Testosterone is more than just a term used by men to justify athletic prowess and manliness; it is the essential hormone in maintaining several aspects of men’s health. Testosterone levels are associated with bone density, muscle strength and mass, sex drive and even fat distribution.
Testosterone peaks during adolescence. Conversely, medical authorities indicate testosterone levels begin to decline by about 1% a year after age 30 . Many people, especially athletes, turn to synthetic forms of testosterone to combat age-related and deficient-levels of testosterone for ergogenic improvements. However, did you know there are ways to raise testosterone naturally? By making some adjustments in your life, you will be able combat decreasing testosterone.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is one way to optimize healthy hormonal levels. Sleep deprivation can be dangerous to your health, and according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), men who slept less than five hours a night for one week experienced notably lower testosterone levels than when they were able to get a good night’s rest . Eve Van Cauter, PhD, a professor of medicine and director of the study says 15% of the US population get less than five hours of sleep a night.
So, turn off the late night television and set a regular bed time. Sleeping for 7-8 hours is ideal. But if you are ruled by your busy schedule, try to make up for lost sleep with naps. Keep in mind, napping too late in the afternoon might affect your night’s sleep.
Mediate Oestrogen Levels
That’s right, oestrogen is also found in men. Aromatase is a synthase responsible for converting testosterone to oestrogen. Fortunately, zinc inhibits aromatase, reducing testosterone’s conversion into oestrogen .
Groups at risk for zinc deficiency include vegetarians and those with gastrointestinal diseases. Healthy daily levels of zinc in adults range from 8mg – 40mg. Some people may consume more than this in a single day, and medical authorities warn excessive long term zinc consumption may result in abdominal cramps and nausea .
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli contain indoles. Indoles are clinically shown to regulate harmful oestrogen levels in the body. Eating said vegetables will not only raise testosterone but a study shows high cruciferous vegetable intake is associated with decreases in prostate cancer .
There is a good chance that if you are overweight, you are crippling your testosterone production. Obese men are less likely to have normal free-testosterone concentrations.
In one study, researchers analyzed 1,849 men’s free-testosterone levels. Research revealed 40% of obese non-diabetic men and 50% obese diabetic men had below-normal free testosterone concentrations.
Researchers remark “Obesity is probably the condition most frequently associated with subnormal free testosterone concentrations in men.” So, if you are overweight, shed some pounds. Keep eating those previously mentioned healthy cruciferous vegetables and even throw in some meat. Protein increases satiety and decreases snacking after meals.
Go Easy on the Sugar
Although found in many tasty foods, sugar can be detrimental to testosterone levels. One study perfectly illustrates sugar’s negative effects: Researchers gave 74 men a sugary solution of 75g pure glucose. After ingestion, testosterone levels were measured in all test subjects.
Researchers discovered, regardless of whether the men had diabetes or not, testosterone blood levels decreased as much as 25%. The study indicates insulin didn’t seem to affect results, nor did other hormonal levels .
If you must snack on something sugary, make it healthy. To fulfil that sugar craving, try adding 1 tablespoon peanut butter to celery sticks for under 5g carbohydrates. Or look for sugar-free confectionary.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Studies surrounding vitamin D reveal its testosterone boosting effects. One study published in 2011 shows, 83mcg vitamin D a day for a year resulted in an increase in total testosterone levels, compared to placebo .
The sun offers the finest source of vitamin D, but it may be difficult to set apart some time to catch rays during the week. Eating foods richer in vitamin D will help. Such foods include salmon, tuna, milk, and orange juice. Vitamin D supplements may also help increase testosterone levels.
Strength training increases testosterone levels. Testosterone levels were measured in both young (23 years) and elderly (63) test subjects prior to and after participating in resistance training during a 12-week study. According to the blood samples collected, testosterone levels increased in both groups, although the younger group experienced greater increases . Additionally, high testosterone levels and exercise synergistically affect muscle size .
Optimize your workouts by doing compound exercises. Compound exercises incorporate muscle fibres from various muscle groups. Exercises include dead lift, squat and bench press. Also lift heavier weight at lower reps so more force is placed on the muscles.
There are several promising studies and hypothesis showing psychological stress may negatively affect testosterone. Though how and why stress affects testosterone is still being studied. Some claim higher stress-induced cortisol levels may be a reason, but this is subject for debate.
One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1972 shows plasma testosterone levels were lower in young men enrolled in Officer Candidate School during the early, stressful part of the course as compared with levels during the senior phase .
Another study analysed serum testosterone levels in male subjects (30-55 years) suffering from higher levels of anxiety, hostility and depression. Those subjects with higher psychological stress had lower testosterone levels than the subjects who did not. Interestingly, cortisol concentrations in both groups were the same .
- Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality? Mayo Clinic. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/testosterone-therapy/MC00030
- Sleepy loss lowers testosterone in healthy young men. Uni Chicago Med (2011) Available from: http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2011/20110531-sleep.html
- Zinc. Available from: http://examine.com/supplements/Zinc/
- Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. Available from: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
- Fazlul H. Sarkar & Yiwei Li. Indole-3-Carbinol and Prostate Cancer. J. Nutr (2004). 134(12):3493S-3498S. Available from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/12/3493S.long
- Dhindsa S et al. Testosterone concentrations in diabetic and non-diabetic obese men. Diabetes Care (2010). 33(6):1186-92. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20200299
- The Endocrine Society, news release, June 13, 2009
- Pilz S et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res (2011). 43(3):223-5. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195
- Craig BW et al. Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects. Mech Ageing Dev (1989). 49(2):159-69.
- Bhasin S et al. Testosterone replacement increases fat-free mass and muscle size in hypogonadal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab (1997). 82(2):407-13.
- Kreuz ME et al. Suppression of Plasma Testosterone Levels and Psychological Stress: A Longitudinal Study of Young Men in Officer Candidate School. Arch Gen Psychiatry (1972). 26(5):479-482.
- K. T. Francis. The relationship between high and low trait psychological stress, serum testosterone, and serum cortisol. Experientia (1981). 15. 37(12):1296-1297.