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Infinite Labs Presents: Robbie Durand – The Castration of American Men

I recently went and saw American Sniper over the weekend and I must say, it was a kick ass and highly motivational movie.  Chris Kyle, who was the real life American Sniper before joining the military, worked on ranches and competed in rodeo events busting broncos. He had a ruggedly strong look — broad shoulders, tough. Kyle was a lifter and a warrior, not a bodybuilder.  Kyle, a member of SEAL Team 3, served four tours in the Iraq War. In his time there, he is purported to have shot and killed more than 160 targets. In Iraq, Kyle was so well-known that he was given the nickname “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi insurgents, who put a bounty on his head. His job was to stop the enemy from killing fellow U.S. service members. Kyle must have had the testosterone levels of 10 men to perform such heroic acts of valor for his country.  So just about every article you read talks about increasing your testosterone, because as a whole country, our testosterone levels are dropping.  Studies have shown the average man’s testosterone in today’s society is nearly 25 per cent lower than in the 1980s. Without adequate testosterone, men become infertile, impotent, docile and weak. Here are the things that have been scientifically proven to drive your testosterone levels into the ground and may help bring awareness to the things you can do to increase your testosterone levels.

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Top ways to Destroy Your Testosterone Levels

Eat a lot of Simple Sugar– Table sugar is made of glucose and fructose, while fructose is also commonly used in sweetened beverages, syrups, and low-fat food products. Estimates suggest North Americans consume 33 kg of refined sugar and an additional 20 kg of high fructose corn syrup per person per year. Eating too much fructose and glucose can turn off the gene that regulates the levels of active testosterone and estrogen in the body.  This was reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. This discovery reinforces public health advice to eat complex carbohydrates and avoid sugar. Glucose and fructose are metabolized in the liver. Both excess glucose and fructose cause insulin resistance and raises insulin levels in the body, which increases the deposition of fat in the fat cells.  Using a mouse model and human liver cell cultures, the scientists discovered that the increased production of lipid shut down a gene called SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), reducing the amount of SHBG protein in the blood. SHBG protein plays a key role in controlling the amount of testosterone and estrogen that’s available throughout the body. Past research shows that a high level of insulin, the hormone primarily secreted after eating, is related to low testosterone levels. Like eating, glucose intake causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise, which stimulates secretion of insulin. Researchers examined the impact of a standard dose of simple glucose on testosterone levels in 74 men.  The authors found that the glucose solution decreased blood levels of testosterone by as much as 25 percent. Two hours after glucose administration, the testosterone level remained much lower than before the test in 73 of the 74 men, a statistically significant difference, the authors reported. Of the 66 men who had normal testosterone levels before the test, 10 (15 percent) became hypogonadal at one or more time points during the test.  The results suggest that consuming simple sugars can have a detrimental impact on testosterone levels.


Don’t Sleep More than Four Hours– Plasma testosterone levels display circadian variation, peaking during sleep, and reaching a nadir in the late afternoon, with a superimposed ultradian rhythm with pulses every 90 min reflecting the underlying rhythm of pulsatile luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion. The increase in testosterone is sleep, rather than circadian rhythm, dependent and requires at least 3 h of sleep with a normal architecture. Various disorders of sleep including abnormalities of sleep quality, duration, circadian rhythm disruption, and sleep-disordered breathing may result in a reduction in testosterone levels. The evidence, to support a direct effect of sleep restriction or circadian rhythm disruption on testosterone independent of an effect on sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), or the presence of comorbid conditions, is equivocal and on balance seems tenuous. One cross-sectional study examined the different associations of age and sleep duration with sex steroid hormones and sexual activities in 531 Asian Chinese men aged between 29 and 72 years old. Sleep duration and sexual activities were evaluated through a self-administered questionnaire, and total testosterone (T), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), estradiol (E2), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) were measured by established immunoassay methods in a single blood sample collected between 8:00 and 11:00 am. Age was a major determinant of sleep, sex steroid hormones, and sexual activities in men. Bio available testosterone, DHEAS, coital frequency, masturbation, and sleep duration declined with age. On the other hand, SHBG and estrogen increased with age. Sleep duration, independently of age, aerobic exercise, and body fat, was positively associated with testosterone and bioavailable testosterone, but not with DHEAS, estrogen, or any of the sexual activities studied. Men who masturbated had higher levels of both testosterone and bioavailable testosterone. DHEAS was significantly associated with coital frequency and desire for sex. The present study showed that besides age, sleep duration was associated with androgen concentrations in men, and thus the evaluation of sleep hygiene may be beneficial in the management of men with low androgen concentrations. Another study examined 531 healthy men as testosterone levels among subjects, and they examined how the amount of sleep correlated with their testosterone level. The results again show that the men who slept more also had significantly higher testosterone levels. In fact the guys who slept for 4 hours had about 60% less testosterone in their serum, than the men who slept for 8 hours sleeping and male testosterone levels. In another study, twelve healthy men ages 64 to 74 years were examined. Three morning blood samples were pooled for the measurement of total and free testosterone. The main outcome measures were total sleep time and morning testosterone levels. Sleep time in the laboratory was correlated with the usual amount of nighttime sleep at home.  The researchers reported that the amount of nighttime sleep measured was an independent predictor of the morning total and free testosterone levels of the subjects. The differences in the measured amount of nighttime sleep are associated with a significant part of the variability in the morning testosterone levels of healthy older men.


Become a Vegan: 

Most vegetarians (and vegans especially) must have lower testosterone levels than their meat-eating counterparts.   There are some reasons why meat eaters may have more testosterone such as: meat is full of saturated fat and the research shows that saturated fat is pro-testosterone.  Testosterone is produced from the pre-cursor cholesterol and meat has cholesterol, which may help facilitate more testosterone production.  For example, a 1979 study evaluated switching eleven men from a low fat (25% of calories) vegetarian diet to a higher fat (40% of calories) western diet. (Both diets provided the same calories per day.) T-levels were an average of 401 on the vegetarian diet and 581 on the western diet. That’s a 30+% reduction in testosterone when placed on a vegan diet.  It also matters what type of fats you consume.  Some general advice would be: total fat greater than at least 35% (40-50% is better).  Saturated fat (SFA) monounsaturated fats such as those in olive oil and avocadoes boost testosterone.  Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) such as corn, sunflower and safflower oils, decrease testosterone.  The ratio of PUFA/SFA is critical. You want this ratio less than 1.0 and ideally less than 0.5 to increase your testosterone.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are higher fiber, which also has been linked to low testosterone.  The high fiber in diets is thought to reduce cholesterol and increased SHBG (Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin) levels.  SHBG, is the protein that does chemically bonds to most of the testosterone in your body.

Become Psychologically Stressed Out: LOSE: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol play a critical role in blocking testosterone’s actions. Losing a game or match is associated with increased cortisol levels.  Researchers measured hormone levels of saliva samples provided by 57 subjects. The respondents participated in a one-on-one competition and were given the opportunity to compete again after winning or losing. Among those who lost, 100 percent of the subjects with high testosterone and low cortisol requested a rematch to recapture their lost status. However, 100 percent of participants with high testosterone and high cortisol declined to compete again. All subjects who declined a rematch experienced a significant drop in testosterone after defeat, which may help to explain their unwillingness to compete again. According to research, chronically elevated cortisol levels can produce impotence and loss of libido by inhibiting testosterone production in men. Depression is also associated with low testosterone.  One study found that the cortisol levels of the depressed individuals were 68% higher than those without depression. That same study found that testosterone, both nighttime and 24-hour, was significantly lower in these individuals and was negatively correlated with cortisol levels.  Having high stress levels be from your job or personal life is not conducive for high testosterone levels.

Run a Marathon:

Marathon runners often suffer from suppressed testosterone levels due to the fact that running is associated with increases in cortisol and high cortisol levels and testosterone can’t co-exist together.  Previous pharmacological and pathological studies have reported negative relationships between circulating testosterone and certain stress hormones (i.e., cortisol and prolactin) in humans. These relationships have subsequently been used in hypotheses explaining the subclinical resting testosterone levels often found in some endurance-trained males, but as of yet no one has specifically examined these relationships as they relate to exercise. Researchers examined the relationship between total and free testosterone levels and cortisol, and between total and free testosterone and prolactin following prolonged endurance exercise in trained males. Twenty-two endurance-trained males volunteered to run at 100% of their ventilatory threshold on a treadmill until volitional fatigue. Blood samples were taken at pre-exercise baseline; volitional fatigue; 30 min, 60 min, and 90 min into recovery; and at 24 h post-baseline. At 90 minutes after the run, neither cortisol nor prolactin was significantly different from their baseline values, but total and free testosterones were reduced significantly from baseline. Cortisol, total testosterone and free testosterone at 24 h were significantly lower than their respective baseline levels. Negative relationships existed between peak cortisol response versus total. There were no significant relationships between prolactin and total or free testosterone. In conclusion, the present findings give credence to the hypothesis suggesting a linkage between the low resting testosterone found in endurance-trained runners and stress hormones, with respect to cortisol.

Drink Lots of Alcohol! Research has demonstrated that both acute and chronic alcohol exposure are associated with lowered testosterone levels suggesting that alcohol inhibits testosterone secretion. A three-week study that had men and consume 30-40 g alcohol per day, showed a 6.8% reduction in testosterone for the men. For those that are a little more hardcore drinkers or in a frat club, ~120 g alcohol, the equivalent of 10 beers, will lower testosterone by 23% for up to 16 hours after the drinking binge. Another study looked at exhaustive endurance training followed by post-workout alcohol intakes in the 120 g range (1.5 g/kg) and saw significant suppression of testosterone that carried over to the next day. Beer seems to be the biggest offender for suppressing testosterone levels. Beer contains the ingredient hops. The hops in beer are so estrogenic; they are currently being studied as a treatment for hot flashes in menopausal women. Long ago German beer makers made the startling discovery that the women who harvested hops actually experienced earlier menstrual periods. At the same times, male brewers who handled hops suffered from the “brewer’s droop,” a sort of sexual dysfunction caused by being exposed to high levels of phytoestrogens. Hops contain a substance called 8-prenylnaringenin, which acts as a phytoestrogen, mimicking the effects of natural estrogen in the body. The reason for all of this is now known: hops is one of the more powerful phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) in the world. Today, hops are far and away the most used plant-based estrogen, primarily being consumed through beer.

So there you have, the top testosterone killers of men, but many of the causes of depressed testosterone levels can be easily reversed by lifestyle modification.  In fact, just by sleeping more and being able to keep your stress levels down can substantially raise your testosterone levels.

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Volek, J.S., et al. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 82(1): 49-54, 1997. 

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Villalta J, Ballescà JL, Nicolás JM, Martínez de Osaba MJ, Antúnez E, Pimentel C. Testicular function in asymptomatic chronic alcoholics: relation to ethanol intake. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1997 Feb;21(1):128-33.

Erkkola R, Vervarcke S, Vansteelandt S, Rompotti P, De Keukeleire D, Heyerick  A. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over pilot study on the use of a standardized hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts. Phytomedicine. 2010 May;17(6):389-96.

Caronia LM, Dwyer AA, Hayden D, Amati F, Pitteloud N, Hayes FJ. Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):291-6.

Bernhardt PC, Dabbs JM Jr, Fielden JA, Lutter CD. Testosterone changes during  vicarious experiences of winning and losing among fans at sporting events. Physiol Behav. 1998 Aug;65(1):59-62.

Robbie Durand has been in the sports supplement and bodybuilding industry for 15 years. He has contributed to many national magazines and websites. He has an M.A. in exercise physiology from Southeastern University and a B.A. in Dietetics from Louisiana State University.

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