Article last updated: May 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
One blood test for total testosterone is not conclusive because:
1) The test can be affected by your sleep, eating, stress, mood, drinking alcohol and training that week.
E.g. if you had a bad night of sleep a few days that week, you were very stressed or you trained at a very high intensity, testosterone will temporarily drop.
2) Testosterone alone is not sufficient to diagnose low testosterone.
Over 98% of the testosterone in your body is: 1) Bound to other hormones such as SHBG and 2) Converts to estradiol (estrogen).
In other words, it’s very possible to see a reduction in total testosterone but an increase in free testosterone (the testosterone that is available for use).
Therefore, in order to diagnose low T, you need to do a hormonal panel that contains the following blood work as a minimum:
* Total testosterone.
* Free testosterone.
3) Testosterone fluctuates throughout the day. It’s highest in the early morning right after waking up.
Ideally you will do the test super early in the morning (like 8 AM) to get an accurate result.
A test done later in the day is less accurate.
4) Focus on symptoms.
If you don’t have severe symptoms like low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depression and inability to gain muscle mass, you definitely don’t have a severe case of low testosterone.
5) Give it time.
It usually takes a minimum of 3 months to see a slight increase in testosterone and for some people it can take up to a year.
I suggest that you wait with doing a blood test until you’ve been on the training/diet for 6 months and when you do, get a full hormonal panel done early in the morning.
Then if you have low T after 6 months of proper training/dieting in 3 consecutive tests and you have the symptoms of low T, then it may be time to see an endocrinologist and consider treatment or change your training/diet approach.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer