Testosterone 101: You are what you eat & how you train
The fact is, exercise and strength training does far more than simply break down muscle so it can rebuild stronger. Intense training triggers release of a combination of hormones that strongly influence how your body will adapt & grow. By implementing the correct training and nutrition protocols, we can naturally manipulate and optimize this hormonal cascade ourselves to get stronger, leaner, and healthier. That is what NattyLife and Testosterone-365 is all about.
To understand how to optimize hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), cortisol, estrogen, and others, we need to first understand how our training and lifestyle profoundly impacts hormone secretion. Chief among these hormones is testosterone and, thus, the reason Testosterone-365 emphasizes the unique combination of natural and highly effective methods to maximize its production and subsequent effects within the body (& mind).
What is testosterone, exactly?
Of the major hormones mentioned above, testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males produce about ten times the amount of testosterone (although women are shown to be more sensitive to its effects). While testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, confidence, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. Having healthy testosterone levels—typically between 300 and 1,000 ng/dL, is also highly correlated with several key non-sexual traits such as confidence, productivity, energy levels, and even a general sense of well being and happiness. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. A small amount is also produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.
Just a few benefits of maximal testosterone include:
Testosterone, Training & Longevity
It is no surprise that testosterone gets as much attention and desire in the worlds of both strength training and general longevity. Among those affects mentioned above, testosterone plays a significant role in the signaling of protein synthesis and reduces the effect of those catabolic hormones that we want only within (low) healthy ranges. This induces the desired post-training reactions in which we rebuild to become stronger by helping muscle tissue recover faster and be maintained easier—a key factor as we age and strive to maintain as much lean muscle levels as possible. Our protein synthesis levels also have a major impact on how our diet and nutrition is absorbed and converted into the raw ingredients we need to build muscle and look great.
Unlike most other hormones in the body, testosterone is anabolic all by itself in the body. Further, when at healthy or naturally elevated levels, testosterone even makes other hormones act more anabolic in nature. It also plays a role in facilitating other hormonal mechanisms such as growth hormone secretion and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) production in the body’s anabolic process.
When it comes to training, there are numerous factors & strategies one can utilize to stimulate maximum testosterone secretion post-workout. Research shows that specific exercise selection, proper rep & set structure, correct sequencing of these exercises, and recovery are all critical elements of naturally maximizing both testosterone and the combination of other hormones discussed herein.
Unfortunately, however, it is not so simple that we can just dead lift and squat each week and watch our bodies develop and grow forever. While heavy, compound-movements such as these are certainly critical to optimizing hormones, the devil, as they say, is in the details of a proper training program.
These details are my personal obsession and why I designed Testosterone-365 to combine the many effective, natural techniques, secrets, and strategies so men can feel and perform to their true potential.
Do you have Low Testosterone?
Watch the video below and take the test!
Okay, but what about other hormones?
Growth Hormone (GH) & IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor)
While testosterone is the most famous of hormones due to its anabolic power within the body, it is important to understand the contributing role of several other key hormones, the increased secretion of which are also triggered by proper training & nutrition protocols. The primary role of growth hormone (GH) is to promote tissue anabolism or, simply put, increasing cell size. Growth hormone is the hormone that contributes to making your muscles grow in size, following consistent training. Like testosterone, however, specific forms of training elicit a heightened response in post-workout growth hormone secretion by the body. For instance, research shows that strength programs that induce high levels of blood lactate tend to trigger the most substantial GH response. Training to maximize blood lactate is closely affiliated with the same training parameters of hypertrophy (muscle-growth) training. Similar to testosterone, the body’s production of GH occurs while we are sleeping—another reason why naturally maximizing our hormonal health should incorporate strategies to optimize our nightly sleep. Yes, men—that means black-out curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, cooler room temperatures, etc., to get the very most out of our primary recovery period.
Growth hormone is assisted in its many roles within the body by another hormone, IGF (insulin-like growth factor). While GH is initially produced by the pituitary gland, GH secretion then triggers production of IGF within the liver. In concert with GH, IGF is also responsible for body growth and has growth-promoting effects on almost every cell in the body, particularly skeletal muscle, cartilage, bone, kidney, nerves, skin, and others. Comparable to how insulin signals glucose to enter a cell, IGF works in similar fashion to help GH perform its functions within tissue. Like testosterone, IFG also aids in protein synthesis during strength and conditioning training. Training protocols that maximize post-training growth hormone secretion also prove effective in maximizing IGF production (since more GH causes more signaling to the liver to make more IGF).
While testosterone & growth hormone are the primary anabolic hormones triggered by proper training, cortisol is the body’s primary catabolic hormone. Being our primary stress-response hormone, cortisol is also released when performing the intense training that also releases our anabolic hormones. Having an inverse relationship to anabolic hormones, catabolic hormones break down muscle tissue. While some release of cortisol is expected and actually desirable, we want to closely limit these levels in order to maximize our testosterone and general health. One of the best ways to limit the body’s cortisol response is through proper diet and nutrition timing—particularly immediately following training. This is one of the reasons we want a good post-workout protein shake or a food that induces insulin release following training.
For more on post-workout nutrition and managing cortisol, download the Testosterone Top 10 e-cookbook and Sample Meal Plans included as part of the Testosterone-365 program now.
The release of cortisol hormone occurs during very intense training that, specifically, emphasizes higher volume and short rest periods. This is why higher rep workouts or excessive cardio has such an influential impact on the body’s cortisol levels. On the flip side, properly programmed strength training routines tend to have little to no impact on cortisol levels. This is a major factor in maximizing anabolic hormones and why I designed Testosterone-180 and Testosterone-365 to limit cortisol through both training and nutrition techniques.
As mentioned above, some cortisol release is normal and actually a good thing. Since it is catabolic in nature, cortisol stimulates lypolysis of adipose tissue—the breakdown of body fat. The more fat we can mobile and break down, the less aromatase enzyme remaining in the body. It is the aromatase enzyme that actually converts testosterone into estrogen (estradiol).
Being famously recognized as our ‘fight or flight’ hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine have kept us humans alive for millennia avoiding savage tiger attacks (flight) and battling against enemies (fight). Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, we have developed a tricky and often dangerous relationship with cortisol. When elevated, as it often is in the sleep deprived and chronically stressed, the beneficial effects of testosterone are muted. Remember, cortisol has an inverse relationship to testosterone levels and can wreak havoc on health and well-being. Simply put, cortisol is catabolic (breaks tissues down) while testosterone is anabolic. Further, excessive levels of cortisol produce insulin resistance, fat gain, and muscle wasting—all pretty much the opposite to testosterone’s positive effect on lean muscle mass and body fat ratio.
Check out my Cortisol Killing Juice recipe, included in the Testosterone Top 10 e-cookbook downloaded as part of the Testosterone-365 program.
Why Maximize My Testosterone?
Reduced blood serum concentrations of testosterone are independently associated with higher mortality rates in men—even when you take into account other risk factors and pre-existing health conditions. Further, as mentioned above regarding testosterone’s link to bone formation in youth, it plays an equally vital role as we age in maintaining proper bone density, particularly in the elderly. In fact, loss of bone density and height are both warning signs of low-testosterone.
Just as healthy testosterone levels aid protein synthesis throughout life, its help in rebuilding muscle tissue is equally important as we get older. Altogether, testosterone is important and even vital if you want to maintain strong bones and muscles, enjoy a healthy, active sex life, and live long and well into old age.
So why not just take Testosterone?
Given the numerous desirable effects of testosterone and GH, it should come as no surprise the popularity of steroids and exogenous injections or gels centered around the artificial increase of both hormones within the body. Worse, in recent years there is a growing contingent of physicians and even “male clinics” who prescribe/promote injecting testosterone into the body to provide the “quick fix” to all your life’s ailments.
While medicating with exogenous testosterone (typically testosterone cypionate) is appropriate and necessary for certain men with diagnosed hypogonadism, many clinics over-reach and convince men of taking testosterone injections rather than employing the numerous natural, highly-effective methods to help your own body produce more testosterone on its own. Rather than allowing some clinic to inject you with testosterone, thus completely shutting down one’s own natural production (see HPG Axis chart below), first take action via proper programming like in Testosterone-365 to allow the body to make its own testosterone (as it should be!). Through adoption of the correct, specific techniques to maximize testosterone naturally, men can see significant increases in both total and free-testosterone levels—even doubling or tripling their levels in some cases.
Contrary to what many are told, taking exogenous (i.e. outside the body) testosterone is usually a life-long, permanent decision. Introducing exogenous testosterone to the body and brain causes the subsequent shut-down of the body’s natural production and hormonal cascade (HPG axis). Once your testes are shut down, it can be a real challenge to ever get them producing testosterone again to their normal function. While it’s true that many men, through medical prescription of drugs like Clomid, can get their natural function to return, this is not a given. Some men, particularly those that are on testosterone for extended periods of over one year or who are older in age, never see the return of normal testes function.
Perhaps the biggest concern with exogenous testosterone is that we have such little data at this time to fully understand how the long-term effects will play out. While testosterone itself is certainly natural and is already present to varying levels in the body, introducing it into the body at the increased levels now being prescribed can lead to increasingly significant side effects. These side effects can alter both your physical and psychosocial health. Its connection to prostate cancer, once a strong-held belief, is under new review as to whether a connection truly exists. The bottom line is, exogenous injections/gels are still a new practice and it is a mystery how patients will be affected 10, 20, or 30 years in the future.
Common Side Effects of Taking Exogenous Testosterone:
As if the list above was not enough to convince you that taking testosterone exogenously was a dangerous and avoidable mistake, remember that these are just the common side effects. Excessive testosterone can also increase calcium in the blood, cause liver damage, and even cause yellowing of the skin. In the bedroom, excessive testosterone won’t be doing you any favors either as testicular shrinkage (due to extended shutdown), premature ejaculations, and sometimes the inability to orgasm at all can sometimes occur.
Now, contrast these possible bad side effects with the numerous positive benefits of optimizing testosterone levels naturally and the choice is clear—don’t risk serious health and hormonal damage. Instead, learn and adopt the many effective protocols to maximize testosterone and overall hormonal health naturally and safely.
Unfortunately, the supplement industry is not much help in this department either. The internet is littered with countless “magically boost your T!” supplements that range from the mildly effective to the outright bunk or even dangerous. Frustrated by the shady supplement industry and often confused by the health claims of various supplements, I decided to delve deeper to truly learn and understand the various supplements on the market today.
While hundreds of testosterone booster brands have entered the marketplace, there are actually just a handful of common ingredients that 90% of them are using in various combinations and “proprietary blends.” As a result of this research and to help men better understand these supplements, I created the Ultimate Testosterone Supplementation Guide to provide an informative, honest, unbiased review of all the major hormonal supplement ingredients on the market. The guide provides synopsis breakdowns, recommended dosages, and my personal 1-5 star NattyLife Rating of each supplement listed. I conclude the guide by sharing my personal recommendations of the specific vitamins, minerals, and supplements that I take myself. I even provide recommended dosages of each and Amazon links to my preferred brands. The NattyLife Testosterone Supplement Guide is available as a valuable, cost-saving tool provided as part of the Testosterone-180 & Testosterone-365 programs.
Testosterone Throughout Life
Now that we understand what testosterone is, as well as the supporting cast of hormones that literally shape our bodies and its general health, let’s expand and learn a bit more about how testosterone plays an important role throughout our entire lives. Even before we are born, testosterone – along with dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent anabolic hormone, is already at work in the formation of the male genitalia. It helps determine gender identity and also triggers development of the prostate and seminal vesicles. Following birth, young babies experience a rise in testosterone levels nearly equal to that of puberty levels only to later plummet around 4-6 months of age.
Science is not entirely sure what this sharp rise and fall means or what exactly all that testosterone is doing. However, it is safe to say there is an important cause & effect taking place and the hormone is definitely performing certain functions. One interesting theory is that the spike is “masculinizing” the brain for further development of gender identity.
Just prior to puberty, testosterone begins to sharply rise in both boys and girls. With the end of childhood, thus begins the magical and memorable journey of budding pubic hair, strange body odor, awkward growth spurts, oily hair and skin, acne, and facial hair. During this formative period, bones mature and the arm pits begin growing hair as well. During puberty, testosterone levels experience a massive increase in blood serum levels. All the budding sexual curiosities and compulsions can be rooted in this dramatic increase in testosterone during puberty.
Once we have reached adulthood, testosterone’s biggest effects on growth and development have largely manifested and we settle into more of a general, maintenance level. Libido is preserved for both men and women, ensuring procreation and the repeat of the life cycle. For men, even our erection strength and frequency is regulated by testosterone. Finally, the retention and growth of new muscle mass is largely attributable to total- and free-testosterone levels as we age.
The Testosterone-180 & Testosterone-365 Programs
Putting it all together...
To drastically increase your testosterone and general hormonal health in order to enjoy the numerous benefits mentioned above, one has to learn the many techniques and protocols that—altogether—successfully increase hormonal balance in the body.
Think of your body as a symphony of hormones with testosterone being just one major component or section. Growth hormone, insulin, IGF, cortisol, leptin, and estrogen are all other sections of the symphony that, together, make the music you experience in how you look & feel. With Testosterone-365, you become the conductor of the symphony!
Armed with the correct training, nutrition, and daily lifestyle strategies, you can generate profound impacts on your natural testosterone levels. That is where Nattylife can help you. The Testosterone-180 & Testosterone-365 programs are designed to give you everything you need to be the conductor of your hormone symphony—naturally and effectively maximizing testosterone.
I am contributing over 20 years of experience in the design of these programs to provide the optimal testosterone lifestyle so that you can feel, look, and perform to your greatest potential—naturally.