Yay!! I’ve lost 25.6 pounds total so far with 54.4 pounds to go to reach my goal! My BMI has dropped from 36.9 to 33.1 and my goal BMI is 24.9.
Natural Weight Loss
Testosterone and DHEA
Metabolic Hormones #5 and #6: Testosterone and DHEA
The androgens testosterone and DHEA aren’t just for guys.
Don’t worry, ladies – boosting these hormones won’t turn you into Neanderthals.
In fact, they can help increase your energy, make you want to hit the gym, and help you build more calorie-burning muscle.
That’s why we have to do everything we can to protect their levels, because as we get older, they start to head south.
Where Testosterone and DHEA Come From: Testes, ovaries, and adrenals.
Men produce most of their testosterone in their reproductive glands, the testes.
Testosterone helps develop men’s secondary sex characteristics, like body and facial hair.
But testosterone helps both guys and gals – it boosts libido, keeps energy high, protects bone, and preserves mental function in later years.
Most of women’s testosterone comes from their adrenals, which is also the source of their DHEA.
A precursor to testosterone (and estradiol), DHEA may help prevent breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, impaired memory and brain function, as well as osteoporosis.
DHEA may even help us live longer.
How Testosterone and DHEA Impact Your Metabolism: Androgens are, by definition, anabolic hormones – they build rather than destroy.
And what they build, thank goodness, is mostly muscle.
In both men and women, testosterone helps increase lean muscle mass and strength, boosts libido, and improves energy.
In women, testosterone can also be converted to estrogen.
Testosterone and DHEA are forces of good in the metabolic war.
How Testosterone and DHEA Get Out of Whack: Testosterone and DHEA are both hormones of youth.
As we get older, our production of them starts to trend downward.
About 1/3 of all women experience low androgen levels at some point in their lives.
Starting as early as 30, men’s testosterone dips about 1-2% per year.
In most men, this slow and steady decline of “andropause” is different from women’s more rapid loss of estrogen and progesterone (which basically fall off a cliff at menopause).
DHEA also declines, and because it’s the building block of so many important hormones, all hormone levels suffer.
As we lose these powerful androgens to advancing age, certain things happen:
Our libidos slip, our muscles lose mass, we gain abdominal fat, and our bones weaken.
Motivation to exercise decreases, which is absolutely tragic because exercise helps to boost testosterone.
Men with abnormally low free testosterone levels are almost 3 times more likely to be depressed than men with high testosterone.
To make matters worse, as people gain weight, their bodies start to convert more of their testosterone to estrogen.
This estrogen can then start to overshadow the effects of the testosterone in another vicious cycle: more estrogen, more fat; more fat, more estrogen.
The testosterone keeps getting crowded out of the equation.
Testosterone supplementation is a new field, and although some of the research seems very promising, doctors remain a bit cautious until longer-term studies are completed.
One area that’s clearly dangerous is when younger people try to supplement their androgens without the help of an endocrinologist.
When young people take artificial anabolic steroids, they actually train their glands to produce less of their own androgens.
That’s why guys who take steroids tend to have tiny testicles and high voices – their bodies think they have plenty of male hormones, so they stop producing any of their own.
(Kind of the opposite of what they want, right?)
Another risk comes when people self-diagnose “adrenal fatigue” and start to supplement with DHEA without consulting an endocrinologist.
When done incorrectly, this type of supplementation can do one of two things:
1. Hamper adrenal hormone production (because your adrenals now believe you have enough circulating hormones and stop making their own)
2. Cause your body to convert the excess DHEA into excess estrogen (which can worsen your problems with body fat and exacerbate cancer risks)
Bottom line: Don’t mess around with supplementation without medical assistance.
You’re much better off optimizing your body’s natural production of androgens.
You can do that by protecting your adrenals and making sure you have plenty of good-quality fats and protein, as well as vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins and zinc) to build these critical steroids.
On the other end of the spectrum, some women develop PCOS, a syndrome in which they have too much androgen.
PCOS is intricately related to insulin resistance, but researchers still aren’t 100% sure of what causes it.
Women with PCOS often have irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, and trouble getting pregnant.
Unfortunately, the excess androgens and insulin resistance also send a lot of fat directly to women’s bellies, mimicking male-pattern weight gain.
Because we still don’t know exactly where it comes from, our best chance of avoiding PCOS is to manage our insulin levels – which is job number one on this diet.
We’ll talk about norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol in the next post.
Come join me on my weight loss journey! I’d love to have you along!
Have an awesome day!
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If you’d like to read Jillian’s book, you can get it here: Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!
Dick and Lenay
email: Lenay@dickandlenay.com – 715-431-0657