Given the number of negative physical outcomes associated with low testosterone levels, it's not surprising that many men are willing to go to great lengths to support production of their most important male hormone. In addition to obvious problems like decreased libido and erectile dysfunction, low testosterone levels have also been linked to fatigue, decreased muscle mass, chronic depression, and impaired memory, as well as increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even decreased life expectancy.
Pretty sobering prospects! A significant number of men, when faced with this dilemma, opt for dramatic counter-measures. Unfortunately, these remedies for low-T can also have their drawbacks. Anabolic steroids, it should go without saying, are illegal, largely unregulated, and dangerous. Even pharmaceutical applications of testosterone (such as injections or topical creams) can have unwanted side effects such as enlarged breasts, acne or skin rash, hair loss, anxiety and nausea. And then, of course, the effect lasts only as long as the therapy continues. Once therapy is interrupted (as a function of their significant expense, for instance, or changes in insurance coverage) you're back where you started.
If your testosterone levels are seriously depleted, following the advice of your doctor is strongly advised. A pharmaceutical approach may be best for you. However, for many men, the extent of testosterone decrease may be modest enough that less invasive, more natural approaches to the problem can be preferable. Indeed, simple changes in diet and lifestyle may be sufficient to raise testosterone levels into the normal range for many men. These changes involve far less (or no) expense and, more importantly, are, by their nature, more easily sustainable over time.
Let's take a look at ten simple, natural ways to support male testosterone production.
One of the benefits of having testosterone levels in the normal range is having the capacity (and requisite muscle mass) to move a lot of weight in the gym. Interestingly, this benefit also works the other way. High-volume workouts facilitate testosterone production increase. Indeed, emphasizing heavy compound moves in your weight training (squats, deadlifts and bench presses, for instance) is one of the best ways to stimulate the greatest release of testosterone. In an article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the researchers reported that completing 10 reps at 75% 1RM, with 2-minutes rest between sets, resulted in the greatest workout volume and highest testosterone levels.
But Don't Overtrain
Ideally, you should be in the gym four, maybe five days a week, and make your workouts intense, heavy, and short. How short? Forty-five minutes of high-velocity work with short rests between sets. Any more than that and you're subtracting by addition. Placing your body under more stress than it can handle will send levels of cortisol soaring, which in turn will depress your testosterone production. This is especially true of excessive cardio, especially long-interval, steady-state endurance training like running or cycling. When doing cardio, prioritize sprints, Tabata protocols, rope-skipping, and the like. The takeaway: A well planned training program, emphasizing volume, brevity, adequate work-to-rest periods and recovery time, will help elevate and maintain bioavailable testosterone.
Shed Body Fat
High body fat is detrimental to testosterone levels. One reason for this is that testosterone is converted to estrogen by aromatase enzyme that is produced (in part) by fat cells. So, with high body fat, more of your testosterone is converted to estrogen. Unfortunately, low testosterone coupled with increasing estrogen levels results in decreased muscle growth and increased body fat storage. This is a vicious cycle you want no part of. You don't have to have sub-5% body fat, but to optimize testosterone bioavailability, you should make getting lean a top priority.
Dietary Fats Are Your Friend
Don't fear the fats! For decades, fitness-conscious people were told to avoid dietary fats, when in fact dietary fats are much more likely to be used as fuel for high-performance training and actually help facilitate the utilization of existing excess fat stores. Dietary fats have also been linked to healthy levels of testosterone in males. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that a diet with fat content exceeding 100 g per day resulted in increased free testosterone in healthy male subjects. When subjects were put on a low fat diet (<20 g of fat per day), the authors reported that blood cholesterol levels (which are used to produce testosterone) decreased. Oh, and when we're talking healthy fats, we're talking about nuts, olive oil, full-fat yogurt, fatty fish such as salmon, whole eggs, and cheese. You might want to consider taking a high-quality Omega-3 fish oil blend rich in high-potency, standardized amounts of the fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Here's a simple inexpensive supplement you can take that will make a big difference in your T-levels. Did you know Vitamin D isn't a vitamin at all? It's a hormone the body produces in response to sunlight. (It also occurs naturally in a few foods like fish livers and egg yolks.) Unfortunately, many men are Vitamin D deficient because we live in a cover-up/sun-block world. That's a problem because Vitamin D is an essential factor in bone health and, yes, testosterone levels. In fact, in a 2010 study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research, healthy male subjects given 3332 iu of Vitamin D3 for a year ended up having 25.2% higher T-levels when compared to placebo. So, men? Get you some D!
Get Your ZZZ's
The importance of sleep to overall health cannot be overstated. Sleep deprivation is a significant stress that impacts many body functions, especially hormonal balance. Ensuring consistent and high quality deep sleep night after night will keep catabolic hormones (like cortisol) low and anabolic hormones (like testosterone) high. Shoot for 8 to 10 (yes, 10!) hours of quality sleep per night, establish consistent turn-in and wake-up times, and avoid stimulants starting several hours before bedtime.
Clear Out Household Toxins
Right now, there are common items around your house that are conspiring to undermine your T-levels. The culprits are a class of products called xenoestrogens, which mimic the testosterone-limiting estrogens in the body. Where can you find them? In any food storage item or jug that contains Bisphenol-A. In cosmetics, shampoos, toothpastes, or shaving gels that contain parabens. In air fresheners, body sprays or scented candles that contain phtalates. In antibacterial soaps or detergents that contain triclosans. And, of course, anything containing soy protein is also a rich source of phytoestrogens. Clear 'em out!
Take It Easy!
Daily chronic stress tends to elevate cortisol, increase body fat storage, and induce fatigue, all of which negatively impact free testosterone levels and health. Learning to effectively manage time can reduce stress significantly (and you will sleep better). You can stretch more out of your day by waking-up early and following a daily agenda. If time management isn’t a problem, then look to other stress-reducing options like meditation or hiking.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Publications love to post articles about the health benefits of alcohol consumption because they're pure, unadulterated clickbait. Hey, my vice might be good for me? Do tell! The truth is that in the long-term, alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, stomach and liver. In the short term, drinking alcoholic beverages results in poor quality sleep, decreased energy levels, increased body fat, missed workouts, and decreases in free testosterone. Beer, it should be noted, is also packed with phytoestrogens, which will wreak havoc with T-levels. If you must drink socially, do not overdo it, no more than 2 measured servings of alcohol in a day. Skipping plenty of days entirely is well-indicated for health.
Consider a Natural Testosterone-Boosting Supplement
Nutritional supplement science is always advancing and one field of investigation in particular has been generating a lot of excitement lately. Researchers have long been finding evidence that protodioscin-rich botanical extracts, derived from the herb Tribulus terrestris, may have positive effects on testosterone production in males.
Indeed, in a report published in Andrologia in 2016, 65 men (aged 18-65) with no hormonal issues took an herbal extract containing 112 mg of protodioscin daily for 12 weeks. Body fat percentage, lean muscle mass gain, steroid hormone levels and all semen quality parameters were analyzed during the period of treatment. It was concluded that taking the protodioscin-rich extract led to an increase in blood dihydrotestosterone levels, which coincided with decreased body fat percentage, and increases in lean mass. Along similar lines, in a pilot study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (2016), 30 male patients with clinical androgen deficiency were given 750 mg of a protodioscin-rich extract daily for 3 months. The research team found that this supplementation produced a 33% increase in total testosterone and 6% increase in free testosterone in this cohort.
Of all the T-boosters available, one that stands out in terms of research and potency is AndroTest by ProSource. To produce AndroTest, only the most potent raw Tribulus terrestris, harvested from southern Bulgaria, is used, which are then subjected to a highly advanced 4-phase multiple extraction method. AndroTest's full spectrum protodioscin-rich botanical compound has been validated in a product-specific clinical test in which test subjects experienced major increases in free testosterone, averaging 59.75% over baseline. Certainly, this is a field of science that bears watching for men concerned about their T-levels.
Mark D. Peterson, Aleksandr Belakovskiy, Ryan McGrath, Joshua F. Yarrow. Testosterone Deficiency, Weakness, and Multimorbidity in Men. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-24347-6
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Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men.
Salgado RM, Marques-Silva MH, Gonçalves E, Mathias AC, Aguiar JG, Wolff P. Effect of oral administration of Tribulus terrestris extract on semen quality and body fat index of infertile men. Andrologia. 2016 Jul 12. doi: 10.1111/and.12655. [Epub ahead of print]
Roaiah MF, E Khayat YI, GamalEl Din SF, Abd E Salam MA. Pilot Study on the Effect of Botanical Medicine (Tribulus terrestris) on Serum Testosterone Level and Erectile Function in Aging Males With Partial Androgen Deficiency (PADAM). J Sex Marital Ther. 2016 May 18;42(4):297-301.
Use as directed. Read product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. Endorser used this product in conjunction with diet and exercise and was remunerated for his appearance. Endorser’s results are not typical. A 4-week study of healthy males showed a 59.75% average increase in free testosterone compared to baseline and 59.88% average increase in total testosterone compared to baseline. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.