Testosterone is the well-known male hormone, crucial for: libido, sexual health, mental well-being, muscular size/strength, energy levels and fertility.
Research has shown that men experience a decrease of testosterone by 1% each year — after the age of 30. Consequently, men are reporting increased occurrences of depression and low confidence.
In medicine, exogenous testosterone is often given to those clinically deficient, however some people on the not-so-low-end may not qualify for such treatment; and may want to increase endogenous levels through natural means.
Here are 7 tips for maximizing natural production.
- Lose body fat
- Take a testosterone booster
- Get sufficient amounts of sunlight
- Lift weights / Exercise
- Avoid estrogenic foods
- Get enough sleep
- Fat-rich diet
- Alpha male body language
Lose Body Fat
The more subcutaneous body fat a person has, the higher levels of aromatase they will have. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, the female sex hormone. Thus, the leaner a male is the higher their testosterone will be.
When a person initially diets and consumes lower calories, testosterone levels may dip temporarily, however in the long-term they will be higher.
Crash diets however are not recommended, but instead a small calorie deficit and gradual weight loss.
Rapid reductions in weight, can lead to excess skin, decreased muscle mass and excess cortisol (lowering testosterone).
Take a Testosterone Booster
Although you can significantly increase your testosterone naturally for free, by modifying your diet and lifestyle, some people would rather pop a pill and enhance their hormone levels.
Dr. Thomas O’Connor from Inside Bodybuilding, states there are several amino acids and herbs that can increase testosterone in men.
Such FDA approved ingredients include: tribulus terrestris, d-aspartic acid and ashwagandha.
He suggests these natural supplements are a lot safer than taking harsh anabolics, that so many bodybuilders resort to today.
However, natural testosterone boosters are unlikely to increase serum levels to the same extent as exogenous testosterone compounds.
Get Sufficient Amounts of Sunlight
Many people experience decreased well-being in the winter months, which can be attributed to a lack of vitamin D, which is crucial in testosterone synthesis. The opposite effect happens in the summer, where many people are exposed to vast amounts of sunlight and thus become happier, with an increase in endorphins.
Thus, for maximum testosterone, men and women should get adequate amounts of sunlight and when this isn’t possible, they should supplement with vitamin D to account for any deficiencies.
Lift Weights / Exercise
Alpha males, or men with high testosterone, are often athletic people participating in sports with a muscular build. Thus, it is not by coincidence that lifting weights has been found to increase testosterone, that lasts for several hours post-exercise.
For maximum spikes, men should perform heavy compound lifts, at least 5 times per week.
Exercise will also aid in fat burning, providing additional testosterone-boosting benefits, via the reduction of subcutaneous fat stores.
Excess exercise may be counterproductive, thus although regular and intense training is recommended, 1-2 rest days per week are necessary to avoid the onset of overreaching or overtraining. This is a state where the central nervous system becomes excessively stimulated, cortisol levels rise, muscles fatigue and the athlete becomes exhausted (with performance suffering).
Workouts only need to last 30-60 minutes to induce an optimal hormonal response.
Avoid Estrogenic Foods
Estrogen is the female sex hormone, that men only want in small quantities for adequate serotonin production. Excess estrogen can lower testosterone levels and thus inhibit muscular growth and strength.
High estrogen foods/drinks, such as: milk, soybeans, alcohol, tofu, garlic and peaches should be avoided to prevent testosterone levels from decreasing.
Men can also adopt anti-estrogenic foods in their diet to reduce the conversion of testosterone into estrogen (known as aromatization).
Below is a list of anti-estrogenic food sources:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
Supplements such as nettle leaf, chrysin and maca can also lower estrogen levels.
Note: Inhaling lavender or using certain ingredients in shampoos/shower gels, such as tea tree oil, can also increase estrogen levels.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the biggest causes of low testosterone is a lack of sleep and stress.
If a person gets less than 6 hours of sleep during the night, or their sleep quality is impaired, testosterone levels can quickly plummet.
Rest is one of the most crucial components for adequate functioning of the HPTA axis. If men or women suffer from insomnia, it may be wise to take a natural sedative before bedtime. Alternatively, a L-tryptophan rich snack/meal can soothe the nervous system, promoting drowsiness before sleep.
Foods rich in l-tryptophan are:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cottage cheese
Melatonin can also be used to calm the nervous system, improving sleep quality and quantity. Red grapes contain melatonin, which is why those who drink red wine may become more drowsy than consuming other alcoholic beverages.
Research has shown that a high fat diet leads to higher testosterone levels, due to dietary fat increasing cholesterol, crucial for testosterone synthesis.
However, a person will not want to raise dietary fat to very high levels, as this may cause people to store additional fat, and thus increase estrogen levels.
Equally, a high fat diet should not come at the expense of protein or carbohydrates dropping to very low levels, with sufficient amounts of these macronutrients remaining important for a healthy hormonal profile.
Unsaturated fats are the best source of dietary fat, with them increasing HDL cholesterol, instead of LDL.
High LDL levels can increase the risk of arteriosclerosis and often become elevated from excess saturated fat intake.
Some examples of unsaturated fat food sources are:
- Olive oil
- Peanut butter
- Sesame seeds
- Cashew nuts
Below are examples of popular saturated fat sources:
Alpha Male Body Language
Research has shown that more dominant body language can increase testosterone levels. Thus, people who walk with a swagger in their step or have no qualms about putting their arm around a woman are more likely to get regular surges of testosterone throughout the day.
Thus, be conscious to adopt good posture, instead of cowering inside yourself.
Even if this is against your nature, the following increases in testosterone may help you to become more confident and thus become a regular ingrained habit.
Seemingly, testosterone levels are as much psychological as they are physiological.