Calling a man “low testosterone” is an insult. It implies that the person has a low libido, a decreased physical size and carries excessive weight. And they’re not masculine. Ladies, you’re immune to this rib since you’re capable of producing only a tenth of the testosterone that men do. Low testosterone (T) is more common than you might think. While T levels naturally decline with age, the lifestyle choices of many individuals are undoubtedly decreasing their overall health and testosterone at an early age.
Can you increase testosterone naturally?
Yes. You can:
- Increase testosterone by exercising the right way.
- Increase testosterone by eating the right foods.
- Increase testosterone by avoiding certain substances.
Read on to learn the 10 ways to boost your testosterone naturally – and reap the benefits of staying in touch with this potent hormone. First, we’ll define testosterone and its functions and then show you how to keep your levels up for optimal performance in life.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that’s directly responsible for building muscle in humans. It also aids in protein synthesis and rebuilds muscle fibers with the use of amino acids.
Testosterone is crucial for preserving existing body mass and building more. Muscles resist wasting through T level maintenance. Aside from hypertrophy, testosterone is responsible for hair growth and bone densification as well.
This key hormone plays a huge part in determining those features we describe as “masculine”:
- Physical strength
- Body hair
- Dominant behavior
As the primary sex hormone in humans, testosterone is responsible for sexual desire and function (libido) in both males and females. Low testosterone precedes erectile dysfunction and general biological reproductive capacity in both men and women.
How can you avoid low T levels?
#1 Lift Weights
Researchers in Finland found that men who started lifting weights regularly experienced a 49% boost in their free testosterone levels. Why?
“As you strengthen your muscles, the amount of testosterone your body produces increases,” says David Zava, Ph.D. and CEO of ZRT Laboratory.
Heavy lifting is indeed a powerful stimulator for T production. You only need to lift weights twice a week to see these benefits.
A study found that the rest intervals between sets influenced testosterone levels as well. Resting 90 seconds between squats and bench presses was shown to boost after-workout T levels the highest when compared to 60 and 120 second intervals. Interestingly, resting 60 seconds boosted growth hormone levels while mildly cutting into testosterone output.
#2 Avoid Cortisol
All the good testosterone does, cortisol undoes.
As a catabolic hormone, cortisol is the primary antagonist of testosterone, breaking down the muscle tissues in the body that the anabolic hormone testosterone builds.
Cortisol reduces free testosterone levels and further promotes the release of the stress-signalling response of this hormone. Excessive cortisol levels increases insulin resistance, fat gains and muscle loss in humans.
To minimize cortisol and keep muscle mass, live with less stress:
- Avoid overtraining
- Get 7-10 hours of sleep each night
- Cut out chronic and environmental stressors in your life
- Minimize sugars and carbohydrate sources that spike insulin levels in the blood and increase cortisol strain upon the digestive system
#3 Get Enough Sleep
According to a study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, low testosterone causes sleep deprivation – and sleep deprivation causes low testosterone.
After eight days of receiving only 5 hours of sleep a night, male participants suffered consistent 10-15% dips in testosterone levels. Chronic fatigue was reported. As well, lack of sleep causes cumulatively-increased cortisol levels for days following deprivation.
For optimal testosterone production, you need a full night of sleep with 4-5 complete deep REM cycles. The body uses deep sleep for protein synthesis and to rebuild muscle, so testosterone is released to aid in these hypertrophic processes.
If you doubt the need for REM sleep in testosterone, look to the phenomenon known as “morning wood” or the urge for AM sex. Testosterone levels are highest during the waking hours.
For men, one study showed a six-second sprint increased total testosterone levels. Afterwards, levels remained high and throughout muscle recovery. Workout intensity – not duration – has been shown to increase metabolism and fat-burning potential as well. Subjecting the body to a good challenge always returns rewards, especially those connected with becoming functionally stronger and faster.
#5 Start Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting, or prolonging the time between dinner and when you break your first fast the following day, boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of hormones responsible for feelings of satiety.
Pushing your breakfast to 11 am or 1 pm will increase the effective capacity of insulin, leptin, adiponectin, and other hormones. Improving upon these hormonal efficiencies nets testosterone increases and staves off muscle loss.
#6 Reduce Alcohol Intake
Dutch researchers found that men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol daily for 3 weeks experienced a 7% decrease in total testosterone levels. Limiting booze intake to see gains has been a longstanding pillar of the fitness community. Drinking alcohol correlates with reduced quality and quality of sleep, increased cortisol from processing the toxic substance and overall spikes in insulin levels in the body.
#7 Avoid Food That Spikes Blood Glucose
Researchers found that administering 75 grams of pure glucose spiked blood sugar enough to reduce testosterone levels by as much as 25% in healthy, pre-diabetic men.
A bottle of coke has 28 grams of high fructose corn syrup which converts directly to glucose after consumption. That’s ⅓ of the amount administered in the study.
Limit sugar intake to keep blood sugar levels steady. Refined carbohydrate sources like pasta, cereal, bread, etc. all convert into glucose following a rapid digestive process – so cut back on these low-quality foods to help secure muscle gains and improve overall health.
#8 Eat Saturated and Monounsaturated Fat
Red meat means muscle, so goes the saying.
Science confirms that eating animal products and other sources of saturated and monounsaturated fat can keep testosterone levels stable. T production was reduced in a study group of middle-aged men who ate a low fat, high-fiber diet. Other studies show male athletes have high levels of resting testosterone when eating diets high in both fats and healthy cholesterols.
Get your saturated fat from dairy products, cheese, butter, poultry (skin-on), pork, beef and lamb. Go for monounsaturated fats sources like vegetable oils, almonds, macadamia nuts, avocados, and fatty saltwater fish.
#9 Get Enough Zinc
Zinc deficiencies are directly linked to low testosterone levels in men. That said, over-supplementing does not boost T levels in men with normal dietary intake.
Oysters and other shellfish make outstanding sources of zinc, as does lobster and crab. Red meat and poultry supplies most of the zinc in the typical first-world diet. Other sources include beans, nuts, whole grains and fortified dairy products.
#10 Get Enough Vitamin D
Sun’s out means guns out.
And this time, it’s a matter of health, not vanity.
Like zinc deficiencies associated with low T production, vitamin D is highly correlated with adequate testosterone in men. Whether it’s sunbathing or strolling the park, spending 30 minutes a day in sunlight is shown to improve testosterone levels.
Keep your testosterone levels high by taking good care of yourself with these 10 simple steps. This means getting after some strenuous physical activity on a regular basis to maintain your primal capacity. You’ll need to eat enough healthy fats while minimizing low-quality carbs and sugars, being sure to keep vitamin D and zinc intake up as well. Ensuring that your body has time to produce testosterone during sleep is equally crucial, so keep your circadian rhythm strong and get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night. Follow these daily guidelines and enjoy increased fitness, muscle strength and more virile, enjoyable life.
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