Low androgen receptor expression could be the reason for your symptoms of low androgens.
What would it help to have high androgens, but they can’t do anything?
Do you know that feeling when you have tried so many different things to increase testosterone for your mood, libido, muscle tone, beard, etc., and it just doesn’t seem to do anything? Frustrating isn’t it?
Yep, that might be due to androgen resistance, or low androgen receptors or “blocked” androgen receptors.
Androgens such as testosterone and DHT binds to the androgen receptor to exert their actions. If you want to build muscle, grow a bread, have a deep voice, etc., your androgens got to bind to the androgen receptors in order to do that.
Research even shows that it’s not the total amount of androgens that promote muscle growth, but it’s the amount of androgen receptors that matter. There is a linear relationship between androgen receptor content and how much and how fast you can add muscle mass (R).
So in essence, we want to maximize androgen receptors to get the most out of our androgens.
Let’s dive right in and start multiplying those androgen receptors.
#1 Increase your own androgens
This might seem odd, but the first thing you can do to increase androgen receptors is to focus on increasing your own androgens levels.
That’s because androgens such as testosterone, DHEA and DHT, potently increase androgen receptors. Guys that inject testosterone experience a significant increase in androgen receptors.
#2 Lower estrogen
Estrogen antagonizes testosterone, increases serotonin and inflammation as well as prolactin. Estrogen is negatively correlated with androgen receptors.
#3 Decrease cortisol
Cortisol is catabolic to cellular proteins. Hence, elevated cortisol degrades androgen receptors, increases the aromatase and inflammation and can lead to many issues in the body.
#4 Lift weights
Heavy resistance exercise (8-10 reps per exercise) increases serum total testosterone and is very effective at up-regulating AR mRNA and protein expression after just 3 exercise sessions (R).
But be careful to not push yourself too hard as too much metabolic stress over time can lead to overtraining which will decrease testosterone, increase cortisol and reduce androgen receptors (R).
Instead of testing your boundaries with your training volume, rather train on the slightly lower volume spectrum.
Explosive exercise, which stresses the concentric part of the movement, can have the greatest effect on cellular health, which will boost testosterone and androgen receptors over time. The short term increase in testosterone from the workout doesn’t mean much. You want to optimize cellular function with training, which in turn will lead to higher testosterone over the long term.
#5 Eat like you mean it
Eating directly post-working is the best thing you can do for gains. This is the time when muscle protein synthesis is the highest and also when your body is able to utilize all the protein you ingest.
Massive amounts of protein can be absorbed and utilized directly post-workout. Protein also decreases SHBG, which increases free testosterone and also increases IGF-1 (which is an anabolic growth factor).
The insulin response from the meal is anti-catabolic and inhibits muscle catabolism, lowers cortisol, increases free testosterone by lowering SHBG and increases IGF-1, which also increases muscle protein synthesis. Eating post-workout also increases androgen receptors (R).
In summary, by eating a meal post-workout, you increase muscle protein synthesis, inhibit muscle catabolism, provide amino acids for hungry muscles, increase androgen receptors, increase free testosterone, thus enhancing testosterone and DHT uptake by the tissue to exert an anabolic effect.
#6 Eat saturated fat and avoid polyunsaturated fat
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) potently decrease testosterone, increase the aromatase and prolactin and also inhibits DHT production. All PUFAs must be kept as low as possible, and this includes omega 3. Sea sources, like shrimp and oysters are still ok as the selenium and iodine in the food saturate the PUFAs and protect against its harmful effects. PUFAs also inhibit the binding of androgens to androgen receptors (R).
Saturated fat increase androgen receptors and enhance androgens binding strength, whereas PUFAs decrease androgen receptors and inhibit androgens from binding to their receptors (R).
#7 Eat chillies
Capsaicin, the hot component of chilli peppers, increases androgen receptor expression (R).
#8 Win more
Perhaps easier said than done, but winning more increases brain androgen receptors (R). This does not mean to pick more fights, as aggression and fight initiation behaviour is associated with higher estrogen and cortisol, and is not a sign of mature manliness.
A simple way to win more is to implement small habits in your life where you do something small first thing in the day to win the day. For example, making your bed first thing in the morning is a small win.
Finishing an important email or two has small wins. Small wins can build up in the day leading to a much better overall mood. This might seem insignificant, but it really works.
How do you feel when you just get the phone call done that you have been dreading? You feel great when it’s over. It’s a win. Do more of those things.
#9 Lower serotonin
Serotonin is able to increase estrogen, oppose dopamine and <b>down-regulate androgen receptors (R, R). For normal brain masculinization to take place, there has to be low serotonin in the brain. Meaning, if you want to be manly, serotonin has to be kept low. Serotonin reduces thyroid function, increases cortisol, lowers androgen production, slows the metabolism, etc.
#10 Avoid soy
Soy is rich in isoflavones powerfully decreases testosterone and increases estrogen and it also significantly <b>decreases androgen receptors (R).
Soy is everywhere these days. It’s in protein powders, chocolate bars, high energy/protein bars, ground meat, burgers, processed “meats”, miso, tofu, soy milk, tempeh, soy sauce, natto, baked goodies, cereals, canned foods, peanut butter, sauces, etc. It’s often also used as a thickener and is not listed on the ingredients list.
Other names for soy include:
- Glycine max
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Small amounts of natural organic, GMO-free soy once in a while in the form of natto, miso or tempeh is still fine, but once it comes to food that is mass-produced, it’s best to stay far away.
#11 Do fasting/intermittent fasting & sleep better
Fasting short-term (an overnight fast – a good night’s rest) showed to increase the GnRH-elicited LH response by 67% in the non-obese group, and the corresponding testosterone response by 180%, meaning increased androgen sensitivity (R).
This study above does not prove that you should do intermittent fasting. It just shows that after a good nights rest, where you don’t eat (because you’re asleep and not on an IV glucose drip), your androgen receptor sensitivity increases.
This is because during sleep your body restores and detoxifies toxins, and this has a very positive effect on your androgen sensitivity.
The reason why I also add fasting or intermittent fasting is because when you fast the body increases autophagy and detoxification. But it’s not the fasting alone that’s so important, it’s also the refeed afterwards, so make sure you eat high-quality food when you break your fast.
But there is no need to fast 16 or more hours, 12 hours will also suffice. Instead of doing intermittent fasting, where the autophagy kicks in only after about 16 hours, do a full day of fasting instead and reap even more benefits. I’d prefer to do a 24 hour fast once a week instead of doing intermittent fasting all the time.
#12 Avoid Painkillers (except aspirin)
NSAIDs, such as celecoxib and nimesulide reduces androgen receptors (R). Even aspirin appear to lower androgen receptor, although it’s in the prostate. So we don’t know if the effect is the same in the whole body or only specific to the prostate.
I think it’s specific to the prostate because using 800mg aspirin twice daily is able to significantly increase testosterone levels in men just after 10 days of use.
#13 Avoid EMF
EMF emitted through devices such as modems, cell phone towers, dirty electrical wiring, mobile phones, wireless TV, mouse, keyboard, etc, etc., activate voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the body.
This allows calcium to enter the cell and excite it, which leads to a host of negatives, which you can read more of in my EMF article.
This increase in intracellular calcium also degrades the androgen receptors. It’s really important to minimize EMF and protect yourself against it if you value your manliness.
#14 Avoid environmental toxins
Environmental toxins can bind to, inactivate or destroy androgen receptors, which causes low testosterone symptoms, even if there is lots of testosterone in the blood.
- Plastics – in all water bottles, food wrapping, Tupperware, cooking utensils, inside of tin cans, etc. It’s best to go with glass and stainless steel.
- Mold – found in cheap coffee, chocolate, grains, and other produce that’s not properly stored.
- Cosmetics/chemical products – deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, handwash, make-up (men use it too), etc.
- Heavy metals – found in drinking and showering/bathing water, paint, water pipes, make-up, building materials, etc.
- Halogens – fluoride, chlorine & bromide.
- Pharmaceuticals (SSRI, birth control, etc.) – found in drinking and showering/bathing water, close to shore caught/harvested seafood, etc.
- Air – soot, heavy metals, car exhaust, second-hand smoke, etc.
#15 Boost thyroid hormones
Thyroid hormones increase metabolism, testosterone synthesis, 5-alpha reductase, muscle protein synthesis, beard growth, and blood sugar stability, cellular cleaning and repair, etc. Thyroid hormones are needed for everything in the body. Without enough thyroid, everything in the body starts to slow down.
Hypothyroid symptoms include brain fog, constipation, low libido, struggling to add muscle mass, water retention, bad skin, digestive issues, mood disorders, poor recovery, low energy, etc.
Thyroid hormones, specifically T3, up-regulate androgen receptors, and down-regulate estrogen receptors (R). I would try to optimize thyroid function normally before supplementing thyroid though, but if your case of hypothyroidism is severe, I’d try to get a supplement asap.
Doctors think that a TSH of 4 is still normal, whereas in fact you want to be below 2 and preferably below 1. If your doctor won’t want to prescribe you thyroid because your TSH isn’t high enough even though you have all the hypothyroid symptoms, you can get it online. A good place to get it is IdealabsDC
Natural ways I’d focus on to optimize thyroid is this:
Let’s discuss supplements!
Let’s just start with the most uncommon supplement there is, lol.
In this rat study, testosterone plus progesterone prevented lordosis, and the researchers say that it may be due to an upregulation of androgen receptors by progesterone (R).
Progesterone is a very potent estrogen and cortisol antagonist, and this alone will have a beneficial effect on androgen receptors.
L-carnitine, as we all know, shuttles long-chain fats into the mitochondria for energy production.
L-tartrate is a salt of tartaric acid, which is a potent antioxidant.
The form, L-carnitine-L-tartrate (LCLT), has been found to increase androgen receptors. Androgen receptors were shown to increase by 15% in 3 weeks with LCLT (R).
L-carnitine on its own has potent anti-thyroid (R) so if you have hypothyroid symptoms, beware of this one, it might make you feel worse.
Forskolin is a natural compound (diterpene) found in the root of the Coleus Forskohlii plant, which is part of the mint family. It’s able to increase total and free testosterone (lower SHBG) as well as increase androgen receptors (<R).
Drinking coffee promotes mental effectiveness, well-being, increases testosterone, DHT, inhibits the aromatase and increases androgen receptors.
#5 Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases the duration that the androgens activate the androgen receptors, by inhibiting glucuronidase.
A zinc deficiency significantly increases estrogen receptors and decreases androgen receptors (R). Eat your red meat and oysters.
Selenium boosts thyroid hormone conversion, which increases androgen receptors.
Magnesium prevents the degeneration of androgen receptors, by reducing intracellular calcium.
#9 Supplement glycine & glutamine
Glycine and glutamine are components of androgen receptors. The need for glycine and glutamine increase during periods of metabolic demand, such as with exercise, recovery and stress.
The body cannot keep up with the required demand, and by ingesting glycine and glutamine, will spare essential amino acids for muscle protein synthesis and growth, rather than synthesizing glycine and glutamine.
The requirements for glycine is much higher than the body can create on its own, so additional supplementation will be highly beneficial.
A good amount to shoot for is 10g+ of glycine. I eat about 40g of gelatin a day, which gives me 8.8g daily. Research shows that supplementing 5g glycine three times a day significantly improves insulin sensitivity and lowers inflammation.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, powerfully lowers cortisol, decreases estrogen receptors and increases androgen receptor expression through SIRT1 inhibition (R). Start with 100mg a day. It also goes synergistically with gelatin to lower cortisol, estrogen, aromatase, prolactin and increases testosterone and DHT (glycine increase 5-AR).
#11 Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus Terrestris (TT) is one of my favourite herbs. It’s a herb usually used in testosterone boosters, yet are not very effective for that purpose. Instead, it potently increases DHEA, DHT and even dopamine as well as androgen receptors while potently lowering prolactin (R).
Dihydroepiandrotestsoterone (DHEA), which is a hormone primarily made in the adrenal glands, significantly increases androgen receptors. This is because DHEA converts mainly to DHT (R).
As always, thanks so much for reading my article. Let me know if this article was helpful in the comments below.
If you found it helpful and insightful please like and share so others can also benefit from this information and feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any questions for me.
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