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Coffee and Caffeine – Commonly Asked Questions – Cortisol, Diuretic, Health Benefits


Caffeine is one of the absolute best ergogenic aids available; meaning, it enhances an individual’s energy use, production, and/or recovery. When caffeine is taken in moderate to high doses, major improvement is seen in resistance to fatigue, improved endurance, improved physical performance, improved alertness and focus, and clearer thinking, to name a few.

I get a lot of questions about caffeine, mostly from the everyday coffee drinkers. I’m a coffee drinker myself. I have a cup or two every morning and it’s been a part of my routine for years. Surely, I’ve most likely built up a tolerance for caffeine and need more than my morning ritual serving to really feel a huge boost, but none the less, it still gets me going and perks me up, as it does for about 80 percent of our population (55 percent are daily coffee drinkers, 25 percent are occasional).

So for this blog, I’m going to cover the most common questions I get about coffee and caffeine, and hopefully shed some light on subjects that you don’t currently know much about.

 

  • Does drinking coffee make me dehydrated? (Caffeine has long been deemed as a diuretic)
  1. To get straight to the point, caffeine is actually not a diuretic and DOES count into your total fluid intake. If you consume caffeine on a daily basis, like I do, you don’t just magically say, “These 24 ounces of coffee I consumed today doesn’t factor into all the water and other fluid I consumed.” I mean, don’t we all know some people who ONLY drink coffee, no water, and function perfectly fine? There have been a few studies showing that there are no detrimental effects of caffeine on 24-hour urine volume. By the day’s end of a particular study, involving military using test subjects, urine loss was very similar, whether the person consumed a high dose of caffeine via coffee or not.

 

  • Will coffee blunt my fat loss goals due to increasing cortisol levels?
  1. Cortisol is talked about a lot when stress and weight gain topics arise. In high doses, cortisol inhibits brain function, slows down your metabolic rate, breaks down lean muscle tissue, and increases blood pressure. Cortisol isn’t all bad though – in fact, it’s needed for daily function. This is where we need the balance.

As far as coffee goes, in particular – caffeine, it definitely increases cortisol. That’s one of the main reasons you feel more alert when drinking it – the cortisol release. However, remember in my introduction where I said I’ve probably built up a tolerance to caffeine, as everyday java drinkers have as well? Well, cortisol is another component you can build up a tolerance to. If you don’t drink caffeine often, you will likely always have a huge boost in cortisol levels. However, if you are a daily coffee drinker, studies suggest that your body alters the cortisol response – you’ll still release cortisol due to the caffeine, but not enough to even worry about.

 

  • If I drink coffee everyday, won’t I just become immune to the caffeine and build up a tolerance to it?
  1. Ding, ding, ding. Well, maybe… You see the tolerance level of caffeine in people will always vary person to person, due to our genetics. That’s why an 8 oz. coffee that can barely wake you up, has your friend awake for 48 hours straight. Studies are starting to find that the “tolerance” we talk about only applies to the effects caffeine has on heart rate, blood pressure, and the negative side effects. Chances are, you won’t build up a tolerance to the alertness and focus effect caffeine creates.

 

  • Should I take a break from drinking coffee every now and then? Is it okay to drink it everyday?
  1. If you regularly drink coffee, like myself, I don’t see a need to magically stop. Truth be told, there are a TON of health benefits associated with coffee intake, such as healthy intake of vitamins and minerals (coffee contains vitamins B2, B5, B1, B3, Folate, Managanese, Potassium, Magnesium, and other essential vitamins and minerals), huge antioxidant properties, increased metabolism and the amount of calories you burn everyday, decreased risk of many diseases – such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes, and liver diseases, as well as a lower risk of developing depression and suicidal thoughts.

 

With all of those good things said, coffee may not be for everyone. If you are highly sensitive to caffeine, are pregnant, have anxiety issues, high blood pressure, or suffer from insomnia, steer clear of caffeine and coffee. Only you will know if you can tolerate caffeine in controlled doses. However, if you don’t fall in to these categories, I see no reason for you to stop that morning ritual of brewing up a nice, hot pot of coffee. I know I won’t be!

 

Train hard; train smart.

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