Testosterone: A Man’s Best Friend



Google the word, “testosterone,” and 37,800,000 results will show up. It’s without a doubt one of (if not the) most popular topics among men of all ages, and it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Testosterone (T) plays a huge role in determining the quality of a man’s life. When a man’s T levels are excellent, he feels invincible—ready and willing to take on any challenge, but when they’re low, all kinds of things begin to go wrong.

The amount of science surrounding this topic is enough to give a person brain damage, so I’m not going to delve too far into that end of it. Rather, I’m going to touch on some of the general components of testosterone, as well as sharing some actionable strategies that will begin boosting your testosterone levels so that you can perform at the highest possible level—physically, sexually, cognitively, and emotionally.

Healthy levels of testosterone will:

  • Decreases body fat
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Increase libido
  • Increase bone density
  • Increase cognitive function
  • Increase endurance
  • Fight depression
  • Increase confidence
  • Increase motivation

*It’s important to know that this article is intended for men over the age of 20. The information will not fully align with kids, adolescents, teenagers, or women.

Testosterone 101

Testosterone is produced primarily in the testes of men, and to a lesser extent, in the ovaries of women. Testosterone has received a bad rap for decades. It has been associated with haughty, aggressive, and even violent behavior, but the truth is that optimal T levels are conducive to a man’s success—helping him to thrive in all areas of life. Often, low testosterone is the cause of depression and anger, resulting in a life that’s anything but fulfilling.

Testosterone has received a bad rap for decades.

We can experience a surge of testosterone when our favorite NFL team scores a touchdown, or when we break a personal record on the bench press. Our T levels can even rise when we experience some quality sleep. Testosterone is also affected by our sense of self, our mindset, and our lifestyle habits. When we overcome a challenge, our testosterone increases, but when we fail, it drops. When T levels plummet, the stress hormone: *cortisol rises simultaneously—wreaking havoc on our mental and physical state of well-being.

There are (3) primary male testosterone biomarkers:

  1. Free testosterone
  2. SHBG-bound testosterone
  3. Albumin-bound testosterone


Free testosterone (Free T), is the measurement of both free testosterone and albumin-bound testosterone in your body. These are the bioavailable T’s for which the body can actually use. Free T is sometimes difficult to measure accurately because it makes up such a small percentage of your total T’s. This is why many physicians will focus on total testosterone—because it’s easier to interpret. But total T only shows us part of the picture.

It’s crucial for a man that’s climbing into his late 30s to know where his total (and free) testosterone levels lie. When these numbers are off, life is off. But there are many lifestyle adjustments that we can apply to balance these numbers—naturally. Read on and learn.


SHBG (sex-hormone-binding globulin) is a protein produced primarily in the liver, as well as the testes and brain. It transports androgens (testosterone) and estrogen to sex hormone receptors throughout your body—acting as a master regulator. Simply put, SHBG regulates a healthy balance between a man’s testosterone and estrogen levels. [2]

As we age, SHBG levels begin to rise and bind to our sex hormones—reducing their bioavailability to cells in our body. Elevated levels of SHBG in the blood can cause testosterone to be less available to healthy tissue—resulting in poor sexual performance, diminished libido, cognitive decline, chronic fatigue, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). [3]

On the flip side, having SHBG levels that are too low can result in conditions that include obesity, insulin resistance, chronic high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome (pregnant man belly)!


Albumin is another protein that’s produced by the liver, testes, and brain. It plays numerous roles in the body, but its key role is to prevent plasma from leaking out of blood vessels and into surrounding tissues. It also acts as a carrier for steroids, including testosterone.

The important thing to know is that low albumin levels can be a sign of kidney or liver disease, (or) an indication that the body is deficient in vital micronutrients (e.g., vitamin C, B12, B6, D3, etc.)

What is Total Testosterone?

Total testosterone is a standard biomarker that physicians often look at to determine a man’s hormonal health, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s only part of the story. Total T is basically the combination of free testosterone; (SHBG and albumin) combined.

Let’s dig a litter deeper as to why this test (in itself) is not always an ideal marker for your hormonal health.

Total testosterone alone doesn’t always provide us with the data we need to identify optimal hormonal health.

Let’s say that your SHBG levels are high (which isn’t a good thing), and your albumin levels are really low (which is also not a good thing). This could theoretically equate to a “normal” total testosterone reading—although there’s some bad stuff happening behind the scenes.

Total testosterone alone doesn’t always provide us with the data we need to identify optimal hormonal health.

What Are “Normal” Testosterone Levels?

Google “normal testosterone levels” and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with contradictory opinions, numbers, and statements on this topic. From my own research, I’ve seen 348 – 1197 ng/dL as a commonly total T range, but there’s a 2017 study that provides a new guideline for testosterone levels:

On April 1, 2017, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism performed a cohort study of 9,000 healthy (non-obese) men, ranging from ages 19 – 39. They concluded that a normal range of total testosterone was 264 to 916 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). [1]

I’ll give you some perspective so that these numbers make more sense to you. At the time of writing this article, I’m 43 years old and my total testosterone is 560 ng/dL. My energy levels are high, I feel strong, I have little to no joint pain, and my libido is on point. But this number could mean something very different to another man. Remember, if your SHBG or Albumin levels (which make up total testosterone) are imbalanced, it can mess with your “free” testosterone—resulting in a “normal” total T number, even though your physical performance is declining.

I still need to test my free, SHBG, and albumin testosterone levels to get the full picture. I’ll share my results with you when I get them.

What You Should Test For

It’s important to have (all four) T levels tested; SHBG, albumin, total, and free testosterone. If not specified, your doctor will probably give you some push-back. Typically, they only want to perform a standard “total T” test.

It’s crucial to test your T levels every three to six months while on a new diet and exercise program.

It’s crucial to test your T levels every three to six months while on a new diet and exercise program. As you begin to see your T levels progress for the better, your confidence will grow—motivating you to keep going!

Testing Methods

Let’s talk about T-testing methods.

Whether you’re a high-performing businessman, a stay at home dad, or an athlete, you should have a clear picture of your overall hormonal health. A man’s quality of life is determined by his testosterone. If you’re over 35, you should consider having all four T biomarkers tested:

1. Total Testosterone
2. SHBG levels
3. Albumin levels
4. Free Testosterone

  1. Total Testosterone Testing
    There are (2) methods to test your total testosterone:

    1. LC/MS Method
    2. ECLIA Method

    LC/MS Method
    Short for (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry). This test has become the gold standard for total T testing. It’s a little more expensive than ECLIA method testing and takes a bit longer to get back test results.

    ECLIA Method
    Short for (Electrochemiluminescent Immunoassay). This is an affordable lab test that measures total testosterone. However, it’s said that the ECLIA test is somewhat inaccurate in comparison to the LC/MS test.
  2. SHBG Testing
    SHBG is a little trickier to test. Many physicians will try and discourage you from testing SHBG. Traditionally, they are only interested in the “total” testosterone results, but this is outdated thinking. As I mentioned earlier, your total T can be in a normal range, but (low, or high) SHBG levels can be causing you problems behind the scenes, so it may be wise to order this test in addition to a total testosterone test.
  3. Albumin Testing
    Once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of convincing your doctor to test your SHBG levels, testing your albumin levels is simple; as it’s often included alongside the SHBG test.
  4. Free Testosterone Testing
    You can test your “free” testosterone by itself, or alongside your total SHBG, and albumin. This test is a good example. They also use the LC/MS method of testing, which is supposed to be more accurate.

Testosterone Boosting Hacks

Now, let’s get to the juicy part; testosterone hacks! Once you’ve been tested and you know where you stand regarding testosterone health, you can begin to manipulate your T levels (in your favor) by applying some (if not all) of these natural hacks.

Hack #1: Eat More Fat

By now, you’ve heard about the numerous health benefits of a high-fat diet. If you haven’t, that’s OK, but the research is out there, and it’s undeniable. A high (quality) fat diet can benefit brain, heart, and cellular health. But did you know that consuming the “right kind” of fats on a daily basis can also increase testosterone levels in men? [4]

You might remember the low-fat diet craze that overwhelmed the 80s and 90s. Chicken breasts, egg whites, brown rice, and skim milk were the staple of just about every bodybuilding regimen in existence—and unfortunately, these dated concepts are still being practiced by many fitness enthusiasts and pros today.

MCT oil, coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, wild-caught salmon, and sardines are just a few examples of testosterone-boosting fatty foods.

Hack #2: Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting increases mental performance, reduces inflammation, improves digestion, and promotes longevity. The list goes on and on. But it’s also near the top of the list of natural testosterone boosting hacks. [5], [6], [7]

The important thing to know is that it has nothing to do with “starving” yourself.

If you don’t know much about intermittent fasting, it’s OK. The important thing to know is that it has nothing to do with “starving” yourself.

Fasting for 12 to 18 hours a day (or every other day) is an amazing tool to balance out a man’s hormones (as well as his overall health).

If you’re a beginner, a simple approach to intermittent fasting is to consume your last meal of the day at around 7pm. Don’t eat anything else (or drink sugary liquids) until 10am. That’s a 15-hour fast! When you wake at let’s say 6am, make yourself a quality fat, creamy coffee by adding some grass-fed butter and coconut oil — but with little to no creamer. The quality fat (sugar-free) coffee will easily curb your hunger for the remaining 4-5 hours, and by sidestepping the sugar, you won’t break your fast.

The ketones that are produced from intermittent fasting will increase your testosterone health for the better.

You’ll also notice a new level of mental performance and clarity!

Hack #3: HIIT Training

High Intense Interval Training has a powerful impact on testosterone. [8] Unlike prolonged exercise, which has little to no positive effects on testosterone, intense, short workouts of 20 to 30 minutes with very little rest in between sets will give you an incredible surge of testosterone!

It’s important to know that HIIT training can be used beyond the weight room. Sprinting, swimming, hiking, and even pushups can be used as HIIT tools. Just find what you enjoy doing and slowly work your way up to multiple sets of short bursts and intense effort with little rest in between.

Hack #4: Sleep Like A Gangsta

How many times have you found yourself skimming Facebook, or finishing up an episode of Game of Thrones before bed? A lack of sleep (especially quality sleep) has been shown to decrease testosterone in men.

In a 2011 Journal of American Medical Association study, they concluded that there was a 10% to 15% decrease in testosterone among male participants that slept 5 hours per night for (1) week. [9]

Also, after reading renown health and wellness expert, Shawn Stevenson’s best-selling book; Sleep Smarter, there’s no doubt that the quality of sleep we get impacts our health and testosterone in powerful ways.

Try This: Try taking magnesium and sip on some chamomile tea before bed to help you reach some of that amazing REM sleep.

Hack #5: Vitamin Therapy

Vitamins and minerals are not just vital for longevity, but they play a role in testosterone health as well.


Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem in the United States, as well as many other regions around the world, mainly because people just aren’t spending enough time in the sun.

Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem in the United States, as well as many other regions around the world.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that can increase testosterone levels in men. [10] Sun exposure is by far the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels, but as a last resort, Vitamin D3 supplementation is necessary.


Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in hormone production, including testosterone health. The effects that zinc has on testosterone levels are not fully understood.

Foods rich in zinc include grass-fed beef, cashews, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, spinach, chicken, chickpeas, cocoa powder, and lamb.

If your diet isn’t on point, supplementation is a necessary option.


Magnesium is another mineral that’s associated with testosterone. It’s supposed to increase the bioavailability of testosterone—allowing the body to utilize it more efficiently. [11]

Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, avocados, chard, almonds, pumpkins, yogurt, dark chocolate, black beans, and bananas.

If your diet isn’t on point, supplementation is a necessary option.

Hack #6: Supplements

The testosterone boosting supplement industry is huge, and the choices are endless, but here are a few options that you could try before you turn to hardcore T-boosters or TRT (testosterone replacement therapy).


There are numerous scientific studies that support creatine monohydrate’s legit muscle-building benefits, but there’s also evidence that suggests that it also has positive effects on testosterone levels! [12], [13], [14]

Add a serving of creatine monohydrate to your pre (or post) workout concoction for endurance, muscle growth, recovery, and testosterone-boosting benefits.

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Ashwagandha is an herb that has been shown to have an adaptogenic impact on testosterone health in men. Although some of the claims can be over-the-top, ashwagandha can reduce stress, anxiety, inflammation and cortisol levels—which in an of itself can increase T levels. [17]

Ashwagandha can reduce stress, anxiety, inflammation and cortisol levels.

Ashwagandha may also improve thyroid and adrenal health.

Dosage and servings: Some experts recommend 500mg 1-2x daily.

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Maca root is an adaptogen and a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli and Brussels Sprouts. This superfood is usually found in powder form and is loaded with nutrients. It’s not typically seen as a testosterone booster, but studies show that Maca may increase libido, so I thought it was worth mentioning. [16]

More Maca benefits include hormone balance in both men and women, fertility, energy, mood, memory, and immunity.

Dosage and servings: According to experts, there is no particular recommended serving size of maca. However, most people seem to feel best when starting with about one tablespoon daily (in powder form) and possibly working their way up to 2-3 tablespoons.

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According to research, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) may increase testosterone levels, especially when taken with strength training. [15]

If your diet is already rich in grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, and hormone-free chicken, BCAA supplementation might not be necessary.

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Hack #7: Lose Weight

The research is pretty clear. There is a relationship between weight loss and increased testosterone. [18]

Poor sleep, stress, refined sugars, processed grains, conventional (hormone-packed) meat and a lack of exercise can all hurt your efforts to lose body fat—ultimately resulting in decreased testosterone.

The median BMI (body mass index) for a 40-year-old man is said to be roughly 26, but I would aim for 15 to 18 — being that 30+ is considered to be obese. You don’t even want to be in the 20s if you can help it.

Hack #8: Ditch the Sweets

This is one that people just don’t like to hear. I get it. Sugar is SWEET! (pun intended). The average American is said to consume up to 12 teaspoons of refined sugar a day; about two tons a year!

The average American is said to consume up to 12 teaspoons of refined sugar a day!

The truth is, if you can’t get your sugar intake under total control, YOU WILL NEVER reach your health and fitness goals. I know that’s a pretty frank statement, but I’m not investing hours of my time writing this post to waste yours.

I also don’t need to go into the science of sugar and the effects it has on the body. You’ve heard most of it.

Remove as much sugar (as well as artificial sweeteners; e.g., Splenda) from your diet as possible. Artificial sweeteners will only intensify your cravings for the real thing.

Hack #9: Relax

Stress and testosterone don’t play well together. Period.

We have to allow our bodies to rest. We need to find ways to disconnect from the stressors of life.

On a physiological level, chronic stress causes cortisol levels to spike, which in turn impairs DHEA production—causing testosterone to plummet.

Healthy habits that help me to deal with stress include running, hiking, weight training, reading, writing, watching football, family time, laughter, prayer, meditation, playing my acoustic guitar, and traveling.

Vitamin B6 has been shown to help with stress (as well as; brain function, joint pain, sleep, heart health, and anxiety).

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Masculinity isn’t a concept; it’s a rite of passage. Being a man can be challenging. Our families depend on us to provide and protect. Our employers expect us to perform and produce. And at any given moment, our dormant primal instincts can be awakened by unexpected calamity.

Testosterone is key to a man’s mental fortitude and physical ability. It reinforces his unremitting drive to overcome obstacles and persevere in the presence of almost any challenge.

Unhealthy lifestyle habits will undoubtedly affect our body’s production of testosterone; resulting in unpleasant, and even dangerous consequences that may include depression, feelings of hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts.

Testosterone is no laughing matter and should be at the top of our list of priorities.

Don’t wait for negative symptoms before you begin monitoring your T levels.

Guard it and honor it, gentlemen.

PUSHTHROUGH shares information on health, nutrition, supplementation, fitness, and biochemistry topics for the general public. The information is made available with the understanding that the author is not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a health care professional (preferably a functional medicine or naturopathic specialist).

The information on this website does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. It is not intended as nutritional or medical advice for individual problems. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed.


// photo credit: Artem Sapegin

[1]: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2016-2935 [2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/6462 [3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24670886 [4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6538617 [5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622429/?report=classic [6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17078771 [7]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4257368 [8]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28794164 [9]: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1029127 [10]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195 [11]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20352370 [12]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19741313 [13]: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0765159711001171 [14]: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0765159715000039 [15]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20300014 [16]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472620 [17]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863556 [18]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331

Increase Longevity with This One Healthy Habit

Heat Therapy and Longevity


If there’s one thing I can label myself a professional at, it would be the art of weightlifting. Yes, it’s art. I’m no Dwayne Johnson, but I’ve been at this for a quarter century. Ok, I just aged myself.

The truth is that no matter how experienced we [as men] think we are at something, there’s always room for improvement.

While listening to one of my many podcast streams the other day, I stumbled upon an episode by naturopath, Dr. Stephen Cabral that caught my eye. The title read: “19 Minutes of This Reduces All Causes of Death by 40%.” The health nut in me couldn’t resist!

As I began to listen to Cabral’s episode, I was dumbfounded. I had been working out in gyms for nearly three decades, and stepping inside a sauna had never crossed my mind! To be honest, saunas seemed like somewhat of a joke to me. I viewed them as a waste of time. Something old men and gym newbies did to avoid pumping iron.

But I was wrong.

My ego began to deflate as I listened to Dr. Cabral’s statement.

Allow me to paraphrase:

“Legitimately, all you have to do is use a sauna, and your risk essentially for cardiac arrest goes down by 2/3. There is nothing else in the world that I’ve seen, to my knowledge, that works this well … Nothing touches this.”

NOTE: There are numerous types of saunas, but to keep this article simple, I’ll focus the attention on the traditional dry sauna.

Health Benefits

I’m going to get right to the point here because if you don’t read the entire article, you’ll at least walk away with the most important points on this topic.

1. Heart

Here is one that always gets people’s attention — being that heart disease is still the #1 leading cause of death in the U.S. — accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths per year. [1]

On March 1, 1984, a cohort study of 2,315 middle-aged men from Eastern Finland was conducted. [2] The men’s sauna usage (ages ranging from 42-60 years) was tracked for roughly five years. During a median follow-up of 20.7 years, the results were pretty impressive.

The researchers found that the men who occupied a dry sauna for 20min (2-3 times per week) had a 27% lower risk of death from heart disease. And the more days per week that the men used sauna bathing, the more all-cause mortality rates decreased.

2. Brain

Another Finnish study conducted on 2,300+ men concluded that a moderate to high frequency of sauna bathing was associated with lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. [3]

Your body begins to cool itself down in response to heat — increasing the production of dynorphin in response to the stress. Although dynorphin has the opposite effects of endorphins, it sensitizes the brain to endorphins, which is a good thing!

Renown alternative medicine expert, Dr. Mercola explains that exposure to heat promotes the production of brain neurons. He goes on to state that sauna therapy may be an important strategy to slow or prevent brain aging.

3. Testosterone

A small study of 55 healthy individuals found that there was a 142% increase in growth hormone for up to an hour following dry sauna usage. [4]

Now, keep in mind that this study didn’t seem to specify the age and gender of the test subjects, nor did it specify how long the sauna usage was. Regardless, I think this study warrants a compelling amount of legitimacy about a correlation between sauna therapy and hormone health.

Also, I’m not a fan of the (post-workout meal) ideology, but for those of you that are, this would seem to be another reason to follow up a workout and sauna session with a high-protein post-workout meal.

4. Thyroid

The thyroid is one of the most active organs in the human body. It helps to regulate vital body functions such as heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, cholesterol levels, body temperature, and much more.

Sweating excretes halides. A halide is a binary compound found in things such as soda, baked goods, and pesticides. The more halides you sweat out through sauna therapy, the more iodine your body can use to produce thyroid hormones.

In other words, extensive sweating can influence fat loss, muscle gains, libido, and overall health.

5. Recovery

The body responds to the high temperature by rerouting blood flow, speeding heart rate, increasing blood vessel dilation, and secreting a number of hormones. This process is amazing for repairing damaged tissue!

In a March 10, 2005 study, researchers examined the role of heating on oxidative stress and muscle mass in immobilized limbs — lowering the risk of muscle wastage during disuse. [5]

Oxidative stress can cause damage to cell membranes, resulting in a depletion of glutathione stores. And if you don’t know what glutathione is, you can read up on it here. Simply put, glutathione is considered the master antioxidant by many.

If there’s even a hint of a chance that our glutathione stores can benefit from sauna therapy, then that’s reason enough for me to make this a daily ritual!

6. Longevity

While not all saunas are created equal (and I’ll get into this by the end of the post), heat therapy is beneficial for longevity.

This article goes into the association between sauna bathing and all-cause mortality events. [6]

The researchers conclude with this:

This study provides prospective evidence that sauna bathing is a protective factor against the risk of SCD, fatal CHD, fatal CVD, and all-cause mortality events in the general male population. Our results suggest that sauna bathing is a recommendable health habit, although further studies are needed to confirm our results in different population settings.

7. Detoxification

Skin is the largest organ in our body. Our skin’s sweat glands are also good at releasing all those nasty toxins we’re absorbing each and every day from food and the environment.

Studies show that sweating can increase the excretion of heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. [7]

In this study, sweat exceeded plasma or urine concentrations of toxins. Did you catch that?! Sweating in a sauna can excrete toxins more efficiently than blood or urine! That’s pretty cool stuff.

On the Right Side of History

Saunas have been used for centuries in many different societies. Invented by the Finnish, saunas are commonly found in many of the homes in Finland.

Most of the western world refers to a sauna as a Dry Sauna — a wood-lined room with an electric heater that transfers heat by way of igneous rocks. The average sauna temperatures range from 160°F – 210°F.

Saunas were common all over Europe during the Middle Ages. Due to the spread of syphilis and the scare of the disease in the 1500s, the sauna culture died out on most of the continent. Finland was an exception, due to the epidemic not taking a strong hold in the area, which is a key reason why the sauna culture is largely perceived as Finnish. [8]

Saunas are sometimes confused with steam rooms. While the two operate on the same principle (heating an enclosed space), they are quite different regarding humidity.

Types of Saunas

There are numerous types of saunas used throughout the world, but I’m going to touch on the three most popular North North American versions.

Remember, all saunas are beneficial to health, but they’re not all created equal. It’s up to the individual to discover what works best for them.

Electric Saunas

The vast majority of today’s saunas are electrically heated. They are considered to be efficient, safe, and easy to use.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas are not traditional in nature but have been shown to provide some unique benefits. Rather than heating the air or stones, an infrared sauna works by penetrating your tissues with infrared rays using at lower temperatures. This method has been gaining popularity among athletes because of its ability to treat injuries. The heat is said to travel deeper into the tissue than a traditional dry sauna. This process is referred to as photobiology and is endorsed by health advocates such as Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Steam Rooms

Otherwise known as (steam baths), steam rooms were originally created by ancient Greeks and Romans. They are made of materials such as ceramic tile, glass, stone, or acrylic, and temperatures range from 110°F – 120°F — but with maximum humidity of 100%.

General Sauna Usage

If you’re new to the sauna life, don’t worry. Below are a few things to consider so that you have the best possible experience. Some of these suggestions are a matter of personal preference, so take it with a grain of salt and discover what works best for you.

1. Hydrate

Let’s begin with water, in the case you don’t continue reading. It’s by far the most important. Be sure you have (at minimum) 12 ounces of water with you. I typically drink 16 ounces of water throughout my 20-minute sessions. Remember, sauna sessions often follow an intense workout, so between your workout and heat therapy, you will most definitely require some water intake! Dehydration will wreak havoc on your efforts toward better health.

2. Start Small

Start small. If you’re new to sauna use, it’s a good idea to begin with a 5-10 minute session your first time. The optimal heat therapy time is 19 to 21 minutes, but you can work your way up to this as you see fit.

3. Clothing

Remove as much clothing as possible. I, personally don’t like to walk out of the gym a sloppy, wet mess. At the very least, I’d suggest removing your shirt and shoes (and bring some sandals). Not sure I want my bare feet where people sweat daily. Remember, the soles of our feet absorb elements directly into the bloodstream.

4. Monitor Time

Try and limit continuous sauna usage to 30 minutes. I haven’t seen any studies that show benefits beyond 21 minutes of continuous use. It’s my guess that most of the thermogenic benefits are obtained in the 10min to 20min window — depending on the individual.

5. Toss the Phone

Leave your phone in the locker! There are a few reasons I suggest this. First, the heat will put a lot of stress on your phone. My iPhone won’t make it more than 5 minutes without giving me the “too hot” warning. Second, countless studies show the amazing benefits of meditation, and a sauna session is a GREAT time to meditate and focus. Lastly, a sauna session is also a good time for some making new connections. In just the past week I’ve had some amazing conversations with other interesting guys.

6. Two Are Better Than One

Avoid using the sauna by yourself when possible. If for some reason you ever passed out, you’d be in trouble if no one was close by..

7. Time Flies When Reading

If you are the kind of person that goes a little mad with silence and stillness, then bring a good book along. I do this often. It will make the 20 minutes feel like 5.

8. Invest In a Stop Watch

Buy a cheap stop watch. Time spent in a sauna is important, so track it wisely.

9. Upon Leaving

Upon leaving a sauna, it’s common to feel slightly dizzy. It can be a good idea to rest for 3-5 minutes (while sitting).

*Remember, If you have medical conditions, it would be wise to consult with your family physician before using a sauna or steam room. Most importantly, listen to your body. It always gives warning signs of trouble.

Sauna Etiquette

As with anything things in life, there are good practices that should be followed. Some of it is common sense, while some of it will be learned as you go. I always try and be the guy that sets the example, rather than be the jerk that defies the rules.

1. Good Hygiene

The respectable thing would be to shower before using a sauna, but almost no one does it (including myself). Between the gym sweat and whatever other toxins you’ll be excreting, it should go without saying that you should never enter a sauna without TWO towels: one to sit on and one to continuously wipe yourself off. No one wants to sit in your butt sweat!

2. More Good Hygiene

If you’re going to remove your shoes, be sure to wear some sandals. I don’t think I need to explain why we don’t want your toe jam to get up in there.

3. Be Respectful to Others

This may also seem rudimentary, but keep the door closed. Some guys take their sauna therapy pretty serious (as they should) and they don’t want you to let any heat out.

4. Ask First

While sauna rocks are meant to have water poured over them to increase humidity levels, it’s still a good idea to ask the gym staff if this is OK to do. But don’t be surprised if they have no idea. To be safe, just leave it alone. Most people prefer the dry heat.

5. Don’t Be That Guy

Never mess around with the temperature. If it’s too hot, or not hot enough, reach out to gym management and let them adjust it accordingly.

6. I’m Not Your Mommy

You might leave your wet towel on the bathroom floor for mommy to pick up at home, but this doesn’t play out well at the gym. Don’t leave your moist towel in the sauna. It would seem like common sense, but I see it all the time.

7. Save the Nudity for the Beach!

Lastly, never sauna bath in the nude! I’ve never personally seen this, but I’m sure I will at some point. There is absolutely no reason why your junk needs to be exposed. Wear a towel, guys.

After the Sauna

What you do after you step out of a sauna can be as important as the sauna itself. Below are a few suggestions I gathered from the web (as well as my own experiences).

Cold Shower

Some people like to take a cold shower directly after stepping out of a sauna. There is some evidence suggesting that hydrotherapy can help relieve pain — specifically helping with rheumatoid arthritis. [9]

While “showering” isn’t necessarily full-blown hydrotherapy, the concept of cold water therapy applies. Plus, showering after a sweat-induced sauna session is a good idea. I see short shower rinses in my near future for both health and hygiene reasons.

Replenish Electrolytes

Going from an intense 30-minute workout to a 20-minute sauna session can tax the body pretty good, so hydrating before, during, and after is crucial. I make a habit of drinking about 8 ounces of water prior to my workout, then take my (cold) 16-ounce electrolyte water bottle in the sauna with me — sipping on it throughout the session.

I also down another 8 ounces of water when I get home with a half tsp of Himalayan pink salt, which is rich in microminerals.

Rest and Reset

This seems like an obvious one, but like the stubborn creatures we tend to be, we often ignore our bodies’ warning signs and find ourselves in trouble.

There was a time when I did my usual 30-min intense workout, followed by 20 minutes of sauna therapy. When I finished my heat therapy, I still had some energy, so I drove across the street to a park and proceeded to run sprints in 108 degrees.

Needless to say, I was sluggish the rest of the day. We all have our limits. Learn yours.


When it comes to longevity, we want to be sure that we aren’t doing anything that’s counterproductive toward our health goals. Here are a few reminders to make sure your sauna experience is a good one.

1. Sauna Cleanliness

The gym staff should be cleaning the sauna daily. If you feel like your facility’s sauna is dirty, simply ask them to clean it. If no one asks, they probably won’t.

2. Stay Hydrated

We went over this already, but It warrants another reminder. STAY HYDRATED. And choose high-quality water with added electrolytes when possible.

3. Always Listen to Your Body

While it’s common to feel slightly light headed upon exiting a sauna, if you begin to feel dizzy or sick while sitting down, this is a sign that you should exit the sauna immediately.

4. Radiation

Unfortunately, some of the newer electronic saunas emit high levels of electromagnetic radiation. Humans are fundamentally electronic beings, so exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) can be an issue.

Exposure to electromagnetic fields may trigger health problems, so testing your sauna is an option. It sounds super geeky, but I’m going to purchase this inexpensive EMF meter and test my gym’s sauna. My curious brain just can’t help it. I’ll share my results on my Facebook page for you to see.


Over the past few years, health has become a priority in my life. While much of the world appears to be downplaying its importance, I take on a more candid approach because what we do now will matter later.

Whenever I come across something that shows promising health benefits, I have a burning desire to research it, share it, and make it my own. As I’ve stated before, one of the fundamental attributes of a well-rounded man is his unremitting desire for optimal health.

Sauna therapy has been practiced by numerous societies for hundreds of years. For some of these folks, it’s more than a health kick, it’s a way of life. Heat therapy can help the human body to repair, recover, and detoxify in ways that are difficult to replicate. If used responsibly, sauna therapy can be a powerful tool to add to your arsenal of regular daily habits.

PUSHTHROUGH shares information on health, nutrition, supplementation, fitness, and biochemistry topics for the general public. The information is made available with the understanding that the author is not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a health care professional (preferably a functional medicine or naturopathic specialist).

The information on this website does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. It is not intended as nutritional or medical advice for individual problems. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed.



Vitamin C: Is it the Uncrowned King of Vitamins?

Vitamin C - The King of Vitamins


When I was young, I vividly remember my parents telling my brother and me to take some vitamin C whenever we sensed a cold coming on. Vitamin C was the go-to remedy for almost every illness in my family in those days.

So why does it seem like vitamin C is becoming a thing of the past?

Most of us associate value with high cost, so it would make sense that some people may have lost interest in vitamin C because of it’s inexpensive price tag.

Another theory floating around the health and wellness space is that vitamin C seems “too simple.” How could something so easy and cost-effective provide any real health benefits?

One more reason could be that some doctors are hesitant to recommend higher doses of vitamin C because of potential side effects.

By the end of this article, you will know more about vitamin C than 99% of the population — including many health practitioners.

In the upcoming sections, I’m going to touch base on:

  • The History of Vitamin C
  • Benefits of Vitamin C
  • Cool Facts About Vitamin C
  • Common Vitamin C Confusion
  • What is Bioavailability?
  • What Are Bioflavonoids?
  • Common Bioflavonoids (flavonoids)
  • What is Ester-C®?
  • Vitamin C and Cancer
  • Side Effects
  • Final Thoughts

But before I dive in, let’s get a little geeky for a minute with what exactly vitamin C is and why it’s important.


Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement. The term “essential” is used because vitamin C is vital for life, yet we are unable to create it oursleves. It was first discovered in 1912 and then isolated as “ascorbic acid” in the 1920s by Albert Szent-Györgyi, MD, Ph.D. — winning him a Nobel Prize.

While vitamin C is known for its ability to treat disease, boost immunity, repair wounds, and much more, it has a dark story that few people know about. Even with the vast amount of research available, many health professionals continue to dismiss it. These same health professionals often focus on vitamin C’s rare side effects, rather than endorse it as the super vitamin that it is.

Also, many doctors and researchers have discovered that high doses of vitamin C can help patients recover from life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, AIDS, and polio, reduce toxic levels of lead and mercury exposure, and neutralize venom injected by snake and spider bites.

Good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make a lot of dollars.”
– Dr. Andrew Saul

Every tissue and cell in our body need vitamin C for healthy growth and repair, so it goes without saying that this master nutrient deserves a closer look.

Let’s dig in!


It would’ve been easy to write an article comprised solely of the benefits of vitamin C, but I wanted to make this as engaging as it is informative, so I’m going to list (what I think) are the most impressive benefits.

Vitamin C has been shown to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve immune system
  • Improve mineral absorption
  • Help produce (the master antioxidant) glutathione
  • Lower the risk of stroke
  • Boost testosterone
  • Treat sepsis (infection)
  • Protect against mold, bacteria, viruses, and fungus
  • Support adrenal health
  • Reduce cancer cells (especially when administered intravenously)
  • Act as an anti-venom against scorpion, spider, and snake bites
  • Prevent ocular disease
  • Promote healthy skin
  • Improve cellular health
  • Fight off colds and flu


Nearly all disease can be traced to nutritional deficiency.”
– Dr. Linus Pauling

Think you know about vitamin C? You might be surprised. Check out some of these interesting vitamin C facts:

  • Nearly 43% of American adults are deficient in vitamin C.
  • Humans are one of the few mammals that do not manufacture our own vitamin C. Thus supplementation is imperative.
  • Smokers require more vitamin C than non-smokers.
  • Heat can destroy a lot of the Vitamin C found in food.
  • Over 100 Vitamin C studies support its numerous benefits.
  • Vitamin C is used and excreted by your body every 24 hours, thus needs to be replenished daily.
  • Vitamin C is the second most searched for vitamin on the internet, following vitamin D.
  • Vitamin C was the very first vitamin to be human-made and taken as a pill.
  • Vitamin C is difficult to overdose on because it is not stored in the body.
  • Research suggests that men require more vitamin C, possibly due to added lean muscle mass.
  • Vitamin C has been used to treat illnesses since the 1940s.
  • 1 cup of Kale has as much vitamin C as a medium orange.
  • When vitamin C is combined with some forms of iron, it aids in the absorption of the iron.
  • Vitamin C is one of the most widely researched nutrients in the world.


Many people assume that vitamin C is vitamin C, but it’s a little more complex than that. I’m going to try and give a simple breakdown so that there’s less confusion in this area. But it can still get confusing.

Vitamin C is available in tablets, capsules, chewables, mix packets, and powders. Dosages range from 25mg to 2000mg (2 grams), while 500mg is probably the most commonly-used dosage.


Bioavailability is the degree to which a nutrient becomes available after administration. This process begins when a nutrient passes from the digestive system into the bloodstream.

Vitamin C is absorbed almost exclusively in the small intestine, and the process of uptake from the digestive system is determined by the presence of transport proteins. For vitamin C, these transport proteins are called: SVCTs (sodium-dependent vitamin C co-transporters).

In other words, vitamin C is best absorbed when taken with bioflavonoids (either in supplementation or food form).


Bioflavonoids naturally occur in virtually all fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Substances such as dark chocolate, red wine, turmeric, and green tea are high in flavonoids. More versions of bioflavonoids include rutin, citrus flavonoids, and hesperidin.

Bioflavonoids have been shown to help with the following:

  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Allergies
  • Hypertension
  • Bruising
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Circulation

An indicator that a food is rich in bioflavonoids is its color. Often, the more colorful the food, the richer it is in bioflavonoids.

Flavonoids are necessary for proper vitamin C absorption and utilization, so be sure that the ingredients of any vitamin C supplement provide a significant amount of bioflavonoids.


  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruits
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Red Peppers
  • Green Onions
  • Cinnamamon
  • Thyme
  • Oregeno
  • Black, Red, and Green Tea
  • Cocoa
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red Wine
  • Black, Kidney, Garbanzo, Fava, and Pinto Beans
  • Cashews, Pistachios, Walnuts, and Pecans
  • Buckweat



Rutin is a plant pigment (flavonoid) that is found in certain fruits and vegetables. Rutin is often included in vitamin C complexes and has been said to strengthen blood vessels, treat varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and reduce internal bleeding.


Hesperidin is another bioflavonoid that is sometimes used in combination with vitamins C. It’s sometimes referred to as a “citrus” bioflavonoid. Like rutin, hesperidin is supposed to help with vitamin C absorption.

Hesperidin has been shown to help protect against cancer, heart disease, and circulation, and can also be found in many vitamin C complexes.


Piperine is a compound found in black pepper. It has been shown to dramatically increase absorption of vitamin C, along with many other vitamins and herbs such as vitamin B, selenium, turmeric, and more.

Piperine can also be consumed in supplement form.


Dihydroquercetin is a potent flavonoid molecule that helps to sustain vitamin C’s activity in the body.

Dihydroquercetin’s synergistic effects, when combined with vitamin C, are powerful. Combining the two are supposed to offer tremendous promise in preserving and restoring health.

It has even been approved as a prescription drug in some parts of the world.


Liposomal Vitamin C uses liposomes (fat) to increase the bioavailability of vitamin C. Liposomal Vitamin C is said to be the highest quality form of vitamin C available. You can even find some complexes that include the master antioxidant: glutathione!

Liposomal Vitamin C is usually only found online. Dr. Mercola (one of the most active and trusted online doctors) sells his own brand.

Both capsule and liquid forms are available.


Ester-C® is a patented form of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). It has a slightly different composition than regular vitamin C, which includes the mineral, calcium ascorbate. The manufacturer claims that it possesses superior bioavailability, but research does not fully support this.

While I was researching Ester-C®, I came across this interesting perspective from the integrative medicine legend, Dr. Weil. He goes on to say:

“While I find minimal scientific support for claims that Ester C is more bioavailable, mineral ascorbate formulations do provide some buffering when combined with other vitamins, an advantage only if vitamin C upsets your stomach.”
– Dr. Weil

In other words, Ester-C® (with calcium ascorbate) is beneficial for people who are sensitive to water-soluble vitamin C, but doesn’t seem to provide any additional bioavailability. This is a debatable subject and might warrant further research.


Every day, over 1,600 people die from cancer in the United States, and this number climbs to nearly 20,000 worldwide.

If you still aren’t convinced of vitamin C’s legitimacy, you might be after reading this next segment.

We now know that vitamin C can boost immune function, increase resistance to infection, and repair tissue, but it’s also used as a tool to kill cancer cells. Not just treat, but kill.

Vitamin C, when ministered in very high doses through intravenous infusions, has the ability to treat (and kill) cancer cells.

*NOTE: This is not my personal claim. It’s just what I’ve seen all over the Web.

The issue with chemotherapy is that it kills a person’s healthy cells, as well as the cancer cells. But high-dose intravenous infusions of vitamins C does not harm the healthy cells.

Studies show that this form of therapy is effective against brain, lung, colon, breast, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers.

Our bodies are pretty good at limiting how much vitamin C is absorbed at once into the intestines. If you were to ingest 20g (20,000mg) of vitamin C at once, roughly 1,000mg would be absorbed, and the rest would be excreted in the form of disaster pants! :-(

Intravenous administration bypasses your body’s built-in filter, therefore raising blood levels 25-70 times higher than doses taken orally.

High-dose vitamin C treatment may not be the cure-all for cancer, but it shows promise. Some studies also show that administering vitamin C therapy and chemo on the same day can result in beneficial, synergistic effects.


For most healthy individuals, 250mg-500mg of vitamin C a day can be absorbed and utilized efficiently. Smokers, along with individuals recovering from injury or oxidative stress can use more. High doses of vitamin C (greater than 2,000mg/day) may contribute to the formation of kidney stones, as well as diarrhea.

But again, this is rare. I, personally have taken 2,000mg+ of vitamin C many times on days I’ve consumed alcohol or felt ill — without any repercussions. But everyone is different.

As with any vitamin, mineral, or herb, begin with a small dose and work your way up. Always listen to your body.


“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years!”

LL Cool J might not have been talking about Vitamin C, but the quote applies, regardless!

Aside from the fact that vitamin C has been around for decades, countless studies and articles validate it’s effectiveness in repairing tissue damage and inflammation.

After spending hours of research, I have a better grasp on vitamin C, and I hope you do now as well.

It’s obviously debatable as to whether or not vitamin C wins the award as being the “king of vitamins,” but what is evident is the role this essential vitamin should play in everyone’s diet.

Remember, vitamins from food sources are the safest approach and should be the primary focus of daily micronutrient intake.

Have questions, or something to contribute? Feel free to join the conversation on my Facebook page.

PUSHTHROUGH shares information on health, nutrition, supplementation, fitness, and biochemistry topics for the general public. The information is made available with the understanding that the author is not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a health care professional (preferably a functional medicine or naturopathic specialist).

The information on this website does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. It is not intended as nutritional or medical advice for individual problems. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed.


// photo credit: Svklimkin