It seems like today it’s a badge of honor to train every day until exhaustion. The ethos is to push yourself harder and harder every day. If that’s your philosophy towards exercise, you might be sabotaging your testosterone levels (as well as your 20 Mile March). Studies have shown that overtraining can reduce testosterone levels significantly. Yes, it’s important to exercise hard, but it’s even more important to give your body rest so it can recuperate from the damage you inflicted upon it.
Testosterone retains nitrogen and is an essential ingredient in the development and maintenance of muscle mass (Sinha-Hikim et al 2006). With a diminution in testosterone, muscle mass diminishes as does strength. Weakness and fatigue result. A number of studies have demonstrated the ability of testosterone to restore lean body mass (muscle) in hypogonadal men, while at the same time causing a reduction in fat mass (Wang et al 2004). Treatment of hypogonadal men with testosterone results in improvement in overall physical performance as well as strength as assessed by, eg, hand grip power (Page 2005). Because of decreased muscle strength and impaired balance, older hypogonadal men are susceptible to falling and since they may already be osteopenic or osteoporotic as a consequence of hypogonadism, they are at increased risk for fracture as a result of the fall (Szulc et al 2003). Men with low levels of testosterone as in androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, have a significant decrease in lean body mass and hemoglobin, while at the same time they experience an increase in weight, body fat and body mass index (Smith et al 2002). Treatment of frail hypogonadal men with testosterone, therefore, can result in changes in muscle gene expression, increased muscle mass, improvements in strength, power and endurance and improved physical function.
Testosterone is everywhere playing multiple roles from intrauterine life to advanced age. Table 1, the contents of which are always undergoing change primarily because of newly observed associations, provides an overview of the bodily systemic functions and patho-physiological states in which testosterone finds itself implicated. In some of these states there is a clear physiological cause and effect relationship. In others, evidence of the physiological role is early or tenuous.
In males, testosterone is synthesized primarily in Leydig cells. The number of Leydig cells in turn is regulated by luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In addition, the amount of testosterone produced by existing Leydig cells is under the control of LH, which regulates the expression of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.
Male hypogonadism becomes more common with increasing age and is currently an under-treated condition. The diagnosis of hypogonadism in the aging male requires a combination of symptoms and low serum testosterone levels. The currently available testosterone preparations can produce consistent physiological testosterone levels and provide for patient preference.
While it would be nice to buy a testosterone pill from the local supplement store and have your testosterone levels go up, such a magic pill does not exist. As you can see from the above rundown, while a few supplements may be somewhat effective if your T levels are already low, none will significantly raise your testosterone above a baseline level. Thus, the basics of keeping your T levels high remain pretty simple:
There are supplements out there that promise to increase your libido while also upping your testosterone. There are over the counter testosterone supplements and prescription supplements. There are supplements that market themselves as T-boosters, while also touting themselves as an aphrodisiac. And then there are companies that claim to have developed a testosterone pill that contains the triumvirate of male-enhancing properties: T-boosting, libido-enhancing, and even fertility-increasing. These supplement makers sometimes throw in an additional claim of muscle gain as well.
In fact, testosterone supplements might cause more problems than they solve. Studies have suggested a connection between supplements and heart problems. A 2010 study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that some men over age 65 had an increase in heart problems when they used testosterone gel. A later of men younger than 65 at risk for heart problems and heart-healthy older men showed that both groups had a greater risk of heart attack when taking testosterone supplements.
With the exception of increasing my fat and cholesterol intake, my diet wasn’t that unconventional. I didn’t follow a strictly low-carb or Paleo diet because recent research has suggested that a diet high in protein and low in carbs actually causes T levels to decrease. With that said, I was judicious with the carbs. I tried to get most of my carbs from veggies and fruit, but I didn’t freak out if my wife made us spaghetti for dinner.
Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Magine, G., Faigenbaum, A. & Stout, J. (2006, August). Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes [Abstract]. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 16(4), 430–46. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17136944
This is because your body is really good at self-regulating your hormone levels. So if you have normal testosterone levels, boosting above your natural base level may at best give you a few hours while your body makes, and then immediately processes out, the excess testosterone. This means you might experience higher than your average testosterone levels, but not by much, and only for a little while.
Epidemiological data has associated low testosterone levels with atherogenic lipid parameters, including lower HDL cholesterol (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003) and higher total cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003), LDL cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993) and triglyceride levels (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993). Furthermore, these relationships are independent of other factors such as age, obesity and glucose levels (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003). Interventional trails of testosterone replacement have shown that treatment causes a decrease in total cholesterol. A recent meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials confirmed this and found that the magnitude of changes was larger in trials of patients with lower baseline testosterone levels (Isidori et al 2005). The same meta-analysis found no significant overall change in LDL or HDL cholesterol levels but in trials with baseline testosterone levels greater than 10 nmol/l, there was a small reduction in HDL cholesterol with testosterone treatment.
Natural remedies for treating erectile dysfunction Erectile dysfunction has many causes, can affect any male, and is often distressing? Some people advocate several different natural remedies, mostly herbs and other plants. Here, we look at their merits and side effects, plus lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies that may bring relief for erectile dysfunction. Read now