What do fewer spontaneous erections, loss of sexual interest, decreased energy levels, and depression have in common?
In fact, this anabolic steroid hormone affects a number of functions in males including mood, memory, sleep, and strength. By the time a man reaches age 70 however, he will have half the concentration of circulating testosterone he once did in his 20’s. Growth hormone (GH), produced by the pituitary gland decreases as well. GH not only stimulates insulin-like growth factor 1 for cell growth, DNA synthesis, and regeneration, but also triggers male testes to produce testosterone.
Testosterone, referred to as the “male hormone” is responsible for sex drive and sexual function in males, sperm production, muscle and bone mass, red blood cell production, and fat distribution. As men age, testosterone levels begin to drop. After about age 40, circulating testosterone decreases approximately 1.6% every year.
Loss of erectile quality
Decreased intellectual/cognitive function
Less muscle mass and strength
Loss of body hair
Loss of bone mass/mineral density
Increased abdominal fat
What We Know
Scientists have long known that supplementing the male body with testosterone produces significant gains in lean mass, muscle strength, and physical endurance. Body and trunk fat are also decreased. Effects are further enhanced by GH supplementation.
While hormone replacement therapy for some men with low “T” may be an excellent option to be discussed with a physician, individuals can also benefit from a number of lifestyle changes involving diet and exercise.
Strength training may increase GH production and testosterone release in younger men.
In one Ball State study, published in the journal, “Mechanisms of Aging and Development” older and younger respondents were tested for basal levels of GHand Testosterone at both one and 12-week intervals, while completing a progressive resistance training program. The subjects exercised on Nautilus equipment for a required 45-60 minute period daily and completed three sets of lifts with 8-10 Reps/set.
While hormone level changes in basal GH were not significant over the long-term, in response to a singular exercise period, GH levels in young men went from 0.85 +/- 0.13 to 4.19 +/- 1.45 ng/ml before training and from 1.45 +/- 0.11 to 8.61 +/- 2.55 after training. Each response was significant (P less than 0.05) as were pre-post differences (P less than 0.001) measured.
“In conclusion, the data presented here indicate that strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age, but that the elderly response does not equal that of the young”, according to study authors, Craig, Brown, and Everhart.
While patterns of natural GH release can appear to be somewhat erratic, intermittent fasting may actually have a positive effect on the body’s ability to secrete growth hormone in men. According to one study, GH release was enhanced by fasting on the first and fifth days of a controlled study significantly increasing discrete GH pulse frequency (5.8 +/- 0.7 vs. 9.9 +/- 0.7 pulses/24 h, P = 0.028), 24 h integrated GH concentration (2.82 +/- 0.50 vs. 8.75 +/- 0.82 micrograms.min/ml; P = 0.0002), and maximal pulse amplitude (5.9 +/- 1.1 vs. 12.3 +/- 1.6 ng/ml, P less than 0.005). “Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man”, concluded researchers.
Garlic may also be especially helpful in raising testosterone levels in males, as suggested in research published in the American Society of Nutrition’s, “Journal of Nutrition”. In one laboratory study where rats were fed a high protein diet, dietary supplementation with 0.8 g/100 g garlic altered hormones by increasing testicular testosterone and decreasing plasma corticosterone.
According to one Finnish study, saturated fats and monounsaturated fatty acids aid in testosterone production, while polyunsaturated fatty acids actually suppress the male hormone, due to lipid peroxidation, (degradation of lipids). Research also indicated that total fat intake between 25–40% of daily calories is optimal for men and testosterone production.
So, what should I eat?
Foods high in saturated fats that help boost testosterone production include:
While a decrease in growth hormone and testosterone can negatively impact health and wellness for many men, positive choices and changes through diet and exercise may help stimulate the natural secretion of anabolic hormones.
Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men.
Garlic supplementation increases testicular testosterone and decreases plasma corticosterone in rats fed a high protein diet.
Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects.