Women and Testosterone – Sex, Muscles, and Metabolism

Written by bradking. Posted in Blog, Women and Testosterone

Hormones play an integral role in the way we look, feel, and perform from day to day. The premiere sex hormone testosterone is important for men, but it also plays an important role for a woman—especially a woman’s healthy interest in sex.

Testosterone has been called the “hormone of desire” for good reason. Without enough testosterone, desire for sex all but disappears. Testosterone plays a major role in almost all aspects of sexual health in both genders (low testosterone levels are implicated in many cases of erectile dysfunction – not exactly something you ladies need to worry about). But testosterone is required for a lot more than just a good time.

Men produce testosterone mostly within their testicles with less then 5 percent produced in their adrenal glands, whereas women produce testosterone primarily from their ovaries (before menopause) and their adrenal glands. On average, women produce about one tenth the testosterone levels as men. Even though women produce a pinch of the amount a man produces, this hormone is still required for the same reasons:

  • increased metabolism—more energy, less body fat
  • increased lean body mass—especially muscle and bone
  • healthy sexual function—libido
  • healthy mind set—better moods

No more headaches

Studies have confirmed that testosterone is the primary hormonal message behind a woman’s (and man’s) sex drive. It is well accepted that most women after menopause experience a less than adequate sex drive, commonly referred to as female sexual dysfunction, or FSD. This condition can often be due to lowered testosterone levels—especially lower levels of free testosterone (the most biologically active testosterone). Most of your testosterone is bound to a special carrier protein called a sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG. It is only the “free” or unbound testosterone that can exert its wonders on your biochemistry.

Many doctors now prescribe testosterone treatment—along with other hormones (hormone replacement therapy or HRT, preferably as bioidentical hormones)—for women suffering from FSD, with great success. In fact, at least 20 percent of all testosterone prescriptions are written for women.

Swedish researchers recently published a study showing that testosterone gel given to postmenopausal women with low libido had positive effects on several aspects of sexual life such as frequency of sexual activity, orgasm, arousal, fantasies, and sexual interest.

Israeli researchers discovered that women suffering from loss of sexual desire may not have to consume testosterone on a regular basis in order to benefit from its powerful libido-enhancing effects. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in January 2007, showed that women who used a specially prepared testosterone gel experienced increased genital sensations and sexual lust three to four hours afterward. The researchers concluded that this may be a safer way to administer testosterone in women suffering from chronic low libido.

Raising testosterone levels the natural way

Now that you are a little more in touch with the importance of maintaining healthy testosterone levels through age, following are a few more testosterone tips for women:

  • Exercise—especially weight-bearing exercise. Regular exercise has been documented to increase free testosterone and maintain lean body mass.
  • Lose the fat—excess body fat may interfere with healthy testosterone levels.
  • Reduce stress—stress enhances the hormone cortisol, which reduces testosterone.
  • Try supplementing with a Southeast Asian herb called tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), the primary ingredient in Ultimate Libido. The Asian Congress of Sexology published a paper in 2002 touting the incredible aphrodisiac and testosterone-boosting powers of this amazing herb.

A healthy sex life is indicative of good health. The good news is that you now know it is possible to maintain a healthy supply of testosterone at any age.

Burning fat with testosterone

A major frustration for women is that most men can control their weight more easily and can even lose more weight when following the same weight loss program. A large part of this metabolic advantage can be found in the extra 30 to 40 pounds of muscle a man’s body carries. This extra muscle helps men burn up to 30 percent more calories than women—exercising or sleeping—and it can be attributed largely to the extra testosterone a man produces.

Men-O-Pause

Written by bradking. Posted in Blog, Men-O-Pause

One of the biggest pet peeves among women lies in the belief that men have it so easy when it comes to their metabolisms. For instance, when men and women go on the same diet, men tend to lose more weight, without trying as hard, but why?

The answer lies in the fact that—on average—men tend to carry around 40 pounds more muscle than women and ten times the testosterone. Muscle is a key metabolic tissue that greatly enhances the amount of calories we burn over a 24 hour period and testosterone happens to be the primary hormone that allows us to keep this metabolic furnace burning. That is until we lose it!

That’s right, men don’t exactly keep everything they had in their youth—especially when it comes to testosterone. Andropause, a term first appearing in the medical literature in 1952, is commonly defined as the natural reduction of male hormone levels—yes testosterone. Andropause is also believed to be one of the primary reasons some men experience a great deal of muscle loss, and fat gain—primarily in the tummy region—in later years, as well as the loss of; bone density, libido, stamina, and cognition.

Ninety-five percent of a man’s testosterone is made in the testes, with a meager 5% produced in the adrenal glands. Testosterone is a fat-soluble steroid hormone that is synthesized from cholesterol, which is why it (along with estrogen) needs to be transported around the bloodstream on a special carrier protein called a sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Unfortunately, once testosterone is bound to SHBG it is unable to elicit its physiological responses upon the body, and as SHBG levels increase with age and the more fat we accumulate, testosterone levels continue to decline by about 2-3% per year after the age of 40.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts have discovered that the increase in SHBG is directly related to the increase in a mans age. On average, there was a 13% increase in SHBG per five years, making it harder and harder for elderly men to maintain an optimal metabolism.A study published in the journal Obesity Research, showed that out of 284 middle-aged men tested, low testosterone levels were discovered to be indirectly or directly related to the amount of fat

the men were carrying around their midsections. Abdominal obesity is clearly associated with major health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Researchers from the Lipid Research Center in Quebec, discovered that the higher the testosterone levels in 76 men, the better their levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and the lower their levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).

Due to the fact that testosterone levels are known to decline in direct proportion to the degree of obesity, it is thereby imperative to maintain a healthy weight, especially as we get older. Here’s how:

  • Maintain muscle through regular resistance training
  • Consume optimal protein and try supplementing with one or two high alpha whey isolate shakes per day (especially after exercise)
  • Supplement with water-extracted stinging nettle root extract, as this has been shown to help free testosterone from SHBG (this is found in Ultimate Male Energy)
  • Get sufficient sleep and reduce stress

 

What You Need to Know about the Beer Belly Blues

Written by bradking. Posted in Beer Belly Blues, Blog

Tackling male menopause with diet and exercise – BradKing,MS, MFS

  • Two of the hallmarks of male menopause are an enlarged waist circumference and a decline in your once jovial mood.
  • When it comes to a man’s ability to produce healthy levels of testosterone, diet is vital.
  • The best vegetables for protecting testosterone levels are the cruciferous vegetables.
  • Healthy cholesterol levels are so important to healthy testosterone production.
  • Diets higher in fat are most effective in raising testosterone levels when accompanied by proper exercise such as weight resistance.
  • Some exercises contribute to an increase in the body’s production of testosterone.

If you are over a man over the age of 40, whether you like it or not, you have already begun to experience a drastic decline in your male hormones. In fact, this decline actually begins in a man’s thirties, and most men can expect a loss of almost 10 percent each decade thereafter, especially if they don’t take the necessary steps to deal with it.

This drop in hormone levels, primarily the male hormone testosterone, has been well known for over 60 years by the medical establishment, yet few doctors will admit it exists. The “it” is referred to as male menopause or andropause. I prefer to call it the beer belly blues since two of the hallmarks of male menopause are an enlarged waist circumference and a decline in your once jovial mood.

As men’s testosterone levels start to dwindle a noticeable loss of muscle mass can be expected, and in the process, overall metabolism declines since muscle is one of the primary mechanisms for controlling the body’s ability to burn fat. Belly fat is also a good indicator of estrogen levels in men. Actually, belly fat houses an enzyme called aromatase that is responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen.

Men become so efficient at producing estrogen (estradiol) from testosterone that many become estrogen dominant.  In fact, estrogen levels are so closely linked to excess belly fat that a large waste circumference, 100 cm (40 inches) or more, can often be a determining factor of low testosterone and high estrogen levels. It is high estrogen that is often responsible for abdominal obesity, loss of energy, low moods, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, prostate disease, and the dreaded man-boob syndrome.

When it comes to a man’s ability to produce healthy levels of testosterone, diet is vital. Your mother was really on to something when she told you to eat your veggies so you would grow to be a strong and healthy man. The best vegetables for protecting testosterone levels are the cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. These foods are rich in indoles, which can lower excess estrogens in your system and stop them from competing with your testosterone.

Eat fat to maintain testosterone

Unfortunately, the majority of aging men are told over and over again to greatly reduce their dietary fat and cholesterol consumption, especially if they want to reduce their risk of heart disease. The research, however, does not support this advice.

In 1990, researchers from South Carolinapublished results from a survey in the Journal of Nutrition that found absolutely no correlation between blood cholesterol levels and a high saturated fat intake.And according to a body of research reviewed by Mary Enig, PhD, from the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, saturated fats and cholesterol do not increase heart disease. In fact cholesterol is actually used as a substance to help repair damage to the arteries.

When one thinks of maintaining optimal testosterone levels, one has no other choice but to understand how important cholesterol is in this equation. Not only is cholesterol a major component of all cell membranes, which is why the body deems it important enough to manufacture nearly 1,000 milligrams every day, it also happens to be the major building block of testosterone as well as other sex hormones.

What is most interesting is that that low-fat, low-cholesterol advocates will tell you that cholesterol is bad for the arteries and yet never make a single mention of how important testosterone is to a healthy cardiovascular system. Research presented in the Journal of Coronary Artery Disease, showed that low levels of free testosterone may be the real culprits in the development of premature coronary artery disease.

The Rotterdam Study, one of the largest population-based studies to date, looked at testosterone levels in relation to cardiac health in 504 men aged 67 to 75. According to results of the study, men with the highest levels of free bioavailable testosterone also showed the lowest levels of coronary artery disease. And since healthy cholesterol levels are so important to healthy testosterone production, does it really make sense for men should to cut out all the fat?

Although a clear link between low-fat diets and lower testosterone levels has been made when it comes to healthy diet it’s generally true that too much of virtually anything is unhealthy, including saturated fat. A diet that contains approximately 30 percent fat seems to be appropriate for maintaining healthy testosterone levels and anything more may actually contribute to a bigger belly.

Researchers from PennStateUniversityconfirmed that not only is dietary fat positively linked with testosterone levels, but the effect of dietary fat on testosterone levels depended on the kind of fat consumed. The researchers found that monounsaturated and saturated fats were able to raise testosterone levels, but polyunsaturated fats—contained in corn oil, nuts, and seeds—were not.Monounsaturated fats are also the ones associated with many of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The best choices for these testosterone-supporting fats are avocados, olive oil and walnuts.

Finnish researchers discovered diets higher in fat are most effective in raising testosterone levels when they are accompanied by proper exercise such as weight resistance. That takes us into the next discussion.

Testosterone-boosting exercise

Studies by some of the world’s leading exercise physiologists have shown that some exercises, more than others, contribute to an increase in the body’s production of testosterone. As I explain in my book Beer Belly Blues: What Every Aging Man and the Women in His Life Need to Know (Abundant Health Systems, 2010), the more resistance on the muscle, the greater the stimulus for testosterone production. Also, compound exercises, those that include large muscle groups, seem to be more effective at generating an elevated level of testosterone.

Resistance exercise supports lean body mass, also known as muscle, and greater lean body mass supports elevated levels of testosterone. A ground-breaking study presented in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that performing three sets of a given exercise stimulates the most testosterone. In the study, the three-set group of men had significantly higher testosterone levels than the men doing a single-set workout—by as much as 20 percent. The take-home message is clear: if you want to improve your testosterone status, lift weights three to four times per week and be sure to include compound exercises—those that require the involvement of two or more joints and the activation of several muscle groups as opposed to isolation exercises that require single joint movement—such as squats, dead lifts, lunges, bench presses, and pull-ups in sets of three. As a side note, try to perform between 8 – 12 repetitions per set—that is starting with lower weights and higher repetitions and adding weight each set until you can perform no more than 8 repetitions without compromising your form—as lower rep ranges usually target strength more than lean body mass.

Testosterone may be just a hormone to some, but to men who lack it in the proper levels, it can mean the world. Resisting the normal aging process and its less palatable side effects is more than possible when you take a healthy approach to diet and exercise. While the foods and exercises in this article are recommended for helping to maintain healthy testosterone levels, it’s important not to go overboard. Remember the old adage: everything in moderation. [END]

Sample testosterone-supporting meals

Breakfast: Omelette (two whole organic eggs plus two egg whites), cook over low heat in a skillet with 1-2 tsp of olive oil. Top the omelette with half a sliced avocado.

Lunch: Mixed organic green salad sprinkled with walnuts and olive oil vinaigrette dressing. Top with 4-6 ounces (125 to 200 grams) of fresh shrimp.

Dinner: Chicken breast with basil pesto (no cream) served along side steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Cover chicken with enough organic chicken or vegetable broth to cover bottom of dish. Bake in oven-proof dish at 350 F (180 C) for 25 minutes. For the final three minutes of baking, cover chicken with basil pesto. On the stove top, steam vegetables to your liking. The healthiest way to steam is to ensure your vegetables maintain a crunch to them. Drizzle with olive oil and you’re your favourite fresh herbs.

Testosterone and the protein connection

Sufficient protein intake has also been shown to support healthy testosterone levels by lowering sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This is a hormone carrier that binds to testosterone, making it unavailable to exert its effect on the body. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that elderly men who consumed a diet low in protein had elevated SHBG levels and experienced a decreased in the effects of testosterone.

 

 

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by Brad King