One of my favorite blogs to follow is Mark’s Daily Apple, and when I came across this post, one of the letters really caught my attention. One of his reader’s was wondering about his “gynoid” pattern of fat deposition. A gynoid pattern is when there is increased fat in the hips, buttocks, and thighs as compared to an “android” pattern where the fat is increased in the chest and belly. Here is part of Mark Sisson’s response:
“…For you, a male with a more “feminine” pattern of fat deposition, I would suspect low testosterone levels. A recent study found that patients with hypogonadism, characterized by chronic testosterone deficiency, stored dietary and free fatty acids primarily in the hips and thighs. In the leg-and-thigh adipose tissue of the low-testosterone group, acyl-CoA-synthetase (which is partially responsible for fat deposition) activity was greater. Another study confirms that when it comes to body fat distribution, genetics have a greater role in women, while environment is the primary determining factor for how fat is distributed in men…”
The reason this caught my attention is because I also have a gynoid pattern of fat deposition. While I have a small pot belly and love handles, the majority of my fat is located in my hips, butt, and thighs! I’m definitely bottom heavy. I wear medium size shirts but need large shorts and pants.
So of course I started wondering about what my testosterone levels were. Maybe the reason I have so much junk in the trunk is because I have low testosterone? Since one of the risk factors of low testosterone is lack of sleep and I’ve only averaged 6:52 hours of sleep in the past 6 months (I keep track with a phone app), it really could be a possibility.
But before I tested I had to do more research. The best resource I found actually came from a website called, “The Art of Manliness.” He had a whole series of posts dedicated to testosterone (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). This was more insightful and entertaining than the journal articles and textbooks I referred to. If you’re interested in this at all, I definitely urge you to read the series.
Here is a brief synopsis:
- Due to our current way of life, men have lower testosterone now compared to someone of the same age two decades ago, and the exact causes aren’t clear yet (but may have to do with environmental toxins, lack of sleep, obesity, etc.)
- Some of the benefits of testosterone include: improved mood, decreased body fat, increased muscle mass, improved cardiovascular and bone health, improved libido and improved cognition.
- Testosterone is a hormone that is made from cholesterol and comes in 3 forms:
- Free testosterone – the active form
- Bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)
- Bound to a protein called albumin
- When you get a blood test to check your testosterone, there are two tests you can get:
- Free Testosterone – This measures the amount of free testosterone in your blood
- Total Testosterone – This measures the sum of the free testosterone + testosterone bound to SHBG + testosterone bound to albumin.
- When interpreting the results of your testosterone exam, don’t rely so much on the reference ranges since they don’t account for variability in age. Testosterone naturally and normally goes down with age. If you are a healthy 25 year old (whose normal should be on the upper end of the spectrum), you don’t want to compare yourself with the values of a healthy 85 year old (whose normal should be on the lower end of the spectrum).
- Refer to Day 4 of the Art of Manliness series where he has table breaking down the normal testosterone for each age group (he references two studies for these)
- The most accurate way of measuring blood levels of Testosterone is the LC/MS method (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).
The results of my test were:
Total Testosterone LC/MS: 776.2 ng/dL (348.0 – 1197.0)
Free Testosterone: 14.36 ng/dL (5.00 – 21.00)
My total testosterone as almost 1 standard deviation above the mean for my age group which is great news, and my free testosterone is right smack dab in the middle of the normal range. I guess I’m doing something right. It turns out I’ve already been doing some of the things that both Marks Daily Apple and The Art of Manliness articles recommend to increase testosterone:
- Eat healthy fat and cholesterol – By definition, eating the nutritional ketosis diet requires an abundance of this
- Vitamin D3 – I started taking this because I haven’t been able to get outside much due to the nonstop snow!
- Caffeine – I drink 1 cup of coffee per day and a few cups of green tea
- Fish Oil – One of the normal supplements I’ve been taking for the past couple months
- Magnesium – Been supplmenting with this for the past month and a half to see if it helps with my performance (it’s one of the supplements recommended by Volek and Phinney)
- Lift Heavy Things – Thank you Crossfit and BJJ
- HIIT Training – Again… thank you Crossfit and BJJ
- Sleep More – Something I need to work on
- Avoid Endocrine Disruptors – Been shifting everything to glassware and doing what I can to avoid plastic containers lately
Since my testosterone is normal I guess the reason I’m so bottom heavy must be genetics… something I can’t do anything about! I guess I’ll have to settle for size large pants from now on.