Androgens are often perceived as fat burning hormones; however, steroid users would tell you it's not that simple. While anabolics tend to promote fat loss in some
people, they promote fat gains in many others. Androstenedione is no exception. It can either help you get leaner or make you fat. You may wonder why the testosterone
booster can have such diverse effects and what pathways make you fatter or leaner. Here's how to use androstenedione as a diet-aid supplement.
Stay Within the Normal Range
Bodybuilders want a bit more testosterone in their blood but not a lot more. The effect of testosterone on adipose tissue illustrates why that's true. People whose
testosterone output is low tend to gain fat easily, but they don't pack it on all over their body. Instead, it accumulates particularly around the waist.
Some of the fat is subcutaneous, meaning it's stored just below the skin, but most of it is visceral fat and is found under the abdominal muscles. As men get older,
they tend to accumulate visceral fat, and the age-related decline in testosterone secretion is one of the culprits. Visceral fat is unhealthy. It's linked to insulin
resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular problems-the only fat deposit associated with so many health problems.
(Women, however, can accumulate pounds of fat on their legs without incurring those kinds of problems.) Visceral fat is clearly something that should be combated.
Research has repeatedly shown that giving androgens to middle-aged men with visceral fat accumulation promotes fat loss, particularly around the waist. Therefore,
androgens can help aging men prevent the potential health problems associated with visceral fat, and androstenedione is an easy remedy for that age-related condition.
Nevertheless, you don't want to get too excited. Although too little testosterone is associated with fat gains, an excess of male hormone can also make you fat. There's
a narrow range in testosterone levels that will promote fat loss. If you're below the lower limit or above the upper range, the chances are you are going to gain bodyfat.
As a result, androstenedione can either be a fat burner or a fat gainer. In most people it has both reactions at the same time. Whether you become fat or lean depends
on the dominating action.
A Great Diversity of Actions
The size of your fat deposits is determined by several different factors. Testosterone acts on the majority of the fat loss and fat gain promoters, and some of its actions
are direct, as each fat cell contains many androgen receptors.2 Others are indirect. For instance, androgens increase appetite. If you don't control your appetite and start
to eat voraciously, you're undoubtedly going to pack on fat.
The variety in the intensity of testosterone's effects is one of the reasons that each person responds differently to androstenedione. If it barely increases your appetite,
the potential for fat accumulation is minimal.
Fat Cell Androgen Receptors
Because fat cells are richly endowed with androgen receptors, adipose tissue is a target of testosterone. The very first action of that sex hormone is to increase the
density of the beta adrenergic receptors, the only receptors that can promote fat release from the adipose tissue. They're activated by epinephrine and norepinephrine,
two hormones that are categorized as catecholamines. So, even if testosterone binds directly to your adipose cells, it will promote fat mobilization indirectly.
When you increase the number of beta receptors, it takes far less epinephrine or norepinephrine to promote hpolysis, or fat burning. ln other words, androstenedione
increases the fat sensitivity to the two direct lipolytic hormones, and that's especially true because some of the androstenedione in the blood is transformed into
testosterone inside the adipose tissue.
The sensitizing property of testosterone is greatly reinforced by the presence of growth hormone. There's a clear synergy between androgens and GM in upregulating the lipolytic
beta receptors. Since testosterone itself can trigger the release of GM, you can appreciate how great that synergy is. Testosterone and GH have the same synergistic actions in
promoting muscle anabolism, By acting on fat cells, testosterone can also inhibit fat uptake, which reduces the likelihood of adipose storage. So androgens not only promote fat
release, but they also prevent the entry of new fat.
Those two effects are reinforced by the testosterone-driven initiation of fat oxidation. Structures called mitochondria are found inside cells such as the ones in your muscles
or liver. The mitochondria are the parts of the cells where fat is transformed into energy Testosterone-binding sites have been identified on the mitochondria, and once activated
by androgens, they accelerate the entry of fat molecules into the mitochondria.
The rate of entry is the limiting factor that determines how much fat a single mitochondrion can burn. The higher the rate of entry, the more fat you're going to lose. That
acceleration of fat oxidation by androgens is very useful, especially as you try to get very lean, and it's the reason that highly androgenic drugs are so popular with competitors
who are cutting up for a contest, even though they have no anabolic properties. The more androgenic the drug, the more fat will be imported into the mitochondria for oxidation.
So testosterone promotes both fat mobilization and oxidation while preventing the entry of new fat molecules into your adipose tissue. That's just one side of the coin, however.
Appetite Is the Main Predictor
As I stated above-and as many people have experienced-androgens increase appetite to various degrees. The appetite-promoting effects are great for people who have no appetite,
such as HTV patients, but if androstenedione increases your appetite substantially, the situation becomes complicated; In fact, appetite is what determines if androgens will make
you leaner or fatter. If your appetite is not increased much, the chances are androstenedione will make you leaner. If your appetite goes up and you don't fight it, the chances are
you'll end up fatter.
You may argue that you're not automatically going to eat more because androstenedione increases your appetite. What if you keep eating the same number of calories as before? Will you
be able to interfere with the fat-promoting actions of your testosterone booster if you do that? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Your appetite and the fact that you may eat more
have little to do with future fat accumulation. The problem is the mechanism that causes the increased appetite, not the appetite itself. Don't get me wrong though. If you double
your food intake as you become hungrier, it will contribute to the fat gains. Even if you eat the same way, however, it won't be enough to prevent them. Other factors are clearly
involved. Whenever you feel your appetite increasing while you're on androstenedione, you should act fast.
Until a few years ago there was no reasonable explanation as to why androgens increase appetite. The discovery of a hormone called leptin in 1996 partially explains it. Leptin is
synthesized and released from adipose tissue. There's a clear relationship between the size of the fat cell and the level of leptin it manufactures. The bigger the fat cells, the
more leptin you will produce.
After the leptin is released, it eventually passes into the blood, where the molecules travel to the brain. Once there it reduces appetite. Obese people produce huge amounts of
leptin; however, they're insensitive to the leptin their bodies manufacture. That's the reason they're fat. Even though they produce more of the hormone than normal people, they
cannot benefit from its fat - control - ling properties.
Leptin production is increased by cortisol, insulin and food intake although researchers don't all agree about the insulin. Fasting induces a sharp fall in leptin levels, which is
the reason it increases your appetite. You can observe this technique at night, when you fast yet don't feel hungry. Leptin secretion is increased at night, despite the fast, and
it falls in the morning. That's the reason you're hungry in the morning.
Reducing appetite isn't leptin's only action. In normal people the higher the leptin secretion, the more fat they burn. Furthermore, the hormone protects against fat accumulation.
The problem is that testosterone is a very strong leptin inhibitor. So the more androstenedione increases your appetite, the more it cuts down your body's endogenous leptin production.
That means your body's natural protections against fat accumulation are inhibited. In fact, a low leptin level sends a signal to your body to store fat.
The increase in appetite is only considered a minor contributing factor in the fat-storage process. Other very potent pathways are triggered at the same time. By acting on adipocytes,
leptin prevents fat cell growth, which is an example of the concept of negative feedback. Although bigger fat cells produce more leptin, the higher the leptin level, the more it tries
to limit fat cell growth. In fact, thanks to leptin, the brain knows exactly how much fat the body holds. When leptin is higher than normal, your brain knows you're too fat and tries
to induce fat loss, and when leptin is low, it knows you aren't carrying enough bodyfat.
Too little bodyfat is a life-threatening situation. The brain tries to compensate by transforming whatever you eat into fat and by reducing your metabolic rate in an effort to spare
energy Consequently, when leptin is low, your body is transformed into a fat-accumulating machine. By artificially lowering leptin levels, testosterone makes your brain think you've
lost all your bodyfat. So, if you're one of those people in whom androstenedione promotes appetite, simply maintaining the same level of calorie consumption won't be nearly enough to
prevent fat accumulation.
Leptin also controls testosterone secretion. The higher the leptin level, the more the testes are stimulated to secrete testosterone. When testosterone is elevated a little by the
stimulatory effect of leptin, the newly produced testosterone down- regulates leptin production. Thanks to a decreased leptin secretion, the testes are less stimulated and they produce
less testosterone. The reduction of testosterone, in turn, allows the adipose tissue to produce more leptin, and so on. As you can clearly see, leptin and testosterone control each other's
For example, until recently, we didn't understand why testosterone secretion is reduced by a low-calorie diet. The discovery of leptin cleared up that mystery As leptin secretion falls
because of the diet, the testosterone secretion falls with it-though falling leptin is certainly not the only reason testosterone secretion goes down the drain.
There's a very unfortunate effect if you're using androstenedione. The synthesis of testosterone triggered by the booster will diminish the leptin output, which in turn will reduce the
testosterone the testes produce. In crude terms, your bails will shrink because you aren't producing enough leptin. When you stop your androstenedione cycle, you'll produce less testosterone
and you'll likely lose some, if not most, of your newly gained muscle mass.
To recap, androstenedione induces a very limited increase in appetite in some bodybuilders, so their leptin secretion isn't affected much by the testosterone booster. Those people are
likely to lose fat and have few problems when they stop their androstenedione cycle. In other people appetite is stimulated. Testosterone's fat-loss properties are overwhelmed by the fat-promoting
actions caused by the fall of leptin. The higher the appetite elevation, the more likely you are to pack on fat and have problems when your androstenedione cycle is over.
Can You Increase Your Leptin Levels?
That's the obvious question. The answer is yes but only by a little. One method I do not recommend is to use nicotine gums. Nicotine has been shown to either increase leptin secretion or
increase the brain's sensitivity to leptin. You may know that smoking reduces appetite. One of the reasons is the increase in leptin level or sensitivity. Then you stop smoking, leptin's
antifat effects vanish. Your appetite increases, and you pack on fat even though you aren't eating more. You are placed in the same situation as some androstenedione users.
I believe there's another way to increase leptin secretion. It's certainly not as effective as nicotine, but it is useful. Pyruvate has been shown to help increase the telease of leptin
from the adipose tissue. Although there have been no human- based studies attempting to confirm or refute that, I think most of the pyruvate effects come about through an elevation of leptin
level or sensitivity. In fad, all the results obtained with pyruvate in both humans and animals could have been duplicated by a slight elevation in leptin level or effects.
If androstenedione increases your appetite, pyruvate may help you to curb it. New research reveals that glucosamine and uridine can increase the release of leptin from both the adipose and the
muscles, the first study to demonstrate that muscles are able to produce leptin.6 Caffeine will also induce an acute fall in leptin, but may enhance the effects of the hormone, which may partially
explain the appetite-suppressant effects of caffeine.
If we cannot cure the causes, we should try to address the symptoms. Ephedra and caffeine will do that nicely, as they inhibit fat gains, combat the falling metabolic rate and promote fat
mobilization. Therefore, the pyruvate plus ephedra and caffeine stack will partially replace some of the effects of leptin and lessen some of the possible fat gains associated with androstenedione
in some people.
The most accessible solution for people whose appetite increases from pro-hormone use is the caffeine-ephedrine stack. Please act as soon as you feel your appetite increase. Don't wait until it's too late.