Caffeine can really mess with hormone balance and especially in higher doses, as in the case with coffee.
There’s no denying that a well brewed cup of coffee can give you a ‘high’ to start your morning, becoming more chatty, optimistic and make you more productive. In fact, caffeine can make you feel, on fire.
However, what goes up, must come down, and when this initial ‘high’ wears out, it can leave the body feeling worn out and lethargic.
So, caffeine gives you a big energy at first, but as the body runs on overdrive it wears you out much faster. And it also does many other things to the body that we need to be aware of.
For women (especially with PCOS), it pushes adrenal function, so while you have more energy initially you could easily make more testosterone causing a worsening of your symptoms.
Here’s a short list of what higher levels of caffeine can do to for your PCOS symptoms and hormones:
- It can increase blood pressure, which can potentially increase insulin causing more inflammation.
- Increase cravings; when you come down off your caffeine high you’ll be needing a quick fix to bring your levels back up.
- Excessive caffeine can purge valuable nutrients that need replacing, making you at much higher risk for worse PCOS, PMS or menopause symptoms like cramping, moodiness hot flashes, weight gain, excess hair growth and acne.
- Stresses you out more. Caffeine can increase the stress hormone cortisol, which raises insulin which suppresses progesterone production making your symptoms worse.
Everything is moderation. That one long black, almond milk piccolo or sugar free coffee a day is going to be okay, so enjoy it. I know I do.
However, if you really feel like your PCOS symptoms and cravings are getting worse, try lowering your caffeine intake or switch to green tea. It is a much better choice as it has a tenth of the caffeine as a regular cup of coffee, plus it’s alkaline instead of acid so it won’t purge valuable nutrients.
If you think it’s time to cut caffeine out altogether, switch to decaf and consider giving decaf green tea a try. It contains a calming amino acid called L-theanine providing a nice energy boost that is sustained and may help to manage blood sugar and insulin spikes better.
Whatever your choice, be sure to pay attention to your PCOS symptoms so that your health is getting better, not worse.
Rochelle De Luca is a Sydney-based qualified personal trainer and co-founder of Re:Union Training.