The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"T" = Sexy Singing

This was a recently suggested topic to me by a friend. Here is the message word for word.

"So, topic suggestion for the opera bro. How hormones affect the body (muscle and fitness, voice, sex life), and what we can do affect our hormone levels to boost performance recovery and results. This is an area where I don't know what to trust. I would love to hear what the opera bro has to say. One week my muscles feel tight and strong as shit and my voice feels like I could sing Wotan for a warm up before church choir and others my muscles feel drained and I feel Zerlina would wear me out. Doesn't seem to necessarily follow a pattern of my workouts because they are very similar each week. At least they are routine."

First off, Bro, nice opera references. Secondly, I feel your pain. I ride that wave big time. There are lots of reasons why there can be inconsistencies in any person's behaviors, performance (hehehe) and specifically testosterone levels. First, lets talk about what testosterone does for you.



WARNING! I am not a medical doctor, I am a bro who has a computer and time on his hands to compile lists of articles. If you are having issues and may be concerned about your T levels, don't consult me, talk with your doctor. The following are basic guidelines for MAINTAINING and potentially slightly improving healthy hormone levels."

Now that that's out of the way, let us continue.

What Testosterone does for your body:

  • Testosterone plays an important role in sexual health. It stimulates desire, increases libido, heightens arousal, and increases sexual satisfaction. Men with low T may experience decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, thus suffering "performance issues." 
  • Testosterone plays a key role in erythropoiesis, which is the production of red blood cells. If you have low testosterone, your body won’t produce as many red blood cells. This decreased cell production may cause a significant drop in energy. 
  • Testosterone helps to maintain bone density. If your testosterone level decreases, your bones may become more fragile. 
  • Testosterone also plays a vital role in mental health. Testosterone helps maintain energy and a sense of well-being. Those with low testosterone often experience a decreased sense of well-being, a depressed mood, and low energy.
  • Low testosterone is often associated with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your body uses insulin less effectively. This causes blood sugar and fat levels to rise, which causes diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s vital to monitor your testosterone levels.
  • High testosterone also has been linked to increased aggression, and may increase the risk of heart disease.

High testosterone levels (above 1,200 ng/dL) can indicate:
  • androgen resistance: a condition in which a genetically male person develops female sex characteristics
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia: a condition in which male characteristics appear early or inappropriately
  • cancer of the ovaries
  • cancer of the testes

What Testosterone does to your voice:

When I was doing research on this topic, I thought to myself "Who purposefully would try to manipulate their voice with increased testosterone? It doesn't seem like a viable option for a professional singer." That's when I realized that people aren't always concerned with their singing voice, but some people are born with different mental identities than the sexual parts they are given chemically. There are lots of transgender individuals who turn to "T" to change their superficial appearance, including their voices. The following was taken from Matt Kailey's blog: Matt Kailey's Tranifesto. "Matt Kailey is a transsexual man and an award-winning author, blogger, teacher, and community leader, as well as a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on transgender issues."

"The one thing that I do want to point out, however, is that there are no guarantees with T. Regardless of what other guys have experienced, there is no guarantee about what will happen to you. Other guys might say that T improved their voice or had no effect, but that does not mean that it will be the same for you. Other guys might say that T ruined their voice, but that does not mean it will be the same for you.
Testosterone acts on your genetics. Your results will depend on what you are genetically programmed for. You can get an idea of what T will do on a general level, but you will not know what it will or will not do to you until you go on T and see. You need to be aware that a lowered voice will not reverse itself if you go off T. The voice you have will be the voice you have. This is a permanent change."

So, basically the increase of T has the same affect on the voice as it does the human body, the variables are within your genes. That's why there are professional body builders that are on thousands of dollars worth of steroids and have the exact same results as a guy who spends a third on their stack. Your genetics have a huge part in your bodies reaction. Additional T (medically initiated) could have an immense affect on your voice, especially if you're a women going through hardcore T transitions, or they could have no affect at all if you're a male who has already gone through puberty.

Having read many things about the increase of testosterone on ones singing and how it affected certain individuals, it appears that many go through a transitional period where their voice turns into complete crap (cracking, loss of high notes, vocal distress) but soon, when the boost of T evens out and regular training begins, so does the voice.



The best example of an opera singer who has gone through Testosterone therapy: Heldentenor, Ian Storey


Storey tells about his journey in this article titled: "The Male Menopause is No Myth."

"At the end of the day, thanks to the patches, I'm fit and well and my energy levels are as good as three or four years ago. I've been singing another very heavy, difficult role – the title role in Tannhäuser by Wagner – and I've done three shows in six days and there are more to come.
I don't feel tired at all; I feel absolutely fine. I sleep well and every day I'm refreshed and ready to go. If anything, I'm working harder now than I've ever worked in my life."


In Storey's case, he needed the therapy to feel normal and to prevent himself from being ill all the time. The result is continuing to sing the most difficult repertoire in the operatic cannon.

Things that will affect your testosterone:

Stress:

Stress and low testosterone have nearly identical symptoms: low sex drive, difficulty sleeping, depression, lack of interest and irritability. They contribute this to cortisol levels caused by fight or flight situations. Lowering stress can help prevent from lowering T levels, but it will do nothing for boosting it.

Diet:

Fats -

Saturated Fats will not make you fat (Remeber my basic guide to nutrition.) Eating in a caloric surplus and being inactive will make you fat. Fat's balance your hormones and Saturated fats increase your testosterone levels according to This article.

"Upon comparison of the subject's dietary analyses and blood tests, it was found that only the strength-training athletes had significant correlations between fat intake and Testosterone levels. That means, if you lift weights and eat a diet higher in fat, then you'll receive the benefit of elevated Testosterone levels compared to if you were just "active" and ate a higher fat diet."

Anti-inflammatory Diet -

"Inflammation very often damages multiple systems simultaneously in many men. And, as you get sicker, lose energy, exercise less, digest foods improperly, etc. - the downward spiral just accelerates. Things like soy, gluten or cow dairy produce inflammation in the body and inflammation can decrease your testosterone."

Things to Help Decrease Inflammation:

  • Turmeric, the yellow in yellow mustard and curry, is well-known for its inflammation-lowering properties and has been shown to provide relief for, among other things, Crohn's Disease.
  • Fish Oil
  • Low Glycemic Foods
  • Pomegrante Juice
  • Moderate Alcohol (oooo, drinking helps me!)

Recovery: 

If you lift big, you don't necessarily have to eat to grow, jump on the YOLO train and shuttle down some pizza, but you gotta at least eat enough to repair or you will break down your body to the point of uselessness (or impotency.) You have to replenish your glycogen stores with carbohydrates and give your body ample protein to activate protein synthesis. Your body won't be concerned about its sexual energy if it's trying to fully recover from the constant physical torture and repairing its body from the amount of stupid you do to it.

Sleep: 

This article talks about the importance of sleep and your T levels.

"The idea that more sleep boosts testosterone is just common sense for us males. Every guy knows that after a good night's rest you wake up feeling good. Libido, strength, morning erections and general attitude - all symptoms of high testosterone - are all dramatically increased after sleeping well and long. And what we know instinctively has been verified by many studies. One recent study of older males, ages 64 to 74, found that sleep was greatest independent predictor of morning free and total testosterone levels."

Exercise:

Big, Heavy Lifts.

"In terms of our body's communication systems, hormones work like old-school carrier pigeons. Think of the pigeon as the class of hormones and the message they carry as the specific hormone (insulin, growth hormone, etc.). Once released from a gland, hormones travel throughout the body and bind to specific receptors on an organ......One of the main hormonal communicators of the repair process is Testosterone (T)...Research has shown a strong association between training and hormonal changes. In a 21-week study with untrained subjects, Ahtiainen JP et al. showed a correlation between T levels and the changes in isometric strength and muscle size (as measured by MRI), suggesting that both serum basal T concentrations and training-induced changes in acute T responses may be important factors."



Estrogen:

Estrogen: any of a group of steroid hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.

I think there are a lot of scare tactics out there that come off rather sexist when it comes to preventing estrogen. I'm not a feminist by any means, but I do respect women and women's rights and find our demonization of estrogen to be a bit much. However, I understand that there are men who cannot produce healthy amounts of T anymore and that there are men who's bodies are changing due to increased amounts of estrogen and the practice of avoiding excess amounts of it become medically necessary. Therefore, here are a few things that can help you limit your estrogen exposure if it concerns you.

Ten things you can do to limit chemical estrogen exposure are:
  • 1)    Eat organic and avoid ingesting estrogenic pesticides and growth hormone.
  • 2)    Use natural cleaning products. Chemical cleaners contain toxins and estrogen-mimicking compounds. Opt for plant-based cleaners. Don’t trust it just because it says “green” on the label. Check ingredients.
  • 3)    Use natural personal care products such as shampoo and conditioner. These are the same as cleaning products—don’t trust it just because it says “natural” on the label. Look for DBP, DEP, DEHP, BzBP, and DMP in the ingredients; all are chemical estrogens.
  • 4)    Avoid scented candles and air fresheners. Some may contain essential oils and are safe, but beware of the word “fragrance” because it may refer to hormone-altering chemicals.
  • 5)    Avoid plastic containers for food and water. Use glass and get a stainless steel water bottle. Plastic contains BPA, which mimics estrogen.
  • 6)    Never microwave or heat plastic. Under high temperatures is when BPA is most easily transferred from plastic to food. Use glass containers.
  • 7)    Don’t take receipts unless necessary. Almost half of paper receipts contain BPA and there’s evidence that cashiers have very high BPA levels. Say “no thanks” to receipts.
  • 8)    Use cloth bags when shopping. If you forget your cloth bags, opt for paper if you can.
  • 9)    Take Curcumin to help prevent cancer from chemical estrogens. This antioxidant is found in the spice turmeric and research has shown it can reduce chemical estrogen-induced growth of cancer cells. It also helps prevent damage quinone production during the detox process.
  • 10)     Take Limonene to increase the enzymes needed in the liver that detoxify estrogen. It is the antioxidant that is found in the oil of citrus fruits and tomatoes. If you get an estrogen detox supplement, it will likely contain limonene.

In Conclusion:

So, the key above all else is consistency in all things in order to maintain this precious super hormone that dictates all the fun parts of our lives. The factor that you have the most control of is your diet, and making it consistent. If you feel like you're experiencing dips in energy, libido or mood, I would not automatically assume the worst, but if it lingers, consult a doctor (or 3) and entertain the possibility of low T. However, doing all of the above will probably do just as good for your minor dips and save you a few hundred bucks in unnecessary medical bills.

If you have any questions for Ol' Yeargain (The Opera Bro), feel free to message me on my facebook page or comment below!

1 comment:

  1. Your post is super informative! I like how comprehensive it has been in explaining the true and sometimes secluded purposes of the big "T." It's quite alarming to see that studies show there's a rise in occurrences of low testosterone levels in the populace at large, probably due to modern dietary habits. A lot of people are not aware of that, and I hope it gets attention, or even an awareness campaign. Anyway, thank you for sharing!

    Earnest Rodgers @ Total T Clinic

    ReplyDelete