T Nation

Caffeine Replacement?


Ok so I keep reading that Caffeine promotes Cortisol and stress hormones. That’s why I figure it may be bad for mass gain and muscle build, right ?

I found studies saying that regular coffee drinkers develop a small tolerance but still, cortisol level are elevated.

Recently, my caffeine intake increased a lot as I have trouble with attention. I drink something like 2 cups + 3 expressos a day. However I am trying to quit, but cant do cold turkey (headaches are awfully awful) and I am seeking replacement (modafinil ?) for this. I noticed that with caffeine increase, my belly fat increased (a lot). But as I stopped to smoke at nearly the same time, I don’t really know the culprit.

Questions :
1/ Anyone felt that muscle gain was easier when stopping coffee ?
2/ Anyone got a good nootropic replacement for caff ?


I think caffeine is really a substance that we need to look at in terms of a balance of pros-and-cons: for most people, a moderate amount of caffeine/coffee over the course of the day can have cardiovascular/cardiopulmonary, attention-related and – most importantly for athletes – performance-related benefits. You’ve mentioned a lot of the negative aspects of excessive caffeine intake, although I’d find it difficult to directly attribute fat gain to an increase in cortisol caused by a higher caffeine input.

I don’t see any reason to go “cold turkey” on coffee, unless you’re in the minority of individuals who really can’t process caffeine very well, resulting in chronic sleeplessness, heart palpitations and/or other cardiovascular problems. Keep your intake to about two cups a day or two to three espressi and see how you feel. Be sure to only consume coffee in the morning and/or before training, try not to reach for a cup after the early afternoon.

But again, don’t overthink the situation. I was into the barista scene a few years ago and used to drink as much coffee as you do; my performance did suffer in the aftermath of severe “caffeine jitters”, but I really don’t think that a cup too much on some days ever hampered anyone’s muscle growth. Enjoy your coffee. Just be sure to know your limits and to realize that – like any drug – caffeine indeed has negative side-effects, mostly associated with overconsumption.

Yeah I got some memory problems when I was highly stressed, slept little, and drank 300mg caffeine per day for a few weeks. I’m still recovering. I bet my cortisol was sky high n damaged my hippocampus :<

can you give link for studies regarding cortisol and caffeine?

Best way for me to quit caffeine is just to take little. If you drink 3 cups usually lower it to 2cups after 5days lower it to 1cup. Then you can choose occassionally not to drink one…

Here’s one study:

And another:

The latter study indicates, by the way, that cortisol responds much more drastically to mental stress than caffeine, especially in men.

By the way, try balancing out cortisol levels (especially post-workout) using vitamin C. This also has positive implications on joint health.


I don’t think a little elevated cortisol is going to make you as fat as you think.

Last year during my cut my 24 hour cortisol tested 2.5x normal levels.

I still lost bodyfat just fine.

Cortisol more so will influence how/where your bodyfat it stored. (the gut)

I also drink 2-4 cups of coffee a day on my cut, I’ve been doing this for a few months and I’ve only noticed positive effects. I won’t go to the gym without it.


[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

Keeps one lean, too.

Nicotine gum

Acetyl L-carnitine.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

A nice bump before the gym means more PR’s. Win.

Nicotine (gum)

Gingsen ?
T3 ?
Beta alanine?

Btw, Modafinil is quite a different beast than caffeine. I don’t think I would use it as a substitute for caf but it might be a useful tool for concentration issues. Read up on user experiences on other forums before taking it.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
Btw, Modafinil is quite a different beast than caffeine. I don’t think I would use it as a substitute for caf but it might be a useful tool for concentration issues. Read up on user experiences on other forums before taking it. [/quote]

Going off the original topic here…

There were some excellent threads regarding nootropics here a few years ago. Modafinil was talked about a lot. Caffeine was talked about some.

Brain Function Boosters: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/brain_function_boosters
2.0: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/brain_function_boosters_20
3.0: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/brain_function_boosters_30
4.0: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/brain_function_boosters_40