Research Review: Testosterone, Growth Hormone, Nutrition and Training

Research ReviewHere is a follow up on my case study on How to Track and Improve your Testosterone & Zinc levels Naturally with InsideTracker.

Q –  After reading Dr. Stone’s interview, it seems that heavy training is important to help hormones for power and recovery. Any special considerations regarding nutrition and training that I should be aware of to maximize my testosterone and growth hormone levels? What can I do naturally to get an edge in speed, power and strength events?  I heard brief workouts keep testosterone up and ZMA helps.  Any ideas here?

Answer: Unfortunately very little can be done to increase hormone levels, unless you are severely impaired by overtraining or are malnourished. The endocrine system already does a great job regulating itself, but you can ensure optimized training and recovery by getting adequate nutrition. The classic Hakkinen and Komi study on junior weightlifters showed an increase of testosterone and power over time, but hormonal levels proved more difficult to interpret.

Training should challenge the body so that it learns to adapt to the demands of stress and competition. Those that have more power are more resistant to injury and overtraining. Research has found that intense, explosive multi-joint exercises elicit favorable adaptations for speed and power athletes. Sports teams with less training time benefit from maximizing, but throwing events do have the luxury of including more power-based exercises. Acute hormonal response from intense exercise is very difficult to monitor, so it’s best to look at changes over long periods of time rather than week to week. Sometimes (hormone) downregulation has had rebound effects in performance, but this hasn’t been proven in the scientific literature without invasive measurements..

Proper nutrition starts with the basics, such as caloric needs and basic micronutrient needs. No legal supplement has been shown to increase testosterone, but current protein and carbohydrate drinks have anabolism benefits without increasing testosterone. Growth hormone is very misunderstood and currently nothing can be done to increase the levels naturally in athletes. ZMA is popular, but research shows it does nothing for normal athletes who aren’t severely deficient.  In fact, most athletes have normal levels of zinc and magnesium, although it may still be wise to monitor mineral levels during heavy training periods.

In summary, you should think about preserving your natural anabolic profile by simply getting sufficient sleep, making better food choices, and progressively overloading the body. Baseline screening of testosterone is a great way to create a handy reference to refer to if you see signs of overtraining – although by then it’s usually too late. To successfully avoid overtraining, experts suggest that you should get screened 3-4 times a year. Remember that you don’t need to have high testosterone to be a world-class athlete, but having low testosterone may be a sign of something wrong in either your training or diet.

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Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee