Andropause is the medical term for decreasing testosterone in men and is similar to menopause in women. Testosterone levels start dropping once men hit their 30’s, but this varies from man to man. Symptoms of low T can include:
Increased body fat and difficulty losing it
Loss of muscle mass and difficulty building muscle
Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
Mood changes and irritability
Difficulty with mental focus and concentration
Sleep difficulty, hot flashes, or midnight sweats
Low sperm count and male breast tissue
Hormone replacement therapy seems like an easy fix, especially the pellets that gradually release testosterone – but I have concerns about this popular trend. First, controlling the level of hormones released is extremely difficult. More concerning, however, is our body’s ability to sense how much testosterone from the pellets is already circulating; therefore, it can cut the production of natural testosterone, which could leave you with even lower levels when the pellets are gone.
So what other options for men with concerns about symptoms of low T are there? I have two general categories to approach low T “naturally”. The first is supplements. Here are a few that I personally use in addition to a quality multivitamin.
Vitamin D & Zinc
Cortisol Calm – We carry this in the office. It contains Ashwagandha and other herbs which help control elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a “stress” hormone which is known to lower testosterone.
DHEA – this is a precursor molecule that your body uses to make testosterone
The second category I’ll call do’s and don’ts.
use plastic food and beverage containers. These contain estrogen-like compounds and are known to leach out of the plastic and disrupt hormones
carry around excessive fat, especially in the belly. Adipose tissue actually secretes small amounts of estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for female sexual characteristics and the ratio of testosterone to estrogen is important to control for improvement of symptoms.
be sedentary. Physical activity is the single most substantial factor which encourages optimal testosterone production.
eat excessive sugar and simple carbs. Make carbs count by eating veggies.
consume excess alcohol as it has been shown to encourage the body to produce estrogen which inhibits the body’s ability to generate testosterone.
exercise regularly. The most effective forms of exercise include weightlifting. Lift as heavy as you can with good form, without injury. If painful joints prevent the use of heavy weight, then use shorter rest between sets to get better “pumps” and literally squeeze testosterone out of your muscles. Hit as many areas/muscles as you can, especially bigger muscles like chest and legs. Think sprints rather than long workouts on the treadmill or bike. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good way to accomplish this. I personally like to run or bike kills. Intensity is the key. You get out of what you put into your workouts.
eat proteins and healthy fats. Cholesterol is a building block for hormones, so might cholesterol lowering medication be impacting testosterone levels?
Eat right and exercise – who would have guessed it? While these recommendations are not easy, they are fairly simple. Make slow changes in how you eat and your physical activity and build on these changes each week to see results.