I penned a blog posting several weeks back in which I provided a detailed analysis using anecdotal and scientific evidence to show that ingesting caffeine before working out can provide a noteworthy boost to our training performance (link: Can Caffeine Really Improve Exercise Performance?).
I decided to do some follow up research to find out what other practical benefits caffeine may be able to provide. I was expecting to find ample evidence of caffeine being an effective fat burner, which I did.
But the reason I’m typing right now has to do with a rather profound finding I came across as it relates to the link between caffeine and testosterone.
This is a perfect example of what I love about reading and researching health and fitness related information. It seems that there’s always something out there that can be learned and taken advantage of to better feed and/or exercise our bodies for the results we desire to achieve.
Studies Linking Caffeine and Testosterone Production
In addition to the fact that I found multiple studies concluding that caffeine ingested before and during exercise leads to an increase in testosterone, the studies were also performed on human subjects. So, as opposed to studies conducted on rodents, the studies we’re going to be looking at won’t force us to speculate as to how the results might translate to human biology.
Caffeine and Testosterone: Study #1
This study was conducted on 24 professional rugby players (assumed to be all males, though not explicitly stated). The rugby players ingested caffeine doses of 0, 200, 400, and 800 mg in random order 1 hr before resistance training.
Saliva samples were used to measure testosterone concentrations at the time of caffeine ingestion, at 15-min intervals throughout each training session, and 15 and 30 min after the session. It was found that testosterone levels increased by an average of 15% during exercise for those who ingested caffeine.
Furthermore, the group receiving the highest dose of caffeine experienced the greatest increase in testosterone, at an average of 21% more testosterone.
The study notes that cortisol measurements also increased, but it isn’t clear to what degree, if any, this might negate the additional testosterone produced via the apparent caffeine-triggered biological pathways.
Caffeine and Testosterone: Study #2
The next study aimed to determine whether caffeine ingestion would increase the workload voluntarily chosen by athletes in a limited-sleep state. Not surprisingly, the study confirmed that caffeine increased exercise performance among all participants and provided the greatest benefits to the sleep-deprived subjects.
As it pertains to the link between caffeine and testosterone production, it was also documented in this study that testosterone response to exercise was greater with those using caffeine when compared with those using the placebo.
In other words, those that ingested caffeine prior to training experienced an increase in testosterone not experienced by those who didn’t ingest caffeine before training.
Caffeine and Testosterone: Study #3
This study was conducted on nine male cyclists who completed four high-intensity sprinting sessions, consisting of four sets of five 30-second sprints. Either 240 mg of caffeine or placebo was administered via chewing gum following the second set of five sprints.
Saliva testosterone levels were measured to be 12% higher among the cyclists that received the 240 mg of caffeine compared to the cyclists that received the placebo.
An interesting side note within the published results of this study was the statement that cortisol levels were actually lower among the cyclists receiving caffeine mid-workout. It’s not entirely clear as to why cortisol decreased among those ingesting caffeine in this study, while it increased among the participants in the first study we looked at above.
Although, the three obvious differences between these studies are the type of training (i.e. resistance training versus sprinting), timing of when the caffeine was ingested (1 hour before training versus mid-training), and the amount of caffeine ingested.
I can’t be dogmatic about this, but my feeling based on this small amount of information is that the testosterone-enhancing benefits provided by caffeine will be most beneficial when caffeine is ingested as close to the start of a training session as possible (or even mid training session) with a modest amount of caffeine being consumed (1-3 cups of coffee).
Considering only the studies examined above, this combination logically appears to provide increased exercise performance, minimal elevation of cortisol (or even a decrease), and amplified testosterone levels.
For an added shot of testosterone boosting goodness, be sure to drink your coffee with a little coconut oil (see Research Confirms Coconut Oil Increases Testosterone).
Who knew we could get all those benefits just by ingesting a little caffeine before or while we train?
Share your thoughts on caffeine’s impact on testosterone production by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.
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