T Nation


Okay, JMB has confirmed what I’ve felt for awhile. Coffee doesn’t always help you thin out. But, does anyone see a reason why caffeine won’t help with P+F meals still?

Well, has anyone cut out caffeine, while they were dieting or bulking and seen dramatic positive changes in body composition? it would seem that if the study JMB described was on the money, then that would be so. Oh, and consider this a bump, El_Machinae. Good question.

One thing to think about here is that while caffeine may hurt fat loss efforts, it doesn’t stop fat loss. Remember Brock and the Fat Fast? He drank coffee all day. I’m cutting back on caffeine for sure, but I’m not panicing like some people seem to be doing.

You know, this may explain something to
me. The thing that puzzled me about John
Berardi’s point here is that adding caffeine
has always helped me lose fat.

I was wondering if this might be because
so far as body composition results go,
I doubt that insulin sensitivity per se
is important… rather it’s differential
insulin sensitivity. If your fat cells
are more sensitive to insulin than your
muscle cells, then this is a disaster, whereas
the other way around is good. So I was wondering if perhaps while caffeine may impair insulin sensitivity as measured, perhaps the explanation may be that there is no adverse effect on differential insulin sensitivity.

But, that is hypothetical.

The point you raise above may clear this up at least in my own case, because the times when caffeine has benefitted me very obviously, it was with ketogenic dieting,
and also to some degree, prior to Massive Eating being published, with what you
might call reverse Berardi dieting: P+C
in the earlier part of the day and P+F
in the latter part (hey, I had it almost right :wink:

I have not tried caffeine with the Massive Eating protocol so I can’t say what my results would be with it.

I do know that I used to drink coffee just before my P+F meals (to get the stomach juices flowing). After a bit, I jumped on this whole thermogenic bandwagon, and started drinking coffee in the morning 'till noon (cup of water, half a cup of coffee every hour). And I got pudgy around the belly. This is all with very similar calorie intakes. It’s a shame too, because I’m having trouble getting rid of it.

If we could affect muscle cell vs. fat cell insulin sensitivity, it’d be a gold mine. Heb (bless his soul, cause I saw the light!), pointed out that insulin resistance caused the LIVER to covert blood sugar into lipids.

I think that we want the glucagon release during the P+F meals, and I don’t think caffeine will blunt this. I don’t know what I’m going to do for morning workouts now though, 'cause I’ve started to rely on my morning coffee. Maybe just one cup a day?

Reread the Fat Fast article, he drank decaf.

Huh. That kind of blows some peoples efforts right out of the water. Way to go JMB (BTW, those are my initials and my company’s name)
Myself and my training partners usually only use caffeine on an empty stomach before super early morning training or on weekends when we go to IHOP and mack down til we can’t walk. The coffee helps us stay awake while stuffing ourselves beyond the healthy point. It also helps with the elimination of all this food. When you train your ass off that is the kind of thing you can do and enjoy it. If you are drinking so much coffee that you are concerned about insulin and glucose, you probably have yellow teeth and obviously don’t understand that moderation is the key to everything. Unless you live on Salmon and straight up espresso beans. :slight_smile:

Well, it’s obviously possible to lose fat while using a lot of caffeine. It’s been done a million times. But I wonder if this may lead to gaining the weight back easily? Another question: Does the thermogenic nature of caffeine outweigh the insulin problem? Or is it vice-versa, or do they just cansel each other out?

That’s an interesting possibility, Bill. As for coffee on ketogenic diets, if you’re consuming hardly any carbs then insulin would insulin sensitivity be much of a problem? I’m also wondering how with increased insulin sensitivity post-workout (and decreased glycogen stores), the partitiioning of post-workout carbs would be affected by use of caffeine before the workout.

Anything that increases the flux of fatty acids into muscle cells will decrease insulin sensitivity. Caffeine, by increasing intercellular CAMP levels in fat cells, increases the activity of hormone sensitive lipase which induces lipolysis and increases fatty acid release into the blood stream. As the fatty acids are taken up by muscle cells the muscle cells decrease their sensitivity to insulin because they don’t need the sugar, they have fatty acids coming in as an energy source. Ketogenic diets similarly increase lipolysis, mostly through glucagon release, and will decrease insulin sensitivity because of increased fatty acid flux into muscle tissue. On a ketogenic diet insulin sensitivity is not as much of a concern because blood sugar is so low that one does not need to worry about the liver synthesizing fatty acids from blood sugar. In this state the liver is busy producing blood sugar from glycogen and amino acids. If one were going off a ketogenic diet to eat some carbs that would not be a good time to take caffeine. I do not see a problem eating the protein + fat meals with caffeine as long as the next meal isn’t a protein + carbohydrate meal. Since the half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours as JMB mentioned, insulin sensitivity will probably be reduced in this time frame. JMB recommends eating P+C meals the first three meals of the day and P+F meals the last three meals because insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning. One could take the caffeine during the P+F meals and in this case the lipolytic effects of caffeine would outweigh the insulin desensitizing effects. I would not recommend taking caffeine if you are going to alternate the P+C and P+F meals. You could also take your P+F meals the first three meals of the day and make sure you take caffeine no later than the second meal.

I wonder if the same results would hold up if the study’s were done on habitual caffeine users. Afterall, it seems to make sense that someone who hardly ever drinks caffeine could respond a lot differently to a high dose such as that used in the studies than someone who drinks it every day. I’ve felt another problem with stimulants such as caffeine is the body seems to adapt to them by lowering metabolic rate. I’ve noticed a reduction in morning body temperature (a good indicator of thyroid and thus metabolic rate) through the use of caffeine without any change in diet or weight loss.

Unless these studies by the University of Guelph in Canada were done on healthy training individuals instead of inactive people prone towards obesity, this study doesn’t prove much at all.

Ken Stark: Enjoyed your presentation; it made good sense!!!

Kelly Baggett: Your point is right on - ("I wonder if the same results would hold up if the studies were done on habitual caffeine users. After all, it seems to make sense that someone who hardly ever drinks caffeine could respond a lot differently to a high dose such as that used in the studies than someone who drinks it every day...") What kind of results would they have garnered if they had tested someone like me who has been drinking coffee since age 6 ?! (Ever wonder just who the hell these people/test-subjects are that get used in such studies?)

Now I'm left wondering what effect my 110 mg pre-workout caffeine dose has on the pro/carb drink consumed during my workouts and my protein/carb meal eaten 1/2 hour after my workout?! (Maybe it's time to quit?!)

Well this may sound ridiculous but whenever I have any caffeine I find myself STARVING and not for anything healthy. I have understood that it decreases appetite but I’ve always found the opposite (even if it is just a diet coke). I even steer away from thermo’s because all they do is wake me up and make me crave junk food. Does anyone else experience this? Why would this happen? I can’t even use the new MD6 for this reason even though the caffeine content is relatively low.

I sometimes experience the same thing but mainly from ephedrine and it’s derivatives. Lots of people complain about not having any appetite on those substances but I get an enormous appetite. I think what you could be experiencing could be one of several things:

  1. The sweetness of the drink you’re consuming is making your body want more sugar. (afterall how many people drink coffee, tea, or any other drink without any sweetener whatsoever - artifical or otherwise?)
  2. Your mnetabolic rate is increased and thus you need to consume more food. or
  3. Since insulin levels appear to rise higher when caffeine is used this would make your blood sugar dip lower soon after. So with a lower blood sugar you would be hungry and most likely hungrier for junk type carbohydrates.

I drink a ton of coffee. That being said, I recently checked my BF% with calipers, and using the 7 site method, I’m around 8%, and not dieting. I think caffeine is like anything else, it depends on the person. That or you develop a tolerance to it. Patricia also drinks alot of coffee, and is able to get very lean, and unlike me she gains weight easily.

Well, if you don’t mind me asking, what are the macro ratios of your diets and how much of the carbs are very low GI (on the level of lentils or grapefruit)

Alright, what’s the friggin’ DEAL already?! For YEARS I’ve been using ephidrine + caffeine during dieting/cutting phases, with pretty good results from what I can tell. It’s always been known as being “thermogenic,” i.e. raising the body’s temperature slightly, therefore causing it to burn more calories. Overall, does the reduction of insulin sensitivity caused by the caffeine outway the benefit of it’s thermogenic effect? What’s the bottom line: use it when dieting or avoid it like the plague when dieting? Help!

With everybody chiming into this topic it would be really interesting to have a caffeine roundtable if you will. I would be interested in hearing what other T-mag contributors think about caffeine in general? What do you guys think?

To Bill:

Yes, the differential between muscle cells and fat cells is important. But as I just explained in a message on another thread, the absolute value is also important. Here are three reasons why: 1. forcing your pancreas to
churn out large quantities of insulin puts a high stress load on the pancreas and can cause it to fail in some people. 2. Chronically high levels of insulin has several negative health side effects. 3. Insulin downregulates its own receptor, and this perpetuates a downward
vicious cycle. The more insulin present, the less sensitive your insulin receptors become. The less sensitive your receptors become, the more insulin your pancreas will have to put out to normalize blood glucose. For all of those reasons (and others as well), the less insulin you can get by on while still keeping blood glucose normal, the better off you are
(from a health perspective - if not also from
a BB perspective.)

Regarding caffeine and fat loss: yes caffeine will help you lose fat in the short term. But once you stop using it, you will have a rebound effect in fat gain. Also, short term strategic use probably isn't so bad. But long term chronic use is probably very bad. And the longer you use it, I suspect the worse the effect will be - both in terms of loss of insulin sensitivity and in terms of fat regained.

To Brian:
To answer your question: yes I noticed huge improvements in my ability to build muscle after stopping caffeine use. (After years of chronic use.) Fat loss is accelerated at first (for me), but as I wrote above, once I go off it, I experience a rebound effect for sure.

To El_Machinae :
You can selectively increase the muscle cell to fat cell insulin sensitivity ratio by taking: chromium, ALA, fish oils, CLA and (according to Cy :-) metformin. If you want to do the reverse and selectively sensitize fat cells, cinnamon extract might do that.

In terms of nutrient partitioning effect, I'm willing to bet that in the short term, caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity equally in fat and muscle tissue. But with long term use I think you'll find (speculation) upregulartion of insulin sensitivity mostly in fat cells, but only minimally in muscle cells. The reason I think this will happen is because: 1: your body will need to increase the sensitivity of some tissue to insulin in order to dispose of the blood glucose (or else you will start excreting large amounts of glucose in your urine - which is also a syptom of type 2 diabetes). And the research in type 2 diabetics shows that the body upregulates the insulin sensitivity of fat cells before muscle cells. Reason 2: real world anecdotal experience of many people supports this hypothosis (ie, chronic caffeine users seem to store carbs more readily in fat cells than muscle cells relative to non-caffeine users).

To Kelly Baggett:
Good point: chronic caffeine users would probably not have as much of a loss of insulin sensitivity from caffeine as would a caffeine "virgin." But I would argue that is because they have chronically suppressed insulin sensitivity to start. A person at 100% insulin sensitivity has a lot further to fall than a person with 50% insulin sensitivity. Doh!

To Professor X:
Yup, you're right: training makes a big difference because exercise improves insulin sensitivity. However, my personal experience is that you can't fully offset the negative effects of caffeine through exercise. Also, it would be nice if we could have all the research done on trained individuals, but that isn't the real world. So sometimes we have to make best guesses based on the research we have to work with. A lot of research that has been done on inactive people can still be universally applicable.

To Ko:
Yeah, I think you are right on in that the effect of caffeine can be highly variable depending on an individual's genetics. That is something to consider for sure.

My take home point WRT caffeine is that short term (maybe a few weeks) use for cutting up probably isn't so bad (especially if using a keto diet - note: carbs + caffeine = BAD). Remember, the goal in such a state isn't to drive glucose into muscle tissue; you're trying to shrink fat cells. But using it while on a mass cycle is definitely a bad idea. And chronic consumption is a *terrible* idea. Generally I think JB is right on the money with this one.

Note that I just wrote another response with some additional info on this topic on the thread with the subject: "JMB lays the smack down on Caffeine" Ya'll might want to read what I wrote over there as I don't feel like repeating it here.

This is a topic that is VERY VERY VERY very very very important to me, so I have done a ****load of research on this.