Testosterone. Most men know they have it and that it is what makes them biologically male, but what happens when you suffer from low-T levels? Most men start losing testosterone incrementally after 30 years old, but them at risk of health complications like erectile dysfunction, low muscle mass, type II diabetes, obesity, and more.
So if you find yourself feeling sluggish, you should ask yourself: Is this normal? Am I just tired, or is my testosterone low?
Thankfully, you won’t be needing hormonal therapy. There are plenty of natural ways to increase your testosterone levels through diet, exercise, and wellness—which you might be doing already.
Ways To Naturally Increase Testosterone
The standard American diet is the number 1 killer of your testosterone, like it or not. Most guys are consuming too much fast food that is devoid of minerals and nutrients needed for hormone production. Others are trying to clean up their act, but the hidden dangers on their plates—which are mentioned later on—nullify their progress.
You have three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The first two are your friends when it comes to hormone balance.
It turns out that diets comprised largely of carbohydrates decreases testosterone. You need to increase your fat intake if you want to produce more testosterone.
But this is where things get complicated.
Importance of Healthy Fats & Cholesterol
Fat is needed to produce hormones. Studies have found that monounsaturated fats and saturated fats have a positive influence of T-levels. Men who switch to high-fat diets—think ketogenic diets—will have higher testosterone and androgen levels than those on low-fat diets.
Be sure you are including enough healthy fats in your diet. Eat more avocados, peanut and almond butter, olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish, and eggs. You can also enjoy yogurts, dark chocolate, coconut oil and red meat in moderation.
Furthermore, because testosterone is derived from cholesterol, you need it. The body does produce cholesterol, but some people are lacking. By eating eggs, shrimp, lobster, and other clean animal proteins, you can balance protein, fat, and cholesterol intake to boost testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a new kid on the block, but it’s been getting more and more popular. Men, in particular, can benefit greatly from incorporating IF into their weekly schedules. In case you don’t know, intermittent fasting is a protocol, not a diet, where you compact your mealtime into a window of 6-8 hours and fast for the remaining length of time. Some people do this by skipping breakfast. Others might stop eating at 3PM and fast for about 14-16 hours then eat breakfast the next day around 7AM.
The benefit of this scheduled eating is that it can increase testosterone by nearly 200-percent. Some people even experience a 400-percent increase. A study from the University of Virginia Medical School found that growth hormone levels also increased by 2,000-percent over the baseline when men ate no calories for 24-hours.
The beauty of this is that you don’t have to do it all the time. You can choose 2-3 days a week to incorporate fasting into your life, and you can choose what works for you.
Heavy Weight Training
Naturally boosting your testosterone levels might be as simple as picking up a pair of free weights and breaking a sweat. And by that, I mean high-intensity weight training where you reach muscular failure within 8-10 reps. Get to the gym at least 3 times a week and perform multi-joint/compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Constrain your workouts to 30-60 minutes in total, since it has been found that keeping your rest periods short (30-60 seconds) elicits a better hormonal response than longer rests. Furthermore, researchers from Ball State University found that strength training induces the release of HGH and testosterone.
On top of weight training, you want to do some high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The combination of weight lifting and HIIT is a potent double whammy that elevates human growth hormone and testosterone for hours after you finish your workout. HIIT also helps reduce your total body fat percentage. By working at 90-100 percent of your maximum effort, your body sucks up glycogen and is forced to metabolize fat for energy. It will continue burning off fat for 36 hours post-workout.
This helps combat the effects of too much body fat, lowers your resting heart rate, eliminates stress, increases circulation to the brain, and even detoxifies the lymphatic system.
When you get stressed, your adrenal glands start secreting cortisol into your body. Cortisol is a response for that instinctive fight-or-flight response. Now, this can be good in small dosages, but as science has been suggesting for some time now, too much cortisol for too long is a terrible thing.
One way to reduce the negative impact of stress on your body is to get enough Zzzs. Sleep is essential to having adequate testosterone levels. Wacky sleep cycles, night shifts, restless evenings, and so on will ramp up your body’s stress, upping the cortisol and making sleep seem like some elusive beast. There has been countless research that proves just how much stress and sleep deprivation play with your morning testosterone levels.
For instance, researchers from the University of Chicago looked at the sleeping patterns of a healthy man and found that testosterone levels increased the longer those participants slept. Men should be getting around 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Other things to help with stress reduction include meditating, practicing yoga, taking calming walks outside, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness. Take care of emotional issues, too. If you are feeling burned out, resentful, frustrated, or angry for reasons that you don’t understand, it could help to speak with a therapist or counselor. You might have to pause your training for a while, as well, in order to work on your mental state.
Humans were not meant to glut on sugar. Processed snacks and other junk food has made us go soft—literally. It’s been reported that the average American consumes about 2 tons of sugar in their lifetime, and all that sugar has been found to deplete your testosterone levels dramatically.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) found that people with Type II diabetes are twice as likely to develop low-T. Here’s why:
- Diets rich in simple sugars and processed grains cause blood glucose to become chronically elevated.
- The pancreas starts producing insulin around the clock, flooding your body with insulin.
- Soon, the body starts to lose insulin sensitivity, which is necessary for balancing testosterone and vice versa. This insulin resistance results in metabolic syndrome, weight gain, and other issues.
Other links between sugar consumption and low-T have been found. Research suggests that low-T is a complication of type II diabetes. A study from 2004 was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that stated that out of 103 men in the test group, a third had low levels of free testosterone, a type of hormone not bound by sex hormone binding globulin. The same study found that the pituitary gland in these men wasn’t producing a luteinizing hormone, which is needed for testosterone production.
Other famous study took 74 men and gave each of them 75 grams of pure glucose—which is madness—and monitored what happened to the participants’ testosterone levels. Each man experienced a 25% drop in testosterone. Because of this 15% of the test subjects developed low-T and needed synthetic testosterone to bring them back to normal.
In short, if you are eating too much sugar, you are shuttling your testosterone levels to rock bottom. Unless you are working out vigorously several hours a day, you don’t need massive amounts of simple sugars. Cheat days are fine, but don’t go overboard.
Lower Body Fat Percentage
Dr. Gary Wittert, Head of the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, stated that weight loss has a “predictable and linear relationship with increased testosterone.” In other words, fat and testosterone have an inverse relationship. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. Unfortunately, most men in North America tend to have more fat around the midsection, and this extra padding, alongside elevated stress levels, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle will have a huge impact on your testosterone.
In order to lower body fat percentage, simply follow the advice I mentioned earlier—lifting heavy, using multi-joint movements, eating well, and getting enough shut-eye. Doing that will help reduce fat naturally and will boost testosterone.
Focus On Natural T-Boosters
Before getting into the supplements and vitamins that can boost your low-T levels, there’s one caveat: you have to clean up your act for any of this to work. If you are not exercising, eating poorly, and continuing to put off sleep for other activities, then these natural fixes are going to have a limited influence on your hormonal balance.
With that said, there are plenty of all-natural testosterone boosting supplements for you to take, such as:
- Vitamin D – the most important vitamin for testosterone levels. More on Vitamin D below.
- D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) – may support the release and synthesis of luteinizing hormone (LH).
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) – a component of indole-3-carbinol that is formed during the digestion of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower. DIM converts estrogen into less potent forms and also creates hormonal balance.
- Testofen (Fenugreek extract) – supports free testosterone levels, sexual drive, and muscle mass in men.
- Zinc – research has lead to the belief that zinc is necessary for regulating serum testosterone levels.
So, let’s talk a little bit about Vitamin D3. Even a slight deficiency in vitamin D has been found to demolish testosterone. When you lack vitamin D, your immune system is dampened, you might put on extra weight, and even feel anxious and depressed. All those things influence testosterone, too.
Moreover, a study published in Hormone and Metabolic Research in 2011 stated that vitamin D supplementation could boost testosterone production in overweight men by as much as 30-percent. Vitamin D3 is also linked to cancer prevention.
Even if you don’t want to take a testosterone-boosting supplement, you should at least be taking vitamin D supplements.
Avoid Xenoestrogens & T-Lowering Chemicals
Endocrinologists have been ringing the warning bell for years when it comes to what synthetic materials are doing to our homeostatic equilibrium. That fancy word implies that our bodies need to be in constant balance in order to function optimally. Whenever something is introduced that disrupts homeostasis, adverse effects happen either immediately or overtime. An example is an allergic reaction.
Another reaction would be low-T and all the complications tied to it. Let me explain.
There is this chemical called “xenoestrogen,” where “xeno” means “outside,” or “estrogen from outside the body.” When men are exposed to too much xenoestrogen, the body confuses it for the real thing and this causes testosterone levels to drop. The problem is that these endocrine disrupting chemicals are everywhere.
And just what do I mean by “everywhere”? Check out this list of xenoestrogen ingredients:
- Skincare – 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben), benzophenone
- Plastics – Bisphenol A, Phthalates, DEHP, polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Food – Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), phenosulfothiazine (red dye), erythrosine/FD&C Red No. 3
- Construction Supplies – Pentachlorophenol (biocide, wood preservative), polychlorinated biphenyls (found in oils, lubricants, adhesives, and paint)
- Insecticides, Emulsifiers, Surfactants – Nonylphenol, Atrazine, DDT, Dieldrin, Endosulfan, and more.
- Ethinylestradiol – found in oral contraceptive pills
- Chlorine and chlorinated products
This means that items you interact with on a daily basis, such as fruits and vegetables from the produce section, water bottles, your Tupperware container, sunscreen, moisturizer, shave cream, and more has T-lowering chemicals.
Yes, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Fortunately, there’s a way to limit the effects of this chemical-induced nightmare. You can minimize exposure to T-lowering chemicals with a little effort:
- Food – eat organic, Non-GMO food whenever you get the chance. Buy local, seasonal produce. Always peel non-organic produce to limit expose to pesticides. Purchase hormone-free, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood. When in doubt, buy organic frozen instead of fresh.
- Skincare – avoid toxic chemicals in skincare, creams, and cosmetics. Use chemical-free toothpaste and soaps. Read the labels on lubricants and contraception, including condoms.
- Plastics – never reheat food in plastic containers from takeout. Do not leave plastic containers in the sun, since this causes the toxins to transition to food. Never freeze plastic water bottles for the same reason. Use glass and ceramics to store food instead.
- Household Cleaning – switch to natural, biodegradable cleaning supplies and laundry products; choose chlorine-free products (including toilet paper and coffee filters); filter out chlorine from your drinking water.
Low-T levels can only be ascertained through lab work, but you shouldn’t have to wait until a visit to the doctor to get serious about your hormonal balance. Low testosterone can affect anyone, after all. Keep your testosterone levels high by working out, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, and sleeping well. By doing that, you’ll start seeing the positive effects in no time.
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