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  1. #1
    Registered User PeteB's Avatar
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    Tea, coffee, and cortisol

    I like both tea and coffee, but because of the cortisol connection, I usually cut back on both while training. (coffee and caffeine are generally thought to increase cortisol, which is an anti-anabolic hormone and tends to block muscle growth and regeneration) I also exercise in the morning, which is not the best combination with caffeine induced cortisol release.

    However, recently I came across a study which suggests that drinking tea lowers cortisol. Actually the study indicates tea helps lower cortisol when elevated due to stress, but that is close enough to get my interest up.

    http://news.***.co.uk/2/hi/health/5405686.stm

    I am wondering if anyone has other references or opinions, or results of any studies comparing tea and coffee with regard to cortisol.
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  2. #2
    Registered User ChocoChick's Avatar
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    This is the first I have heard of this. I have given up caffeine entirely because of the cortisol link (I think ym adrenals are stressed) so this is very interesting. Perhaps the other "stuff" in tea counter-acts the caffeine effects?
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  3. #3
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    I don't drink caffeine at all anymore. It's funny how many articles in magazines like M&F and Oxygen say you should have a couple cups of coffee before any workout. I wonder what's up with that?
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  4. #4
    Registered User PeteB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ChocolateGirl View Post
    This is the first I have heard of this. I have given up caffeine entirely because of the cortisol link (I think my adrenals are stressed) so this is very interesting. Perhaps the other "stuff" in tea counter-acts the caffeine effects?
    I wish I knew, sort-of hoping someone else here has another reference which focuses more on training. I use green tea to help even things out between the smaller than usual meals when I train, that's about as far as my knowledge of tea goes.

    Originally Posted by Fitnessfreak8 View Post
    I don't drink caffeine at all anymore. It's funny how many articles in magazines like M&F and Oxygen say you should have a couple cups of coffee before any workout. I wonder what's up with that?
    Caffeine is a stimulant which gives you energy and helps burn calories. It does not help build muscle though. Some people take large doses of vitamin C and/or glutamine on the theory that it helps block the anti-anabolic effects of caffeine, but I am not sure that has actually been demonstrated or measured. The fine points of how that is supposed to work are a bit beyond me... I've generally been more on the "engineering" end of the spectrum when it comes to training and nutrition and not the "chemist" end, so to speak,
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  5. #5
    Registered User Carl123's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PeteB View Post
    I like both tea and coffee, but because of the cortisol connection, I usually cut back on both while training. (coffee and caffeine are generally thought to increase cortisol, which is an anti-anabolic hormone and tends to block muscle growth and regeneration) I also exercise in the morning, which is not the best combination with caffeine induced cortisol release.

    However, recently I came across a study which suggests that drinking tea lowers cortisol. Actually the study indicates tea helps lower cortisol when elevated due to stress, but that is close enough to get my interest up.

    http://news.***.co.uk/2/hi/health/5405686.stm

    I am wondering if anyone has other references or opinions, or results of any studies comparing tea and coffee with regard to cortisol.

    Tea contains a very unique amino acid, l-theanine, which is found in the tea leaf and can counteract cortisol that is stimulated by ingesting caffeine. In fact, one can purchase l-theanine in a supplement. The purest form is made by Suntheane.
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  6. #6
    Registered User mature_1_59's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I guess I should read more. I didn't know coffee was a cortisol stimulant. I drink a lot of it. Maybe that's why I am having so much trouble losing the little love handles. Perhaps a switch to decaf or hot tea may be in order for a while as a test.
    I need to do some research.
    So...I say to a friend that I can't eat what she eats because "I eat funny". So she says "what does funny taste like?". So I say "Like rubber chicken".
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  7. #7
    Registered User Carl123's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mature_1_59 View Post
    Hmmm, I guess I should read more. I didn't know coffee was a cortisol stimulant. I drink a lot of it. Maybe that's why I am having so much trouble losing the little love handles. Perhaps a switch to decaf or hot tea may be in order for a while as a test.
    I need to do some research.
    In addition to coffee, a lack of deep REM sleep also contributes to cortisol production and to the body maintaining fat stores around the gut.
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  8. #8
    Registered User PeteB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mature_1_59 View Post
    Perhaps a switch to decaf...
    unless you buy higher-priced water-processed decaf, I would watch out. Most store brands of decaffeinated coffee have a bad reputation for all kinds of chemical residues from the processing, and for using the cheaper kind of the two main varieties of coffee (Robusta v. Arabica beans).
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  9. #9
    Registered User mature_1_59's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PeteB View Post
    unless you buy higher-priced water-processed decaf, I would watch out. Most store brands of decaffeinated coffee have a bad reputation for all kinds of chemical residues from the processing, and for using the cheaper kind of the two main varieties of coffee (Robusta v. Arabica beans).
    Yeah, I don't always sleep too well. I wake up and have to get a snack to put me back to sleep. I have been blaming it on the dog. (I blame everything on the dog...lol) Maybe I should blame the coffee.
    So...I say to a friend that I can't eat what she eats because "I eat funny". So she says "what does funny taste like?". So I say "Like rubber chicken".
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  10. #10
    Squats traps to grass Defiant1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PeteB View Post
    I like both tea and coffee, but because of the cortisol connection, I usually cut back on both while training. (coffee and caffeine are generally thought to increase cortisol, which is an anti-anabolic hormone and tends to block muscle growth and regeneration) I also exercise in the morning, which is not the best combination with caffeine induced cortisol release.

    However, recently I came across a study which suggests that drinking tea lowers cortisol. Actually the study indicates tea helps lower cortisol when elevated due to stress, but that is close enough to get my interest up.

    http://news.***.co.uk/2/hi/health/5405686.stm

    I am wondering if anyone has other references or opinions, or results of any studies comparing tea and coffee with regard to cortisol.
    Though catecholimine interaction is complicated, the caffeine cortisol connection is pretty straighforward. Caffeine causes Nor-epinephrine release (caffeine doesn't give you energy, it simply makes you use the energy you have at a different rate). NE is directly related to cortisol release via the "fight or flight" mechanism.

    Tea has less caffeine (as served) than coffee. So it stands to reason the cortisol impact will be less. If l-theanine really minimizes cortisol production or impact (haven't studied it, and on a casual glance I didn't see the mechanism), it could simply be the ratio of cortisol release/minimization for a particular individual.
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  11. #11
    Registered User PeteB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mature_1_59 View Post
    I have been blaming it on the dog. (I blame everything on the dog...lol)
    They have their uses... I often borrow a friend's dog when the cardio machines get boring, and I want to look like I actually have a reason to take a long walk,
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  12. #12
    Daimozz
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    ima switch to black tea.....and try it...tho i cant say i am a fan of its weak taste but maybe with some stevia it might worth a try.....i enjoy coffee because of the dark rich taste .....i there fore enjoy it black...caffeine is also a great way to speed up ur metabolism to loose weight....and give ur a short burst of energy.....
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  13. #13
    Registered User Carl123's Avatar
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    According to the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database "In animal models, theanine decreases norepinephrine levels, decreases symptoms of systolic and dyostolic blood pressure and suppresses the stimulatory effects of caffeine".
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  14. #14
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    how much effect can drinking a cup of coffee really have? i'm skeptical it makes any visible difference.

    plus as mentioned it speeds up metabolism. personally i LOVE coffee, and it plays a key role in my workouts.

    I'd love to see some sort of realistic calculation of how much coffee induced cortisol retards muscle growth. I read somewhere in these forums that chronic coffee drinkers develop a tolerance and cortisol is much less if you drink coffee daily as opposed to a one time spike in consumption. Maybe i can find that post somewhere.

    I think you all are throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one. JMHO
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  15. #15
    Registered User Carl123's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by skinny buckeye View Post

    I think you all are throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one. JMHO
    You are correct! As long as one does not drink numerous caffeine beverages a day or are not caffeine sensitive (some individuals develop anxiety or panic reactions from even low additions of caffeine or have hypertension and have been advised not to drink caffeine beverages), it is not necessary to eliminate caffeine from one's diet. In fact numerous research is showing that caffeinated coffee can lower the risk of diabetes, parkinsons disease (due to its raising the level of a neurotransimitter, dopamine) and liver disease.
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  16. #16
    Registered User PeteB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by skinny buckeye View Post
    how much effect can drinking a cup of coffee really have? i'm skeptical it makes any visible difference... I think you all are throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one.
    I drink a LOT of coffee, most of the time. And I am not against caffeine in any form, obviously. See my previous thread, here:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=2555381

    I was mainly interested in whether tea was better from the standpoint of muscle development, and if there was any basis for those study results. I think Carl provided at least a possible one. (Thanks, Carl)
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  17. #17
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    What timing...I just heard about the cortisol/coffee connection last week and started to think about my diet. I just gave up coffee this week. I love it and drink 8-10 cups per day. I'm trying green tea. I'm also going to try to make my main meals smaller and snack in between meals in an effort to smooth out the glucose spikes during the day.
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  18. #18
    Don't give me evils! SumthinOrNuthin's Avatar
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    I think there's possibly another angle to this research. Please excuse my lack of skill in expressing scientific stuff but .......

    Cortisol is a stress hormone. If someone is stressed, and in that "all I want is a nice cup of tea" frame of mind, then surely it stands to reason that when they've had their nice cup of tea they will feel better and their stress/cortisol level will drop?

    What I'm trying to say is, maybe there is a power-of-the-mind thing going on. I wonder, if they repeated this test on people who, say, drink Diet Pepsi every day as part of their 'unwinding from stress' routine, they would suddenly 'prove' that Diet Pepsi reduces cortisol levels?

    I find caffeine interesting in that it has so many uses. You can use it to give you a boost (sure, there may be a price to pay). You can use it to purposely supress (sp?) your appetite. Or you can do what the majority of folks do - drink it because you like it and the world won't come to and end if you have 2 or 3 cups. (Unless of course you have a severe reaction to it.)
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