From Charles Poliquin
Supporting testosterone levels is one of the most important things you can do to improve body composition and health, especially as you age. Last week, I wrote about the basics of increasing testosterone (T) naturally in this blog (see a link to that tip at the bottom), but once you’ve got your dietary bases covered, it’s beneficial to have additional natural T-boosting strategies.
A recent study provides an entry to consider other methods of raising testosterone naturally. A new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology tested the effect of giving DHEA to young and middle-aged men and having them do a high-intensity interval workout. DHEA is a precursor to a number of hormones in the body including T.
The study showed that at baseline, free testosterone, which is the form that is able to interact with tissue to build muscle, was 75 percent lower in the middle-aged men (49-year-olds) than in the young (21-year-olds) men. Giving both groups one 50 mg dose of DHEA raised free testosterone levels significantly before the workout (from 2.76 pg/ml to 9.99 pg/ml in the older men, and 9.22 pg/ml to 19.4 pg/ml in the younger men). The free T to cortisol ratio was also much more favorable before the workout in both groups, indicating that DHEA is effective for acutely raising T.
Then, after a high-intensity interval workout free testosterone stayed the same, whereas total testosterone dropped in both groups. Researchers think the mechanism via which free T stayed elevated but total testosterone dropped has to do with DHEA decreasing the amount of sex-hormone binding globulin present, which binds to T and makes it unavailable for tissue interaction. So, lower SHGB means less T is bound to it and more is free to build muscle.
Additional considerations presented by the researchers in this study include the following:
• Higher estrogen is a common effect of taking DHEA, but it wasn’t seen in this study, which researchers suggest is due to the dose of DHEA being low. This is a critical point any time you try to raise your T—you have to ensure your body is not aromatizing, or changing, T into estrogen because this has been seen in the research. Nutrient deficiencies can be a major contributor to aromatization, which is why you should read the tip that is linked at the bottom.
• Although free T wasn’t lower after the workout, DHEA was, which may be because DHEA is consumed by muscle cells to aid in regeneration. DHEA is thought to play an important role in tissue remodeling and training adaptation.
• Longer term supplementation of DHEA has been shown to enhance muscle and strength gains with training in elderly men and women. It could have the same effect on middle and younger aged subjects, but the long-term effects haven’t been tested.
• Dietary content can influence testosterone and androgen receptors after training—carnitine, in particular, is effective at enhancing the androgen receptivity post-exercise.
• To review the basics to supporting testosterone, read the tip Natural Tips to Increase Testosterone To Get Stronger.
Liu, T., et al. Effect of Acute DHEA Administration on Free Testosterone in Middle-Aged and Young Men Following High-Intensity Interval Training. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2013. Published Ahead of Print.