What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male sex characteristic hormone and anabolic steroid. Although testosterone is produced in both males and females in the gonads and adrenal glands, it is produced at a much higher rate in men. Testosterone is an androgen, which means that it is a hormone that stimulates and regulates the development of male characteristics by binding to androgen receptors.
What Effects Does Testosterone Produce?
Among other effects, testosterone drives an increase in height, muscle mass, body and pubic hair, size of the testes and penis, sex drive, and aggression.
How are Testosterone Levels Regulated in the Body?
The hypothalamus and pituitary gland, both located near the base of the brain, regulate testosterone levels within the body. The regulation of testosterone is a cycle that starts at the hypothalamus. When gonadotrophin-releasing hormone released from the hypothalamus reaches the pituitary gland, the pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone, which travels through the bloodstream to the gonads. This luteinizing hormone in turn signals for the production and release of testosterone. In order to prevent the accumulation of excessive levels of testosterone in the body, increased testosterone blood levels act as a signal to the hypothalamus to suppress the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.
In short, the regulation of testosterone is a well-oiled feedback mechanism. Increased gonadotrophin-releasing hormone leads to increased testosterone production, which decreases the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone. It might be helpful to imagine the simplified version of this process as a seesaw with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone levels on one end and testosterone levels on the other.
What are my testosterone levels?
As you can probably tell, testosterone levels are an extremely important component to both physical and mental health. If you’re wondering what your testosterone levels are, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.
In adult males, testosterone levels naturally decline with age as shown in the graph below. Thus men that are middle-aged and older are more likely to notice the effects of low testosterone.
(“What Is a Normal Testosterone Level for Sexually-Active Men?” Get a Life, 8 Oct. 2013, www.gll-getalife.com/get-ripped?start=18. )
The most precise way to measure testosterone levels is to ask your doctor for a blood test. However, there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” number, because everyone has a different healthy balance. Your exact testosterone blood levels are only meaningful in the context of the rest of your body.
That being said, symptoms of low testosterone are pretty similar for all adult males. The common symptoms include the following:
- Decrease in body and facial hair
- Difficulty focusing
- Gynecomastia (Enlarged Male Breast Tissue)
- Increased body fat
- Lack of sex drive
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low energy
How can I raise my testosterone levels?
If you think that you might have low testosterone, exercise, lifestyle, diet, and supplementation can all provide possible solutions.
For those with abdominal fat, weight loss is likely the most effective way to boost testosterone. In fact, obesity is the most reliable known indicator for low testosterone. This is because fat cells contain large amounts of an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. Thus, by burning fat cells, the body is able to retain higher testosterone levels. With higher testosterone levels, you will likely feel more energized and motivated to hit the gym forming a positive feedback loop for your health.
Even if you’re in great shape, exercise is an effective way to elevate testosterone levels. Since increased muscle mass promotes testosterone production, high-intensity weightlifting is the recommended form of exercise.
On the other hand, chronic endurance exercises, like running and cycling for hours, tend to lower testosterone and raise cortisol levels. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that endurance exercises in moderation are healthy for both testosterone production and heart health.
Sleeping eight hours a day and avoiding excessive levels of stress are both important factors in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
An experiment that tested the link between sleep and testosterone found that males who slept five hours a night had testosterone levels that were nearly 15% lower than males who slept eight hours a night.
Another study found a link between increases in stress induced cortisol levels and an acute drop in testosterone levels. So, avoiding situations that induce excessive amounts of stress and going to bed early are both
Diet is another often overlooked component of testosterone levels. Proteins, carbs, and fats are all important components of a diet that contribute to testosterone synthesis.
There are other naturally occurring chemical compounds, apart from essential nutrients, that have demonstrated testosterone boosting properties. The most effective of which include diindolylmethane, epimedium, laxogenin, and protodioscin:
- Diindolylmethane: a naturally occurring aromatase inhibitor that is produced when the body digest indole-3-carbinol
- Sources include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale
- Epimedium: an herb, also known as Horny Goat Weed, commonly used to enhance sex drive and treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow
- Main source are perennials found around the Mediterranean Sea and East Asia
- Laxogenin: a naturally occurring saponin steroid
- Main source is a type of evergreen in Eastern Asia called smilax sieboldii
- Protodioscin: another naturally occurring saponin steroid used by some to enhance athletic and sexual performance
- Main source is Tribulus Terrestris, a plant that grows in the Mediterranean
Although most, if not all, of the ingredients found in testosterone boosting supplements can be attained through a specialized diet, the rareness of these ingredients can make it very difficult. Fortunately, there are quite a few dietary supplements that are jam-packed with testosterone boosting ingredients. Our most popular natural testosterone boosters include Alpha 1-T2 by ATS Labs, T-Fuel Prime by LabTech Nutraceuticals, and A-Test by Adrenaline Nutrition Supplements. For a wider selection, check out our collection of Natural Testosterone Boosters!
I hope you learned something new today. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!
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