Metabolic Health

Caffeine & Cortisol Myths Debunked: Delaying Coffee Intake Doesn’t Work

by Mike Mutzel


Amidst the superabundance of advice on when to consume your morning cup of coffee to avoid spikes in cortisol levels, a fresh analysis challenges the prevailing beliefs. Let's debunk these common myths and shed light on the complex relationship between caffeine intake and cortisol secretion.



Sponsored Message:

Support your Workout Sessions and Healthy Hydration with the Electrolyte + Creatine Combo by MYOXCIENCE:

*Save 12% with code podcast at checkout


Antonio, J., Newmire, D. E., Stout, J. R., Antonio, B., Gibbons, M., Lowery, L. M., … Arent, S. M. (2024). Common questions and misconceptions about caffeine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition21(1).

Show Transcript:

Alrighty folks. Welcome back to another live session. We're almost live. In today's show, we're going to talk more about miss and misconceptions when it comes to caffeine usage and coffee consumption. I know this is controversial. A lot of folks are suggesting that you do not have coffee first thing in the morning because it will perturb your body's natural cortisol release or it may augment that, and other folks are talking about how caffeine needs to be consumed later in maybe 90 minutes or 120 minutes after awakening to allow adenosine to build up in the body. Now, both of those myths, it turns out, are not supported by actual science, and so what we're going to talk about today is a really great review titled Common Questions and Misconceptions about caffeine supplementation. What does the Scientific Evidence really show? All right, folks, so here we go. Let's dive into the research right now.

Okay, you're going to see me on this screen and this is what we're going to be focusing on today. Now, this was a recently published review. This was shared by a gentleman on Instagram Men at all. He has a great page. I will link it in the description below. This is the article that we're diving into. Again, right here, the title is Common Questions and Misconceptions about Caffeine Supplementation. What does the Scientific Evidence really show? So friends, if you're enjoying this live session, hit that like button. Be sure to leave me a comment in the comment section because I'd like to know where you're watching this from and if you indeed find this to be valuable. Okay, so here we go. I'm just going to hit the refresh session on this page, so it looks like we are good to go. Just want to make sure so I can see your chat on my phone here.

Again, we did start a little bit later, which I apologize for and we are here. Okay, so let's get into it, friends, because first of all, we need to focus on what caffeine mechanistically does. So it's a very popular genic aid. There are over 200,000 reported peer-reviewed articles about caffeine consumption when it comes to body weight hydration. People are concerned about caffeine because it purportedly makes you dehydrated. People are concerned because it purportedly damages your heart. There's not good evidence to support that latter claim. By the way, should you avoid caffeine during pregnancy based upon this review? I think the answer is yes or keep it very minimal. Now, the assertion that you should delay the intake of caffeine to allow adenosine to build up and do this, there's no evidence to support that. So if you like coffee in the morning, by all means you can have coffee in the morning and there's no evidence to suggest that it will somehow blunt the cortisol awakening response.

So that's important to acknowledge. What about caffeine and fat loss? According to this paper, no real hard evidence to suggest that caffeine enhances fat loss. It might increase upper body strength, but not so for lower body strength. But if caffeine helps you have a good workout, by all means go ahead and enjoy it so long as the consumption is before around noon because caffeine can perturb sleep. Okay, let's get into it now. Okay, I just have to point out Ronald Palmer is here and he's watching this in the sauna from New Hampshire. Is anyone else watching this from the sauna? If you are, you are a rockstar. I haven't yet sauna today. I might later tonight we will see. All right, so let's get into it. So what the heck is caffeine? Well, caffeine mechanistically binds to adenosine receptors because it's structurally similar to the neurotransmitter molecule known as adenosine, which in turn blocks the binding of adenosine to its receptor.

So much like melatonin, adenosine is important, is critically important, involved in focus, transmission, sleep, wake, circ rhythm, health and cycles and so forth. And so it's been suggested that adenosine buildup is what makes us tired at the end of the day. So if you can block adenosine from hitting the adenosine receptor IE consuming caffeine, you might feel more invigorated. But it turns out that caffeine also has some downstream effects, including increasing the release of various neurotransmitters known as epinephrine and norepinephrine, epi and norepi. As a result, caffeine can increase the release of these catecholamines and increase adipose tissue lipos and subsequent fatty acid oxidation, and it is a stimulant. That's where you don't want to have caffeine at six o'clock and go to the gym at seven. You'll be up all night. I made this mistake when I was a young man. I was very new to caffeine consumption, had a fedra caffeine drink.

These were pre-workout supplements back in 1999, and I could not sleep at all that night. It was really not good. I would love to know what your story's on with regards to early usages of caffeine. I do see children consuming caffeine and because caffeine impacts sleep, I'm not a huge fan of giving kids caffeine, although I don't think it will impact their bone mineral density per se, but I don't think caffeine is good for kids. Okay, now what about dehydration? There's really no evidence to suggest that caffeine makes you dehydrated. Don't hate me. We're focusing on the science. Please don't hate the messenger. This is what the science, this paper is really well written. Again, the paper that we're talking about is titled Common Questions and Misconceptions about caffeine supplementation. Once we end the show, I'll put it in the description below. Alright, so really no evidence to suggest caffeine affects dehydration.

What about dehydration during exercise? No real good evidence to suggest that caffeine negatively impacts hydration during exercise. Again, I read all through this and I highlighted the important things. What about caffeine and fat loss? Is there good evidence to suggest that caffeine enhances fat loss? Not really good evidence to suggest that. So it may increase lipolysis and things like that. But in summary, longer term caffeine studies examining weight loss show conflicting results may be due to several limiting issues such as standardization of dietary intake and other variables, including whether or not participants were caffeine naive prior to the enrollment of the study. Not really good evidence to suggest that caffeine helps with weight loss, but if it helps you have a better workout, helps you build more muscle and exert more energy and calorie deprivation during the exercise session, then caffeine might be beneficial. What about when it comes to strength?

It's really interesting that caffeine seems to improve muscular torque more so when the upper body in comparison to the lower body. I think this is incredibly fascinating. So it turns out that caffeine might be beneficial for pre-workout, especially upper body days. So what do you think about that? I think that's incredibly interesting. Before we continue on, friends, I just want to say I appreciate you being here. Thanks for hitting that like button. Let me know where you're watching this from in the comment section and hopefully you can hear me okay. Lemme know if the audio is okay. Let's see. So we have quite a few folks on with us live, which is fantastic. Folks are saying that they can drink their coffee in the evening with no major complications. We're going to talk about the genetics in just a moment, but I do want to remind you that if you're into exercise, a natural tool that can help you with your exercise session is the creatine enhanced electrolyte sticks by Mayo Science.

What makes this formula very unique compared to all the other electrolyte products out there is you have two and a half grams of creatine. This is the crea pure creatine material. The only creatine that's not derived from China, most creatine on the market is made in China. This is made in Germany, plus you get electrolytes that help enhance the absorption of creatine. Creatine helps with cellular energy during exercise. So you can save with the code podcast [email protected]. I'll put links in the description below my friends. Definitely check that out if you're into exercise. Okay, continuing on here, let's dive further into exercise strength. So it turns out that creatine, I'm sorry. It turns out that caffeine helps with upper body exercise strength. There's pretty good evidence to suggest that is the case, which I think is incredibly fascinating, but not so much with the lower body, which is quite interesting.

But it turns out that caffeine can help with exercise performance and strength, especially in the upper body. Again, in summary, the experts in this analysis say hopefully you can see this. Okay, lemme see on the screen here. Yeah, you can see this a lot better now. What about now if I make it bigger? Oh, even better. There we go. So it turns out that caffeine's ergogenic effects on upper body versus lower body strength are dependent upon the dose individual differences and muscular group size and activity. The advantages are situational and unique rather than inherent to either the upper or lower body. Okay, so that's interesting about that. It really depends I guess on the dose and folks, what about caffeine and depression, mental health and so forth? It turns out that evening, caffeine intakes, decreased sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and increased sleep latency, and that may be associated with increased prevalences of depression. So if you're going to have caffeine, please don't have caffeine before bed, especially if you struggle with mental health issues. It turns out that there's a relationship between caffeine and depression is highly individualized. While moderate caffeine consumption may provide temporary relief from some depressive symptoms, it turns out that excessive or poorly managed or poorly timed caffeine intake can disrupt sleep and negate mental health wellbeing. So that's not good.

Okay? Caffeine is known to be a psychoactive drug and so forth. It can affect the brain in different ways. It's metabolized through these different tcoe P four 50 enzymes, and there's genetic differences here. And so some people can rapidly clear caffeine while others cannot. And so that explains the effect of if you've ever gone to dinner with someone and they say to you like, oh yeah, I can have caffeine. I can have a big cup of coffee right before I go to bed and I sleep just fine, it probably is due to their high activity of the cytochrome P 4 51 A two metabolite. Okay, so let's continue on here. Excuse me just a moment. My mouse is giving me some grief. I want to talk to you about another aspect of caffeine, which we're going to get to, and that is this idea that caffeine timing must be really intricately timed when it comes to circadian rhythm health, so as to not affect adenosine metabolism and so forth.

But first, let's talk about bone loss. It turns out there is some evidence to suggest that in certain people, especially women, more than four cups per day is associated with increased loss of health-promoting minerals, which may exacerbate bone mineral issues. And so to summarize, the consensus is that observational studies and meta-analysis is that maternal caffeine intake is not really warranted during pregnancy as it's associated with adverse outcomes during pregnancy and may exacerbate bone loss. So that's something to consider. Now, the whole adenosine conversation is something that we need to explore and dive into, which I'm going to get into right now. My mouse is giving me grief, but essentially the evidence does not suggest that if you delay the intake of coffee or caffeine, that there is some sort of a differential effect on cortisol release and adenosine metabolism. Remember, as I mentioned, melatonin and adenosine are critically important in influencing the body circadian clock system as well as sleep wake cycles.

And how caffeine exerts its stimulatory effects is by blocking adenosine from binding to the adenosine receptors, and that causes a stimulatory like effect. But there's some thinking that if you wake up in the morning and there's minimal adenosine around that, you need to increase the adenosine pool in order to make caffeine more effective. That is not substantiated by any scientific evidence. So if you enjoy caffeine in the morning, if you enjoy a little coffee, there's really no harm in consuming it in the morning. In fact, various studies do quite show eloquently that caffeine might increase cortisol in the morning, and you actually want to increase cortisol in the morning. Remember, the body has ebbs and flows. What we don't want is chronic high cortisol, so you wouldn't want to have a big cup of coffee or a pre-workout in the evening time when cortisol should be at its nir.

So I think it's important to recognize circadian rhythm, health and physiology and the diurnal rhythms of these different hormones. But there is an ample evidence to suggest that caffeine or coffee rather needs to be delayed in order to get some of the benefits therein. And so there's good evidence to suggest that even eating food actually increases cortisol release exercise increases cortisol release. So if we were serious about not increasing cortisol, then you would never have a meal and you would never exercise. But acute cortisol elevations from exercise or from eating is justified and or warranted. Okay, let's get to some of your live questions. Again, folks, if you're enjoying this content, hit that like button. Let me know where you're watching this from, and we are going to dive into the live questions in the chat right here, right from the phone. Okay.

Do I like colostrum? I think colostrum is great for baby cows. I don't think that every human being needs to be consuming colostrum. I do think there is some benefit to grass fed raw milk, but I don't think that we should all be focusing on colostrum. Okay, S 27 says, I try to have one cup in the morning and one cup in the afternoon. I stay awake if I have a third cup in the late afternoon, so having excessive amounts of caffeine in the afternoon is going to be problematic for your sleep. I don't advise having caffeine in the afternoon. Try to keep it before 12 30, 1 o'clock. That's just my personal suggestion there. Okay, Mike, do you think Gatorade zero is good? It has no sugar, and the ingredients don't seem bad. I don't think there's any really good nutrients in Gatorade. It's crap, guys.

There's not much potassium, minerals, magnesium. I know this is a conflict of interest, but the myo science electrolyte is the best electrolyte out there. You're getting two and a half grams of creatine. You're getting 300 over 300 milligrams of sodium from 800 milligrams of real salt. You're getting 400 milligrams of potassium. It's a great formulation, over 150 milligrams of magnesium. Plus, you're getting trine way better than Gatorade. Please don't get Gatorade. It's crap. Okay. Hello from Victoria Australia, soaking up the sun while I listen. Just finished my upper body workout, but no caffeine as I don't like it very much. Cheers for all the great content. Thank you for being here, Marto. Okay, Robin says, I take the sticks, electrolytes in the morning. Cool. Robin, what have you noticed since taking the electrolyte sticks? Watching from Iowa, watching from Ormond Beach, Florida. Hello from Idaho.

Robin says, I drink my coffee even later at night. Still sleep like a baby. Metabolism all screwed up. No, that probably has to do with your cycon P 4 51, A two enzyme. A lot of people have different variability in the activity of this enzyme and that might impact your metabolism of caffeine. Great questions, folks. Okay, Joshua says, does waiting an hour after waking up before having coffee help avoid the crash? There's really no evidence to support that, and so if you like caffeine in the morning or I like coffee in the morning, just go for it. No big deal. Sarah says, controlled stress, which would be what exercise is different than being in a constant state of stress. Yes, Sarah, and having a little bit of coffee in the morning is not going to be a constant state of stress for most people. Cory says, I was way more sensitive to caffeine after switching to a carnival diet. That's interesting. Thank you for sharing that. Corey, are there any pre-workout approved by NSF that you recommend? Yeah, so the National Sanitary Foundation has an NSF certified for sport. I don't know of a really, really good pre-workout certified by them. Just give me half a second, guys, what I'm going to do here is turn off this light.

Hopefully that's a little bit better. It was a little bit blown out there. All right, much, much better. Here we go. Okay. Joel says, I don't like coffee. What are your thoughts on sugar-free energy drinks for caffeine? Yeah. Most energy drinks have less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Some of 'em have multiple servings, which you really don't want. I'm okay so long as you consume it earlier in the day. That's the important point with the energy drinks. The USP caffeine content is going to be quite high oftentimes, and that can be problematic, especially for sleep. Patrick Price says any truth that caffeine inhibits production of collagen in the body. That was not collagen and bone mineral density was talked about in this paper that hopefully you can. Can you see this paper? Ah, it's going to be hard for you to see. Not really good evidence to suggest that caffeine inhibits collagen production.

Okay. What whey proteins would you recommend? Yes, so we're getting some really good questions about all things protein, nutrition and so forth. What would I recommend for grass-fed whey protein? Well, I would recommend just go into my There is an amazing grass fed whey protein concentrate. That's the WHE that you want. So you can click the link in the description below and check out customer favorites. The whey protein is there. That's what I would recommend. It's a grass fed whey concentrate. That's the protein that you want. You want to concentrate, not an isolate or a casein protein. Those are not good. Great questions though, guys and gals. Great, great questions. What else do we have? Sarah says, I've cut way back on coffee, but it's my go-to Migraine Cure. Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. Sarah Jordan says, coffee first in the morning just makes me feel on edge and raises my blood pressure.

Waiting until noon actually makes it more enjoyable. See, this is the thing. Individualized caffeine approaches, friends. There is not a one size cure all or for folks, just do what works for you, tinker and test. That's what this is all about. Whether it's caffeine, whether it's exercise, whether it's berberine, whatever the thing is, just tinker around with it. Everyone, we're all so different. T Brown says, I wake up at seven, eat breakfast at eight, coffee at 10. Boom. That sounds like a great strategy. T Brown, thank you for that. Joseph Jones says, I have one or two cups of water in the first hour of waking, which will still wake you up, your organs too. Then I have caffeine. Perfect. That sounds amazing. Raul. Hello, Mike. Hello, Raul. Thank you for being here. Yeah, I'm not again, F coffee works for you have it. I do a little bit of caffeine in the morning. I do an organic espresso with some whole raw milk later in the day. I do a little green tea around 11 or 12. That's just what works for me. The camping carnivore says, why does coffee before bed help hypnic headaches? I was getting them multiple times per week. Coffee before bed has gotten rid of them. That's interesting. I have no idea why that works.

Okay, Veronica says, if I have high cortisol, should I avoid caffeine or can I do decaf? The only problem with decaf, Veronica is I don't know how you decaffeinate coffee. I mean, what sort of hexanes or compounds? Is it a water extract? Is it a CO2 extraction? I'm not sure. I would rather just do straight up coffee. Pyrus says, does caffeine improve cognitive abilities and functioning? It does, and it does so by impacting the neurotransmitters, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. So if you really need to focus, you need to read a lot, and you find that boost in noree and epi, then you might want to benefit from little caffeine, but tinker around with it again, have it earlier in the day. Okay.

Veronica also says, if I have high cortisol already, should I avoid caffeine? This myth that we have high cortisol, some people have what's known as circadian rhythm disruption, and they have a low cortisol awakening response and then a cortisol peak later in the day. That can be problematic. And so we really need to differentiate chronically high cortisol from circadian rhythm disruption, and so I do recommend the Dutch plus test. This will look at your circadian cortisol awakening response and the normal natural ebb and flow in cortisol. We want a strong cortisol peak in the morning and we want it to drop down. So again, if you're having caffeine in the afternoon, that's going to perturb your body circadian clock system and possibly change sleep wake cycles in a negative way. So having caffeine in the earlier part of the day or coffee, green tea and so forth is a better aspect.

So friends, was this helpful? Hopefully it was hit that like button if so. I very much appreciate all of you being here. Your comments are really, really helpful. I'm going to go back and read some of these amazing live comments here and further expound upon this in another video. But have a great rest of your evening. If you haven't yet lifted, please go lift weights. Go for a walk tonight. The days are getting longer and longer. I'm doing much more exercise outside as I hope you are as well. We will catch you on a future live session next Tuesday. Have an awesome rest of your day and I look forward to catching up with you all very, very soon. Until then, be well. Bye now.


Leave a Reply