Testosterone is an important hormone that, in addition to affecting sex drive, is also responsible for healthy bone and muscle health, hair growth and sperm production.
Popping pills should never be the sole solution to your testosterone troubles. It is going to be a source of moving things in the right direction however in order to reap the biggest benefits, it should be coupled with other lifestyle adjustments.
Related: best testosterone boosters for men in 2017
There are numerous< natural alternatives to consider including exercise, reducing stress, eating healthy getting enough sleep and sunlight and moderating your alcohol consumption. Let’s take a look….
The endorphin release from exercise is one of the simplest ways to make you feel good about yourself. Exercise strengthens your muscles and your bones, it increases your energy levels and it’s a guaranteed way to increase your testosterone.
Resistance training and high intensity interval training are considered the most effective types of exercise however to some extent, any form of exercise should give you a boost to your T.
(1) In this study, differences in hormone values were found between men who were physically active and those who were sedentary. Testosterone levels were found to be higher in men that engaged in exercise.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26798202 – This study found that increasing volumes of exercise had more benefit to increasing testosterone levels than restricting calorie intake.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9660159 – This experiment found that resistance training improved serum testosterone levels in men who were previously not undergoing any training.
Summary: How to Get a Boost
Exercise is linked to higher levels of T. Find a way to incorporate exercise into your routine that is sustainable and realistic, then stick to it!
Reducing Stress, Boosting Testosterone
Exercising your demons will certainly give you a heightened T count. It’s not only the body that you need to train but also your mind. High levels of stress cause the body to create more of the hormone cortisol, which directly translates into a reduction of testosterone. Cortisol and testosterone both require cholesterol in order to be synthesised. In times of stress, the body is producing more cortisol, binding it with cholesterol and therefore eliminating what is available for testosterone. To compensate, the body will also naturally suppress the release of testosterone.
High cortisol levels have a double impact on testosterone levels firstly through their inverse relationship (as cortisol goes up, T goes down), and because heightened levels of cortisol for long periods of time can lead to increased food intake, weight gain, and fat storage around your organs which can also negatively affect T levels.
The best solution is to relax, yoga, meditate, have fun, get enough good quality sleep, laugh and of course see above to drop that stress and boost testosterone. Find activities that help you relax that can be incorporated into your daily routine such a 5 minute mindfulness or meditation breaks during your work day, going for a walk at the end of the day, or scheduling sessions to spend time with friends catching up, rather than focusing on areas that are causing you stress.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6348068 – Acute suppression of circulating testosterone levels by cortisol in men – In this study, testosterone levels were found to be directly impacted upon by the volume of cortisol in the body. As cortisol increased, testosterone levels were suppressed.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10454175 – Chronic burnout, somatic arousal and elevated salivary cortisol levels – This study of blue collar workers found that ineffectively coping with enduring stress is responsible for symptoms of burnout, i.e. physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion and cognitive weariness. Subjects showing signs of burnout had higher cortisol counts than those that didn’t.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8884416 – Relationships between testosterone, cortisol and performance in professional cyclists – This study of the performance outcomes of cyclists further details the relationship between testosterone and cortisol. Testosterone decreasing in the body is directly linked to higher levels of cortisol.
Stress leads to increased cortisol levels which suppresses testosterone.
Balance Your Diet
Ensuring your body is consuming enough food without overeating is an important lifestyle choice. Avoiding obesity and maintaining a healthy weight is critical for healthy testosterone levels. Balancing your macro-nutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats – plays a key role in this. Cholesterol, the building block for steroidal hormones such as T, is located within fats and so your diet should definitely consist of healthy fats to maintain solid T levels. Olives and olive oils, nuts, avocado, red meat, butter, coconut oil and dairy products are all excellent examples of foods containing healthy fats.
There are 6 foods that should form an integral part of your diet for optimum T levels.
T Boosting Tuna
Tuna is high in Vitamin D which studies have linked to testosterone production and longer life. It’s also low in calories while being protein-rich. Other oily fish such as salmon and sardines can be substituted if needed.
Egg yolks (they contain more nutrients than egg whites) are another great source of Vitamin D. A good guideline would be to eat one egg per day, but they should be avoided if you have a preexisting cholesterol issue.
Low Fat Milk for a Natural Boost
Milk is a perfect source of protein and calcium and is great for bone strength. Choose low fat milk that has been fortified with Vitamin D for the optimum effect on T levels.
Fortified Cereals for a Boost
Choose a cereal brand that is fortified with Vitamin D to start the day with a boost to your testosterone.
Oysters Give a Natural Boost
Oysters are a great source of Zinc which is an important mineral that keeps male hormones in check (particularly during puberty) and will help with low testosterone levels if you are zinc deficient.
Boost Testosterone with Shellfish
Shellfish such as crab and lobster have high levels of zinc to help T levels.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3360302 – The effect of nutritional factors on sex hormone levels in male twins – This study of sets of male twins compared their diets to determine differences in hormone production and levels. Weight, obesity and intake of fat were significantly correlated with plasma testosterone. Calorie intake is certain to impact upon T levels.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10355847 – Differences between men and women as regards the effects of protein-energy malnutrition on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis -In this study, it was found that protein-energy malnutrition is responsible for lower testosterone levels. Ensuring adequate reserves of functional energy (protein) and reserve energy (fat) would positively correlate with testosterone levels.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9029197 – Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise – Testosterone and cortisol levels in men were tested in this study both before and after exercise with a dietary analysis also undertaken. As well as showing high intensity exercises could elevate post exercise concentrations of testosterone, it also found that dietary intake could impact upon levels of testosterone in the body when at rest.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3558725 – Dietary lipids: an additional regulator of plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin – This study detected that higher fat intakes produced more plasma levels of cholesterol and lessened sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). It also found that increases in SHBG, as a result of a lower fat diet, decreased concentrations of free testosterone.
3 Other Important Areas to Look At
Give Your Sleep a Natural Boost
Integral to optimizing the body’s function, a good night’s sleep is a powerful life enhancer. Diet, exercise and sleep form a holy trinity of a solution to most of life’s problems, including low testosterone. Anywhere between 7-10 hours of sleep is valued as being properly recuperative. It has been proven that 5 hours or less sleep per night is responsible for a decline in T levels and can cause a borderline deficiency.
Getting into a good sleep routine can be difficult, but there are a couple of steps that you can follow to ensure that you regularly get the right amount of sleep thereby keeping your T levels up.
Stick to a Schedule
Set a bedtime that you can stick to, one that will allow you to get a full 8 hours before you need to wake up again.
Have a Good Morning Routine
Using a smart alarm app on your phone, you can control how you wake up from sleep as the app uses your phone’s accelerometer to time an optimal wake-up. An alarm clock may wake you when you are in a deep sleep which will have an impact on your energy levels.
Control Light Sources
Restrict blue light when you are preparing to go to bed as this is the light that your brain associates with day time. When you’re getting into bed block all sources of light, and make your room as dark as possible.
Control Your Temperature
Optimal sleep happens when your room is relatively cool as a reduction in temperature is a cue to our bodies that it is time to sleep. As an added bonus, colder temperatures burn extra fat which helps your body produce extra T.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/ – Restricting the sleep for 1 week of young, healthy males in this study found that daily testosterone levels can decline by up to 15%.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17520786 – This study helped determine that morning testosterone levels are directly related to volume of sleep in older men. Coupled with the above study, this shows that whether you are young or old, the amount of sleep you have affects your testosterone.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19684340 – This study also indicated that sleep duration impacts testosterone and bioavailable testosterone. The more you have of the former, the more you have of the latter.
A primary source of vitamin D for the body, sunlight is a sound way of improving the body’s absorption of vitamin D. This has been strongly correlated with an augmentation of testosterone levels, especially where vitamin D deficiency is evident.
There are easy ways to boost your vitamin D levels that can be incorporated into your daily routine that will also have a knock-on positive impact on other areas of your life. By taking a walk outside at lunchtime rather than sitting at your desk to eat you lunch you will boost your T levels through increased vitamin D intake, some exercise as well as reducing your stress levels. Score yourself a little sun and it will help your T levels maintain a healthy ratio.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195 – This study, conducted over the course of 1 year, showed that vitamin D deficient males who were given a vitamin D supplement were also found to have increased levels of total, free and bioavailable testosterone.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is the primary social drug of choice for large swathes of the population. It goes without saying that excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to the health of the body (and mind). This extends to the volume of testosterone whilst consuming alcohol. A number of studies have linked alcohol intake to a reduction in T, so it also goes without saying that if you’re drinking a lot, you probably aren’t helping your T levels out.
This is the area that most people struggle to control, especially as alcohol consumption tends to rise as stress increases (both of which are detrimental to T levels). The best solution is to find alternative ways to meet up with friends such as a round of golf, or a game of basketball rather than meeting for a couple of drinks after work. This way you can naturally boost T levels through exercise, as well as avoiding the reduction that would happen due to alcohol consumption.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/894528 – This study showed that plasma testosterone levels became depressed as blood alcohol levels were raised.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11912073 – In this study, the affects of acute alcohol intoxication were found to have opposite outcomes for men and women. Plasma testosterone was found to be reduced in men but higher in women. A few drinks might briefly help your T, but not if you’re male…
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6443186 – Increased adrenal secretion of cortisol is likely to negatively impact the level of testosterone in intoxicated men were the findings of this study.
The 6 Key Areas to Focus On
Following these methods to naturally boost your body’s testosterone production might require some careful and honest analysis of your lifestyle. Making the necessary adjustments will not only give you a boost to your T< but they will have wider ranging benefits that will have you feeling fitter and healthier in no time.
There are 6 key areas to focus on that will have the most impact on your T levels. These include exercise, typically Resistance training and high intensity interval training have the best results. Then, reducing stress through meditation and taking time to have fun, and eating a balanced diet that is high in protein also help with improving T levels. Sleep, between 7 and 9 hours of good quality shut eye, and sunlight also have a positive impact. Lastly, moderating alcohol levels is an important contributor for optimal T production.