It’s widely known that an increase in testosterone levels will augment an increase in lean muscle mass, burn body fat, boost confidence and increase sex drive. But how can we increase our testosterone levels without pumping ourselves full of potentially harmful and more often than not illegal substances such as anabolic steroids?
Testosterone is an important hormone that every man wants in abundance, and there are several factors we can look at in order to increase Testosterone levels naturally. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that when we hit the age of 30, levels begin to decline, however the good news is, that it is within our control to minimize and even boost test-levels, by reducing stress, maintaining a lean physique with adequate physical activity, and by having a healthy, nutrient dense diet supplemented with high quality supplements. For most people Testosterone declines even earlier than 30, many at 20 years of age!
So what should you be eating and drinking to increase Testosterone?
High fat and high protein whole foods, with lots of fruit and vegetables. Eliminate sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Nutrition plays a huge role in hormonal function, and due to the direction the food industry has been driven – not helped by ‘expert’ dieticians and profit drives – unfortunately we have been lead to pursue ‘low-fat’ food alternatives, rather than sticking to the good stuff – full-fat! That’s right kids, full-fat options are much better than their low-fat equivalents – the removed fat likely replaced with sugars and unnatural additives – and will improve the balance of testosterone and related hormones, whereas low-fat diets are notorious for reducing testosterone. We actually need “good cholesterol”, or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, in order to produce testosterone! Great healthy fat options include milk, avocados, brazil nuts, oily fish, coconut oil etc. Good fats are good for you and good for Testosterone production.
A high protein diet will support proper hormonal balance, and coupled with the muscle building properties we’re very much aware of, ingesting meats, fish, whole eggs (also loaded with HDL cholesterol), nuts, seeds and beans are vital for improving aesthetics. You can also use a high quality whey protein powder before and after your workouts, as research has shown that such supplementation induces a greater uptake of Testosterone from the blood, in-turn causing a greater anabolic effect in response to training. The more the anabolic effect, the more muscle mass and the less body fat you will have. In simple terms, your body is in the ideal state for building muscle, so reach for a protein shake pre- and post-workout and reap the benefits.
Avoid sugars and refined carbs to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and instead opt for lower glycaemic (low GI) sources such as quinoa, sweet potato, oats and green veggies (eg spinach, broccoli and kale) to raise test-levels. Such spikes will cause testosterone, and the body’s ability to utilize fat for energy, to decrease. There is also a correlation between body fat levels and test-levels (higher body fat = lower testosterone), and ingesting refined carbs and sugars is a sure fire way of increasing body fat, but you knew that already, right? Cut out the junk to get your juices flowing! You will need to avoid refined pasta, white rice and white bread.
A natural Testosterone booster will help to elevate test-levels over and above what you can produce without one. Herbs sourced from around the world, such as fenugreek, mucuna pruriens, tribulus terrestris, epimedium, and the list goes on of more weird and wonderful, difficult to pronounce plants, that sports nutrition companies are using to formulate their unique blends. Many may be skeptical of the bold claims these companies make, but for me there’s certainly a place, especially so if you’re approaching or over the age of 30. Natural Testosterone boosters can give you what foods cannot give you and if you want to boost Testosterone, then you may well have to use them.
Now don’t worry, I’m not going to enforce an alcohol ban here, however I do need to highlight that it can have a negative effect on your Testosterone levels. Many studies have shown this, but it isn’t all doom and gloom, as research does suggest that Testosterone levels return back to the levels they were at, before a drinking binge (10 beers lowers test levels by 23% for up to 16 hours). Alcohol does induce Oestrogen production which is the nemesis to Testosterone so beware! The caveat here is that you can’t be on the booze every night of the week, as otherwise levels will continue to fall without the opportunity to return to base level. Sure if you want optimal levels of testosterone, you should completely avoid alcohol, however for many of us alcohol has a its benefits, be it social, relaxation etc. Also be aware of the calorific and sugar content should you choose to indulge, so if you’re out on the town this weekend, go for vodka or gin with diet mixer.
Grab 7-8 hours sleep every night, and become a stronger, healthier, testo-juiced man!
Aside from diet, sleep is incredibly important for boosting Testosterone levels, and has been argued, by George Yu, a urology professor at the George Washington University Medical Center, that for many men with low Testosterone, poor sleep is the most important factor. And whilst this article focuses on the hormone Testosterone, I have to highlight here that sleep deprivation will also cause hormonal havoc by increasing cortisol (stress hormone), lowering leptin (an appetite suppressing hormone) and increasing ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates hunger); the combination of which will cause negative effect on your Testosterone, libido and your body shape, meaning less muscles and more body fat! What is more, GH and Testosterone peak when we exercise and when we sleep, so without going into too much detail here as sleep in itself really requires a whole separate article, I hope this highlights the importance of sleep for regulating multiple hormones, and for promoting adequate recovery.
Lift weights to lift Testosterone levels
Research from back in 1989 indicates that strength/resistance training can induce GH and dramatically affect Testosterone release, regardless of age. Carrying more muscle mass actually helps to keep testosterone levels high, and so the two go hand-in-hand; training to build muscle mass increases testosterone, and elevated testosterone helps to build muscle mass. It’s a win-win hormonal environment state to be in.
You must train smart, as training does induce cortisol release, and so overtraining can become detrimental. Perform resistance training 3-5 times per week, and don’t train for longer than 60-75 minutes. Cardiovascular (CV) exercise should also be kept to a moderate level, as endurance type activity has shown to decrease test-levels, so instead opt for high intensity interval training (HIIT), which will do the opposite, and you’ll be in and out of the gym in half the time!
To summarise, you need to take a very much holistic approach to increasing your Testosterone levels naturally and stick to it. Lifestyle changes will very much form the basis of improving your overall health and hormone function, but it isn’t a quick fix (consider Testosterone boosting supplements for a head start), so when you make these interventions, stick to them and make sure they’re long-term applied modifications.
If you want to try a 100% safe and natural Testosterone booster, then one recommended as the "World's Best Testosterone Booster" by Men's Health should do the trick. It's called Norateen Heavyweight II.