8/30/13

The Caffeinated Cortisol Conundrum

Black gold dribbles into a cup as the dark red sun cuts across the landscape. The first bitter taste ignites an adrenal response that lights up the soul more brightly than the sun. A beautiful process occurs when an individual sips from the morning brew. If you engage in the practice of intermittent fasting or ketosis then I hope that coffee is already a fabric woven into your life blanket.

Cortisol is a hormone that we love to hate. If there was a hormone that Americans would make synonymous with an evil villain, it would be cortisol. This evil crusader is most popular for its catabolic, or breakdown, process.

What cortisol is less famous for is its ability to wake you up in the morning.

The hormone that turns your scratchy eyes into wide and awake ones is… you guessed it cortisol! When we wake up the kidneys signal for the release of cortisol which in turn helps your metabolism ramp up and your body kick into survival mode.

Cortisol is considered a stress hormone, because stress is required to activate it. When coffee is introduced into the body a reaction occurs at the kidneys. Cortisol is being produced, which in turn helps trigger adrenaline. 

At some coffee shop a disgruntled customer has thrown away their coffee, believing it to be his last cup ever.

Fret not though, because cortisol is not the worst enemy to have. In fact, cortisol is necessary for many hormonal functions. Some believe that without cortisol the body would spiral into an inflammation debt that it could never get out of alone.

 High levels of inflammation are almost always associated with an abundance of cortisol, and an abundance of cortisol is bad.

This is where intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet come in. A ketogenic diet is normally void of most foods that cause natural inflammation. Most people that practice intermittent fasting also avoid the usual inflammatory causing disasters. 

So with overall low levels of inflammation, increasing cortisol is no worry for the athlete.

Drinking coffee is not only limited to its cortisol based benefits. Besides helping wake you up  every morning, coffee will also provide you with a bounty of rich antioxidants hidden in each cup. Coffee is also a more potent stimulant when consumed on an empty stomach, or when someone is ketogenic. This is great for the hardcore coffee junkie, whom also loves to lift (guilty).


If anyone criticizes your coffee “addiction” just shrug it off and say, “I need the cortisol.” Drink up and Endu.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.