Heavy Weights? Protein Shakes? Zero Gains?
If you want to build muscle, you hit the gym 4-5 times a week, most likely lifting heavy weights, followed by chugging a hulking protein shake. You fuel-up on foods like egg whites and skinless chicken breast at meals and snacks.
At least that’s what you might imagine if you visit any nearby gym and observe the focused, muscular men and women determined to get strong as if that was their favorite hobby.
The truth is that to build muscle—and maintain strength—requires the balancing of several physiological aspects.
When someone says they want to gain weight, they typically mean they want to build muscle and lose fat, but finding that balance can become a challenge.
That’s because when you lose weight, you also potentially lose muscle mass. Research shows weight loss reduces muscle mass, but not strength.
At the same time, inactive adults have a 3-8% loss of muscle mass every decade. Along with muscle loss comes a decreased resting metabolic rate and fat accumulation. The result: You lose muscle and gain fat.
But that fate isn’t inevitable. You can reverse that deterioration with resistance training. Studies show even among older women with sarcopenic obesity (low muscle mass and either low muscular strength or low physical performance along with obesity), 16 weeks of resistance training improved weight loss, muscle strength, and functional capacity.
In other words, nearly everyone can lift weights to gain muscle provided you do it safely, with proper form, and with optimal weight levels.
Everyone has different requirements to optimize muscle gain, and consider discussing additional strategies with your healthcare professional. At the same time, these four strategies provide a solid foundation to build muscle and get lean, and (just as importantly) maintain those muscle gains and fat losses.
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Testosterone is a sex hormone primarily associated with males.(1) Even though women have small amounts, testosterone’s main function is to support bone and muscle development, produce male characteristics, like a deep voice and facial hair, and produce sperm.(1) However, testosterone may also affect mood, mental health, cardiovascular functions, and the perception of pain.(2)
Studies show that about 13.8 million men over 45 have low testosterone.(3) Signs and symptoms of low testosterone include:
- reduced sexual desire
- sleep disturbances
- reduced muscle strength
- increased body fat
- low energy
- emotional changes such as depression.(1)
Although testosterone production naturally declines with age, males can take a proactive approach to optimizing testosterone levels with these dietary and lifestyle modifications.(1)
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1. Fletcher, J. What are the symptoms of low testosterone? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322647.php. Updated August 1, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2019.
2. Tyagi V, Scordo M, Yoon RS, Liporace FA, Greene LW. Revisiting the role of testosterone: Are we missing something? Rev Urol. 2017;19(1):16–24. doi:10.3909/riu0716
3. Mulligan T, Frick MF, Zuraw QC, Stemhagen A, McWhirter C. Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. Int J Clin Prac. 2006;60:762-69.
4. Hardy K, Pollard H. The organisation of the stress response, and its relevance to chiropractors: a commentary. Chiropr Osteopat. 2006;14:25. doi:10.1186/1746-1340-14-25
5. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, et al. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biological Trace Element Research. 2011;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3
6. Goldman R. Ten foods high in magnesium. Medical News Today. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium. Updated July 26, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2019.
7. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, et al. Effect on vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2011;43(3):223-5. Doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854.
8. Holick MF. Vitmain D and Bone Health. J Nutr. 1996;126(suppl_4)1159S–1164S.
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10. El-Sakka AI. Impact of the association between elevated oestradiol and low testosterone levels on erectile dysfunction severity. Asian J Androl. 2013;15(4):492–496.
11. Ghlissi Z, Atheymen R, Boujbiha MA, et al. Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on reproductive function of male diabetic rats. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2013;64(8):974-8. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2013.812618.
12. Mareš A, Najam WS. The effect of Ginger on semen parameters and serum FSH, LH & testosterone of infertile men. Tikrit Medl J. 2012;18(2):322-329.
13. Ware M. Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips. Medical News Today. Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2019.
14. Wallace AM, Grant JK. Effect of Zinc on Androgen Metabolism in the Human Hyperplastic Prostate. Biochem Soc Trans. 1975;3:540-542.
15. West H. The 10 Best Foods That Are High in Zinc. Healthline. Published April 19, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2019.
16. Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert S, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. ScienceDirect. 2015;1(1):40-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
17. Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173–2174. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.710
18. Herbert P, Hayes LD, Sculthorpe NF, Grace FM. HIIT produces increases in muscle power and free testosterone in male masters athletes. Endocr Connect. 2017;6(7):430–436.
19. Wideman L., Weltman JY, Hartman ML, et al. Growth Hormone Release During Acute and Chronic Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. Sports Med. 2002;32:987-1004.
20. Rengasamy R, Maran M, Sivakumar R, et al. Growth Hormone Directly Stimulates Testosterone and Oestradiol Secretion by Rat Leydig Cells in vitro and Modulates The Effects of LH and T3, Endocr J. 2000;47(2):111-18.
21. English KM, Pugh PJ, Parry H, et al. Effect of cigarette smoking on levels of bioavailable testosterone in healthy men. Clin Sci. 2001;100(6):661-665.
22. Yao QM, Wang B, An XF, Zhang JA, Ding L. Testosterone level and risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocr Connect. 2017;7(1):220–231. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0253
23. Rivier C. Alcohol rapidly lowers plasma testosterone levels in the rat: evidence that a neural brain-gonadal pathway may be important for decreased testicular responsiveness to gonadotropin. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 1999;23(1):38-45.
24. Ferguson, Meeker. Ferguson, Kelly K. Phthalates found in plastics could block hormone involved in sexual cognitive function. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/press-release-archives/2014/reduced-testosterone-tied-to-endocrine-disrupting-chemical-exposure
This content is for information purposes only. Any statement or recommendation in this publication does not take the place of medical advice nor is meant to replace the guidance of your licensed healthcare practitioner. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. MaxLiving information is and products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or provide medical advice. Decisions to use supplements to support your specific needs should be considered in partnership with your licensed healthcare practitioner.