The male hormone testosterone serves many purposes. This hormone is singularly capable of maintaining the health of men along with their emotional well-being and self-confidence. Healthy testosterone levels help maintain muscle mass, distribution of body fat, high libido, growth of facial and body hair, adequate sperm count and stamina. After the age of 30 or 40, testosterone levels usually decline by 1% per year depending upon the general well-being of the person. This decline that happens due to aging can be controlled naturally by following a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise, a balanced diet, and better stress management.
Why is Reduced Testosterone Bad?
Apart from age and other medical complications, hectic everyday life and increased stress contribute to declining testosterone levels. If the reduction is due to medical complications, you should consult with your physician or a local anti-aging clinic and if necessary, TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) may be recommended to get your levels back up to normal. However, declining testosterone due to stress and age may be controlled by changing one’s lifestyle. Low testosterone can cause fatigue, weakness, depression, mood swings, sleeplessness, low libido, erectile dysfunction and lower sperm count. These are just a few of the unfortunate side effects of experiencing andropause which is a term used for the gradual decline in testosterone levels as you age.
How to Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally
There are a variety of ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally including exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes. However, for anyone who has very low levels of testosterone in their bodies (both free and total testosterone), the usual course of action would be to consult with a hormone specialist and get prescribed exogenous testosterone by the way of injections, creams or pellets to get your levels back up. The only way you will know for sure if your levels are low is to get your blood tested to determine what your free and total testosterone levels currently are. If TRT sounds like an option you might be interested in learning more about, take a look at our TRT Guide for Men for more information. Remember that hormone replacement is not just for men. Women can benefit greatly from optimizing their levels of different key hormones also. Read our HRT Guide for Women to learn more about the process.
How Important is Exercise?
There is hardly any physical problem that cannot be prevented or reduced with exercise, and a declining testosterone level is no exception. Regular exercise can easily delay aging and the reduction of testosterone levels.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective than long duration cardio training. Low intensity cardio training over a prolonged period does not render the desired results in fat loss and body composition. High intensity workouts over a short period successfully builds muscle and helps in the reduction of body fat. Excess fat causes obesity, which is directly related to low testosterone levels. The fast pace of HIIT tends to burn more calories and improves the metabolism, which helps in decreasing the percentage of body fat on your physique.
There is also a process called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which is produced with HIIT cardio. EPOC is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. The great thing about EPOC that it gives you an “afterburn effect” which provides a higher level of calorie burning after your workout is over! In addition, HIIT also produces lower amounts of cortisol when compared to LISS cardio (Low Intensity Steady State) which wreaks havoc on lean muscle tissue due to the high levels of cortisol that it produces. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which means it “breaks down” molecules and tissues in your body, including lean muscle tissue which is exactly what you don’t want!
Heavy resistance training with weights has been found to release anabolic hormones in the body, which also helps maintain testosterone levels. These resistance style exercises are so effective that continued training has led to testosterone levels remaining high, even with age. Casual gym exercises are not as effective in boosting testosterone levels when compared to intense multi-joint compound mass building exercises. Squats, bench presses, deadlifts and barbell rows are more effective for building overall muscle size and strength. The more muscle you build, the more testosterone is released by the body.
Timing during your workouts is also very important. If you exercise for hours with very little sweat, then you are probably not doing it correctly. Short and intense workouts that produce a lot of sweat is more advisable for making big changes in your body composition (amount of muscle versus body fat). Resting during your workouts may be counterproductive to the hard work that you are putting in at the gym. The more adrenaline that is pumped during your workout routine, the more testosterone will be produced by your body.
If your workouts become monotonous and you feel less inspired, get a workout buddy so you can challenge and motivate each other. Participating in other “explosive” sports like football, basketball, boxing or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) also helps to boost testosterone levels.
What Role Does Your Diet Play?
Working out without any concern about what you’re putting into your mouth is almost meaningless for improving health and physique. Eating a clean diet with healthy food habits is essential for achieving and maintaining normal testosterone levels. Therefore, the food you include in your nutrition plan should be balanced and composed of the basic nutrients of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats along with lots of water. Water helps to detox the body and allows it to be more receptive for nutrient absorption.
There are many types of nutrient dense foods that are helpful in boosting testosterone levels, including oysters, salmon, broccoli, meat, poultry, fish, milk and other dairy products, celery, peanut butter, garlic, onions, olive oil, avocado, berries, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, oranges, and grapefruit.
Having a no-fat diet is not helpful if you are looking to increase your testosterone levels, as testosterone is produced with the help of cholesterol. That’s right, cholesterol is a precursor for all your sex hormones and this includes the principal male hormone, testosterone! While trans-fat foods should be avoided, you should be consuming a small portion of different foods that are rich in healthy saturated fat.
Canned foods can cause problems with your testosterone levels, so it is better to avoid them. Dark chocolate, containing antioxidants and biochemical compounds, has been found to increase testosterone levels. Certain herbs like ashwagandha and shilajit along with herbal tea also contributes to boosting testosterone levels.
Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar along with soy-based products. Supplements including zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin D also help in increasing testosterone levels. Consult your physician for supplements suitable for your own body. Everyone should try to eat at least three well-balanced meals a day. Overeating, however, can prove detrimental to your health and your waistline.
Excessive smoking and consumption of alcohol leads to decreased levels of testosterone. Therefore, it is advisable to quit smoking and drink only a moderate amount of alcohol. If possible, avoid beer altogether since it helps to release estrogen which suppresses testosterone levels.
Sleep deprivation is a major cause for fluctuating testosterone levels. Therefore, make it a point to have an undisturbed stretch of at least six hours of deep sleep each night. Meditate regularly and learn to avoid getting overwhelmed. Stress and excessive tension has been repeatedly linked to low testosterone levels. A healthy sex life can also help maintain a normal testosterone level so experiment in bed with your partner and have some fun!
An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, work pressure, and the consumption of junk food have led to degrading health for millions of people. Furthermore, a high percentage of men complain of lower sex drive and an increase in fatigue and weakness, which are most likely the result of lower testosterone levels.
Low testosterone can also be a warning sign for other serious diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, liver or kidney failure, prostate cancer, and insomnia. Therefore, the moment you feel tired or depressed or have a low libido then make an appointment with your physician or an anti-aging hormone specialist and get your blood tested so you can check your current levels of testosterone (both free and total). If proper exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes fails to bring about any improvement in your T-levels, then consult with your doctor to find out if there are more serious causes for frequent fluctuating testosterone levels. Immediate attention to these problems may help cure the illnesses more rapidly and effectively and getting your testosterone back up to a normal range will offer so many amazing benefits for both your health and your physique!