Maintaining Healthy Levels of Testosteroneby Doctor Richard Cohen, M.D.
Diet | Exercise | Stress
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Although the most common reason for decreased testosterone levels is aging, levels also commonly decrease during acute and chronic emotional stress, over training, physical inactivity, after the use of anabolic steroids, excessive use of alcohol, prescription or recreational medication and certain diseases.
Testosterone levels are also affected by bio-social events. Your testosterone will go up before a sporting event (whether you are competing or not) and sexual stimulation (sight or touch). And interestingly, levels significantly decrease in both the competitors and fans of losers of athletic events. (So forget about having a strong sex drive if the cheerleaders dont show up and your team loses the Super Bowl).
Normally testosterone is the 30% higher in the morning than the evening. This may explain why men are more interested in sex in the morning and is part of the reason for spontaneous morning erections. In fact, the loss of morning erections is a sure sign that testosterone is declining.By eliminating or reducing these factors, improving you diet, beginning or modifying your exercise program , reducing stress and restoring nutritional status you can improve your hormonal balance and most importantly dramatically improve the way you look, feel and perform.
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You are what you eat! If you want to keep "juiced with testosterone" it is extremely important to follow these dietary rules:
Eat moderate amounts of protein. Protein in Latin means "above all else." Protein stimulates the hormone glucagon and the anabolic (muscle building) responses important for adequate testosterone release.
Eat more vegetables and fruit and limit excessive carbohydrate intake especially of simple sugars and starches (grains, potatoes, pasta). Excess intake of carbohydrates especially those that raise blood sugar rapidly create chronically elevated levels of the hormone insulin and cortisol. These two hormones oppose the action of testosterone and diminish its production.
Eat Fat! The reason, Jack Sprat was so lean was he ate no fat. Essential fats such as the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed as well as saturated fats are essential for normal testosterone production. All steroid hormones are produced from cholesterol and when fats are deficient in the diet, this process will be inhibited.
Studies clearly indicate that low fat diets results in lower testosterone levels while those higher in protein, lower in carbohydrate and moderate in fat cause the greatest sustained levels of testosterone and growth hormone.
A recent study demonstrated the influence of diet on pre and post exercise testosterone and cortisol. After exercise with bench press and squat to failure, testosterone and cortisol were measured. Those men who were on a diet with a higher protein/carbohydrate ratio and percent fat content had the largest increase in testosterone and the smallest rise in cortisol.
You must train and eat smart to minimize the catabolic and maximize the anabolic effects of exercise. If your diet is very low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, your testosterone levels may remain very low and you will never make the changes in muscle mass and strength that you desire.
The duration, intensity and frequency of exercise will determine the circulating levels of testosterone. Testosterone levels increase most with short intense bursts, while it decreases with prolonged activity especially that of frequent endurance training. During endurance training, testosterone is needed to maintain muscle but frequent extended training doesnt allow for repair and recovery of testosterone and tissue damage occurs.
Studies show that testosterone levels will elevate with exercise for about 45 to 60 minutes. After this time period, cortisol levels begin to increase and testosterone levels will decline. This decrease has been detected for up to 6 days.
Because you require testosterone for repair and growth, do not train for more than 45 to 60 minutes at a single session. If you feel like you want to exercise or train more, split sessions are recommended. Also do not lift weights and perform aerobic training at the same time. It is also a good idea to vary your workouts and cycle them throughout the year.
Construction workers provide a real life example of these concepts. It has been
observed for many years that men who lift moderate loads all day are frequently listless
and tired as well as not as strong and muscular as their co-workers who perform less
frequent but more intense activity.
This was a very effective system when it evolved. For hundreds of thousands of years the threats to the body were short-lived and very acute such as being eaten or attacked. Today stresses are not only prolonged but perceived in our mind. And this chronic stress causes an over activation of our adrenal system and the catabolic process. In fact, chronic catabolism is not only the greatest cause of premature aging and cardiovascular disease but it severely inhibits testosterone function making it almost impossible to build muscle and strength.
So if you want to really grow it is essential that you follow the advice, "Dont sweat the small stuff and it is all small stuff", stay well rested and take your time eating frequent small meals. This will help normalize cortisol levels and allow your anabolic system to take over again.
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