Anabolic Aging – How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
As men age the more likely it is they will encounter a number of undesirable changes, both physical and psychological. It’s considered normal for a man in his 40s to experience body fat increases, low sex drive, reduced muscle, decreased motivation/self-confidence, less optimism, and fluctuating energy levels.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. While many men accept the adverse effects of aging as part of growing old, others live vibrant, healthy and active lives into their golden years. What is likely to separate these two groups is a hormone integral to male health: testosterone (T).
What are Normal Testosterone Levels?
Testosterone levels of between 280-1100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) are considered normal for healthy male adults. This highly-coveted sex hormone gives males their unique sexual characteristics, greater strength, enterprising spirit and behavioural traits such as assertiveness, aggressiveness, and fearlessness.
Testosterone levels of between 280-1100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) are considered normal for healthy male adults.
What is the Typical Annual Drop in Testosterone?
From age 30, men are likely to experience an annual reduction in testosterone of between 1-2%, culminating in a total T reduction of 20% in men over 60 years of age, 30% in men over 70 years and 50% in men over 80.10 As men continue to age, there is a reduction in the testicular production of T along with an increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), both of which act to decrease bioavailable testosterone.2, 10, 16
With advancing age, men often experience an associated increase in aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen (a female sex hormone that can suppress free testosterone in males). It’s been shown that even a modest increase in estrogen (E) can almost double the risk of stroke among aging males, who may also have higher incidences of coronary heart disease due to higher than desirable E levels.1,6, 23 All men need the right testosterone-to-estrogen ratio. It’s when T plummets and E is increased that we run into trouble.
With advancing age, men often experience an associated increase in aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
Add to this the fact that age related weight gain resulting from reduced T levels may also increase aromatase (since aromatase is stored in large quantities in body fat).20 This all adds up to more E and less T.
Does Low Testosterone Cause Weight Gain?
Low testosterone and corresponding increases in estrogen can create many problems for men. Muscle tissue is depleted at a steady rate. Fat is gained. The energy needed to thrive in competitive environments is lessened. The hormone that defines what it is to be a male can, when reduced and replaced with excessive estrogen, render men less male-like. In this state, one can forget about building appreciable amounts of muscle and enjoying the many metabolic benefits of a leaner, more muscular physique.
Testosterone: A Hormone for Muscle and Health
Testosterone is the most important male hormone for both health and anabolic (growth producing) reasons. Aside from being crucial for muscle protein synthesis and muscle gains, T, at optimal levels, strengthens bones, is cardio-protective, enhances libido and energy, aids cognition, promotes fat loss, boosts mood and enhances red blood cell formation (to name but a few of its many benefits).5, 7, 8, 19
Low testosterone, on the other hand, does more than limit muscle and strength. Physical and mental decline often occur with testosterone’s gradual depletion. Cardiovascular efficiency, bone density, mental acuity and overall quality of life are also adversely affected.
Testosterone is the most important male hormone for both health and anabolic (growth producing) reasons.
Testosterone levels approaching the lower end of the normal range should be closely monitored to ensure that they do not plummet to below 300 nanograms. It’s recommended that males over the age of 40 have their T levels assessed each year to ensure they fall within a range optimal for health and wellbeing.
What are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Often the first symptoms of low testosterone are diminished energy and a reduced zest for life. Increased fat on the abdominals, thighs and chest, with no apparent lifestyle changes to warrant the added adipose, is another possible indicator of declining T. Age-related changes may lead some men to investigate hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While HRT can be of benefit to testosterone-deficient men, there exist a variety of natural ways to effectively boost T levels.
Often the first symptoms of low testosterone are diminished energy and a reduced zest for life.
Taking T exogenously (for example, when undergoing HRT or, more dangerously, when taking anabolic/androgenic steroids) can pose a series of possible health risks. Diminished natural testosterone levels, peripheral edema (excessive subcutaneous fluid retention), cardiac and hepatic (liver) dysfunction and polycythemia (problematically increased levels of circulating red blood cells) are but a few of the potential risks associated with taking synthetically derived T.15
To enjoy the countless benefits of testosterone without the side effects, it’s best to maximize the body’s own natural T supply, rather than going the drug route. Below are several ways to boost testosterone naturally.
How can you Boost Testosterone Naturally?
Reduce Body Fat: As mentioned, the more body fat we have, the more aromatase that is likely to accumulate in these fat cells. More aromatase means more estrogen and more estrogen means less T.6, 20, 21 A combination of consistently-performed cardiovascular and resistance training in conjunction with a diet heavy on quality proteins (in particular the highly anabolic whey protein), healthy fats and carbohydrates will assist here.
Keep Training Short and Intense: Instead of taking over an hour to complete your weights workout, train for 40 minutes by decreasing the rest between sets and doing 1-2 hard sets rather than 3-4 less intensive sets. Also, use heavier weights for lower reps (6-10) rather than lighter weights for higher reps (10+) and periodically train the whole body in one session.5 Emphasize multi-joint compound movements (otherwise known as the mass-builders).
Emphasize multi-joint compound movements (otherwise known as the mass-builders).
Take a Reputable Testosterone Booster Supplement: Gone are the days when bodybuilders would fork our hard earned cash for T boosters of dubious efficacy. The product that is now on all lifters lips is TestoFX: an all-in-one natural test booster that works to maximize the body’s natural T supply.
TestoFX helps to suppress the stress hormone cortisol (keep reading for more on this test lowering compound); increases free testosterone while reducing the non-active forms of T (Sex Hormone Bound Globulin testosterone, or SHBG, and albumen-bound testosterone); reduces estrogen via its powerful anti-aromatase actions; optimizes testosterone receptor site sensitivity to encourage a greater uptake of T into muscle cells; and mitigates the testosterone metabolite DHT (which competes with free testosterone for cellular uptake).4, 24, 26 By doing all of the above, TestoFX has been shown to increase bioavailable testosterone from 5.9% to 28.1%.
Consume Some Saturated Fats: While keeping overall caloric intake on the lower side will assist fat loss, it’s good practice to include some saturated fats once or twice a day (a good juicy steak or two and 2-3 whole eggs per day is perfect). Saturated fat is thought to be associated with increased T levels.11, 12, 22 Male vegetarians, notorious for their low fat eating, have been shown to have lower levels of circulating T compared to their meat eating counterparts.13 Also, significant correlations between total and saturated fat intake and high testosterone levels were found when researchers compared the blood tests of 12 men following a year of regular weight training. But don’t overdo the saturated fats. Have no more than 10-15 percent (and 25 percent total fats) to round-out your daily diet.
Saturated fat is thought to be associated with increased T levels.
Reduce Stress: Stress (both mental and physical) blocks the release of testosterone by promoting chronically high levels of the catabolic stress hormone cortisol.3 Cortisol, a “fight or flight hormone” produced by the adrenal glands and integral to survival in smaller amounts, not only promotes greater abdominal fat storage (and with it, more aromatase and less T) but also directly blocks testosterone from exerting its powerful effects. Stress also prompts the release of a major testosterone inhibiter called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.9 The key thing to remember is that cortisol levels are inversely proportional to testosterone levels. The more we keep stress at bay, the more we can reduce cortisol levels and the more T we may ultimately produce.
Sleep More: Most people don’t get enough sleep. Since testosterone levels peak during sleep, it’s important to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted slumber each night.18, 25 In fact, several studies have shown that just one night of compromised sleep can alter testosterone release, leading to lower morning T levels.17 Sleep is also an underrated means to eliminating stress and, with it, excess cortisol. After a full night’s sleep we feel rested and more productive. Such a state is important when seeking to train with the utmost intensity. And as we know, intense training is one of the most effective T boosters.
Include Zinc: Aside from maintaining a well-balanced diet, those at risk of T deficiency should maintain a daily intake of around 25 mg of zinc, a critical precursor to T formation.14 Low zinc can lead to an increase in estrogen receptors, a decrease in androgen (testosterone) receptors and may also lead to the aromatization of T to estrogen.17 Zinc is also necessary for the conversion of androstenedione (a weaker androgen steroid) to the infinitely more powerful and anabolic T. To keep the body in a state of homeostasis conducive to high testosterone production, all micronutrients should be kept in the correct balance. Of all these important cofactors, zinc could be the most important for maximizing T.
T Boosting for Superior Results
Is depression striking for no apparent reason? Has the declining energy that previously allowed you to take on all challenges rendered you a shadow of your former self? Is your sex life in shambles? Are previously minor pains becoming an increasing problem and keeping you from fully participating in life? Perhaps it’s time you had your testosterone levels checked. As a first course of action, practice the natural testosterone-boosting methods given above.
For men of all ages, testosterone is the undisputed key to a long and successful life. Keep yours in the right balance to optimize health and wellbeing while enjoying the benefits of a lean and muscular physique into your later years.
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Hart, M. 10 Ways to Keep Testosterone Levels High. Huffpost. [Online] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-mike-hart/low-testosterone-levels_b_3486961.html – retrieved on 2.8.17(cortisol and test)
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Howie B., B., J. et al. Dietary and hormonal interrelationships among vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists and nonvegetarian men. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1985;42:127-34. (male vegetarians)
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