If you asked the average fella what testosterone does, he'd probably reply with a smile and a comment along the lines of... "ahhh... it's the reason I'm always horny!"
And yes, fundamentally he would be right. Yet old mate testosterone may object to being pigeon-holed as a one-trick pony. In fact, his role in promoting good health is paramount and there are a number of things one can do to ensure adequate testosterone levels without injecting steroids.
WHAT IS TESTOSTERONE
Testosterone is a steroid hormone.
- The term 'steroid' is used to describe chemicals that share a similar configuration to, and are synthesised from cholesterol.
- The term 'hormone' is used to describe chemicals that travel between organs and tissues and have a signalling or communication function.
Thus, a 'steroid hormone' is a chemical that is derived from cholesterol and travels in the blood to help control processes like metabolism, immunity, maturation and sexual function.
Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone and is produced by the testes and to a lesser extent, the adrenal glands. Smaller amounts of testosterone are also produced by the ovaries in women at a rate 7-8 times less than than of blokes.
WHAT ARE TESTOSTERONE'S SPECIFIC ROLES?
Yes, testosterone's primary roles are in maturation and sexual function. It is the primary driver of:
- Genital development and enlargement;
- Growth of facial and body hair;
- Increases in muscle and bone mass;
- Deepening of the voice;
- Development of traditional masculine features such as the Adam's apple and the facial features such as broadening of the jaw and brow;
- Increases in libido;
- Behavioural characteristics including aggression and physical activeness;
For the above reasons, maintaining optimum testosterone levels is important during puberty, adulthood and into older age. Your general health, sexuality and ability to maintain... body composition... amongst other things, depends on it.
In fact, some studies are showing a link between lower testosterone levels and type-2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
THE MORE, THE BETTER?
The power of testosterone is clear by observing the effect of anabolic steroids when they are given in synthetic doses beyond what the body can naturally produce. Yes, anabolic steroids such as Deca, Dianabol, Anadrol and Parabolan are synthetic chemicals that mimic the role of testosterone in the body.
Is it not the point of this article to dissect the use of synthetic steroids primarily by young men but suffice to say, it's not a matter of 'the more, the better'. The potential side-effects of abuse are significant and such a subject requires is own seperate discussion in a future post.
BOOSTING TESTOSTERONE NATURALLY
With the above being said, there are obvious benefits to boosting testosterone levels naturally and safely. An example would be for an individual looking to build muscle mass through a resistance program. The following are ways to go about doing so:
- Addressing Your Diet
Restrictive diets are associated with decreased testosterone production. You may remember reading in my eBook 'The 14 Non-Diet Weight Loss Hacks' that dieting can actually bring about the starvation response where the body aims to preserves its muscle and fat reserves by scaling down our metabolic rate.
It would then make sense that if your metabolic rate was to slow down (think of this as down-grading the power of a car), then your testosterone level would subsequently drop. The message here is to avoid diets like the plague!
Eating a well-balanced diet that hits the principles of good nutrition - adequate amounts of lean protein, healthy fats and low-GI carbs by following a whole food diet is imperative.
- Being Physically Active, Including Lifting Weights
As if the importance of physical activity was not already clear enough, here's just one more reason: it can substantially increase your testosterone levels. While plenty of science supports this notion, you need only look at your own experience.
Think to a time when you went through a period of physical inactivity for reasons such as injury, motivation, illness or depression. That may be right now. Ask yourself, 'how powerful was (is) your sexual drive at that point?' - the answer is usually, 'almost absent'.
In contrast, think about the most physically active point you have ever been at and my bet is that's also the time your felt your sexual drive being most powerful. That might also be why you spent 5 minutes checking yourself out in the mirror.
In line with my advice in 'The 14 Non-Diet Weight Loss Hacks', HIIT and resistance training will definitely give you the most bang for your buck!
- Manage Stress Proactively
I can remember my ol' man saying to me 4-5 years ago - 'stress doesn't exists. It's just a made up thing of your generation'. Oh, how that old school thought process has changed in recent times and with the emergence of increasing evidence showing the profound effect it can have on our health. Even my dad has now reconsidered that position.
In 'The 14 Hacks' I talked about how failure to manage stress proactively can lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can be dangerous in that it encourages the body to store body fat, particularly around the abdomen. It becomes an absolute doom-loop, physiologically and behaviourally.
Not only is the increase in body fat and presence of cortisol associated with lower testosterone levels, a failure to manage stress can also lead to sleep disturbances and poor eating habits. The key is to detect the source of your stresses and deal with them proactively. You're looking to address the root cause, not manage the symptoms and this can be done through a range of activities. From actively relaxing and taking up meditation to speaking to your partner, a friend or a professional that can advise of strategies to deal with stress, getting on the front foot is imperative.
- Sleep Adequately
This suggestion is a little 'chicken or the egg' after the last one as often, poor sleep is a product of high stress levels. There are however specific actions you can take to improve your sleep quality. I have outlined these in 'The 14 Hacks' so would advise you go there rather than re-run the same info here.
A FINAL WORD
There are a number of secondary strategies such as supplementing with multivitamins and avoiding certain foods but these are the micro-points. If you are covering off the above four macro-points effectively, you'll put yourself in good stead.
It is indeed possible to have your testosterone levels tested by a doctor. If you are feeling super-sluggish and sexually crippled, that may be an advisable action point. Just remember that the likely cause is going to be excess body fat and a poor diet.
And lastly, don't reference me but certainly having more sex actually boosts your testosterone level. Like putting fuel on a bush fire, there's no question mark that you can indeed fuel your own petrol tank.
It really makes your think about the built up testosterone in an olympic village hey!
Rip your comments or questions in below!