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Caffeine's Impact on Peri-Workout Nutrition


For years now I have used caffeine not just in the morning but also pre-workout (in the past when my sessions were in the afternoon) to help with intensity. It has served me very well, especially with respect to dieting and as just mentioned with intensity.

Lately however I have been concerned with caffeine's impact on insulin sensitivity but more specifically it causing the release of epinephrine which is linked to increasing insulin resistance. My morning workouts are now at 6:30 am with me waking up at 5 am.

My morning ritual as of late has been to wake up, consume 1 Finibar with 400mg of caffeine. 6am: 2 scoops of Surge Workout Fuel, 6:15am: 2 scoops Surge Recovery, 6:30am: workout + sip 2 scoops CH, 1-1.5 hours after my workout has been completed: 5g leucine + 2 scoops of whey isolate.

How badly is the caffeine going to impact my insulin sensitivity during my morning workout and implementing Biotest products, how can I improve my peri-workout/morning nutrition. Thank you very much in advance for your time and help.


Yeah, I'm a college student and need the stuff to get the job done, especially during finals week... So this question interests me as well.


Well, this an interesting and very complex topic. I can give you some information, but a final answer has yet to be found.

Caffeine is a central stimulant that increases the release of catecholamines. Its pharmacological effects are predominantly due to adenosine receptor antagonism and include release of catecholamines. Caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity in healthy humans. It was hypothesized that caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity, either due to catecholamines and/or as a result of blocking adenosine-mediated stimulation of peripheral glucose uptake. The latter could not be confirmed.

400mg of caffein taken first thing in the morning will lead to an immediate decrease of insulin sensitifity of about 15%.
So the peri-workout nutrition protocol will be less effective. Additionally, the workout itself will trigger catecholamine release, which will have a further negative impact on insulin sensitivity.

BUT: Studies show COFFEE consumption to be correlated to large risk reductions in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Such correlations are seen with decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee, and occur regardless of gender, method of brewing, or geography. They also exist despite clear evidence showing that CAFFEINE causes acute postprandial hyperglycemia and lower whole-body insulin sensitivity.
Coffee contains many beneficial compounds found in fruits and vegetables, including antioxidants. In fact, coffee is the largest source of dietary antioxidants in industrialized nations!

When green coffee is roasted at high temperatures, so-called Maillard reactions create a number of unique compounds. Roasting causes a portion of the antioxidant, chlorogenic acid, to be transformed into quinides, compounds known to alter blood glucose levels. Coffee consumption may also mediate levels of gut peptides (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon-like peptide-1), hormones intimately involved in the regulation of satiety and insulin secretion. Finally, coffee may have prebiotic-like properties, altering gut flora and ultimately digestion.

So, trying to give you an answer: I wouldn't recommend to take caffeine right before the workout or the peri-workout nutrition protocol, respectively.
The caffein will have a negative impact and make the protocol less effective (my guess would be around -15%, but we can't tell without an adequate study, which will never be done).

As for taking caffeine as an ergogenic aid for college students, I would suggest to rely on COFFEE, not caffeine pills, for it's health benefits.
By the way: individuals consuming >/=6 cups coffee per day have at least 50% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those consuming </=2 cups per day.

Just make sure you don't have coffee and/or caffeine (if you can't live without caffeine pills) 2-3 hours before starting the peri-workout nutrition protocol.

I known, this is not what has been said so many times before, that caffeine pre-workout is good and increases focus and strengh output, etc. It does. However, I consider the negative impacts of caffeine pre-workout (via increased catecholamines) to be far bigger than its positive potential.

Rely on Alpha-GPC to increase explosive strengh and use phosphatidyserine for its postive impact on ability to focus, etc. (search for my other post about it - athlete can use up to 2'000mg a day).

Hope that helped a bit.


Thank you for your detailed answer Paragon, I was reading this topic and was also interested
by an answer.



You're very welcome :slight_smile:


COFFEE consumption is correlated to less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity.
Ok, Coffee is not only Caffeine, but anyway it might seem contradictory.
so, what's about the 90% of Thermogenics pills?


Is there a more common term for phosphatidyserine or is that what it's packaged and sold as? Also, I would normally drink coffee, but to get 400mg of caffeine which is what I've become accustomed to, I would need to drink a ton of coffee and getting down the Finibar, Surge brothers, CH and whey is already a challenge in that time frame...


No it's not. Read the passage about coffee again. There are many compounds other than caffeine in coffee. They seem to have overall positive effects.

As for the "therogenic pills", as you call them: Most of the popular fat burners available do contain a lot of caffeine and do increase catecholamines.
I'm not a big fan of this kind of stimulants and wouldn't take them 2-3 hours prior to training or over long time periods in general.
If you can't live without, take them in the morning, since catecholamines are an importent factor of energy mobilization and caffeine and other simulants can speed this up.


That's the name it's packaged and sold as...

Caffeine in the morning isn't that bad, since it helps with energy mobilization. If you have to take it, take it.
As I mentioned before, it may make the protocol a bit less effective. I personally wouldn't take it and just ease into the morning workout/warm-up. This by itsef will stimulate catecholamine production in your body and you should finally wake up...

If you continue to take 400mg uf caffeine in the morning, which is a pretty high dose, I would recommend not to take caffeine and/or any other stiumulants other times of the day in addition to that or on non-workout days.

You've become accustomed to the caffeine in the morning. You could, probably, reverse this and slowly lower the dosage.


I was planning to do just that; slowly lower the dose and phase it out completely since I am now training early in the morning. I may try the other compound you suggested above...hopefully that won't influence insulin sensitivity or some other variables involved.


Unfortunately I can't find any phosphatidylserine that isn't derived from soy.


Ok cool, nice post Paragon!


a bit off-topic but since caffeine can increase the release of catecholamines, do you think that ALCAR or in other words l-carnitine should be avoided too as it too seems to fall under the category of 'central stimulant'? or is it safe to use along the Alpha-GPC pills and l-tyrosine while on the peri workout protocol?


Hi Paragon, and thanks for the answer. I'm a bit confused though as to how consuming large quantities of coffee (6 +/day) can diminish one's risk of type 2 diabetes when it acutely raise post-prandial blood sugar and lower insulin sensitivity. (Just to save you some time: yes I realize it's "post-prandial", but 6 cups a day covers pretty much all waking hours and with the incessant snacking regular people do, they're regularly post-prandial)

Any infos on this?

Also, regarding the effect of caffeine before the workout, I'm hesitant about condamning it right off the bat. You're right about it's insulin blunting effect, but since the catecholamine have the same effect, it's a bit of a moot point. Furthermore, we have to take into account the non-insulin dependant factor of glucose uptake during strenght training time and acute post-training increase in glut-4 receptors. My guess is you're right that caffeine can hinder the protocol if taken too long before the workout, but it taken 15-20 minutes before it has little to no effect. Thoughts on this?


This is quite a good read about caffeine:



Wow, thanks for that!


I like my Spike pre-workout... guilty as charged! Sometimes you have to check things objectively - it helps me get more focused, and push more weight for more reps... I doubt caffeine is THE #1 factor of insulin insensitivity in trained individuals. It gives you a good workout and is thermogenic, why not?


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Yes, this is true. Epidemiological studies show coffee consumption to be correlated to large risk reductions in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Such correlations are seen with decaffeinated AND caffeinated coffee, and occur regardless of gender, method of brewing, or geography.
They also exist despite clear evidence showing that caffeine causes acute postprandial hyperglycemia and lower whole-body insulin sensitivity, which you mentioned in your post.
There is a good review that examines the specific coffee components for coffee's effects on T2D (a component of coffee other than caffeine must be responsible, since the beneficial effects exist for both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee).
It's by Tunnicliffe and Shearer. It was published end of last year (guess Dec 2008) in "Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism". If your interested, I'm sure you'll find it somewhere on the internet.

As for caffein's impact on the protocol. There are studies that show a decrease in insulin sensitivity in less than an hour after consumption. However, I have no idea how it would affect the protocol. I guess there could be a negative impact, especially if the caffeine is taken 60-90 minutes before the workout. One important point you already mentioned: although the number of GLUT-4 transporters in the sarcolemma increases with exercise, neither insulin or its receptor is involved. But that's still not the whole story.
As far as I can remeber, the exact mechanism responsible for the increased insulin sensitivity with exercise is still unknown. Regular exercise training also increases insulin sensitivity, which can be documented several days after the final workout, and again the mechanism is unknown.
I, for my part, wouldn't consume large amounts of caffeine prior to a workout for it's possible negative effects on the protocols effectiveness. However, I do doubt myself that the impact would be a giant one. We do have anecdotal evidence that caffeine isn't too bad in alliance with the protocol. Sebastian (DaFreak) uses Spike and made great progress on/with the protocol.


And a supplement like HOT-ROX which combine Yohimbe and caffeine prior to workout, with this timing of carbs in the protocol, Can they blunt the action of Yohimbe?

As the protocol can be used to fat loss (adjusting carbs)and adding cardio just after training for exemple, wouldn't it be optimal by the presence of insulin?