Before we look into how testosterone is produced, we need to first understand the hormone that works against testosterone, cortisol – also a steroid hormone.
I’m sure you’ve heard of cortisol before, but perhaps you didn’t know it was a steroid-based hormone that is synthesized from cholesterol and belongs to a group of hormones called glucocorticoids?
Higher Cortisol Switches Off Testosterone Production
Cortisol can be very important in situations where aggression, defense, or strength might be needed as it tells the body you could be in danger.
In simple terms, it’s the rush of blood and nervousness you feel in a fight or flight situation, or when put under pressure.
If you undergo strenuous activity, or experience high volumes of work and responsibility for long periods of time, chances are your cortisol levels could be higher than recommended.
Cortisol Can Make You Gain Weight
Another interesting fact about cortisol is: it’s anabolic to fat cell creation. Anabolic meaning growth i.e. it causes your body to grow more fat cells.
This means, that while testosterone is anabolic for all the right reasons. Such as increased weight loss, muscle gain, with an increased sex drive, cortisol, on the other hand, acts in the opposite way.
The point of this message is, lower your cortisol levels and you’ll be able to increase testosterone.
You can’t have high levels of testosterone unless you can reduce the amount of cortisol you have in your body.
How Testosterone is Created
The process where testosterone is created is known as biosynthesis. There are many complex stages that take place when creating the steroid hormone testosterone, but all steroid hormones come from one place – cholesterol.
There are two main types of cholesterol. These are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – both of these lipoproteins help transport cholesterol in the blood.
You’ll find cholesterol in all animal products. Mainly eggs, organ meat, and shellfish along with supplements such as cod liver oil or other fatty acids.
Normal Levels of testosterone
Your levels actually fluctuate throughout the day. In men, testosterone concentrations are highest in the morning, but gradually decrease throughout the day.
When testosterone levels are low, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released by the hypothalamus.
Once this is released, it stimulates the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
These two hormones stimulate the testis to synthesize testosterone.
This increases the levels of testosterone through a loop via the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to inhibit the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and FSH/LH.
Roughly 95% of a man’s testosterone levels are made in the testis, the remainder is created in the adrenal glands.
The link Between Cholesterol and Testosterone
A lot of information to take in right? Let’s quickly summarise the importance of cholesterol for testosterone:
When consumed, cholesterol is converted into a hormone called pregnenolone, then into either dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or progesterone
It then changes into either androstenedione or androstenediol, and finally into testosterone.
As one of the main hormones that support muscle building and strength, this is an important nutrient to include in your diet.
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