How Testosterone and Metabolism are Connected
Article by Tim Berzins;
Metabolism underlies every aspect of optimizing hormonal health.
I know that might sound like a big claim, but every single cell in your body depends on its ability to produce enough energy to do everything it needs to do (or even more than enough energy).
The more energy your cells can produce, the more resistant to stress they become, and the more your body will shift away from the negative hormonal environment and towards the beneficial one.
A high metabolism state means low levels of estrogen, prolactin, cortisol and serotonin (which isn’t the “happy hormone” as it’s commonly proclaimed, but more like the “hibernation hormone”, associated with lower metabolism and lower energy levels).
All of these hormones have negative effects when elevated for a long time, and they all work together in concert to produce the “low metabolism”, stress state, characterized by poor hormonal health and all the other negative symptoms that come along with it (brain fog, low energy, fat gain, low sex drive, lack of motivation, poor sleep, etc.).
But when you take steps to raise your metabolism, you shift into the beneficial hormonal environment characterized by hormones like thyroid, progesterone, pregnenolone, DHEA and improved insulin sensitivity.
These are all protective hormones. When the cells can create plenty of energy, the production of all of these hormones is elevated, while the stress hormones are minimized.
And of course, one of the most protective hormones that gets elevated along with these is the principle male hormone that we’re on a never-ending journey to maximize: Testosterone.
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The Link Between Metabolism And Testosterone
Because testosterone and metabolism are so closely linked, increasing your metabolism will increase your testosterone.
But this isn’t some generalized idea - there is a specific reason why increasing your metabolism, specifically by increasing thyroid hormone - will result in higher testosterone.
In order to explain this, we need to look at the process of how testosterone is made in the first place, all the way from the food you eat, to the production of the big “T”.
In general, it looks something like this:
>>> You eat food
>>> Your liver converts some of that food into cholesterol
>>> That cholesterol gets turned into the “mother” steroid hormone, pregnenolone
>>> The pregnenolone can then get converted to DHEA, and then testosterone
Voila - food gets turned into testosterone.
But how does metabolism play into this?
Specifically, the active thyroid hormone, T3, is needed in order to turn cholesterol into pregnenolone, so that it can follow the path of steroid conversion to testosterone.
Thyroid Hormone: The Ultimate Testosterone and Metabolism Booster
Once the liver pumps out cholesterol, it can only turn into pregnenolone by combining with T3 and vitamin A.
Cholesterol + T3 + Vitamin A = Pregnenolone
That means if your metabolism is low and you aren’t producing as much T3 as you should, you’ll be making less pregnenolone, leaving cholesterol to accumulate in the blood.
This is supported by the fact that thyroid hormone has well-documented cholesterol-lowering effects, because it's causing the cholesterol produced by the liver to be used up.
But this isn’t the only way metabolism is connected to testosterone production.
The high metabolism state requires a healthy liver, that has plenty of glucose and glycogen to perform it's myriad of functions.
This means that it's better able to create cholesterol by combining fat with choline, as well as converting the inactive thyroid T4, into the active T3.
That means you’ll be making higher levels of both cholesterol and T3, and assuming adequate vitamin A, you’ll be making much higher amounts of pregnenolone.
On top of this, a higher metabolism will prevent too much production of the stress hormones like estrogen and cortisol, which are both steroid hormones that are created from pregnenolone. Since less of these are produced, that leaves more pregnenolone to be converted to the protective steroid hormones, like testosterone.
All of this points to one simple idea:
The more energy your cells can create and the more T3 you produce, the higher your testosterone levels will be.
Two Keys To Increasing Testosterone And Metabolism
If you have low testosterone, metabolism is most likely a contributing factor.
Having looked at the underlying biochemistry around how testosterone and metabolism are related, you’re probably now wondering what that means for the real world.
What can you do to create more T3 and reap its testosterone and metabolism booster effects?
Eat More Sugar
It may seem odd that I’m telling you to eat more sugar, but in reality, sugar is incredibly metabolic, and actually one of the healthiest things you can eat.
As it turns out, most of what mainstream nutrition preaches about sugar is dead wrong.
In my controversial program Ignite Your Metabolism, I reference over 80 studies around sugar being extremely beneficial, and I explain why and how it delivers those benefits.
But how is sugar specifically helpful when it comes to testosterone?
Sugar, as opposed to starches, contains a monosaccharide called “fructose” which I’m sure you’ve heard about before - it’s the one that is typically claimed to have negative effects.
But in reality, fructose helps improves insulin sensitivity, refills liver glycogen, increases protein retention and protects thyroid production, and increases metabolism.
When the liver has more glycogen, it gets the signal that energy is plentiful, and it will start converting more T4 to T3 (as we talked about before).
Not only that, but fructose is highly “lipogenic”, meaning that if your liver needs to, it can convert it into fat more easily than other nutrients.
Why would we want this?
Because fat in the liver is what is used to create the all important cholesterol.
As long as your liver is healthy and is supplied with the necessary nutrients to convert that fat into cholesterol (that we'll talk about in a minute), then there are no negatives from creating this fat. In fact, it just leads to more cholesterol production, and more pregnenolone/testosterone production down the line.
It only poses a problem when the liver is unable to export the fat it creates into that cholesterol.
But if the liver is healthy and able to export that fat, then eating more fructose will lead to both increased T3 and cholesterol.
As we’ve seen, these are the ingredients for testosterone production (along with vitamin A).
So what helps the liver to export the fat created from fructose into cholesterol?
That's where the second key comes in: Eating enough protein and choline.
Eat More Protein And Choline
In order for the liver to create cholesterol, it must combine fat in the liver with the nutrient choline.
In fact, choline deficiency is actually the cause of fatty liver disease - the fat created from fructose can easily be exported to cholesterol if there's enough of this nutrient.
Since choline can be created in the body from methionine and homocysteine through the SAMe cycle, eating enough overall protein can allow your body to create enough of it (if you have the right genes for it, which not everyone has).
However, your primary focus should be to get enough choline in your diet. You should be sure to eat eggs and animal liver regularly, both of which contain a good amount of it. You can also choose to supplement with it to be safe (just be sure to take it with fat to help absorption and prevent indigestion).
In general, I’d aim for around 500 mg of choline per day, minimum, and eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.
Increase Both Your Testosterone And Metabolism
By eating more sugar and eating enough protein and choline, you can help increase your metabolic functioning and improve the process of taking the food you consume all the way through the pathway to testosterone.
Of course, one huge point here is to make sure you’re also eating enough vitamin A, which is a crucial ingredient for turning cholesterol into the “mother” of all steroid hormones, pregnenolone (along with T3).
So how do you know how fast your metabolism is?
The best measures are your waking body temperature and heart rate. If your metabolism is working properly, you should be between 97.8 degrees F and 98.2 degrees F (underarm reading), and in the 80s for heart rate (assuming it's not being falsely elevated from the stress hormones).
Start eating more sugar, start eating enough protein and choline, and watch as your metabolism and testosterone increase!