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  • 3 min read

If you’ve ever been in an active duty SOF unit it's highly likely you’ve consumed copious amounts of caffeine. There’s a reason the US military recommends caffeine as a cognitive and physical performance enhancer – several research articles have concluded positive effects that caffeine had on physical performance, vigilance, and marksmanship of sustained operations in Special Forces personnel.

Is it possible to develop a tolerance to caffeine?

Caffeine works by blocking certain receptors in your brain that play a role in sleep, arousal and cognition. Regularly consuming caffeine increases your body’s production of these receptors acting as a negative feedback loop and decreases caffeine’s effects. As a result, this means that your body will need more and more caffeine to experience its benefits. 

However, you can reduce your tolerance to caffeine by slowing decreasing your daily consumption. It’s probably a good idea to know the average caffeine content of the most widely used caffeinated products to increase your awareness around reducing your daily consumption. 

  • SOFLETE Octane: 100 mg per scoop
  • Coffee: 90-180 mg per 8 oz.
  • Mountain Dew (diet or regular): 91 mg per 20 oz.
  • Diet Coke: 76 mg per 20 oz.
  • Bang Energy: 300 mg per 16 oz.
  • 5-hour Energy: 200 mg per 2 oz.
  • Red Bull: 80 mg per 8 oz.

The other option to resetting your caffeine tolerance is going cold turkey. If you’re a habitual caffeine user this option will likely come with unpleasant withdrawals such as headache, fatigue, anxiety, or low energy. To reduce withdrawal symptoms, make sure you are staying hydrated. Dehydration can worsen symptoms such a headache and fatigue. To combat the fatigue that is experienced from going cold turkey, make sure you are getting enough sleep in addition to starting your mornings with a very cold shower and/or incorporating stress reduction techniques such as physical activity.

The US Army has found a way to improve alertness by up to 64%

If you’ve made it to the end of this article, bravo – because this section is the probably the coolest sh*t I came across while doing my research. US Department of Defense has developed and licensed an algorithm that provides guidance for optimal caffeine consumption to maximize alertness at your desired time(s) of the day. According to a senior research scientist who helped develop this algorithm, “We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine. Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness”. You are probably thinking to yourself, “oh cool, well how the hell am I supposed to use said algorithm?”. Well, these fine folks partnered with a tech company to produce an app called ‘Peak Alert’. According to the app, it uses your objective performance, sleep and other data to create a custom algorithm to support peak alertness whenever you need it. 


Madelyn is a licensed Registered Dietitian who joined the SOFLETE team after interning at SOFLETE during her dietetic internship. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the powerful aspects that nutrition has on the mind and body. Madelyn’s connections to the SOF community has given her valuable insight and a great understanding of the importance of nutrition, training and maintaining overall mental health for SOF members.