What is Low Testosterone?
Everything You Need to Know About Low Testosterone.
As a guy, you’re probably barraged with ads about Low Testosterone every single day. Ads for supplements, drugs, and other products that promise to boost your testosterone levels are all over TV and the Internet.
If you’re considering using one of these products, then you should know exactly what you’re getting into. Here is everything you should know about Low Testosterone and testosterone boosting products:
Testosterone is a steroid hormone in the Androgen group that is present in both men and women, although it is dominant in men. In men, the testicles produce testosterone and it is vital for the overall health of a man. Energy levels, mood, sexual libido, and muscle and bone mass are all influenced by testosterone, which is why health levels are vital to a man’s health.
Basics of Low Testosterone (Low T)
Low testosterone is not technically a medical condition. However, when the term “Low-T” is used, it refers to the decline in testosterone production that normally starts to occur when a man reaches the age of 13. It is estimated that testosterone production dips roughly 1% each year, although a number of factors influence this rate.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
Although testosterone levels will naturally decline, there are a number of things that can also impact testosterone levels. It is important you take the time to learn how your testosterone levels are impacted by your daily habits so you do not suffer from low-t. Some of the most common causes of low-testosterone include:
— Obesity: In the United States, around 40% of men are considered to be overweight or obese. Those who are incredibly overweight or obese will not naturally produce as much testosterone as they should, which is why metabolism is often slowed and fat mass continually increases.
— Liver or Kidney Disease: Enzymes in the liver and kidneys both help the body produce testosterone, so it is only natural that liver or kidney disease can affect testosterone production. If you have a chronic condition, chances are your doctor will inform you of the potential side effects, including low testosterone.
— Poor Sleep Cycle/Insomnia: A lack of sleep affects just about every aspect of your life including your testosterone production. You’re also likely to recover slower from your workouts, increase your cortisol levels (which causes the body to store fat), and you’re testosterone levels will drop.
— Lack of Exercise: Exercise plays a vital role in testosterone production. Although the exact mechanism or reason behind why exercise increases testosterone production is unknown, scientists have found conclusive evidence that exercise helps men produce more testosterone than men who do not exercise regularly.
— Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption, particularly in heavy amounts has been shown to lower testosterone production, although this impact is not as severe as other situations.
Signs and Effects of Low Testosterone
While low testosterone may severely impact your life, the good news is that it is fairly easy to detect. There are several signs of low testosterone, which can affect various areas in your life. If you display several of these signs, you may want to go to your doctor to see if you have low testosterone.
Poor Athletic Performance
The first sign of low testosterone is a lack of athletic performance. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you just don’t feel like you are working out as hard or at the same level you used to. Your energy levels during workouts could be suffering as well.
— Strength: The first thing you’ll normally notice is that your strength is not what it once was. You may not be able to life as much weight as you could or notice that you do not have the endurance that you would typically possess. It’s very easy to detect this as well. You may run out of gas after just six to eight reps whereas before you could easily perform ten to twelve reps at the same weight.
Your cardiovascular performance is likely to suffer as well. While you might have been able to run a mile in seven or eight minutes without feeling very winded, you may only be able to run a mile in ten minutes now and you might feel incredible tired and winded.
— Recovery: The second major area that you will notice a fairly significant change is how fast you can recover after a workout. While you may have been able to seemingly recover overnight after a hard workout, it may take several days to recover after a workout.
In addition, you might feel like you’re strength isn’t simply what is should be the following few days after a workout, which means you may need to take a few additional days off. This is going to continually spiral downhill and you’re not going to see the results you once did.
If you’re talking several days off in between workouts and just recently only needed a day off, then you could be suffering from low testosterone.
— Mass Gains: Third and finally, low testosterone will slow down your muscle mass gains or even stop them completely. Although there are several reasons as to why you may not be gaining as much mass as you used to, if your diet and exercise habits are not delivering the results you would reasonable expect to see, then low testosterone could be the culprit.
To test this, you should watch to see if you’re gaining more fat mass than you are lean muscle. Since the body requires a calorie surplus to gain weight, if you’re gaining fat mass instead of lean muscle mass, then you can tell that there is a problem since someone training everyday should be building muscle mass.
Your athletic performance isn’t the only part of your body that is going to suffer as a result of low testosterone. Your body composition is likely to undergo dramatic changes due to low testosterone. While several things influence your metabolic rate, your testosterone level is one of the most important factors. Therefore, low testosterone is likely to change your overall body composition in a way you don’t desire.
Men suffering from low testosterone tend to put on weight rather than lose it. In addition, some men even lose lean muscle mass, which means body fat percentage is increasing, often at a rapid rate.
The situation tends to spiral out of control because the more muscle mass you lose, the more fat you’re likely to gain since muscle mass burns more calories per day than fat. You’re essentially moving in the exact opposite direction you likely want to head in.
Libido and Performance
For many men, the most severe signs of low testosterone appear in the bedroom. The first obvious sign of low testosterone is a clear lack of libido. While you may once have desired sexual activity with your partner, you may notice your libido simply disappear one day and you’ll find yourself lacking the desire for any sexual intimacy.
Even if you do manage do get yourself in the mood for sex, low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction, which means you’ll be unable to get or maintain an erection for as long as you could. Plus, even if you can maintain an erection, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to perform to the level you are accustomed to.
Although you may not be able to directly tell, low testosterone can dramatically decrease sperm count. Therefore, you may find it difficult to get pregnant with your significant other.
Third, low testosterone causes the recovery time needed after an orgasm to lengthen. While you may have been able to continue with sex almost right away after an orgasm, you’ll need to wait much longer to go for a second round.
Impact on Your Daily Life
On a more general note, low testosterone can affect your day to day life. You may begin to feel like you’re not longer your usual self. While some changes may seem appealing at first, many changes in your personality and daily life are undesired.
Many men begin to act more emotional than they previously would. Some men report that they start to garner feminine characteristics. This makes sense since they are lacking testosterone, the hormone that is primarily responsible for making a man a man.
Depression is another emotional issue that can develop as a result of low testosterone. Unwarranted feelings of sadness or despair and common and it can be difficult to function on a daily basis. Your concentration is likely to falter and you might find it difficult to function at work.
Although not every man experiences mood swings or starts to feel a wide range of emotions more often, it is prevalent enough in men that it warrants discussion.
Your emotions aren’t the only impact on your daily life that low testosterone will impact. Low testosterone zaps the energy out of a man. Instead of waking up full of pep and energy, most men feel drowsy and exhausted before they even eat breakfast. If that isn’t bad enough you can forget about doing anything after work. A man with low testosterone will simply feel like exhaustion and lack the energy to do anything.
Finally, you may develop sleeping problems as a result of low testosterone. Testosterone levels affect other hormones that influence a healthy sleep cycle so you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or reaching a point of deep sleep.
If this problem develops, it will only get worse because testosterone is released at night in a large amount along with growth hormone. This will affect your body composition, your recovery time, your energy, and pretty much everything else discussed so far.
Development of Health Conditions
Low testosterone doesn’t just affect your everyday life – it can affect your life down the road. Unless you are proactive about reversing the effects of low testosterone, you can develop any of one of these conditions down the road.
Studies have shown that low testosterone increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, especially in men who are rapidly gaining weight. Low testosterone also reduces bone density, which increases the risk for osteoporosis or bone-related injuries down the road.
If that isn’t bad enough, many men are worried about the development of a condition called gynecomastia, which is the development of breast tissue in men. In order to develop gynecomastia, you’d have to have dangerously low testosterone levels for a prolonged period of time. In addition, you’d have to consume a calorie surplus each day in order to form breast-like tissue. Therefore, it is possible that you could develop gynecomastia because of low testosterone but it is not very likely.
Finally, men with low testosterone often find that their facial hair isn’t growing nearly as fast as it once was. The hair that does grow isn’t as thick as it once was and it often looks and feels differently than it used to.
As you can see, there are several health conditions, many of which are severe, that can develop simply because of low testosterone levels. So what can you do? How can you stop low testosterone and get your levels back to normal?
Treating Low Testosterone
The good news is that there are several ways to treat low testosterone. Several prescription medicines, all-natural supplements, and lifestyle chances are available for you to utilize to raise your testosterone levels back to normal. Here are the most common treatment options for low testosterone and some information about each:
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone therapy is the medicinal form of treatment that is only approved for men who have very low testosterone levels. If low testosterone is severely impacting your life or preventing you from conceiving a child with your partner, then you’ll probably be able to opt for this treatment option.
Testosterone replacement therapy is available in a variety of ways. While you could only receive injections just a few years ago, you can now use a skin patch, a gel, or mouth patch to increase your testosterone levels. Each method will slowly release testosterone back into your system and the symptoms you are experiencing should start to disappear within a few days.
The big drawback to testosterone replacement therapy is that it may have side effects. Some preliminary studies indicate this type of testosterone therapy may increase the risk for prostate cancer and in some rare cases men have developed gynecomastia. Testosterone therapy also has been shown to increase red blood cell count, which can become a major health problem if the situation is not controlled in time.
Besides the health risks, testosterone therapy is also fairly expensive, especially if you do not have insurance. Although it is easily the most effective form of treatment, many men feel the risks outweigh the benefits and opt for an alternative form of treatment.
Next to testosterone replacement therapy, supplementation is the most popular treatment for low testosterone. Testosterone supplements use a variety of natural vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts that should help your body naturally produce more testosterone. You do not need a prescription to purchase these supplements and they can be purchased online or in retail stores.
While many of these products do in fact enhance your testosterone product, there are a number of products that have been busted as scams. Therefore, you’ll want to do your research about a product to see the science behind it before you just grab the first shiny bottle you find at GNC.
If you do decide to look for testosterone supplements, we recommend finding a supplement with tribulus and/or zinc in the form of ZMA. Both of these ingredients seem to produce the needed testosterone boost to eliminate the symptoms of low testosterone.
Regularly exercising is also an effective way to boost your testosterone levels. As mentioned earlier, a lack of exercise is a common reason why low testosterone may develop. In addition, if you aren’t properly exercising, you may only be making the problem worse.
The most effective way to use exercise to increase testosterone is to perform exercises that strengthen the testosterone release system. Since testosterone is directly related to muscular strength and power, this means that you’ll need to use exercises that enhance both your strength and power.
Before we get to the specifics, we should mention that the type of exercise we will be discussing are very intense and while they will help boost your testosterone levels, you should be wary of overtraining. If you do too much at once or in a short period of time, you may overwork your body, which will absolutely zap your testosterone levels.
The balance between healthy training and overtraining is very delicate and you should pay attention to what your body tells you. If you find yourself very sore or incredibly tired, take a day off and let your body rest. Likewise, if your performance is lagging, it might be good to take a few days off to refresh your body.
The two main areas of exercise you should be focusing are interval training and strength training.
If you are someone who can stand being on a treadmill or stationary bike, then you should be performing sprint/interval training. Studies have shown that this type of cardio training causes the highest hormonal and metabolic changes in the body, especially when used in conjunction with weight training.
For proof of this, look at the body of a sprinter and the body of a runner. Who looks better? The sprinter does by a long shot. The sprinter has large, defined muscles whereas the runner has very little muscle mass and doesn’t appear very strong.
So how does this type of cardio program work? What does it look like? To begin, you’ll want to perform a five-minute warm up session to get loose before you get into the real hard part. Once your warm up is complete you’ll want to alternate between short “sprint intervals” and active “rest periods” that are two or three times as long as the sprint interval.
As an example, you could do something like this:
- 20 second sprint – 40-60 second active rest
- 25 second sprint – 40-60 second active rest
- 30 second sprint – 60-90 second active rest
- 45 second sprint – 45-60 second active rest
- 60 second sprint – 30-60 second active rest
You may have noticed that the rest period gets shorter in proportion to the sprint time. This is mainly because as you approach the longer sprint times, you won’t be pushing yourself to the same capacity is if you were running as hard as you can for 15 seconds.
Therefore, you don’t need as hard of a rest time. To start, we recommend performing this set only once or twice before increasing the protocol to three to four times per session. The key here is the interval training, not to spend an hour on a treadmill.
Strength training is by far the most effective form of exercise to help boost your testosterone production. Nothing will help release testosterone into your system like a hard, intense strength training workout. Cardio is great but you’ll really want to focus on strength training.
Strength training will also help you pack on lean muscle mass, which will reverse many of the effects of low testosterone. It’s a win-win for you, so we recommend reading carefully to what you should do.
The Full Body Approach
Instead of isolating muscle groups, we recommend strength training using a full body approach. This is beneficial for both testosterone boosting and strength building purposes because it will workout every part of your muscle group in one workout session.
The more muscles you work in a workout, the higher your testosterone release will be. Using this approach is much more beneficial for testosterone boosting than splitting your workouts, which is a style of training many men seem to use.
To truly utilize the full body approach, you’ll want to perform compound exercises into your workouts. Compound movements engage a large group of muscles and allow you to work more individual muscles at once, which means you’ll get higher hormonal and metabolic effects as a result.
The most essential compound moves you should be performing each week include:
- Bench Press
- Shoulder Press
- Leg Press
You’ll want to perform these more often than you perform your isolation exercises like curls, front, lateral raises, calf raises, etc. In reality, you won’t really need to ever perform isolation exercises if you don’t want to. These compound exercises will utilize every muscle in your muscle so isolation exercises are truly optional.
Since you’re trying to boost your testosterone levels, you’ll want to lift in the 5 to 8 rep range per set. Some men like to start with 8 reps, then do 7, then 6, etc. The key here is to find your sweet spot in this range so that you are maximizing your training without risking injury. You should always have a spotter when performing exercises like squats or bench press just in case you cannot complete the last repetition on your own.
Shorter Rest Periods
Some people recommend that you shorten your rest periods in between sets because this tends to increase the release of testosterone. If you’re new to training or just getting back into the groove of things, then you may want to stick to regular rest. The shorter your rest period is, the higher the risk for injury. It is probably a good idea to stick to at least 60-120 seconds in between each set.
Recovering After Workouts
After your workouts, you’re going to want to make sure you are adequately allowing your body to recover. This means that you need to eat after your meals to replace the nutrients used up by your muscles, you need to get a good nights’ sleep each night, and you should avoid overtraining.
Most men have no problem with one day of recovery but some need two days. Pay attention to how your body responds to your workouts and if you feel overly sore or like you don’t have the energy to work out as hard as you need to, then take the day off. You’re body will recover and you’ll be able to train as hard as you desire.
Diet For Low T
We haven’t forgotten about how important your diet is and the truth is that your diet is more essential to your testosterone levels than exercise. After all, it doesn’t matter how hard you exercise if you’re not putting in the right amount of nutrients for your body to function properly.
Eating to boost your testosterone levels is actually fairly easy. Many of the foods you consume on a regular or somewhat regular basis are great for boosting testosterone levels. Some of the best foods to raise testosterone levels include:
Oysters have a very high zinc content, which is a requirement for the body to produce testosterone. Oysters also help support muscle growth, physical endurance, and sperm production as well.
A recent study in Japan found that testosterone levels were much higher in animals when garlic was regularly consumed. Garlic contains the potent chemical diallyl disulfide, which triggers the release of testosterone.
Eggs are rich in several vitamins and minerals, most notable Vitamin D. Vitamin D supports the production of testosterone and new studies indicate it might also prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. In a recent study, men who took vitamin D on a regular basis saw an increase in testosterone levels by up to 20% compared to a placebo group.
Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and other nuts contain zinc, magnesium, and other essential minerals to help raise testosterone levels. A recent study found that athletes given magnesium increased their free testosterone levels by an average of 26% in just four weeks. An Italian study also found that older men who had lower magnesium levels also had lower testosterone levels as well.
These nuts also are a rich source of arginine, which helps improve protein synthesis and blood flow to the muscles. Plus, they provide the body with the essential healthy fats it needs to create healthy body tissue.
Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables help to boost your testosterone levels by eliminating excess estrogen, which in turn boosts testosterone. These vegetables are high in a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, which helps eliminate estradiol, one of the most important estrogen hormones by up to 50%. Plus, these vegetables are high in fiber and other essential nutrients, which is good for your overall health.
Pomegranates are widely considered to be one of the most beneficial “superfoods” and there are a variety of health benefits to pomegranates. Some studies have shown that pomegranates help balance hormone levels and help to relieve sexual dysfunction like impotence or low sperm count
Cottage cheese is rich in several nutrients and it is also a form of a valuable protein called casein protein. Casein protein is a slow-digesting protein that will help the body recover as by slowly delivering amino acids to your muscles. It also helps promote the release of testosterone due to its’ large concentration of vitamins and minerals.
Final Thoughts On Low T
Low testosterone is a serious issue that requires men to take proactive measures so its’ effects are not permanent. Millions of men suffer from low testosterone each year. The good news is that low testosterone can be treated and that its’ effects are often not permanent.
This concludes our low testosterone guide. If you feel like you may be suffering from low testosterone, then we recommend you speak to your doctor to schedule a blood test. In the event you are suffering from low testosterone, we hope our guide will give you the tips and advice you need to stop low testosterone in its’ tracks so you can reverse the effects of low testosterone for good.