Most of us can’t imagine their life without this beverage. Coffee is the real black gold of the modern era, the universal fuel that keeps us going in the crazy everyday rush, the essential of any morning.
Throughout the last decades, hundreds of studies were dedicated to researching the effect that caffeine imposes on our bodies. And, honestly, some of these trials had absolutely unexpected results.
For example, did you know that caffeine can naturally boost your testosterone levels?
Well, now you know. But let’s dig deeper into the matter.
The Connection Between Caffeine and Testosterone
It all started when scientists decided to research the ergogenic properties of coffee, meaning its ability to boost physical performance. After all, it reduces fatigue, skyrockets aerobic performance, and even enhances post-workout recovery.
These short-term effects result from a series of complex biochemical processes, such as mobilization of calcium inside your cells (essential for muscular contraction), enhancement of lipid and glucose metabolism (which serve as a source of energy), and increased post-workout accumulation of glycogen in your muscles for a shorter period of recovery.
But it turned out that caffeine has also a huge effect on the endocrine system, increasing the levels of several hormones in the human body. You guessed it right, one of them is testosterone.
A study published in 2015 revealed that athletes who ingested even a low dose of caffeine (2 mg/kg) one hour before resistance exercise showed a significantly increased testosterone level compared to that of the placebo group (athletes who did not receive caffeine). So that you imagine this amount easier, an ounce (30 ml) of espresso contains roughly 65 mg of pure caffeine.
But let’s take a look at some numbers. How significantly can coffee increase T-levels? Another study researched the effects of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol by giving professional rugby players a single dose of 0, 200, 400 or 800 mg of the substance an hour before a resistance exercise session. As a result, testosterone concentration showed was increased by whole 15% in the 0 mg group, while caffeine pumped up this result by another 21% (that’s 36% in total!) in the subgroup that received the highest dose of caffeine.
What’s also interesting is that caffeinated chewing gums have a fantastic effect as well. In 2010 nine competitive cyclists were asked to complete four high-intensity training courses, each one made of four sets of 30-second sprints. Caffeinated chewing gums were given to some of the athletes starting from the second set of each training course. The results? During their period of rest, all athletes have shown a great post-workout recovery in testosterone levels (around 53%) almost instantly, but those who received caffeine had an extra 12% increase. This could speak in favor of using caffeine to treat overtraining syndrome (OTS) and the resulting decline in testosterone levels.
But hey, don’t rush for a giant mug of espresso just yet, as there is a counterbalance to the described effects that coffee and caffeine have on your body.
Alas, they raise your cortisol levels too.
Caffeine and Cortisol
In the same study we’ve mentioned above, scientists discovered that the rugby players who received the highest (800 mg) dose of caffeine showed a 52% boost in cortisol.
In other words, our body produces an increased amount of this hormone in response to coffee just as it would during acute stress. But when you come to think of it, this is a wise and natural reaction.
Cortisol, one of the most powerful fight-or-flight hormones, enhances the metabolism of fats and glucose in the human body so that they effectively serve as a source of energy during stress. Caffeine, in its turn, puts our body in a state of artificial stress with all of the classic symptoms: elevated heartrate and blood pressure, pumped up metabolic rate, prolonged periods of wakefulness and even insomnia in some cases. If it wasn’t for cortisol to counterbalance these effects, people would waste away quite quickly just by drinking coffee in the doses that we’re used to.
On the other hand, it surely stands in the way of us using the magic effect of caffeine on testosterone to build some extra muscle. Yes, caffeine boosts T-levels, but this practical effect is heavily neutralized by cortisol’s catabolic effects, as it mobilizes the inner resources of our bodies (proteins too, in those cases where cortisol levels are chronically elevated) and burns them up for energy
A ray of hope may be that cortisol responses to caffeine are significantly reduced in those healthy young folks who consume coffee on a daily basis. So don’t rush anywhere, drink your cup of Joe every morning, and know that you are on the right track!
Other Benefits of Caffeine
- According to the Public Library of Science (PLOS), it was confirmed that men who take 170-375 mg of caffeine daily have a much lower chance to develop erectile dysfunction.
- Drinking 2-4 cups of coffee every day may help you to maintain your weight on a healthy level, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Taking 800 mg of caffeine daily proved to be a great strategy for those periods when proper sleep is unobtainable. It improves reaction time, attentiveness and logical reasoning.
- Caffeine lowers risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the risk of depression and suicide.
- Drinking coffee cuts your risk of developing mouth or throat cancer by a huge 49 percent, regardless of sex, smoking or alcohol habits.
Caffeine is a well-known ergogenic substance, meaning that it significantly improves physical performance. This is a great effect for any athlete, but it turns out that caffeine has also a significant effect on your endocrine system: it boosts testosterone, a powerful anabolic hormone that helps to build muscle and further improve physical performance. Although potent, this effect is partly neutralized by elevated cortisol levels that also result from taking caffeine. Nevertheless, it was confirmed that drinking coffee on a daily basis reduces caffeine-associated increase in cortisol levels.