you drink coffee during a cleanse?

Doing a cleanse or detox has become a popular way for people to reset their health, lose weight, or kickstart healthy habits. Cleanses typically involve restricting certain foods for a set period of time. Since coffee is such a staple in many people’s daily routines, one common question is whether it needs to be avoided during a cleanse.

What is a cleanse?

There are many different types of cleanses, but most involve eliminating certain foods, drinks, and toxins from your diet for a period of days or weeks. Some popular cleanses include:

  • Juice cleanse – Only consuming fruit and vegetable juices
  • Master cleanse – Drinking a lemonade-like concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water
  • Intermittent fasting – Alternating between fasting and eating over set periods of time
  • Detox cleanse – Eliminating foods and drinks that contain common allergens or inflammatory compounds
  • Whole30 – Avoiding sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and certain other foods for 30 days

The purpose of cleansing is to give your body a break from digesting heavy, processed foods so that it can focus on eliminating built-up toxins. This is said to reset your metabolism, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and promote weight loss.

Why do cleanses restrict coffee?

Coffee is restricted on many cleanses for a few reasons:

  • Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep, cause anxiety, and place stress on the adrenal glands. Taking a break from it allows your body to re-establish healthy stress hormone levels.
  • Acidity – Coffee is acidic and can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Avoiding it gives the GI system a break.
  • Dehydration – Coffee has a diuretic effect, meaning it increases fluid loss. Many cleanses aim to flush out toxins and rehydrate the body.
  • Habit breaking – Part of cleansing involves evaluating your dietary habits. Cutting out coffee may help break reliance on it.
  • Purist philosophy – Some cleanses aim to eliminate all non-whole foods and chemical additives, including coffee.

Cleanses that allow coffee

While juice cleanses, detoxes, and similar programs typically forbid coffee entirely during the cleanse, others are more flexible:

  • Intermittent fasting – Black coffee is often permitted during fasts since it contains minimal calories.
  • Low FODMAP – Coffee is low FODMAP and allowed on this diet that eliminates certain carbohydrates.
  • Keto – Plain coffee can fit into a ketogenic diet since it has minimal carbs and no sugar.
  • Paleo – Unadulterated black coffee conforms to the paleo philosophy of eating whole, minimally processed foods.

During these cleanses, opt for black coffee and avoid flavored creamers or sweeteners that may contain prohibited ingredients.

Benefits of cutting out coffee temporarily

While you don’t necessarily need to avoid coffee at all costs when cleansing, taking a break from it for a few weeks can have benefits including:

  • Reducing habitual intake or reliance on coffee
  • Lowering caffeine tolerance so your body is more sensitive to its effects
  • Allowing adrenal glands and stress hormone levels to normalize
  • Minimizing acidity and GI upset
  • Ensuring adequate hydration
  • Promoting more consistent energy levels rather than spikes and crashes
  • Being more in alignment with a “pure” cleanse philosophy

After a coffee break, you may find you feel less jittery and anxious, sleep better, and no longer rely on coffee to function. This reset can give you a healthier long-term relationship with coffee.

Tips for cutting out coffee temporarily

If you decide to eliminate coffee while cleansing, here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Wean off slowly – Gradually reduce your intake over a week versus going cold turkey
  • Manage withdrawal – Headaches are common; stay hydrated and use pain relievers as needed
  • Replace rituals – Swap your morning cup for herbal tea or lemon water
  • Choose decaf – Decaf coffee has minimal caffeine so may be permitted in moderation
  • Take naps – Rest when needed as you adjust to less caffeine
  • Increase hydration – Drink more water since coffee has a dehydrating effect
  • Adjust expectations – Accept that energy lulls and cravings are normal for the first week

Coffee alternatives during a cleanse

If abstaining from coffee is non-negotiable for your cleanse, there are many energizing caffeine-free beverages that can become your new go-to drinks:

Beverage Benefits
Green tea Provides L-theanine for calm energy; packed with antioxidants
Yerba mate Less caffeine than coffee; aids focus and reduces fatigue
Matcha Provides steady energy and concentration from L-theanine
Golden milk Warming turmeric, ginger and spice drink that reduces inflammation
Bone broth Rich in amino acids and minerals to nourish the body
Lemon water Boosts hydration, immunity and digestion

Swapping out coffee for one of these soothing and revitalizing caffeine-free drinks can help support your cleanse.

Reintroducing coffee after a cleanse

Once your cleanse is over, you can slowly begin adding coffee back in. Be mindful of any effects like jitteriness, headaches, or disrupted sleep as you reintroduce it.

Start back slowly with just one cup in the morning for the first 1-2 weeks. Gradually increase your intake over time if desired. But you may find you feel healthier limiting coffee to 1-2 cups per day or even forgoing it altogether.

If adding coffee back in causes negative symptoms, you may want to experiment with the following:

  • Drinking half-decaf/half-regular coffee
  • Choosing a lighter roast with less bitterness
  • Replacing some coffee with tea
  • Adding milk, cream or powdered creamer to reduce acidity
  • Drinking smaller cup sizes
  • Choosing low-acid beans
  • Taking L-theanine to offset jittery effects

Listen to your body and be willing to adjust your coffee intake and preparation method to find what agrees with you post-cleanse. You may find less is more when it comes to this popular beverage.

The bottom line

During a rigorous juice cleanse, detox, or elimination diet, coffee is often one of the restricted substances. This gives your body a break from caffeine, acidity, and dehydration so it can re-set and rehydrate.

That being said, some cleanses like intermittent fasting, keto, and paleo do permit black coffee in moderation since it aligns with their dietary philosophy.

Going without your usual cup of joe for a few weeks while cleansing can have benefits like reducing your dependency, tolerance, and habit. And replacing it with herbal caffeine-free alternatives like tea supports the cleansing process.

When reintroducing coffee after cleansing, do so slowly and pay attention to any negative effects. You may need to adjust your coffee intake, brew method or additions to find what works best for your body after a coffee break.

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