Indeed, it does play a large role in male sexuality and reproduction, impacting such factors as sexual and reproductive function, muscle mass, and hair growth, but also has some less “flashy,” albeit equally important, roles like maintaining bone density, levels of red blood cells and a sense of well-being.
Beginning around age 30, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline, and continue to do so as he ages.
A wide range of chemical exposures included prescribed drugs like statins, adversely impact testosterone production in men. At the same time, estrogen levels typically increase due to widespread exposures to estrogen-mimicking compounds in food, water and environmental pollutants.
What are Your Options for Replacement?
If you’re a man who’s experiencing symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory, and you think low testosterone may be to blame, you can have your levels tested. Since testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, you’ll probably need more than a blood test to get a true picture of your levels.
If your levels are indeed low, there are a number of synthetic and bioidentical testosterone products on the market, as well as DHEA, which is the most abundant androgen precursor prohormone in the human body, meaning that it is the largest raw material your body uses to produce other vital hormones, including testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
I only recommend using bioidentical hormones, and only then under the guidance of a holistic doctor who can monitor your hormone levels to ensure you need supplementation.
But, before you opt for this route, there are numerous strategies you can try to boost your testosterone levels naturally. These are appropriate for virtually anyone, as they carry only beneficial “side effects.”
9 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
1. Lose Weight
If you’re overweight, shedding the excess pounds may increase your testosterone levels, according to research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 2012 meeting. Overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels to begin with, so this is an important trick to increase your body’s testosterone production when you need it most.
If you are serious about losing weight, you have got to strictly limit the amount of processed sugar in your diet, as evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary driving factor in the obesity epidemic. So cutting soda from your diet is essential, as is limiting fructose found in processed foods, fruit juice, excessive fruit and so-called “healthy” sweeteners like agave.
Ideally you should keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day and this includes fruits. This is especially true if you have insulin resistance and are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
In addition to eliminating or severely limiting fructose, it will be vital to eliminate all grains and milk (even raw) in your diet. Milk has a sugar called lactose, which has been shown to increase insulin resistance so it will be wise to avoid it if you are seeking to lose weight.
Refined carbohydrates like breakfast cereals, bagels, waffles, pretzels, and most other processed foods also quickly break down to sugar, increase your insulin levels, and cause insulin resistance, which is the number one underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease and condition known to man, including weight gain.
As you cut these dietary troublemakers from your meals, you need to replace them with healthy substitutes like vegetables and healthy fats (including natural saturated fats!). Your body prefers the carbohydrates in micronutrient-dense vegetables rather than grains and sugars because it slows the conversion to simple sugars like glucose, and decreases your insulin level. When you cut grains and sugar from your meals, you typically will need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat, as well as make sure you are also consuming protein and healthy fats regularly.
I’ve detailed a step-by-step guide to this type of healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and I urge you to consult this guide if you are trying to lose weight.
The foods you choose to eat will be the driving force behind successfully achieving your weight loss goals — high-intensity, short-burst-type exercises, such as my Peak Fitness Program, two to three times per week, combined with a comprehensive fitness plan, is important too, and has an additional benefit as well (see below)!
2. High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness (Especially Combined with Intermittent Fasting)
Both intermittent fasting and short intense exercise have been shown to boost testosterone.
That’s unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, which have shown to have negative or no effect on testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones including insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), colecystokinin (CKK) and melanocortins, all of which are known to potentiate healthy testosterone actions, increase libido and prevent age-related testosterone decline.
Having a whey protein meal after exercise can further enhance the satiety/testosterone-boosting impact (hunger hormones cause the opposite effect on your testosterone and libido). Here’s a summary of what a typical high-intensity Peak Fitness routine might look like:
- Warm up for three minutes
- Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds
- Recover at a slow to moderate pace for 90 seconds
- Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times
As you can see, the entire workout is only 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! That really is a beautiful thing. And within those 20 minutes, 75 percent of that time is warming up, recovering or cooling down. You’re really only working out intensely for four minutes. It’s hard to believe if you have never done this that you can actually get that much benefit from four minutes of exercise. That’s all it is.
Keep in mind that you can use virtually any type of equipment you want for this – an elliptical machine, a treadmill, swimming, even sprinting outdoors (although you will need to do this very carefully to avoid injury) — as long as you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can for 30 seconds. But do be sure to stretch properly and start slowly to avoid injury. Start with two or three repetitions and work your way up, don’t expect to do all eight repetitions the first time you try this, especially if you are out of shape.
Benefits of Boosting Testosterone
The power of testosterone is almost mythical, and no wonder; it can boost muscle and burn body fat in addition to a whole heap of other benefits, including improved mood, sleep, libido, energy, overall health, and quality of life. Unfortunately, most men experience a slow decline in testosterone after they hit the age of about 30, putting them at greater risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, low mineral density, impaired sexual function, reduced muscle mass, and diminished physical performance.
How to boost your testosterone:
- Eat more fat
- Consume more zinc and vitamin D
- Stick with multijoint movements in the gym
- Shorten your rest periods
- Get more sleep
Don’t think women aren’t affected by reduced levels of this anabolic hormone as well. Similar to men, levels of testosterone in women—albeit only one-tenth that of their male counterparts—peak in their 20s and decline thereafter. This drop in testosterone can negatively alter the balance between testosterone and estrogen, resulting in an increase in body fat, slowed metabolism, reduced strength and bone mineral density, and difficulty putting on muscle.
Thankfully there are many ways you can naturally increase your testosterone levels, with the most dramatic changes occurring though resistance training, nutrition, rest, and supplementation—some of which you might already be doing. Keep reading to learn seven surefire ways to safely increase your testosterone levels.
Often thought as a “physique destroyer”, dietary fat is actually one of the most critical players when it comes to optimizing natural testosterone production. Long gone are the days in which we associate fat with heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels; it’s now recognized as a sure way to increase testosterone levels. In fact, a study published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” found that diets with higher amounts of monounsaturated and saturated fats have been shown to increase testosterone levels.1
In another study, men who switched from a high-fat diet (13 percent saturated fat) to a low-fat diet (5 percent saturated fat) experienced significantly lower testosterone production rates, and lower circulating androgen levels.2
“Keep in mind that when it comes to dietary fat, it’s not just the amount of fat you eat, but also the type of fat,” says Don Gauvreau, MSc, co-founder PharmaFreak .
EXAMPLES OF QUALITY MONOUNSATURATED FATS:
- Olive oil, almonds, avocados, peanut butter
EXAMPLES OF QUALITY SATURATED FATS:
- Red meat, coconut oil, egg yolks, dark chocolate, cheese
More About Testosterone’s Function in the Body
Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone, responsible of most of the male characteristics. Your body produces it when the hypothalamus in your brain sends out bursts of something called GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), which then travels to the other brain gland called pituitary gland, where the GnRH stimulates the release of two hormones called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), these are the gonadotropins. The gonadotropins (LH and FSH) then make their way down to the testicles via your spine, and once they reach their destination FSH stimulates sperm production, whereas LH stimulates the testicular leydig cells to produce testosterone from a well known precursor; cholesterol. After the testosterone is made and done, it travels around in your bloodstream. Some of it remains bio-available in circulation as free-testosterone, some of it make its way into its target receptors around the body (androgen receptors), while some of it gets bound and rendered partially inactive by two carrier proteins called albumin and SHBG. Small parts of your available testosterone will also metabolize to estrogen (the principal female hormone) via an enzyme called aromatase and dihydrotestosterone or DHT (more potent male hormone) via an enzyme called 5-a reductase. All of the moving pieces that affect this synthesis, can be affected naturally by training, nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation.I’m sure you have seen the endless list of the benefits of optimal testosterone levels, which include (but are not limited to):
…Since testosterone is literally the hormone that makes man a man, it’s safe to expect increased manly qualities in nearly every area of your life after increased testosterone levels. Not everything is controlled by testosterone obviously, but if you start looking at the studies, it’s pretty clear that from womb to tomb, this one hormone determines A LOT in a guy.
The guide is broken into 4 big sections; lifestyle, nutrition, training, and supplementation. The four sections hide inside multiple topics from sleep, to macronutrient splits, to testicular health, all the way into neuromuscular training, hypoxia, sleep, sex, walking……So, let’s get to it:
Sleep Deep and Sleep a Lot
Whether you choose to sleep four hours or eight hours, can mean a difference similar to night and day in your T production.Partial sleep restriction lasting one-week (5h/night) in a laboratory setting has been shown to decrease overall 24-hour testosterone levels in healthy young men by ~15%.On a study by Penev et al. the men who slept for ~4 hours had an average of 200-300 ng/dL testosterone levels in serum, whereas the guys who slept for ~8 hours had levels closer to 500-700 ng/dL.
A study from Gov et al. showed similar results. On 531 Chinese men, increased sleep time was highly correlated with higher total and -free testosterone levels. The researchers also calculated that each extra hour of sleep led to about 15% more testosterone.
Be Lean and Have Some Muscle Mass
You definitely don’t have to be light to increase your testosterone levels naturally, but you should be LEAN.
More specifically, your body fat percentage should be relatively low (something between 8-14%), if your goal is to get more T oozing through your veins. Generally speaking – though there are some rare exceptions – the higher the fat percentage, the lower the testosterone (study, study, study, study). So in retrospect, the leaner you are, the more likely you are to have more testosterone rushing in your bloodstream. Increased amount of muscle mass also positively correlates with serum testosterone levels, so if you burn the fat and build the muscle, you’ll not only look shredded, but you can improve your hormonal health too.
Why being fat often leads to low testosterone levels?
The full answer is likely much more complex than this, but what we do know is that increased fat-mass leads to increased aromatase enzyme activity, which in turn leads to more testosterone being converted to estrogen. Also, increased oxidative stress, metabolic syndrome, and poor insulin-sensitivity are some other major-players in obesity related low-T.
Good news are that you can easily increase testosterone levels just by losing weight, in particular losing the fat-mass, not muscle. Though it’s worth mentioning that there is a limit to your leanness where it start to negatively impact testosterone production; going below ~8% body fat starts to decrease thyroid activity, and because of that you’ll eventually have to start cutting your caloric intake too much, and both of those things will start zapping the life out of your androgens.The weight-loss industry is chock-full of some major league bullshit. This guide should help you in getting to know everything there is to know about losing fat in a sane muscle-preserving way.
More easily said than done huh? Well it doesn’t change the fact that stress more or less kills testosterone levels. This happens because chronic stress results in chronically elevated cortisol levels – and cortisol being the body’s principal stress hormone – is a catabolic hormone that among many other things; suppresses testosterone levels.…No don’t get me wrong here, we all need some cortisol. It gets us up in the morning and allows us as a species to walk with 2 feet, and without cortisol any kind of minor trauma would instantly bring you into full shock and kill you…
from Men’s Health Review http://www.menshealthreview.org/how-to-boost-testosterone/