Whether you’re attempting to build muscle or increase your libido, every man relies on their androgen hormones to help regulate many of the cellular processes required to maintain their physique and sense of well-being. Androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) play an important role in managing essential functions of the male anatomy, which include:
- Developing muscle growth and strength
- Promoting the growth of facial and body hair
- Building and strengthening bone density
- Stimulating sexual arousal and erections
- Regulating mood and cognitive function
When androgen hormones such as testosterone begin to decrease, the decline can lead to a hormone deficiency that may impair the body’s ability to maintain those essential functions, which is commonly referred to as hypogonadism or low testosterone. In many cases, low testosterone will cause men to exhibit a range of debilitating symptoms, such as increased body fat, reduced sexual desire, hair loss, thinner bone density, and decreased muscle mass and strength. To help treat low testosterone, many physicians will focus on helping men increase their androgen levels so they can improve their body’s cellular processes and alleviate low testosterone symptoms.
However, although androgens stimulate the development of many important biological processes in the male anatomy and can lead to several unwanted changes when they are unbalanced, the hormones can’t achieve anything without androgen receptors to help them facilitate the cellular processes needed to carry out those functions.
In a sense, you can say that androgen receptors are the mechanisms that unlock the full potential of your androgen hormones.
But what exactly are androgen receptors? And how do they work? In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of androgen receptors, how they work with your testosterone, and what you can do to increase their activity to boost your testosterone production and improve your overall health.
What Are Androgen Receptors?
Androgen receptors (AR) are proteins found in cells throughout the body, including the muscles, bones, hair follicles, and brain, that activate and control the expression of specific genes by binding to androgen hormones. In a nutshell, androgen receptors help to mediate the effects of androgens, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, in males and females. In doing so, androgen receptors can contribute to the development and function of sexual characteristics, such as sexual desire and reproductive function, as well as other non-reproductive organs, such as your skin, bone structure, nervous system, and adrenal glands.
How Testosterone Receptors Work
At the DNA level, the androgen receptor (AR) gene instructs the body to produce the protein that eventually becomes the androgen receptor. Once bound to a specific hormone, an androgen receptor will interact with other proteins in the gene’s nucleus and mediate gene expression by turning the gene on and off when necessary, ultimately resulting in changes in the cell’s function and behavior. As a result, the up and down-regulation of gene activity caused by the androgen receptor can help direct the development and maintenance of male secondary sexual characteristics, such as muscle mass, body hair, bone density, and libido.
What Is the Relation Between Androgen Receptors and Testosterone?
Androgen receptors and testosterone are closely related in that androgen receptors are specifically designed to respond to androgens, such as testosterone. When testosterone binds to an androgen receptor, the hormone will trigger the body to interpret specific gene instructions that promote biological processes such as hair and muscle growth. By binding to androgen receptors, testosterone can have many other physiological effects on the body, which can help to regulate the development of secondary male sexual characteristics such as muscle development, hair growth, bone density, sperm development, and testicular function.
Why Should I Increase My Androgen Receptors?
The number of androgen receptors in a cell can affect how sensitive the cell is to testosterone. For example, if a cell has a high number of androgen receptors, it will be more sensitive to testosterone and will respond more strongly to the hormone. On the other hand, if a cell has a low number of androgen receptors, it will be less sensitive to testosterone and respond less strongly to the hormone. Since testosterone relies on androgen receptors to facilitate the development of secondary male characteristics, increasing your androgen receptors can help to enhance testosterone’s effect on the body, which can lead to improved muscle growth, bone density, and other aspects of male physical health.
What Raises Androgen Levels Naturally?
There are several methods that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your androgen receptors and elevate your testosterone levels naturally. Here are just a few that you can try at home.
This popular diet strategy allows you to eat for 8 hours out of the typical 24-hour day before fasting for the remaining 16 hours, giving your body enough time to digest and metabolize your food as you fast. By committing to an intermittent fasting routine, men have been able to boost androgen receptor activity, lower inflammation and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications. A study revealed that men on an intermittent fasting diet were able to decrease the amount of circulating testosterone and increase androgen receptor sensitivity. During the study, men who used intermittent fasting to increase their androgen levels were also able to lower their fat mass and maintain their muscle growth and strength, which researchers concluded may be the result of circulating testosterone being used more efficiently.
Vitamin D has been widely seen more as a hormone than a vitamin due to the presence of Vitamin D receptors that have been found attached to many cells throughout the endocrine system. In fact, Vitamin D receptors have been revealed to have close proximity to androgen receptors, which means that their separate cellular processes may have a simultaneous effect on each other’s activity. Although it’s well known for its role in bone health, Vitamin D has also been shown to have an impact on hormone imbalance as studies reveal that Vitamin D deficiency may be associated with reduced testosterone and its effects on androgen receptors during the decline of testosterone levels. Based on this study, researchers believe that increasing your vitamin D intake may also increase your androgen receptor activity and, thus, boost your testosterone. In fact, a 2017 study reported that middle-aged men who took Vitamin D supplements for Vitamin D deficiency were able to significantly increase their testosterone levels.
Increase Protein Intake
Ingesting more protein can also help your body to increase androgen receptor activity. High protein intake can help decrease sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) while increasing your free testosterone and IGF-1 levels to help stimulate your metabolism and insulin response, which can also stimulate androgen receptor activity.
It is usually best to eat a high-protein meal after a workout when muscle protein synthesis is at its highest to help your body fully absorb and utilize the protein after exercise. It can also help to control your insulin response, which can help to decrease the risk of muscle breakdown in the body. As a result, your body will increase the number of available androgen receptors and even free the androgen receptors that were previously blocked, allowing them to return to their optimal efficiency. In turn, the increased androgen receptor activity can help to increase your androgen levels.
Although regular exercise has been shown to increase testosterone levels, research has also revealed that resistance training is the most likely exercise to boost the number of active androgen receptors in the body. Resistant exercises such as quick sessions of heavy weight lifting can stimulate a release of testosterone and increase androgen receptor function. One 2017 study found that men who performed resistance training for eight weeks experienced an average increase in testosterone levels of 17%.
TRT Can Help Improve Testosterone Receptor Performance
On the off-chance that you’re unable to achieve increased androgen receptor activity through natural means, you can also try testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This procedure involves incorporating additional testosterone into a man’s bloodstream to help boost their testosterone levels. When androgen receptor activity is low, the additional testosterone supplementation can help to stimulate the up-regulation of androgen receptor activity, a process that increases the number of receptors due to a signal or substance outside the cell to carry out its specific function. As a result, TRT has shown great promise in helping men to increase their androgen receptor activity in various ways, such as:
Body Composition Benefits
One of the primary ways that TRT helps to improve receptor performance is by improving body composition. A 2014 study revealed that testosterone therapy stimulated significant fat loss in men with low testosterone. Since belly fat can cause abnormally high levels of estrogen, which block the testosterone receptor sites, any testosterone produced is rendered essentially ineffective and is not enough to maintain normal levels of testosterone, which is crucial to weight management. However, when this fat is lost, there is often a natural rise in T levels and, thus, a reduction in estrogen conversion, which can also help to balance your hormones.
Though little research has been done on this in male subjects, there is evidence that testosterone therapy can increase the gene expression of androgen receptors in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Gene expression is the body’s way of interpreting data stored in the DNA and turning that information into a form that can be utilized (usually a protein). Increasing the gene expression of androgen receptors creates more receptors within the body for hormones to act upon, which can help to increase your androgen levels.
Androgen receptors are located throughout the body, and the brain is no exception. TRT patients often report positive changes to their mental function, including improved memory, mood, and cognition; these improvements are thought to be caused by changes to the androgen receptors in the brain. For the patients, these improvements are a welcome change since reduced cognition, emotional changes, and low libido are all common side effects of low T.
At Renew Vitality, we provide accurate testosterone testing and safe testosterone replacement therapy to help boost your androgen receptor activity and alleviate your low testosterone symptoms. Our fantastic staff of medical professionals and hormone specialists can provide you with knowledgeable recommendations and effective hormone treatments that you can utilize to elevate your testosterone levels and treat your low testosterone. Contact us at 1-800-385-7945 and schedule an appointment with one of our physicians at any of our hormone replacement clinics in the United States to learn more about our treatment options.
- Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males
- Vitamin D is associated with testosterone and hypogonadism in Chinese men: Results from a cross-sectional SPECT-China study
- Vitamin D treatment improves levels of sexual hormones, metabolic parameters and erectile function in middle-aged vitamin D deficient men
- Exercise training improves free testosterone in lifelong sedentary aging men
- Testosterone treatment increases androgen receptor and aromatase gene expression in myotubes from patients with PCOS and controls, but does not induce insulin resistance
- Chronic caffeine intake increases androgenic stimuli, epithelial cell proliferation and hyperplasia in rat ventral prostate
Frequently Asked Questions
In most cases, men may have higher than normal androgen levels due to testosterone medication or supplement abuse. For women, medical issues such as ovary tumors or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) were the most common causes of abnormal androgen levels.
Short bursts of exercise, specifically strength training, can help stimulate the release of testosterone, thus activating and increasing androgen receptor activity.
Yes. Research shows that low doses of caffeine can help increase androgen receptors by stimulating cAMP and protein kinase A enzymes inside the cells containing the receptor to enhance their binding activity to testosterone and DHT.
Yes. Fasting for a period of time before you eat has been shown to stimulate increased androgen sensitivity and elevated testosterone levels.