Unfortunately, most of us believe there is no way to improve our testosterone levels without taking the old “Vitamin S”
If you have spent any time at all watching late-night television, chances are you have witnessed advertisements for some type of drug or therapy that increases testosterone levels.
You know the ones I’m talking about: the infomercials with the older guy who was in a bad way, and now, with his young female friend (who is half his age) by his side, he is a strapping lad once again. And it’s all thanks to Product X! The makers of Product X will tell you that if you have felt tired, depressed, anxious, have unexplainable weight gain, low sex drive, or have been more emotional than usual, you probably have low testosterone and you should get their product RIGHT NOW.
Funny thing is, there is truth in that statement – just not the part about Product X.
All of us – men and women – need to be aware of our testosterone levels and understand what they mean. Age, activity, sport, and generally just feeling “normal” are all affected by our hormone balance. Lower-than-optimal testosterone can and does lead to a host of unhealthy issues in the human body, and this applies to both genders.
Unfortunately, most of us believe there is no way to improve our testosterone levels without taking the old “Vitamin S” (anabolic steroids) or completing hormone replacement therapy (or Product X, if those ads did a job on you). Happily, this is just not the case! Obviously there are some folks who will require actual medications or testosterone supplementation or complete replacement, but the vast majority of us can prevent that from ever happening by minding our diets. A sound diet, strategically planned and tactically executed will yield far better results than any snake oil sold in infomercials, and with none of the side effects that accompany medications and hormone replacement therapies.
So many things about our bodies are regulated by the production and utilization of this hormone called testosterone that everyone should know a little more about it. Testosterone is an androgen, a steroid hormone produced primarily in the testicles of men and to a lesser degree in the ovaries of women, as well as a small amount in our adrenal glands. Yes, you read that correctly. Women produce and utilize testosterone just as well as and for the same reasons as men – they just don’t produce as much and are also more sensitive to its effects.
The creation of testosterone from cholesterol is a rather interesting process that we will not spend much time on. It should just be pointed out that testosterone is derived from cholesterol, like most hormones, and the prohormone (precursor hormone) pregnenolone. Pay attention to this part: Pregnenolone itself is very sensitive to stress. High stress means low pregnenolone levels, after a time. Low pregnenolone means low testosterone. So the moral of the story is: find ways to limit or cope with stress and get the manly benefits you are looking for, naturally.
So how does diet fit in with testosterone? Just like any healthy diet, yours should have the right mix of vitamins, minerals, proper fats, and proteins. Vitamin A is essential for healthy ovarian tissue as well as healthy testicular tissue. It is also required for testosterone formation. Eating carrots, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and yams are just a few ways to get a natural abundance of vitamin A.
Vitamin E is another component that aids in the production of sex hormones and leads to proper blood circulation to the tissues that produce said hormones. You can get plenty of vitamin E from nuts, spinach, asparagus, peas, and beans, just to name a few sources.
B vitamins are another key requirement for a healthy and optimal functioning endocrine system. These vitamins aid directly by being a component of testosterone formation and a weapon that the body uses to fight the effects of stress. Lastly, they also aid the body with maintaining endurance and daily energy. Some good sources of B vitamins are eggs, beans, beef, broccoli, whole grains, nuts, and poultry.
Saturated fat, though given a bad name for so long, is vital to health and vitality. Saturated fat is how the body manufactures cholesterol. Without cholesterol, the human body has no means of producing testosterone, and no means of producing any hormones at all. In fact, without cholesterol we would be dead! Another important contribution we get from fats are Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that combine with other fat-derived products and hormones, vitamins, and minerals to create testosterone. The best sources of fat and cholesterol come from lean meats. The saturated fat in lean beef provides plenty of quality cholesterol. Cold-water fish such as salmon provide good sources of Omega-3. Range-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught salmon, while all expensive, do provide complete sources of protein, Omega fatty acids and cholesterol, as well as vitamins and minerals. Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are also sound vegetable sources of fat.
Minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and selenium are key factors in the processes involved with the creation of sex hormones. There is a great deal of biochemistry involved and you probably do not want to know the details. But as an example, vitamin B6 + zinc + omega 3 fatty acid + cholesterol = testosterone. This is a very simplistic equation and the process is so much more involved, but this should suffice to give you an understanding of how each component is needed for complete health.
Other natural methods to support testosterone production include exercise (in the form of heavy resistance training where you utilize large muscle groups), limiting alcohol consumption, and getting plenty of rest. Resistance exercise, as well as running sprints, stimulates testosterone production and prevents the male body from producing estrogen instead (yup, that’s possible). While alcohol does reduce testosterone levels, a few drinks now and then will not turn a man into a woman. Over-consumption, however, will be detrimental to healthy levels of testosterone. Rest, as we all know, will help stave off the effects of stress as well as support recovery from exercise. Also, the body produces most of its testosterone during sleep, with the highest levels of the 24-hour cycle coming just after waking for the day.
While this is a simplistic explanation testosterone production, the main point is that diet is the single dominating factor controlling the human body. Diet can make you sick or make you well. Apply the bits of information provided to help ensure your vitality and vigor – no Product X needed.
When people talk about fighters cutting weight, the name that tends to come up is Mike Dolce, but behind the scenes the mastermind behind some of the most successful weight class transitions in the UFC is George Lockhart. Lockhart spent years with the USMC as the premier combat conditioning specialist for the Marines. After 10 years of coming up with the best ways to keep marines suitably fuelled for operations, recovering from injuries and hitting weigh in targets in short periods of time, he took that experience and developed a weight management program, FitnessVT He has worked with fighters from Jon Jones to Rory MacDonald, and retired legends like Brian Stann and Kenny Florian.