In order to discuss the biochemical diagnosis of hypogonadism it is necessary to outline the usual carriage of testosterone in the blood. Total serum testosterone consists of free testosterone (2%–3%), testosterone bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) (45%) and testosterone bound to other proteins (mainly albumin −50%) (Dunn et al 1981). Testosterone binds only loosely to albumin and so this testosterone as well as free testosterone is available to tissues and is termed bioavailable testosterone. Testosterone bound to SHBG is tightly bound and is biologically inactive. Bioavailable and free testosterone are known to correlate better than total testosterone with clinical sequelae of androgenization such as bone mineral density and muscle strength (Khosla et al 1998; Roy et al 2002). There is diurnal variation in serum testosterone levels with peak levels seen in the morning following sleep, which can be maintained into the seventh decade (Diver et al 2003). Samples should always be taken in the morning before 11 am to allow for standardization.
I know the experiment didn’t simply bring me back to my pre-August levels because of the fact that when I learned that the original test I took can sometimes overestimate your T levels, I took a more accurate test around four months after the start of the experiment (I’ve continued the lifestyle changes made during the experiment) and my total T had gone up again to 826.9 ng/dL.
Miscellaneous: Sleep: (REM sleep) increases nocturnal testosterone levels. Behavior: Dominance challenges can, in some cases, stimulate increased testosterone release in men. Drugs: Natural or man-made antiandrogens including spearmint tea reduce testosterone levels. Licorice can decrease the production of testosterone and this effect is greater in females.
And remember, saturated fats work best (along with monounsaturated fats – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to LOWER testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFA's in a lot more detail in this article - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday.
According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone therapy can help treat hypogonadism. This condition occurs when the body can’t produce enough testosterone on its own. However, it’s unclear whether supplements can help. A study published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology found no scientific reason to prescribe testosterone to men over 65 years of age with normal or low to normal testosterone levels.
A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. For most men, no treatment is needed. But for some others, very low testosterone levels lead to a condition in which bones become weak and brittle (osteoporosis). For others, low testosterone might cause changes in sexual function, sleep patterns, emotions and the body.
Testosterone is necessary for normal sperm development. It activates genes in Sertoli cells, which promote differentiation of spermatogonia. It regulates acute HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis) response under dominance challenge. Androgen including testosterone enhances muscle growth. Testosterone also regulates the population of thromboxane A2 receptors on megakaryocytes and platelets and hence platelet aggregation in humans.
You can find a whole bunch of HIIT workouts online, but the one I used during my 90-day experiment was a simple wind sprint routine. On Tuesdays I went to the football field near my house, marked off 40 yards with some cones, and sprinted as fast as I could. I’d slowly walk back to the starting line, giving my body about a minute to rest, and then I’d sprint again. I typically did 40 sets of 40-yard sprints in a workout. I love sprints.
Important future developments will include selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These drugs will be able to produce isolated effects of testosterone at androgen receptors. They are likely to become useful clinical drugs, but their initial worth may lie in facilitating research into the relative importance of testosterone’s action at the androgen receptor compared to at other sites or after conversion to other hormones. Testosterone will remain the treatment of choice for late onset hypogonadism for some time to come.
Testosterone functions within the brain. There are several lines of evidence for this: there are androgen receptors within the brain; testosterone is converted to both dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estradiol by the actions of 5-α-reductase and aromatase respectively in the brain; steroid hormones promote neuronal cell growth and survival (Azad et al 2003). Testosterone enhances cerebral perfusion in hypogonadal men and that perfusion takes place specifically in Brodman areas 8 and 24, regions of the brain that are concerned with: strategic planning, higher motor action, cognitive behaviors, emotional behavior, generalized emotional reaction, wakefulness and memory (Greenlee 2000; Azad et al 2003). Studies of cognition demonstrate that older men with higher levels of free testosterone index (a surrogate measure of bioavailable testosterone) have better scores in tests of: visual memory, verbal memory, visuospatial functions and visuomotor scanning. Hypogonadal men have lower scores in tests of memory, visuospatial function, with a faster decline in visual memory (Moffat et al 2002). In a very small, short term placebo-controlled study hypogonadal men with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) treated with testosterone demonstrated a modest improvement in a cognition assessment score in AD (Tan and Pu 2003).
^ Butenandt A, Hanisch G (1935). "Umwandlung des Dehydroandrosterons in Androstendiol und Testosterone; ein Weg zur Darstellung des Testosterons aus Cholestrin" [About Testosterone. Conversion of Dehydro-androsterons into androstendiol and testosterone; a way for the structure assignment of testosterone from cholesterol]. Hoppe-Seyler's Z Physiol Chem (in German). 237 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.237.1-3.89.
Consume vegetable carbohydrates and healthy fats. Your body requires the carbohydrates from fresh vegetables rather than grains and sugars. In addition to mono- or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados and raw nuts, saturated fats are also essential to building your testosterone production. According to research, there was a decrease in testosterone stores in people who consumed a diet low in animal-based fat.11 Aside from avocados and raw nuts, ideal sources of healthy fat that can boost your testosterone levels include:
How do you boost testosterone naturally? Testosterone is a male sex hormone. Low levels can cause changes to the distribution of body fat and muscle strength. Testosterone reduces with age, but people can boost it with lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. Adequate sleep, nutritional supplements, and stress reduction may also help. Learn more here. Read now
Use natural grooming products. Most grooming products these days contain parabens, another type of xenoestrogen. And by most, I mean more than 75% of all products. To reduce my exposure as much as possible, I became a hippy during my experiment and started using all natural, paraben-free grooming products. You can find most of these items at most health food stores:
Findings that improvements in serum glucose, serum insulin, insulin resistance or glycemic control, in men treated with testosterone are accompanied by reduced measures of central obesity, are in line with other studies showing a specific effect of testosterone in reducing central or visceral obesity (Rebuffe-Scrive et al 1991; Marin, Holmang et al 1992). Furthermore, studies that have shown neutral effects of testosterone on glucose metabolism have not measured (Corrales et al 2004), or shown neutral effects (Lee et al 2005) (Tripathy et al 1998; Bhasin et al 2005) on central obesity. Given the known association of visceral obesity with insulin resistance, it is possible that testosterone treatment of hypogonadal men acts to improve insulin resistance and diabetes through an effect in reducing central obesity. This effect can be explained by the action of testosterone in inhibiting lipoprotein lipase and thereby reducing triglyceride uptake into adipocytes (Sorva et al 1988), an action which seems to occur preferentially in visceral fat (Marin et al 1995; Marin et al 1996). Visceral fat is thought to be more responsive to hormonal changes due to a greater concentration of androgen receptors and increased vascularity compared with subcutaneous fat (Bjorntorp 1996). Further explanation of the links between hypogonadism and obesity is offered by the hypogonadal-obesity-adipocytokine cycle hypothesis (see Figure 1). In this model, increases in body fat lead to increases in aromatase levels, in addition to insulin resistance, adverse lipid profiles and increased leptin levels. Increased action of aromatase in metabolizing testosterone to estrogen, reduces testosterone levels which induces further accumulation of visceral fat. Higher leptin levels and possibly other factors, act at the pituitary to suppress gonadotrophin release and exacerbate hypogonadism (Cohen 1999; Kapoor et al 2005). Leptin has also been shown to reduce testosterone secretion from rodent testes in vitro (Tena-Sempere et al 1999). A full review of the relationship between testosterone, insulin resistance and diabetes can be found elsewhere (Kapoor et al 2005; Jones 2007).
Many clinical studies have looked at the effect of testosterone treatment on body composition in hypogonadal men or men with borderline low testosterone levels. Some of these studies specifically examine these changes in older men (Tenover 1992; Morley et al 1993; Urban et al 1995; Sih et al 1997; Snyder et al 1999; Kenny et al 2001; Ferrando et al 2002; Steidle et al 2003; Page et al 2005). The data from studies, on patients from all age groups, are consistent in showing an increase in fat free mass and decrease in fat mass or visceral adiposity with testosterone treatment. A recent meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment effects on body composition confirms this pattern (Isidori et al 2005). There have been less consistent results with regard to the effects of testosterone treatment of muscle strength. Some studies have shown an increase in muscle strength (Ferrando et al 2002; Page et al 2005) with testosterone whilst others have not (Snyder et al 1999). Within the same trial some muscle group strengths may improve whilst others do not (Ly et al 2001). It is likely that the differences are partly due to the methodological variations in assessing strength, but it also possible that testosterone has different effects on the various muscle groups. The meta-analysis found trends toward significant improvements in dominant knee and hand grip strength only (Isidori et al 2005).
Studies also show a consistent negative correlation of testosterone with blood pressure (Barrett-Connor and Khaw 1988; Khaw and Barrett-Connor 1988; Svartberg, von Muhlen, Schirmer et al 2004). Data specific to the ageing male population suggests that this relationship is particularly powerful for systolic hypertension (Fogari et al 2005). Interventional trials have not found a significant effect of testosterone replacement on blood pressure (Kapoor et al 2006).
The finding of hypogonadism in diabetic men is not just a scientific curiosity, it may have practical management implications. Kapoor and colleagues (2006) undertook a placebo-controlled double blind study to determine the effect of testosterone therapy on insulin resistance and glycemic control in hypogonadal men with type 2 diabetes. They found that men treated with testosterone had reductions in glycated hemoglobin insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar, waist circumference, waist/hip ratio and total cholesterol.
Unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, short, intense exercise was found to be beneficial in increasing testosterone levels. The results are enhanced with the help of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting helps boost testosterone by improving the expression of satiety hormones, like insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucacgon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CKK), and melanocortins, which are linked to healthy testosterone function, increased libido, and the prevention of age-induced testosterone decline. When it comes to an exercise plan that will complement testosterone function and production (along with overall health), I recommend including not just aerobics in your routine, but also:
A lifelong habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities seems to keep the brain in shape. Intellectual enrichment and learning stimulate the brain to make more connections, increasing the density of nerve-to-nerve connections. That means the "educated brain" may possess a deeper well of connections and be able to withstand more damage to the brain from a small stroke without causing loss of memory or thinking skills.