Testosterone decreases as we age. The more we age the less we have.
There are two things you can do about this.
1. Implement healthy habits in the attempt to increase your natural testosterone levels
2. Go on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)
You should only consider option 2 after implementing option 1. There are anomalies, of course.
Young people with exceptionally low testosterone is likely to be related to genetics. In this instance, there’s very little you can do about it other than supplementing with synthetic testosterone.
For the average man, you can improve your natural testosterone levels by living a healthier lifestyle.
If you’re fat, eating processed food and guzzling ten pints of lager a week, your current testosterone levels are likely not at where they could be.
If you have the symptoms of low testosterone get a testosterone test.
I use the TRT blood test from UK blood testing company Medichecks.
If you’re based in the UK you can order a test directly from the website. (Use promo code STEDAVIES10 to get 10% off)
Or if, on the other hand, you’re living a healthy lifestyle and your levels are still low then you may want to look at TRT. It could be your genes or, depending on your age, your body may be producing less of it.
We already know that average testosterone levels in men are declining and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. That’s why it’s important to have a regular testosterone test.
Before you even consider TRT you need to get your lifestyle in order. You have a natural testosterone limit which you should reach first before contemplating TRT.
This is why it’s important to do everything you can to increase – or maintain, at least – your natural levels because once you’re on TRT there’s no going back.
Living a healthy lifestyle help natural testosterone levels
There’s no quick fix, elixir or pill here. There’s no special food you can eat or exercise you can do that’s going to suddenly increase your testosterone levels.
Instead, it requires you to make changes to your lifestyle while still having a life. It’s about balance. There are a lot of unhappy physically fit people and a lot of fat people who love life.
Humans are complex organisms made up of all kinds of chemicals which mean being in good health does not mean having six pack abs.
So, what are the steps to give your natural testosterone levels the best chance possible?
Live a healthy lifestyle basically. Eat good, work out, rest well, don’t get stressed and socialise with people who you’re attracted to.
Allow me to lay it out in a bit more detail.
Lifting weights has numerous benefits and is one of the best kind of exercises you can do. One benefit of a weightlifting protocol is it helps improve your natural testosterone levels.
This study found that men who were put on a four-week training program not only increased their strength but their testosterone levels too.
Men tested in this eight-week resistance training study were found to have “significantly higher” levels of testosterone at all points measured. And both growth hormone and testosterone increased in both the elderly and the young during this study.
When lifting weights consistently be careful not to overtrain. I’ve overtrained my body a few times to the point where I felt my testosterone was depleted. For me, it helps to take a week off now and again.
Do intense and steady state cardio
This study found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has a greater effect on increasing testosterone than steady state cardio.
A study of athletes and non-athletes found that non-athletes increased their testosterone during both steady state and high-intensity cardio. The athletes, on the other hand, only increased their testosterone production after they went to 90 percent of max capacity.
When it comes to cardio and testosterone production, there is a point of diminishing returns. This study found that too much cardio decreases testosterone in middle-aged distance runners.
It varies from person to person. I feel have a greater sense of well-being from regular steady state cardio. I have friends who get that same feeling from lifting weights. We’re all different.
Get lean or stay lean
The more body fat you have, the less testosterone you have.
Researchers at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine found that a lean body correlates with higher testosterone levels. In other words, the subjects who had the most testosterone were the leanest. Also, this study found that men who had metabolic syndrome also had low testosterone.
Again, it’s about finding a sweet spot. In the past, I’ve leaned out a little too much to the point where I had low testosterone symptoms. Having six pack abs are not worth it if you feel like crap.
Eat good foods
No surprise here. Eating nutritious foods full of macro and micronutrients and good fats helps with your testosterone levels.
Get healthy fats in your diet
This study found that men whose diet comprised of 41 percent of healthy fats had 13 percent more testosterone than men whose diets comprised of only 18 percent of fats. This study found that men who ate meat (and thus animal fat) had more testosterone than men who are vegetarians.
I’ve never bought into the low carb diet myth. That’s not to say low carb diets don’t work for everyone but you should approach with caution any diet that claims to benefit everyone. The health benefits I personally get from intermittent fasting are astounding but I’m quick to stress it might not be for everyone.
This study found that a low carb diet increased cortisol levels and decreased free testosterone levels. Carbs increase insulin and insulin lowers cortisol levels so up the carbs if you want to decrease the cortisol.
Protein doesn’t increase testosterone
This study found that eating protein doesn’t have any effect on testosterone levels. But, if you lift weights, do cardio or play sports, protein can help your muscles grow which in turn will increase your testosterone levels. You can supplement easily with protein bars.
Get rid of stress
Easier said than done, right?
The stress hormone cortisol does more harm than good these days.
We don’t need it anymore to run away from tigers and lions in the jungle. It would have been useful then. Instead, our stress response is constantly aroused in the modern environment of unharmful but passive aggressive people, unanswered emails, social media and so on.
We know that cortisol flattens testosterone. Chronic stress such as emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue or what is known as ‘burnout syndrome’ as this research piece puts it, is a cause of consistently elevated cortisol.
Constant stress makes your body hold on to fat. What happens when you get fat? Yep, your testosterone decreases. The fatter you get the more your testosterone decreases and the more your oestrogen increases.
Get enough sleep
There is no sleep sweet spot. Some people feel rested after six hours a night whereas other people’s ideal time is nine hours.
What is important though is that you get enough sleep for you.
When you go to sleep your body and brain replenish. Cell production takes place and hormones like human growth hormone and, of course, testosterone are created.
This is why you need to get a good night’s sleep.
The graph above is from a study which reduced the sleeping time of healthy males to five hours a night for one week which resulted in a 15 percent reduction in testosterone levels.
This study in older men ages 64 to 74 years old found that the less they slept the less testosterone they had in their bodies in the morning.
Phytoestrogens are found in certain foods and are linked with decreasing testosterone and other things you’re best off avoiding.
Phytoestrogens mimic the effect of oestrogen which flattens your testosterone levels.
Soy is a key culprit among phytoestrogens.
There’s still no clear evidence on how much soy impacts a man’s testosterone levels but it does at some level. One study found that soy has little bearing on testosterone at all, whereas another study found it to be detrimental to good health.
Phytoestrogens are found in other foods too including flaxseed, tofu, soy milk, flax bread, sesame seed and much more according to this article.
Beer contains phytoestrogens too but you already knew that due to the man boobs on that beer-loving guy you know.
Try an aromatase inhibitor
When men go on TRT they are often prescribed an aromatase inhibitor (AI) along with it. When testosterone rises in the body so too does oestrogen.
It’s important for a man to have some oestrogen in his body. Too much of it can cause problems however and can induce the same feelings of low testosterone.
An AI essentially ‘inhibits’ the oestrogen levels from rising further and brings them back down to a normal level.
Some men use an AI without being on TRT. The theory behind is that if you can lower your natural oestrogen levels with an AI, your natural testosterone will increase.
How effective this is I don’t know but P.D. Mangan on the Rogue Health and Fitness Blog talks about his experience using an AI with success.
Hang around with attractive people
Most straight men would tell you that they feel great around women they’re attracted to. I’m sure it’s true for gay people too. There’s something primal about it which heightens your senses and gets the pulse going.
According to research, a man’s testosterone rises by 14 percent after speaking for five minutes to a woman he’s attracted to. Even better if he has sex with her as testosterone increases in both men and women after sex.
It’s all about living a healthy lifestyle
Most of what’s outlined in this article are just about living a healthy lifestyle. Good food, varied exercise, adequate rest, eradicating stress and having sex, all sound like living a good life to me.
If you’ve done all that and your natural testosterone levels are still low then perhaps it’s time to consider TRT. Speak with your doctor first.
If not, start putting these good habits in place first and see how much better you feel.