Aggressive Strength Magazine Issue 143, 11/14/2007
People make either of two mistakes: believing that all nutritional supplements are garbage or, worse, taking everything under the sun with the illusion that some benefit is derived. A more pragmatic and personal approach should be applied: Whenever you take a nutritional supplement you need to know--exactly--why you're taking it and have some standardized measurement system to track its potential benefits. When it comes to optimizing hormones, you need to know where you're at before starting any supplement strategy.
Subjective feedback, such as increased sex drive, faster recovery and improved sleep are all useful, but they can easily result from a placebo effect or even from addressing psychological and emotional issues. Thus, if you don't plan on getting a baseline panel, either blood work or by urinalysis, and then further testing to measure progress, don't bother taking supplements to optimize your hormone levels.
Testosterone is the male man-maker hormone. Men with low testosterone levels suffer from low libido, reduced zeal for life, low energy, poor training progress, poor recovery, and mild-to-moderate depression. While testosterone levels are naturally lower in women, testosterone provides the same benefits and needs to be optimized and balanced.
Ideal Testosterone Levels
Total: 500 ng/dl to 1200 ng/dl
Free: 100 ng/dl to 250 ng/dl
Total: 80 ng/dl to 120 ng/dl
Free: .9 to 3.9 ng/dl
Of the two measurements, the free levels are more important. The total level is the amount of testosterone your body is producing while the free level is the amount to which your system has access. One trainee might have a low total level and a high free level--and feel great--while another trainee with a high total level and a low free level could feel terrible.
Option 1: The Thomas Incledon Stack
Ergopharm 6 OXO: 2-5 caps twice daily on an empty stomach (men only).
Aceytl-L-Carnitine: 1 gram twice daily on an empty stomach (men and women).
Diindolylmethane (DIM): 200 mg twice daily with food (men and women).
Thomas Incledon is a sports scientist--and one of the leading formulator's of nutritional supplements. He doesn't recommend anything that isn't lab-tested and backed up with studies. You can rest assured the above stack works.
Here is how it breaks down: 6 OXO is essentially a hormone that metabolizes into testosterone. According to Incledon It doesn't shut down endogenous production like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Therefore, if you stop taking 6 OXO, T-levels will decrease to where they were before you started taking it, but no shutdown will occur.
While 6 OXO converts to testosterone, it can also convert to DHT and estrone, a form of estrogen. This can be problematic for men with already-high DHT levels, enlarged prostate, or issues with estrogen dominance. To clear out harmful estrogens, Incledon recommends DIM as part of the stack. DIM clears harmful estrogens through the urine without negatively affecting beneficial estrogen or testosterone levels--it's helpful for men and women. To protect the prostate, I recommend men take Pygeum with the above stack at a dose of 10 mg, twice daily. Incledon doesn't recommend Saw Palmetto to control DHT levels, since it deactivates testosterone receptors as well making testosterone inaccessible.
The final component of the stack is Aceytl-L-Carnitine, which is an amino acid that benefits the brain. It acts as a back-up reserve for testosterone as well as assists the pituitary gland in the brain in producing testosterone.
According to Incledon, the above stack doesn't need to be cycled. Incledon also recommends 50-100 mg of Zinc, the most important mineral for testosterone production.
You can get all of the above supplements at reputable online retailers such as Bodybuilding.com - The Future Of Bodybuilding! Huge Bodybuilding Site.
For more info on Thomas Incledon, go to: Human Health Specialists
Option #2: The Anthony Roberts Stack
Anthony Roberts is a steroid guru and his methods and advice are brutally honest and mostly controversial. All that aside, he's created two natural products that work well to increase total and free levels of testosterone as well as reducing estrogens.
MyoGenX: a natural testosterone enhancer, 2-3 caps, three times daily with meals
CyoGenX: a natural estrogen controller, 2-3 caps three times daily with meals
MyogenX contains three ingredients that work synergistically to improve testosterone levels:
Fadogia Agrestis is a plant sterol used in Nigeria to treat erectile dysfunction and low libido. A study in Asian journal of medicine determined it worked by ramping up testosterone levels. It doesn't compete with the body's own hormone production but by elevating luteinizing hormone (LH), which signals the release of testosterone.
Vitamin E benefits sexual health by increasing circulation and also has a strong anti-oxidant role. Also supports hormonal function.
Zinc is the most important mineral for testosterone production as well as crucial for immunity. When zinc levels are low, LH levels decline, with a resulting plummet in testosterone levels.
You can get MyoGenX at: Bodybuilding.com - The Future Of Bodybuilding! Huge Bodybuilding Site. and/or read more about it at: Muscle Building Supplement - Weight Gain Supplement - Best Whey Protein
CyoGenX contains three ingredients that produce all of estrogen's positive effects yet at the same time reduce overall estrogen levels. Those three ingredients are:
Procyanidin helps in blocking the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. It's also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, improve cognitive function, and has strong anti-oxidant properties.
Resesveratrol helps lover estrogen levels while increasing LH levels. It's protective of the heart, liver, prostate, is an anti-inflammatory, and promotes healthy joints.
Utica Dioica is another potent aromatase-inhibitor and binds to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which frees up testosterone.
Apparently Robert’s stack doesn't need to be cycled and may even be useful combined with the Incledon stack. However, I'd pick one stack and test drive it for at least two months before doing any combination protocols.
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is essential for muscle gain and retention; fat loss; mental well-being; joint health; workout recovery; healthy skin; energy and ideal body composition. It's also important for immunity and longevity.
When people think of human growth hormone, they think of celebrities and athletes taking HGH injections as the fountain of youth. While, HGH replacement therapy is effective at increasing IGF-1 levels (a more stable measurement for HGH) it's not free of side effects and should only be taken under medical supervision. Consider it a final resort, not a first choice. It's best left to seniors and people with pituitary deficiency i.e., those with inherently low HGH levels. Most people can bump up their HGH levels with eight hours of deep sleep nightly, avoiding over training, taking post-workout naps, engaging in intense forms of cardio and taking certain amino acids and herbs.
Ideal IGF-1 Levels
Men and women:
Over 200 ng/dl good
Over 250 ng/dl excellent
Over 300 ng/dl exceptional
ZMA: a combination of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B-6. In some studies, ZMA has been shown to increase testosterone and GH levels. However, the beneficial effects were generally observed in athletes with zinc deficiencies and/or who suffered from poor sleep.
One thing about ZMA: it definitely helps with deep, REM sleep. Users report deep sleep and vivid dreams. I myself could write several novels retelling the crazy dreams that I have had with ZMA. Bottom line: if you're zinc deficient or sleep poorly, you can benefit from adding ZMA to your supplement program.
Men: take 3 caps on an empty stomach at bedtime
Women: 2 caps on an empty stomach at bedtime.
An additional serving can be taken after workouts; ZMA isn't a sleep aid and won't make you drowsy.
You can get ZMA at most health food stores and online at: Bodybuilding.com - The Future Of Bodybuilding! Huge Bodybuilding Site.
Ageless Growth: ingredients in six capsules (recommended serving): 3600 mg of Ageless Synergy Blend (a blend of Glycerophosphocholine, L-Arginine and St. John's Wort) Niacin 100 mg; Vitamin B 300 mg
Take five days a week and then take two days off. Take six caps in the morning or before bedtime.
Sports Nutrition Scientist Thomas Incledon found that Ageless Growth increased HGH by 21.7 times after 30 minutes, 12.6 times after 60 minutes and 7.1 times after 90 minutes. The same study also showed decreased cortisol levels. Unhealthy cortisol levels were lowered by 21.6% in 30 minutes, 42.1% in 60 minutes and 43.3% in 90 minutes after ingesting Ageless Growth.
As compelling as these results are, the real question is whether levels remained high enough to offer any real benefit. While having a GH boost is great before and after training, are the increases levels from Ageless Growth high enough to result in increased muscle growth and improved body composition?
For more information on Ageless Growth, go to: Bodybuilding, Weight Training, Nutrition and Diet Guidelines from Mr. Universe Dave Draper
NOW brand IGF-1 Spray
This product is a concentrated form of deer antler velvet. The deer antlers are collected humanely in New Zealand and apparently contain a good amount of IGF-1. Most doctors will tell you this product, along with any other HGH-boosting supplement, is garbage and a waste of money. While this may be true for most HGH-boosting supplements, many of my online clients using NOW IGF-1 spray have experienced substantial increases in IGF-1 levels. One client went from 190ng/dl to 284ng/dl. How much of this increase is attributed to the spray is difficult to determine since I encourage my clients to increase quantity and quality of sleep and place them on programs which fit their lifestyles and recovery abilities. Regardless, NOW brand IGF-1 spray may be a viable option for HGH support and a one-month supply is less than $20.00.
You can get it online at: Bodybuilding.com - The Future Of Bodybuilding! Huge Bodybuilding Site.
DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. People with higher DHEA levels generally have a higher tolerance for stress and greater adrenal health than those with low DHEA levels since DHEA has an inverse relationship with cortisol, meaning when DHEA levels are high, cortisol levels are low and when cortisol levels are high, DHEA levels are low. DHEA enhances the immune system and improves mental well-being and cognitive function.
Ideal DHEA Levels:
Men: 250-550 ng/dl
Women: 100-500 ng/dl
While taking supplemental DHEA via tablets or creams seems beneficial, it's not devoid of side effects. DHEA is only a few metabolic steps away from testosterone and estrogen, thus, it can be converted into testosterone or, unfortunately, estrogen (estradiol and estrone). In fact, in men, DHEA is usually converted into estrogen without any increase in DHEA levels.
If you choose to give DHEA supplementation a shot, pre-determine your DHEA levels, as well as your estradiol and estrone levels, before commencing. To stay on the safe side, take an estrogen-lowering product, such as CyoGenX, or at least DIM. Start with a conservative dose as follows:
Men: 25-50 mg once daily
Women: 2-5 mg once daily
The cream has a higher absorption rate and, I'd guess, less is converted into estrogen since it bypasses the liver, so doesn't require much metabolic effort. Another advantage of DHEA cream is that you can take it before going to sleep, more closely mimicking natural DHEA production (remember, hormones are produced while you sleep).
Again, I don't recommend DHEA supplementation without expert supervision. Just because it's cheap and available at every grocery store doesn't mean it's safe. It's a hormone and needs to be taken with caution.
According to my friend--and one of the most knowledgeable health and fitness guys around--Dr. William Wong, “...all the good things attributed to estrogen are actually the functions of progesterone."
Progesterone is important to every woman’s well being as well as for men. Progesterone acts as an aromatase-inhibitor, interrupting the conversion of testosterone into estrogen and DHT.
Optimal Progesterone Levels
Men: 0.8-1.2 ng/dl
Women: 8-10 ng/dl (non pregnant woman)
Supplements for Optimizing Progesterone
Maca is a Peruvian herb containing precursors to testosterone and progesterone. In men it can help increase free testosterone and in women it can increase progesterone. The more stress you live with, the more maca you'll need. For periods of moderate stress, 1-2 tablespoons daily suffice for men. For higher periods of stress 3-5 tablespoons may be necessary. For women, half that dosage is a good place to start.
Make sure you get maca powder and not maca capsules. One tablespoon of powder is equal to a bottle of capsules. Further, it's food, so you need to consume a lot to get the desired effect.
You can get it here: The Official Supplement Store of Dr. William Wong, ND, PhD
Stabilized Rice Bran and Germ
My friend, and health expert, Ori Hofmekler introduced me to this product and I think it works just as well as maca--it certainly tastes a million times better.
Stabilized rice bran and germ is an exceptional nutrient-rich functional food with a naturally occurring broad nutrient profile of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, antioxidants and phytosterols. By virtue of its nutritional composition, stabilized rice bran and germ has proven to possess blood sugar-lowering and blood cholesterol-lowering properties. It's also a great natural source for hormonal support nutrients. Its main phytosterol, beta sitosterol, converts in the body to the steroid hormones progesterone in women and testosterone in men, thereby balancing the body’s hormonal integrity.
The recommended dosage is 1-2 tablespoons for men and women. I think the same rules apply as with maca. The more stressed-out you are, the more you need, so if you don't feel a difference after a few weeks of 1-2 tablespoons, double the dose.
Warrior Rice Powder
Stabilized rice bran and germ soluble for a lean and powerful body.
Stabilized rice bran and germ is an exceptional nutrient-rich functional food with naturally occurring broad nutrient profile of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, antioxidants and phytosterols. By virtue of its nutritional composition, stabilized rice bran and germ has shown to possess blood sugar lowering and blood cholesterol lowering properties. It is also a great natural source for hormonal supportive nutrients. Its main phytosterol, beta sitosterol, has shown to convert in the body to the steroid hormones progesterone in women and testosterone in men, and thus helps support the body’s hormonal integrity.
Warrior Rice Powder is an exceptional nutrient-dense product with naturally occurring hormonal supportive compounds, often missing in the diet. Warrior Rice Powder can help enhance the body’s nutritional defenses against excess of estrogen. It can be applied as a nutritional supportive product at any phase of The Warrior Diet and The Anti-Estrogenic Diet.
Made With: Stabilized rice bran and germ soluble, non-chemically processed. Contains naturally occurring vitamins in their most bioactive form including: vitamin E complex (tocopherols and tocotrienols), vitamin A (beta carotene and carotenoids), B vitamin complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, folic acid, choline and inositol), phytosterols (β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol and brassicasterol), minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, iron, copper and zinc.
Recommended Use: Add 1 – 2 tbs. of Warrior Rice to 4 oz. of water, blend until fully dissolved. Can also be sprinkled on foods, added to soups or chewed dry as a snack. Warrior Rice can be mixed with Warrior Milk or EstroX meal replacement.
* Can serve as an anti-estrogenic food
* Provides hormonal supportive and metabolic enhancing nutrients
* May help lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol
* Tastes great
Movies and Testosterone Levels
The following movies, screened by Mahler’s Aggressive Strength Institute ;-), have been shown to increase testosterone levels--make sure you rent them often:
* Last of the Mohicans
* Conan The Barbarian
* Fight Club
* The Untouchables
* Young Guns
* Eastern Promises
* A History Of Violence
* The Crow
* Man On Fire
* Training Day
* Godfather 1 and 2
* The Terminator
* The Shield
* Prison Break
* Battlestar Galactica (the new series)
The following movies were observed to dramatically increase estrogen levels, leading to depression, low sex drive, and general feelings of unworthiness:
* Dirty Dancing
* Love, Actually (the ultimate sex drive obliterator)
* Bridget Jones' Diary
* Any movie with Hugh Grant
* Any movie Julia Roberts (possibly excepting The Mexican)
Ally McBeal (no, it's not on anymore but society may never recover from the resulting estrogen surge from this terrible show)
* Grey’s Anatomy
* 99% of reality TV shows
* 99% of shows on the WB
* Any shows on the Lifetime channel
Thought-provoking movies (Contrary to popular opinion, thinking is a good thing!)
* The Deer Hunter
* Gone, Baby, Gone
* 12 Monkeys
* Antwone Fisher
* The Butterfly Effect
* Man On Fire
* Pulp Fiction (No man can forget this one! Aghhh)
Recommended Websites For More Research
* Thomas Incledon: Human Health Specialists
* Dr. Wong: Dr. Wong's Essentials Natural Health Website
* Ori Hofmekler: Defense Nutrition
* Nick Delgado: www.ultimatemedicalnutrition.com