Testosterone is an Androgenic Steroid Hormone that is more often than not associated to male characteristics. Testosterone, however, is produced by both males and females in, albeit significantly different levels in the reproductive systems. The testes in the males and ovaries in the females.
The levels of testosterone in females will be around one-seventh of that in men (A massive reason why weight training isn’t going to make you look like a man) yet is critical to the health and sexual development, age typically sees a linear decrease in the amount of testosterone in both males and females alike. Testosterone imbalances in males can result in feminisation or the development of female characteristics and the opposite can be said of females. With a drop or imbalance in testosterone levels, the balance of hormones becomes disturbed and masculinisation can occur. A symptom already associated with the menopause. Often confused as a direct elevation in testosterone it is actually brought about be an unstable level of testosterone coupled with the natural drop in estrogen.
The role we have if optimal hormonal health is to be achieved and the resultant physiological benefits are to maximise the natural levels of testosterone in both sexes until later life.
At this point, I feel I am off on a sales pitch to females as men seem comfortable knowing that elevation or stabilisation will lead to a better physique and not saying we’re shallow but in most cases, that’s enough.
For the ladies out there reading this these are the roles that a normal testosterone have within your body:
Increase in Sexual Response and Libido
Positive impact on mood and mental health eliciting a feeling of well-being, power, motivation and assertiveness.
During the menopause regulating a normal level can prevent the increase seen through the drop in estrogen levels.
Stable levels have been shown to decrease the risk of neural disorders and stroke. The risk of breast and uterine cancers, osteoporosis, vascular disorders and heart disease to name but a few.
Normal testosterone levels can help with fat loss as well. More on this in a second.
So as you can see these ‘normal’ levels are critical to maintaining. That one-seventh output needs to remain at one-seventh (Remember it cannot go beyond your natural level unless synthetic testosterone is added to the female environment).
Much like in men there has been no ‘exact’ level to shoot at, for males a level of 250 ng/dl is considered low and ranges up to 600 ng/dl seem to be optimal. For females therefore 35 ng/dl would be considered on the low side with 85 ng/dl being good. Aiming at optimal levels is good but when would we see an excess of production?
In females adrenal and ovarian dysfunction, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and diabetes all cause an excessive elevation in Testosterone and resultant masculinisation.
Adrenal Dysfunction is brought about by stressors. These can be categorised as
External Stressors: Anxiety, Lack of Sleep, Excessive Exercise, Pain, Injury
Internal Stressors: Bacterial, Viral and Parasitic infections, Gastrointestinal problems and toxin overload (Alcohol the main issue here).
Ovarian dysfunction, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and Diabetes all have HUGE associations with being overweight. Not only will a good diet regulate Insulin and weight but also maintain this healthy hormonal balance we’re looking for.
Also bodyfat, bodyfat contains an enzyme called aromatase that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. The more body fat someone has, therefore, the higher the estrogen levels will be and subsequently lower testosterone levels.
Cutting calories excessively and repeatedly however will lower the production of testosterone, the reason why so many women can lose fat from everywhere but hips and thighs. This coupled with adrenal dysfunction can be a major issue when fat loss is concerned. This is one of the reasosns why you shouldn’t drop calories excessively with people for fat loss. One of the other major reasons is the behavioural changes that occur.
Look at the scenario…..years of low-fat low-calorie dieting, the initial increase in weight and drop in testosterone with a resultant increase in estrogen, the body starts to store fat around thighs and hips and aromatase levels increase, the onset of diabetes, PCOS. At this stage, the body starts to overproduce testosterone and we see the resultant and unwanted masculinisation.
Seems a VERY familiar scenario in today’s society and a LARGE amount of the female clients I deal with for fat loss. Dependant upon what stage in that scenario they are depends upon the strategy to implement. Diet remains the initial key and ‘regulation’ of hormones as a by-product of that more-so. Someone in the initial stages would be to maintain a ‘good’ caloric intake and bring about fat loss through marginal deficits in food and increased activity. Insulin regulation which I have spoken about before. Insulin is the master hormone and taking control over someone’s diet will have more of a profound effect than anything on hormonal regulation. There is no magical solution here. Have a better diet, los some body fat.
Some things that won’t make a huge statistical difference but have a high amount of other benefits so worth doing.
Help with the removal of excess estrogen by consuming a diet high in fibre and large amounts of cruciferous vegetables, these contain small amounts of diindolylmethane (or DIM) that can assist your body in getting rid of excess estrogen. THIS is standard and has a million other reasons to do this (lots of veggies are good)…..so just pipe down and DO IT. It’s not going to change your world but the additional benefits to more veggies is worth me giving you another selling point.
Try to live in an environment as devoid of synthetic chemicals as possible, many chemicals contain xenoestrogens (estrogen mimickers). This is just common sense really. It’s not going to create a massive difference so don’t get paranoid about it or hung up on it. Foods are also made up of chemicals so don’t get all smug claiming you’re avoiding chemicals so will live longer than a Vulcan (Star trek reference). Eat fresh food as much as possible, that will also increases the fibre as mentioned in the above point and lowers the preservatives, e-numbers etc. Both good things long term.
One other point I want to get across is that Testosterone protects muscle tissue and also enhances our ability to develop it and make adaptations to it. Remember that a female will see only a seventh roughly of what a male can develop even if we put them both on the same ‘muscle building’ regime the returns we must understand are VERY different.
Lifting weights (or any physical or mental stress) increases stress hormones (That’s an essential occurrence) but it also increases testosterone and growth hormone output. Cardiovascular exercise increases stress hormones yet doesn’t do much for testosterone or growth hormone levels. If you want to build muscle, get stronger or tone up, a large proportion of your training should be using higher levels of resistance.
I could honestly fill a book with what there is to know about Testosterone and other corresponding hormones but hopefully, this will give you a slightly better understanding what it will do for you or your clients in pursuit of that lean, toned shapely physique.