Coffee and Testosterone

Understanding Your Hormones Series

When looking at coffee and testosterone we're really looking at caffeine, the primary bioactive component in coffee. We are all well aware it is mostly known for its stimulating effects on the central nervous system. It acts as a powerful adenosine receptor antagonist, preventing the onset of sleepiness and promoting alertness. Beyond its wakefulness-inducing properties, caffeine has been found to have various physiological effects on the body, including its potential impact on testosterone levels.

When consumed, caffeine enters the bloodstream and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, exerting its effects on the brain and other organs. In terms of testosterone regulation, caffeine has been shown to act as an aromatase inhibitor, helping to regulate the balance between testosterone and estrogen in the body. Additionally, caffeine can stimulate the release of other hormones and neurotransmitters, such as cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, which can indirectly influence testosterone levels.

It is important to note that while caffeine is predominantly found in coffee, it is also present in other beverages like tea, energy drinks, and certain dietary supplements. The varying caffeine content in different sources can contribute to differences in its overall impact on testosterone levels.

The short answer: Caffeine has a mixed relationship with testosterone, some studies show that it increases testosterone levels in men, but effects other hormones in women. There is also the issue that lack of sleep can lower testosterone as can stress, and depending on your interaction with caffeine it can of course raise cortisol (the stress hormone) which is counteractive to increasing testosterone. Caffeine can also play a role in weight loss, which can raise T levels. So in this case, there isn't really a short answer as to whether coffee raises testosterone.

The Relationship Between Coffee and Testosterone: Mixed Findings

The association between coffee consumption and testosterone levels has been the subject of numerous studies, yielding mixed findings. Some studies suggest a positive correlation between coffee intake and testosterone levels, while others report contradictory results. Let's explore the scientific evidence to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between coffee and testosterone.

Studies Supporting the Impact of Coffee on Testosterone

Several studies have found a favorable relationship between coffee consumption and testosterone levels. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism investigated the acute effects of caffeine, derived from coffee, on testosterone and cortisol levels in professional rugby-league players. The researchers observed a dose-dependent increase in testosterone concentration following caffeine ingestion. However, they also noted an accompanying increase in cortisol levels, which may counterbalance the anabolic effects of testosterone.

Another study examined the indirect association between coffee consumption and testosterone levels through its effects on metabolic function. The researchers observed a significant rise in metabolic rate after coffee consumption, which can aid in weight management. As obesity is known to decrease testosterone production, the potential weight-loss benefits of coffee may indirectly contribute to maintaining optimal testosterone levels.

Contradictory Findings and Inconclusive Evidence

Despite the studies supporting the impact of coffee on testosterone, there are also contradictory findings and inconclusive evidence. A cross-sectional study conducted by David S. Lopez and colleagues found no significant association between caffeine consumption and testosterone levels. Similarly, a study published in the Nutrition Journal reported no significant relationship between coffee consumption and testosterone production.

These conflicting findings highlight the complexity of the interaction between coffee and testosterone. It is crucial to consider individual variations in response to caffeine, as well as other factors that may influence testosterone levels, such as age, sex, body composition, and overall health.

Caffiene and Testosterone Study Details

Below we will look at some of the studies in more detail.

Acute Effects of Caffeine on Testosterone and Cortisol

The first study examined the acute effects of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol levels during resistance exercise in professional rugby-league players. The study involved twenty-four participants who ingested caffeine doses of 0, 200, 400, and 800 mg in random order one hour before a resistance exercise session. Saliva samples were collected at various intervals to measure testosterone and cortisol levels. The data was analyzed using mixed modeling, and the effects were standardized to assess magnitudes.


The study found that testosterone concentration increased by 15% during exercise. However, caffeine consumption further increased testosterone levels in a dose-dependent manner. The highest dose of 800 mg resulted in a 21% increase in testosterone concentration. On the other hand, cortisol levels showed a moderate increase of 52% at the 800 mg dose of caffeine. The ratio of testosterone to cortisol, an indicator of anabolic and catabolic balance, showed a small decline of 14%. These findings suggest that caffeine has the potential to enhance training outcomes by increasing testosterone levels, but the increase in cortisol may counteract the anabolic effects.

Effects of Caffeinated and Decaffeinated Coffee on SHBG and Sex Hormones

The second study investigated the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and sex hormone levels. The study included forty-two healthy adults who were regular coffee consumers. Participants were randomly assigned to consume five 6-ounce cups of either caffeinated or decaffeinated instant coffee, or water as a control, throughout the day. The main outcome measures were SHBG and sex hormones, including testosterone, estradiol, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.


At week 4, the study found that decaffeinated coffee was associated with a borderline significant increase in SHBG levels in women, but not in men. Several differences in hormone concentrations were observed between the treatment groups. Among men, consumption of caffeinated coffee increased total testosterone and decreased total and free estradiol. Among women, decaffeinated coffee decreased total and free testosterone, while caffeinated coffee decreased total testosterone. These findings suggest that coffee consumption, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, may have some influence on sex hormone levels, although the effects were not consistent across genders.

The Effect of Caffeine on Other Hormones

Aside from its potential influence on testosterone levels, caffeine can also affect other hormones in the body. Let's explore the impact of caffeine on cortisol, adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, and estrogen.

Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

Cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone," plays a vital role in the body's response to stress. Caffeine has been found to interact with cortisol, leading to increased levels of this hormone. While moderate levels of cortisol are necessary for various physiological functions, excessive cortisol release can have adverse effects on the body's processes, including testosterone production.

Adrenaline: The Fight-or-Flight Hormone

Caffeine consumption has been shown to stimulate the release of adrenaline, also known as the "fight-or-flight" hormone. Adrenaline prepares the body for action during stressful situations, providing a temporary boost of energy. This effect of caffeine on adrenaline can contribute to increased blood pressure and heightened energy levels, which may indirectly impact testosterone levels.

Serotonin and Dopamine: Mood-Enhancing Hormones

Caffeine can also influence the release and availability of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play crucial roles in mood regulation. While caffeine triggers the release of serotonin, it can also extend the presence of dopamine in the brain, enhancing its effects. However, excessive coffee consumption can lead to addiction and potentially disrupt sleep patterns, affecting overall mood and well-being.

Estrogen: Coffee's Potential Impact

Some studies have suggested that coffee consumption, particularly in women, may influence estrogen levels. However, the evidence regarding the direct impact of caffeine on estrogen remains inconclusive. Further research is needed to determine the exact response of estrogen to caffeine intake and its potential implications for hormone balance.

The Metabolism of Caffeine and Testosterone

To understand the relationship between coffee and testosterone, it is essential to explore the metabolism of caffeine within the body. Caffeine undergoes extensive metabolism, primarily in the liver, mediated by cytochrome P450 enzymes, particularly CYP1A2. These enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of caffeine into various metabolites, including paraxanthine (1,7-dimethylxanthine) and theobromine.

Approximately 70-80% of caffeine metabolism occurs through N-3-demethylation, resulting in the production of paraxanthine. Another 7-8% of caffeine is metabolized through N-1-demethylation, leading to the formation of theobromine. These metabolites, along with caffeine itself, can have effects on testosterone levels and other physiological processes.

Understanding Individual Variations in Response

It is important to recognize that individuals may vary in their response to caffeine and its impact on testosterone levels. Factors such as genetics, age, overall health, and caffeine sensitivity can influence the body's reaction to coffee consumption. Some individuals may experience a more pronounced increase in testosterone levels after consuming coffee, while others may have a minimal response.

Additionally, the timing and frequency of coffee consumption can also play a role in its effects on testosterone. Consuming coffee in moderation and avoiding excessive intake is crucial to maintaining a healthy hormonal balance. Furthermore, it is recommended to avoid consuming coffee close to bedtime to minimize any potential disruption to sleep patterns.

Finding the Balance: Coffee Consumption and Testosterone

While the research on the relationship between coffee consumption and testosterone levels is still evolving, it is essential to approach coffee consumption in the context of an overall healthy lifestyle. Coffee, when consumed in moderation, can provide various benefits, including increased alertness, improved cognitive function, and potential metabolic effects. However, excessive coffee consumption can lead to adverse effects such as restlessness, insomnia, and potential disruptions in hormone balance.

For individuals concerned about their testosterone levels, it is essential to address any underlying factors that may contribute to low testosterone. Lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and adequate sleep, can all play a significant role in maintaining optimal hormone levels.

If you have concerns about your testosterone levels or are considering making any significant changes to your diet, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and health status.