Recently, there seems to be an influx of clients seeking advice to reduce estrogen dominance which may appear in males as increased breast tissue (gynecomastia), and females complaining that their legs are fat or thick. Upon observation of these men and women, I noticed they tend to spend a ton of their time on cardio equipment or jogging, and never or hardly any time, strength training.
Aside from the activity of choice these men and women choose, they tend to be estrogen dominant. Estrogen dominance may be attributed from genetics, environmental and lifestyle. Estrogen is catabolic hormone causing an increase in body fat and increased aromatase, whereas testosterone is an anabolic hormone that promotes muscle growth.
Aromatization happens when androgens (testosterone) convert to estrogens (estrodial). High estrogen and low testosterone may indicate aromatase. Aromatase is an enzyme found in estrogen producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose or fat tissue and the brain.
Symptoms of decreased testosterone include fatigue, lack of motivation, depression, decreased libido, poor concentration, decreased muscle tissue and increased body fat. In men, their breasts may enlarge as extra estrogen begins to promote female body characteristics.
Estrogen dominance may be revealed through caliper skin fold measurements and hormonal blood lab work or saliva testing. Results revealing high estrogen and low testosterone apply to females and male, alike.
Suggested lab testing:
*Female Hormone Profile: Pregnenolone, Total Estrogens, DHEA-S, Progesterone, Testosterone (total)
*Male Hormone Profile: Pregnenolone, Total Estrogens, DHEA, Progesterone, Bioavailable Testosterone, Testosterone (total), Testosterone (free)
*Both male and female should test - Thyroid panel: T3, T4, TSH and thyroid antibodies
*Male: PSA (Test at age 50 for Caucasian; age 40 for African American)
For skin fold measurements in males: if the pectoral site is higher than the triceps site this indicates aromatase. Additionally, if the quadriceps skin fold is relatively high in a male a PSA (Prostate-specific Antigen) test is in order. The skin fold estrogen sites for a female are the quadriceps and hamstrings. Liver enzyme activity and poor detoxification of estrogens are other factors to consider. Alcohol can be the culprit here as well as marijuana.
Excess estrogens in your body not only lead to aromatization, but estrogen dominant health issues such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids as well as breast and prostate cancers. Read more about hormones in my book, THE POWER OF 4 ~ Your Ultimate Guide Guaranteed to Change Your Body and Transform Your Life.
Factors that raise levels of estrogen include:
*Age increases aromatase activity
*Carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance - This affects the adrenals and all other major hormone levels. (The hormone you have the most control over is insulin - this is controlled through your diet. Hormones do not act independently.)
*Consuming a diet of processed soy and non-organic foods loaded with xenoestrogens, pesticides, etc.
*Liver function changes - Elevated AST and ALT values
*Obesity - High estrogen is present in most obese people of all ages. Obesity in males = 25% body fat or greater. Obesity in females = 30% body fat of greater
*Overuse of marijuana and alcohol - This equals higher blood sugar, triglycerides and estrogens.
*Plastics, pesticides, soaps, skin care products, cosmetics and household cleaning products containing xenoestrogens, pesticides and other chemicals.
*Prescription drug side effects - especially diuretics and liver activity drugs
*Zinc deficiency. Low levels of zinc have been linked to enlarged prostates and less than desirable levels of testosterone.
Aside from implementing lifestyle changes, eliminating all estrogen precursors as plastics, non-organic food and ensuring healthy gut flora, there are various aromatase inhibitors one can obtain through botanicals and supplementation.
Resveratrol, Calcium d-Glucarate, nettle root, chrysin, passionflower and green tea are natural estrogen blockers, preventing aromatase. DIM and Calcium D-Glucarate are helpful for estrogen dominant legs in women and gynecomastia in men. Gynecomastia is a growth of breast tissue in men.
In addition to the above, consider:
*Omega-3 fish oils (EPA/DHA), zinc and probioitics
*Consume organic foods versus conventional due to their abundance of synthetic pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc.
*Eliminate processed soy products.
*Avoid refined carbohydrates, HFCS and trans fats. Educate yourself on these ingredients and products, and stay away from them!
*Avoid estrogen precursors such as plastic bottles, chemical-laden cosmetics, lotions and cleaning products.
The exercise training program solution for estrogen dominance and decreased testosterone is a high-intensity strength training program that builds muscle. Proper nutrition must always be factored in and cannot be underestimated. Workouts involving the major muscles and multi-joint exercises will force the body to lose the fat reserves and increase muscle mass. Some of my favorite total body strength training exercises for include Olympic lifts, squats, multi-directional lunges, dead lifts, pull ups, push ups and step ups using sand bags, body weight, dumbbells, suspension training (TRX), kettlebells, sleds, pulleys and barbells.