How Do You Know If You Have Low Testosterone?

Written by James C., M.S.(C), PT

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low testosterone levels

Testosterone.

No “male health” conversation is complete without this one hormone. 

It’s the main hormone that all things masculine revolve around.   

It impacts everything you care about. 

Some of the things have been extremely well researched – like muscle gain, metabolic health and sex drive. 

And other parts are just coming into the spotlight – like PPARγ activation (a group of nuclear receptor proteins that appears to be the body’s main fat-gain regulator) and in establishing how you perceive your role in the social hierarchy…

It affects nearly every single system of the human body. 

So in this article we will discuss what abnormal levels feel like. What could be causing it and some proven ways to improve your testosterone levels.

What Does Low T Feel Like?

Most men do not care about their testosterone level up until about the age of 25.  

For most, good health seems to be a given at that age. 

But everyone can benefit from doing a check every now and again. Because some of the symptoms of low testosterone can feel like something completely different. 

So what does low testosterone feel like?

Well for starters loss of muscle mass is not the first symptom to look for. Not even weight gain. 

No. The first symptom is a persistent low mood. 

Sure by itself it may not mean much. But if it persists even as your life seems to be going ok… then that should raise a red flag. 

Next symptom is brain fog. Or the ability to know what you want to do (or should do) with clarity. 

Again by itself it’s a hard one to pinpoint. What does “clear thinking” even feel like?

Next is lethargy. Or a persistent tiredness. A sense that you just don’t have the drive or “OOMPH” to get up and go get things done. 

Like the two symptoms above, it’s sort of vague. 

Same goes for a lack of sexual desire.

The non-specificity of some of these symptoms make it all too easy to brush off. 

However if you feel all (or most) of the above… And if they feel like a routine part of your life then that is a good indicator of low testosterone. 

On top of that, if you’re noticing a plateau (or even reversal) of results in the gym. And accumulating fat around the midsection then you have checked most of the boxes for testosterone deficiency. 

What Causes Low Testosterone?

Low testosterone is a multi-factor issue. 

Each one of them makes it harder for your body to produce enough testosterone.

Some of the factors are:

Sleep

Sleep is probably the most consistent lifestyle factor affecting testosterone production. 

One 2011 study showed that a week of sleep loss lowered testosterone levels by up to 15% in a group of healthy young men. 

That’s the equivalent of aging 10-15 years in just one week. 

Most of your body’s testosterone gets produced at night and so even small sleep deficits will impact that process.

Environment

This one’s the hardest to catch and avoid. 

We are all biochemically unique and react to different things in different ways. 

Petrochemicals, plastics and other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) are those things. For some they’re a mild hindrance and for others they can be life changing. 

Unfortunately they are on the rise and they are everywhere. 

From your shampoo to your soap. Perfume, clothes, car and food containers. Avoiding them is near impossible. 

You may have heard of BPA (Bisphenol A). And maybe even have a little “BPA-FREE” symbol on the bottom of your protein shaker. Or food containers. 

The reason it’s there is because a few years back we discovered the harmful, endocrine disrupting effect it has on living creatures. 

So it was banned. 

But what you may not know is that “Bisphenol” is a very profitable and durable kind of plastic. 

So the manufacturers switched to BPS or BPF, or BPAF… Adding a new molecule to the end of a banned compound (and so making it a “new” compound) is an old trick. 

Trouble is these new compounds seem to be just as bad. We’ve just not had the media outrage yet. 

A similar story revolves around BP & 4-MBC (benzophenone & 4-methylbenzylidene camphor). 

Two ingredients you’ll find in sunscreens and skin creams. They’re banned in Europe but legal in the USA. 

And then there are “APEs” (alkylphenols) which you will find in most soaps, cleaning agents, and leather (including synthetic) products. Even paper towels have them.

A simple Google search on any of the above will reveal a sad story of how commercial profits can win over human health impact. 

It’s a topic too deep to discuss here, but if you’re interested – Dr Anthony Jay’s work is an excellent start.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid any chemical ingredient containing the words “benz” or “phen” in it. As it may be an endocrine disruptor.  

Stress

Stress impact has been well researched. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, stress seems to reduce testosterone production. 

There are now dozens of studies in human and animal models showing a marked decrease in testosterone. 

In many cases this can lead to a vicious cycle. One where lower testosterone leads to more anxiety and inability to focus… which leads to more stress and even lower testosterone levels. 

Diet

Another common cause is diet. 

Especially what’s known as a SAD diet or Standard American Diet. One that’s rich in sugar and processed foods. 

There might be multiple causes for lower levels of testosterone in this category. From a lack of nutrients, to higher levels of inflammation. 

Performance Enhancers

A growing number of men chose to use PEDs or Performance Enhancing Drugs to gain an edge in the gym. 

What many don’t realize is that these substances can cause long term damage to the endocrine system. Even a single cycle can leave a lasting impact.

This is as true of classic PEDs as the newer ones like Prohormones and even SARMS. 

Age

And finally age. Every year men lose about 1% of their testosterone production. An effect that is often made worse by the other factors listed above. 

How Do You Know If You Have Low Testosterone

The only reliable way to find out is with a blood lab test. At home kits just don’t do the job well and are not recommended by serious professionals. 

Symptoms are an indicator, but only a test can reveal the real situation. 

Testosterone is only one of a set of markers to use when evaluating the health of your endocrine system. 

Other factors include: 

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – an assessment of the overall health and quality of your blood cells
  • Liver & Kidney Function
  • Glucose Metabolism
  • Sex Hormone Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF1) 
  • Lipid Profile (cholesterol)
  • Free vs Total Testosterone 
  • Thyroid Hormones

When you measure all of the above you can get a pretty good idea of what exactly is happening in your body. 

That’s why we recommend “Hormone Panel For Males from Private MD Labs

It’s their most popular test and it combines all of the above factors in one place. 

[Order Hormone Panel]

Use coupon code: BROSCIENCE to get 15% off. 

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Can You Increase Your Testosterone Naturally?

The internet is full of articles on increasing your testosterone levels naturally. 

Most of it is wishful thinking. And sometimes outright lies by marketers selling the latest pill. 

There’s not much evidence that any of it works. 

With that said there are 4 things you can do that support healthy testosterone levels in most people: 

Regular workouts

Resistance exercise is proven by research to help increase short- and long-term T levels. 

Good night’s sleep

As mentioned before, getting insufficient sleep can dramatically reduce your testosterone production. On the flip side getting 8 hours of high quality sleep has been shown to increase the levels of testosterone. 

Eliminating stress

Same as poor sleep, stress reduces testosterone production. So reducing stress levels will help you max out your natural testosterone. 

Adopting a meditation practice can help.

Reduce weight 

Weight gain and obesity are linked with low testosterone. Just as lower levels of T can cause weight gain, High levels of body fat cause testosterone suppression. 

Body fat appears to be mildly estrogenic. And the more fat you have the stronger the impact. 

For best effects, combine all of the above before seeking hormone therapy. 

Many men, (especially younger men) are able to increase their testosterone production this way. 

However if none of the above helps you may be a candidate for Hormone Replacement Therapy. Also called HRT, TRT or TOT. 

Either way the first step to taking your health in your own hands is a comprehensive test. 

We recommend you do it 2-3 times a year, to spot issues early especially if you’re over 30.

[Order Hormone Panel]

Use coupon code: BROSCIENCE to get 15% off. 

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