Disclaimer – While I do have a good base level of knowledge about this topic, I’m not a doctor or medical expert. What I’m about to share shouldn’t be taken as a substitute for qualified medical advice. Before you take on any advice, I do strongly suggest that you talk to your doctor first*
Testosterone has gotten a bit of a bad name in recent times. Most people seem associate it with the stuff that is considered bad – such as an overly aggressive nature, steroids, anger, violence and even general acts of douche-baggery.
Now, while some men who happen to have high testosterone levels may exhibit these characteristics, this really has to be attributed to the fact that they are, in no uncertain terms, arseholes, rather than due to them having high testosterone levels.
In fact, exciting new research is now showing us that anybody has the ability to be an arsehole, regardless of what their hormonal profile looks like**.
It’s kind of like me saying that all NFL players are mentally unstable all because Plaxico Burress went and shot himself in the foot in a night club.
So let me preface this article by saying that having high testosterone levels, or seeking to increase your testosterone levels, doesn’t make you a bad human being – in fact, it would probably make you a better one.
This is because men with low testosterone counts often present with symptoms ranging from emotional problems such as irritability (having a short fuse), depression, a lack of confidence, to physical problems such as difficulty in falling asleep, low energy levels, loss of strength, higher fat storage, and perhaps the worst of all, a loss of sex drive – all symptoms that seem to disappear once testosterone levels are normalised.
In short, if you’re a guy (or a girl for that matter), you don’t want low testosterone levels!
Now, before we go on, I should make it clear that our testosterone levels naturally decline steadily from the age of 27, and then more rapidly after the age of 35. So if you’re over the age of 35, you in particular need to pay attention to the natural fixes contained within this article.
What Is Testosterone, & Why Should I Care?
Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a vital role in both men and women – although it does present itself in higher concentrations in men.
It’s the predominant male sex hormone, and also plays a significant role in optimizing a number of sought-after traits, or qualities, of the modern-day man, including –
- Higher muscle mass
- Higher energy levels
- Improved cognition
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis
- Increased libido
- Better insulin management
Sounds pretty fucking cool, right?
On the flip side, however, if your testosterone levels aren’t optimized (or are low), you get the privilege of rocking a completely different set of characteristics, including, but not limited to –
- Lack of confidence
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low energy levels
- Loss of desire to have sex
- Higher fat storage
Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get into the crux of this article.
So How Do You Find Out If You’ve Got Low Testosterone?
Well, it seems simple, but you get them checked by a doctor. There really is no other way around it. You can display the symptoms of low testosterone, yet have levels that are completely normal, and have it be that those symptoms are being caused by something completely different.
In fact, I feel so strongly about the need for testing, and diagnosing, low testosterone levels that I think that everyone reading this, if you haven’t already done recently, should get their levels tested.
Normal levels of testosterone in men are between 230-1000 ng/dL, although some parties (myself included), seem to think that if even if you’re within the norm ranges, but on the low end (below 350 ng/dL), then you still need to shift your focus to getting that number up.
If you’re within the medium to high end of the ‘normal’ ranges then there is no need to start implementing the ideas below, because you’re sweet (and with hormones, being overly active is just as bad as being underactive).
If your levels are on the low-normal, or below the norms, however, you need to start making changes to your lifestyle – stat!
14 Ways To Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels
1) Get lean and stay lean, because the more body fat that you have, the more likely that your hormones are going to be out of whack. In fact, there has actually been a lot of research done in this area, with many studies showing that the more fat you carry, the lower your testosterone levels will be.
So it’s definitely worth getting your eating under wraps, and starting an exercise program aimed at burning through some of that excess fat.
2) Get 7-8 hours of sleep each and every night, and try to nap during the day if you can. Getting adequate sleep has a strong correlation to optimal testosterone levels, and should be high on your priority list if you’re serious about correcting them.
In fact, a study published in the University of Chicago showed that men who averaged just 5 hours of sleep or less experienced a drop in testosterone levels of 10-15 percent.
So your goal is to get at least 6 hours a night of solid sleep, but 7-8 seems to be what’s optimal.
3) Ensure that you’re getting an adequate intake of healthy fats such as fats from coconut oil, raw olive oil, nuts, avocado, fish oil and lean animal meats. This will ensure that there are high enough levels of cholesterol to support proper testosterone production functioning.
But wait – fats and cholesterol?
Yep, that isn’t a typo. There is actually a strong correlation between consuming a diet that is higher in healthy fats, and testosterone production. So eat up!
4) Limit your intake of alcohol (especially beer) as alcohol consumption definitely has a negative impact on testosterone levels, not to mention your waistline.
Now, while it’s true that short-term alcohol consumption probably won’t affect your testosterone levels too much, I’m of the opinion that you’re better safe than sorry, and trying to minimize drinking as much as possible (that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a drink or two every once in a while).
5) Reduce your exposure to environmental estrogens. Xenoestrogen is a chemical that imitates estrogen in the body. When we are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, our testosterone levels can drop significantly.
The scary part of this is that Xenoestrogens are everywhere – in our plastic, toothpaste, on our foods (that’s why it’s important to eat organic wherever possible), shopping bags, cleaning products, and even in our water.
Now, while reducing our exposure to these may sound like a huge task, you can start by following the advice outlined in THIS article.
6) Start your day with a high protein/medium fat/low carbohydrate meal like eggs or steak, along with some green vegetables and avocado/nuts. Most people who I’ve seen switch from a carbohydrate-dominant breakfast, to a high protein/moderate fat breakfast immediately report increases in energy, satiety (the feeling of fullness), and almost always end up leaner from that one change.
As you’re about to find out (in the next point), carbohydrates temporarily drop our testosterone levels, and seeing as our testosterone levels are at their highest in the mornings, we don’t want to disrupt that by eating some carbs.
7) Control your carbohydrate intake because immediately following any high-carbohydrate meal there is a temporary drop in testosterone levels.
While this drop is only temporary, if you are eating 3-4+ carb-dominant meals per day, this will lead to lower testosterone levels overall.
In order to control your carbohydrate intake all I want you to do is to limit your consumption of starchy or simple carbohydrates to the 2-3 hour window after your training session for the day. This will ensure that your body is adept at handling the insulin spike a little better, and will also limit your consumption of these types of carbs to one meal per day – leading to better testosterone levels.
8) Eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, which have been shown to remove the bad estrogens from our body.
In general, vegetables also help to support alkalinity, and keep inflammation down (kale and spinach are great for this, as are blueberries), which will help promote a lean body, as well as overall health – both of which can indirectly help with testosterone levels.
9) Keep your training sessions to 45-minutes, or less, of intense work, such as the ones in THIS program. Once you start getting beyond 45-minutes of intense training, you cortisol levels start to elevate significantly, causing there to be a decrease in testosterone.
Beyond that, you’re a busy father, and if you’re taking longer than 45-minutes to get through your sessions, then you’re probably not optimizing your time as best as you can be.
10) Make sure you do your big, compound lifts frequently – squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses, chin ups, shoulder presses and lunges have been staples in many successful programs for decades for a reason.
It’s because exercises that are associated with larger muscle groups have been shown to result in increases in testosterone.
11) Be mindful of your stress, and be sure not to let it get out of control. A high level of stress increases cortisol (sometimes chronically), and when cortisol is high, then testosterone is low.
Putting some stress-management processes in place will help you keep this under wrap, as well as improve your mental focus and well-being – because no matter how ripped or muscular you are, nobody likes a crazy son of a bitch – am I right?
As a side note, although it probably won’t be a problem, overtraining has been showing to severely decrease testosterone levels.
12) Have sex more often, preferably with a partner. This one goes without saying, right? More sex = more testosterone.
Beyond that, having sex more often will lead to an increase in confidence, as well as a decrease in stress. The combination of these factors can mean that having more sex becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the more sex you have, the more sex that you want to have.
13) Keep your conditioning (fitness) work to higher intensity stuff, such as interval sprints, strongman training, or cardio finishers.
HIIT style training has been shown to have a positive correlation to testosterone levels, at least according to a study contained within the British Journal Of Sports Medicine.
14) Don’t restrict calories by too much (no more than 20% below base needs) when trying to lose fat. Yes, your low calorie diet is not only bad because it’s driving you insane, and making you feel like crap everyday, but it can also be lowering your testosterone levels.
By ensuring that you don’t cut calories too far from your maintenance levels, you can be sure that you don’t suffer from the side effects of low testosterone (and other hormones, for that matter).
[Bonus] 5 Supplements That Can Boost Testosterone Levels
While I’ve done my fair share of research when it comes to supplements, I have to do my due diligence in saying that if you want to really delve into this subject, then do yourself a favour and head over to my friend Sol Orwell’s site, Examine.com, for what is the best database of summarized research on the Internet. For information specifically on Testosterone, use this link.
DHEA – DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone that is very effective in increasing testosterone levels, especially in those who are older in age (40 years+). The reason for this could be because our DHEA levels naturally drop as we age beyond 30, and so we need a little bit of external help when it comes to getting our levels up.
The effective dose of DHEA seems to be between 25-200mg/day, although the research is mixed. Personally, I’m about to experiment with taking 100mg/day, and adjust it as I see fit.
Magnesium Oil – I’ve spoken about the benefits of magnesium in a previous post, but know that, along with its other benefits, it will definitely help testosterone levels, particularly is you’ve found out that you have a magnesium deficiency.
Considering that magnesium is a mineral that’s used mostly when we’re stressed, there is a good chance that you might be low if you haven’t been supplementing with it.
I use magnesium oil, and take it as per the directions on the bottle.
Zinc Citrate – a deficiency in zinc levels can most definitely result in low levels of testosterone; in fact it’s one of the most crucial minerals for optimal test functioning.
In fact, there is research out there showing that a zinc deficiency can lead to as much as a 50% reduction in testosterone levels. Again, this is something that you can easily check with a blood test, and when you go to get your testosterone levels checked, I recommend getting them to do vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium at the same time.
My magnesium oil contains zinc within it, so I don’t supplement with any oral form of zinc, outside of my food, of course.
Fish Oil – as we’ve covered already, an optimal intake of healthy fats plays a significant role in producing optimal levels of testosterone. Fish oil is the cream of the crop in regards to healthy fats.
The effective dose for fish oil is around 2-3g of the active ingredients (EPA/DHA) per day, so be sure to find a high quality fish oil supplement, otherwise the amount of capsules that you have to swallow can become ridiculous.
Vitamin D – vitamin D is another nutrient that can play a role in decreasing testosterone should the body be deficient in it. While our bodies should get a lot of our vitamin D from the sun, given that the majority of the population works in indoors nowadays, this simply isn’t the case anymore.
Research has shown that supplementing with anywhere from 3-5000IU of vitamin D per day can help fix this deficiency, and as a result, increase testosterone levels.
Beyond that, there are some tribulus and bulbine-based products that could help with natural testosterone levels, but I haven’t looked into them enough to recommend them one way or another.
Regardless, the list above is extensive enough for you to go and make some changes to your nutrition and lifestyle habits so that you can get a little extra kick start to your training, recovery, and sex life!
*Unless your doctor is an ignorant twat, and only wants to solve your low testosterone problem by drugging you up with prescription medication.
**Research may not actually exist. In fact, I made it up to grossly exaggerate a point that I was trying to make.
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