Improve your Performance by Optimizing your Hormones!
Blood tests for bodybuilders in Australia are often very difficult to get done through your G.P, but at Planet Naturopath we can customize any test that you need, and test for virtually every marker that you have read about.
Bodybuilders are often very dedicated athletes and can be quite dedicated to their training, focus on eating the right foods and avoiding the junk, while also taking all the latest researched supplements (as well as many with not very good research). All this can lead you to spending thousands of dollars on gym equipment, memberships and supplements without knowing what is happening on the inside with your hormones and relevant blood markers.
Hormones control your weight, metabolism, muscle growth, energy, sex hormones and your general well being, so it is important that they are in the optimal range. If your sex hormones, adrenals or thyroid hormones are out of balance it can lead to many symptoms like fatigue, low mood, low libido, digestion problems, headaches and many other seemingly unrelated symptoms .... and of course poor performance and muscle growth!
How to get tested
A comprehensive once a year check up on all aspects of your health relating to performance, as well as other health markers that indicate inflammation, nutritional imbalance and hormone imbalance can be achieved with a package of blood tests for bodybuilders. In Australia it is possible to get certain basic tests done for free with your doctor and I encourage people to make use of this, the doctors will be able to test electrolytes, kidney and liver function, basic cholesterol, iron studies and hematology. Often these basic markers are all in the range but it is good to get them tested anyway as they can be early warning signs that things are not right with your body.
The types of tests that are more relevant to your training and performance will not be done by your doctor as they are not covered under Medicare, or they will be done at a very basic level.
At Planet Naturopath we provide comprehensive hormone and blood testing in Australia, as well as expert analysis to assess your results and help you improve your performance and health. A huge array of tests are available and the ones that I recommend for bodybuilders include the sex hormones, comprehensive thyroid function, adrenal function and specific inflammatory markers like HsCRP.
You can either get the comprehensive pathology test package, or a test can be customized to suit your needs.
The Sex Hormones
Everyone thinks testosterone when it comes to hormones, and to grow muscles you need testosterone to be in the optimal range, the optimal range is very different than just being in the range. It is also important to test estrogen which is important in small amounts but for male bodybuilders you do not want too much as this will affect performance with growing muscles and libido.
Other markers to look at are Dihydrotestosterone and Androstenedione which will give you more information about testosterone and your ability to grow muscles. I normally use a saliva hormone test as it gives you the bio-available hormone levels rather than what is in the blood.
If you have low testosterone it is important to understand the cause as supplementing with testosterone can cause more harm than good, the first place I look at is adrenal function.
The Adrenal Hormones
The number one adrenal hormone is cortisol, otherwise known as the "stress hormone". In the right balance in the body it is an essential hormone helping with blood sugar balance, protein synthesis, inflammation, immune balance and well being.
However high stress whether from emotional, work, over training, poor diet, pain or injury can lead to high cortisol levels, this will cause cortisol to become catabolic and breakdown muscle .... just what you do not want. High cortisol levels will lead to a lowering of DHEA the precursor to testosterone, leading to low testosterone.
High stress and an imbalance in cortisol will lead to an upregulation of the enzyme aromatase which will lead to more estrogen being produced from testosterone, if you supplement with testosterone this will lead to very high levels of estrogen which you do not want.
An adrenal test is a saliva test which measures DHEA and Cortisol at 4 specific times during the day to measure the fluctuating levels of cortisol in your body.
The Thyroid Hormones
Your doctor will only test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which is the brain telling the thyroid that it needs to start producing more hormone, the theory is that if this hormone is in the range then everything is fine. The research shows that you can have "normal" TSH levels but low thyroid function, and once again the adrenals can also disrupt thyroid function by inhibiting the conversion of T4 to the active T3, this also leads to high levels of reverse T3 being produced making the brain think that everything is ok.
Reverse T3 is an inactive form of T3 and besides adrenal function, inflammation, digestion and liver issues can also cause higher levels of reverse T3 which will lead to low thyroid function.
Thyroid is essential for metabolism and energy and a lot of the symptoms of low testosterone can also be caused by low thyroid function so it is important to get it tested correctly. The thyroid markers that I test for are TSH, T3, T4, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies and thyroid receptor antibodies.
The sex hormones, adrenal function and thyroid function are my recommended tests for bodybuilders and athletes to help identify imbalances and help to improve performance. Planet Naturopath offers hormone and blood tests for body builders in Australia, the test kits are sent to you anywhere in Australia and the blood is drawn at one of the major labs throughout Australia that we have affiliations with.
There are many other test options, including genetic testing to assess your exercise, nutritional and health potential.
You can either get the Comprehensive Pathology Test which includes almost everything, or schedule a consultation today to work out a customized testing package for you. If you are in the U.S or Asia we can organize many of these test for you, contact us for more details