Making Time Work in Our Favor
If you do a little research on vitamin E and testosterone, you might come to two opposite findings. One is that vitamin E supplementation raises testosterone. The other is that vitamin E supplementation lowers testosterone. What’s worse than conclusions on a matter like this not just being incongruent, but at complete odds with one another?
Do we merely choose to believe the findings for which we have a bias?
Vitamin E has been shown to reduce estrogen levels. This can raise testosterone in men whose levels are blunted by the female hormone. It’s also been shown to protect cells against lipid peroxidation – the exact type of oxidative assault that reduces testosterone production over time.
So why are there reservations among ‘experts’ when it comes to vitamin E and testosterone? Let’s take a closer look, first at exactly what is vitamin E, then at the two seemingly conflicting studies often cited in regard to vitamin E and testosterone.
Many of us are already familiar with how creatine boosts strength and endurance. Supplemental creatine creates a bigger PhosphoCreatine ‘pool’ in the body, thus allowing more ADP to be replenished back into ATP, which results in noticeably better performance.
But hypertrophy (muscle growth) is mostly a recuperation thing; it’s something that happens between workouts, not during them. Moreover, better gym performance can result in greater tissue teardown requiring a greater degree of recuperation in order that hypertrophy occurs.
So where’s the net gain in this scenario? Unless creatine accelerates recuperation, it would seem its performance enhancement eventually becomes relative to no enhancement at all. Is it ‘anabolic’ or does it just boost performance like, say… caffeine?
Does creatine build muscle?
It’s never been easy for me to take a product called ‘Horny Goat Weed’ seriously. When I first heard the name at least a couple decades ago, I started laughing; thought it was a joke. Then I figured it was a gimmick. What are we supposed to assume? Is it that goats get horny after eating this stuff? And is the visual I get from that meant to help me think this “weed” will make ME horny?
Well, apparently quite a few Amazon reviewers think it makes THEM horny. Such anecdotal feedback can be seen in a couple of product review sections of powdered forms of nothing but the pure extract. With only scattered exceptions, one guy after another claims HGW worked wonders on his libido.
So what’s the deal with Horny Goat Weed and testosterone? Does this Asian herb help boost it?
When I was a kid, I thought pomegranates were about the most exotic fruit I’d ever seen. Maybe that’s because my mom never added them to the family grocery list. Thus, my first exposure to pomegranates was in seeing my neighborhood peers eating them. I still vividly recall my childhood buddy peeling one open to grab fingers full of those hand-staining red seeds for happy mastication.
The juice is a little on the pricey side. Nevertheless, I’ve just about talked myself into going back to drinking daily post-workout servings. That idea is being helped along by new findings suggesting ‘pomegranate juice for muscle building’ is legitimate; it might help make us stronger and more muscular. Let’s investigate THAT.
A product called ‘TESTWORx®’ deserves some objective analysis. Not just due to its catchy name, but because it appears to be the best selling product of its kind on Amazon. It’s a vitamin and herbal-combined ergogenic purported to naturally increase testosterone. And given its clearly listed and well-known batch of ingredients, it should be fairly easy to analyze.
In this entry of Strong with Age, let’s analyze the ingredients of TESTWORx® in objective a manner as possible, keeping the “does TestWORx work” question in perspective of most men’s interest, which is whether it actually boosts testosterone (as opposed to just energy).
The biggest factor affecting the ‘does TestWorx work’ question is the proprietary blend of exotic ingredients. Of note, each of the listed plant extracts could be purchased and taken on its own. So could the L-arginine, for that matter. However, if we do that, we won’t get the exact combination that TestWORx’s makers think is best (which might be).
The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein kinase enzyme that acts as a regulator of protein synthesis, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, autophagy, and transcription.
Specific supplements have been shown to enhance the mTOR signaling pathway. One such supplement is the amino acid L-leucine. Another with a different and very interesting route of enhancing mTOR is phosphatidic acid (PA).
Since amino acids and PA each stimulate mTOR through different mechanisms, an obvious assumption is that they’ll work synergistically, thus providing more muscle growth when combined or “stacked.”
This is where the ‘does Maxxtor work’ question takes shape.
Astragalus membranaceus is the root extract of a leguminous (‘pea family’) plant. It’s long been used in China as an immune system booster. ‘Astragalus’ is classified as an adaptogen (like ginseng), meaning it helps the body adapt and normalize its functioning while under stress. Similar to many such herbs, it possesses potent antioxidants, which might be some of the reason for its reported positive effects on kidney, liver, heart, and immune system health.
Now there’s some in vitro evidence that it could provide similarly positive effect on testicular health. Since that can lead to higher long-term testosterone production, it warrants consideration as a T-booster. In this article, we’ll look at the research and discuss why astragalus membranaceus might be an effective ingredient in a long-term ‘T’-boosting regimen.
Once back in the early nineties, I took the article written advice of an old bodybuilding sage and made the cheapest form of protein powder. Unable to recall who it was, I only remember his tip for cash-strapped workout guys in their twenties. He mentioned that in the old days of weight training, bodybuilders just bought powdered milk and doubled up the servings. This creates a cost-effective post-workout supplement. Yes, some other ingredients are needed in the mixture to improve flavor and texture, but a high quality protein smoothie at a rock bottom price was yielded nonetheless.
Fast-forward to now, today. Let’s talk about chocolate milk as a post workout drink. Not because I think post workout meal selection is of extreme importance (more on that later). More like because I think it’s of some importance – enough to be added to other sublevel factors so that a synergism for maximum muscle building success is established.
The very act of our bodies creating testosterone when we’re young slows down the machinery to create further testosterone. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that everything stays intact. The cells of the machinery don’t die. They’re still there, conceivably capable of full production capacity.
Antioxidants and healthier habits have restorative capabilities. Slow down oxidation and increase the antioxidants to improve their health and better performance should follow. Assuming overall bodily health, this should manifest itself in higher testosterone over time.
Nutritional additives that might help in this quest are probiotics. In particular, one probiotic strain called L. reuteri shows promise in protecting leydig cells and boosting testosterone based on animal studies.
For those who aren’t aware, ursolic acid is a compound occurring naturally in some fruits, but most abundantly in apple peels. A few years back, an animal study revealed it provides muscle sparing and body re-composition effects. The name of the study is ‘Ursolic Acid Increases Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat and Decreases Diet-Induced Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Fatty Liver Disease.’
That sounds great if you’re an overweight rat. It’d be promising if it can do even one of these things in a human body.
According to Patrick Arnold, it can do a degree of these things in humans if it’s taken as a topical spray. He says that ingestible ursolic acid is all but useless as it is destroyed by presystemic liver metabolism. That might explain the dismal product reviews for ursolic acid pills and powders I’ve seen. And this is what led Mr. Arnold to develop an alcohol suspension product for successfully absorbing the compound through the skin.
So does spraying an ‘anabolic mist’ onto your skin, after opening your pores with a hot shower, sound like something that will successfully augment your muscle building results?
Most male endogenous testosterone is produced from cholesterol in the testes via several synthesizing steps. The leydig cells are the manufacturing area where these steps are carried out and testosterone is released into the blood.
Unfortunately, like nearly every other bodily function, the function itself causes oxidative stress. This has led to a theory that such stress eventually builds up and stymies a portion of the leydig cell’s production capacity. Hence, as we age and more oxidative damage has accumulated, we end up with lower testosterone production.
Glutathione is often referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant.” It is manufactured by the body but can be increased with certain supplements and dietary modifications.
In animal studies, glutathione reduction and restoration results in differences in testosterone production. This makes sense given glutathione’s significant role as leydig cell ‘intracellular antioxidant.’
Can long-term glutathione enhancement result in higher testosterone in humans? Is ‘glutathione for testosterone’ a regimen worthy of pursuit?
Estrogen in men’s bodies is converted from testosterone. So a high testosterone level can mean high estrogen levels in absolute terms. But high estrogen as a ratio of testosterone can result in a low total testosterone level. This can further worsen the ratio of testosterone to estrogen, eventually resulting in higher body fat.
Since body fat is where aromatase is stored and aromatase is the the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, it’s often presumed that high body fat causes low testosterone due to high estrogen. That often is the case. Thus, ‘lower estrogen to raise testosterone’ is the oft-repeated prescription.
But this can be a mistake. Low middle-aged testosterone isn’t always the result of high body fat. Futhermore, when it is the result of high body fat, it might not be due to high estrogen.
Men treating their low testosterone as an estrogen problem when it’s not can wreak havoc on other bodily functions. Specifically, it can send a guy’s libido right into the dumpster.
Some studies have revealed that high protein intake increases GFR. That’s led to the belief that high protein “strains” the kidneys, resulting in damage that could cause a reduction of GFR. When such a reduction occurs, further high protein intake would then cause a perpetual worsening of this negative effect.
This is certainly the case in people who already have CKD. Evidence shows that dietary protein further restricts renal function in those who’ve experienced kidney damage. Thus, one of the first prescriptive precautions for those diagnosed with CKD is to restrict dietary protein intake.
But can this accurately lead to the cause-and-effect assumption that high dietary protein intake is a threat to healthy kidneys?
Not according to a review of the existing studies.
Tomatidine is a steroidal alkaloid extracted from green tomatoes. When added to the food of mice, it increased the animal’s muscle size (hypertrophy) and numbers of muscle cells. This was after a test-tube study demonstrated its anabolic effect on isolated human muscle tissue.
So is tomatidine for muscle real? Is there reason to anticipate the release of the first supplementary bottle of green tomato extract?
The way I see it, there are three major points that need addressing in order to raise long-term natural testosterone. They are as follows.
General Bodily Health
Antioxidant Protection of T-Production
Stimulation of T-Production
The first one, ‘General Bodily Health’, is somewhat obvious. We can’t set the stage for higher testosterone without reasonably good health. This means having body fat low enough that there’s at least no waisline ‘overhang.’ It means eating a fairly balanced diet, keeping stress levels under control, and getting adequate sleep at least most nights. It means having healthy lipid levels, lipid ratios, and blood pressure.
Taurine: What exactly is this stuff?
Technically, it’s not an amino acid. That’s because amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They contain a carboxyl group on the far side of an amino group flanking a carbon atom.
In place of the carboxyl group, taurine has sulfonyl hydroxide. This makes it a little more acid-y than your typical amino acid.
But since most of us aren’t chemists, we just classify it as an amino acid because it’s darn close to being one.
And classified as such, taurine is designated a non-essential amino acid. That means most of us don’t need to get it from our diets because it’s manufactured in our bodies. This biosynthesis occurs mostly in the pancreas and starts with the amino acid cysteine.
As you might well know, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are what comprise about 35% of muscle tissue. They’re three aminos (leucine, isoleucing, and valine) that are vitally important for muscle protein synthesis.
BCAAs are essential amino acids; they cannot be made in the body from other aminos. Therefore, they must be consumed from diet in adequate amounts for muscle building. leucine-molecule
Leucine appears especially important in triggering protein synthesis. It acts in a sort of ignitionary manner for all three aminos to do their protein synthesizing work. Leucine has thus been shown most optimally effective in BCAA supplements at a ratio of 2:1:1 relative to the other two aminos.
We don’t typically hear a lot about ‘glycine for muscle.’ That’s probably because glycine is a dirt-cheap amino acid. Anything so abundant and easily obtainable is usually disregarded by the muscle supplement industry.
But glycine is good stuff. It’s a nonessential amino acid that appears to be anti-catabolic. That means it helps prevent muscle protein breakdown in the body. Glycine also appears to be an HGH secretagogue. This means it can stimulate the release of regenerative growth hormone from the pituitary gland.
Just these two benefits alone make ‘glycine for muscle’ a promising proposition for bodybuilding. Add to them the real possibility that glycine has anti-aging effects and you get a dietary supplement that might be underrated.