Caffeine and Testosterone: Coffee Stimulates T-Production, Possibly Due to Increased cAMP

If you’ve been reading my older posts here, you already know that I’ve been somewhat of an anti-coffee guy in the past. That’s because research has shown time after time that caffeine consumption leads to dose dependent increases in cortisol secretion through stimulating the adrenal cortex

…And elevated cortisol has been linked to lowered testosterone levels.

Here are the mechanisms of action behind cortisol’s testosterone suppressing effects if you’re not yet familiar with them:

  • Your testicles produce this enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which normally protects your testosterone molecules from cortisol, but in the times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle.
  • When cortisol levels are high for a long time, the body directs more of its available cholesterol into cortisol synthesis, which leaves less of the good stuff for testosterone synthesis.

Based on that it would make great sense that coffee – which increases cortisol – would also lower testosterone levels. However that seems not to be the case, at least if there’s any truth in the studies below.

Just take a look at this:

Caffeine and Testosterone Levels

caffeine and coffee beansOne day I was reading studies about caffeine and weight loss for my fat-burner article.

I did find a lot about that and you can read about those studies here

…At some point however I found 2 very interesting studies. One where caffeine ingestion was able to increase anaerobic performance and muscle endurance, and another one where pre-workout caffeine increased maximum muscular strength on bench press and leg press when compared to placebo.

I decided to dig deeper and found more confirmation for the fact that yes, caffeine really does increase strength output and anaerobic performance in humans (study, study, study, study, study, study).

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that from a compound that stimulates cortisol release. Guess there’s a reason why the supplement industry uses caffeine as a base ingredient for most pre-workout supplements.

What I found next, was even more confusing (at the time):

a) This study showed that 4 mg/kg of caffeine taken 1 hour before exercise was able to raise testosterone levels by 12% in elite athletes when compared to placebo (cortisol was also increased by 21,3%).

b) This study showed that chewing gum with 240 mg’s of caffeine was able to furthermore increase exercise induced testosterone boost by 14% when compared to placebo. What’s odd is that cortisol actually decreased in this study (probably due to the chewing motion which according to research, reduces stress).

c) In this study, the researchers gave their subjects different doses of pre-workout caffeine (200, 400, 600, and 800 mg’s). In all groups, excercise induced testosterone release was boosted by the ingestion of caffeine, and the increase was most significant in the group that received 800 mg’s of caffeine (19%). Cortisol increased by 44% in the group which received the highest dosage.

d) One mechanism of action for this occurrence could be the fact that caffeine is a non-selective PDE inhibitor, meaning that it can inhibit the PDE-4 enzyme, which breaks down cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). As cAMP is a secondary messenger between cells and hormones, it’s believed that higher cAMP levels in cells could increase testosterone levels (one great example of this is forskolin). As caffeine can inhibit the PDE-4 enzyme, and therefore prevents the break down of cAMP, in theory this could be the reason why the above studies showed increases in testosterone, despite the fact that cortisol was increased simultaneously.

e) A 2017 placebo-controled study showed that when sleep deprived men (been awake for 24-hours) are given 6mg/kg of caffeine before aerobic exercise, their testosterone to cortisol ratio (T/C) improves significantly. The researchers write: “An increase in mean testosterone concentration post-aerobic exercise was only observed in the sleep-deprived with caffeine ingestion state”.

Bottom line: Caffeine supplements or coffee taken pre-workout once in a while might be a good idea. It seems to increase testosterone levels, despite the fact that it also raises cortisol. This could be due to the cAMP activation, the increased thyroid hormones, antioxidant content, or something completely different. Anyhow, it seems to work.

Conclusion

Even though caffeine increases cortisol levels (in most studies) – and cortisol is linked to low testosterone – it still has a testosterone boosting effect when taken pre-workout (possibly due to cAMP stimulation).

So caffeine might not be that bad after all.

If you’re not that big on coffee, there’s plenty of caffeine supplements on the market for you to choose from (affiliate link).

Caffeine and Testosterone: Coffee Stimulates T-Production, Possibly Due to Increased cAMP was last modified: February 12th, 2017 by Ali Kuoppala
Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance.
Ali Kuoppala
  • Larejando Hertz

    It must be noted that there is a huge difference in quality between the brands. Many of coffee’s negative side-effects can be avoided by choosing an organic high quality brand, buying whole beans and grinding them just before use.

  • Udinov Keiv

    I read that coffe is a complicated, and it’s more about race. I saw many studies that african people when consuming coffe their estrogen levels arose, but when european mates consumed Caffien their estrogen levels dropped. I remember the study mentioned that Coffe related more to the genes, so I don’t know.

  • Coffee is great. But the choice of coffee bean is very important. A high quality bean, that is ground and brewed correctly makes a night and day difference. Glad to see it can help with T-levels because I love a good cup of black coffee in the the morning.

  • schmolch

    If the conclusion is that “taken once in a while preworkout” might be good, then your headline is very inappropriate IMHO. Most people drink coffee all day long and there seems to be no reason to consider this to be a good thing.

  • Eli Zìháo

    Caffeine pre workout releases fatty acid use during training, even more so if you DON’T consume carbs pre workout. Im pretty sure Carb backloading was discussed here already.

  • David Lyness

    I don’t understand how your conclusion (take caffeine once in a while) follows from the scientific studies you reference. Were the test subjects in the studies taking caffeine once in while, or daily before each work out?

  • Majid Boroujerdi

    Drinking coffee is also a great way to enjoy a flavorful drink without gaining weight. Most coffee shops even have lattes with barely any sugar and fat. You just have to ask for it.

  • Andrew Powell

    re cAMP stimulation, over here in the UK they bottle it, lol. Great articles as always Ali keep it up.

  • AlessandroDonatello

    I love this site. It’s so evidence based.

  • Ali Kouppala, what is your opinion on examine.com? They seem to try to represent the ultimate authority on supplements, do you always agree with them?

    • Yeah I tend to trust their unbiased reviews, and if I’m about to buy a supplement it’s one of the places where I’ll always check for research.

  • Wasim Wazir

    need more evidence

  • Paul Arthur Walker

    This is very interesting, is it similar with yerba mate relation to testosterone levels?

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