When you hear the word “testosterone” you often think about men who are aggressive, frustrated, angry, or all of the above. Truth be told, testosterone is indeed often associated with men going “Hulk” even though women have a bit of testosterone in their system too. But what is testosterone and why is it important? How do we increase testosterone naturally? What are the natural ways to boost testosterone?
Testosterone: Not just any hormone
Testosterone is a hormone that is naturally secreted by the testicles. It plays a major role when it comes to our overall health. Among its many functions are:
- Sexual and reproductive function,
- Hair and muscle growth,
- Improved mood
- Bone and red blood cell maintenance
- Increase in libido
Unfortunately, men experience a slow decline in testosterone levels once they reach 30.1 Low testosterone affects approximately 4-5 million men in the U.S.2 alone. A decline in testosterone will not only decrease its many functions but will also increase the likelihood of acquiring a variety of diseases such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. What’s more, a reduced level of testosterone will also make you likely to suffer from obesity, impaired sexual function, decrease in overall energy, and reduced muscle mass.
What causes Testosterone to decline?
Low levels of testosterone can be attributed to hypogonadism. Hypogonadism is the absence of the male gonadal function that results in inadequate testosterone production. The main causes of hypogonadism could be due to two things:
- Testicular failure: a rare disorder that occurs when the male testes is unable to produce sperm and testosterone.
- Hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction: A condition where the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, responsible for maintaining body homeostasis through neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems regulations, isn’t functioning normally. When this happens, it results to insufficient release of testosterone to testosterone dependent systems in the body.
Boost testosterone naturally
A general decline in testosterone is as normal as aging itself but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to fight it. There are a lot of ways to naturally boost testosterone and while this may not entirely reverse its decline, it should help to at least provide a sustainable level which is more than sufficient for the body’s everyday needs.
Lose the extra weight
Gaining too much weight is often linked to low testosterone and this is due to how body fat contains an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. The extra estrogen makes the body produce less testosterone. This creates a hormone imbalance which causes a person to gain more body fat. To add insult to injury, excess fat also causes the body to metabolize testosterone faster.
If more fat equals less testosterone, then the reverse is also true. Proper weight loss can help increase testosterone naturally to the level they’re supposed to be in prior to excess weight gain as high levels of testosterone is closely linked to an increase in metabolic rate.3
Eat healthy fat
Sometimes all it takes is eating the right kind of food to boost your testosterone. A study was conducted to see the effects of dietary fat in men’s hormones4 and the results were conclusive: Diets with high amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fats are known to increase testosterone naturally. One of the best sources of healthy fat is the avocado and there are many recipes you can make5 with this underrated superfood.
When you want to naturally boost testosterone through exercise, you would want to focus on exercises that use a lot of muscle, done with significant intensity (the heavier, the better), and with minimal number of reps. A study was shown to compare the amount of testosterone released between barbell squats and leg presses. The results concluded that free weight exercises, such as the barbell squat, induce greater hormonal responses to resistance exercise than machine weight exercises, such as the leg press, using similar lower-body multi-joint movements and primary movers.
A few good exercises to start with are barbell squats, overhead presses, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts, and front squats. These are meant to be done with short bursts of energy, matching the low-rep, high-intensity requirement for your body to increase testosterone naturally.
Consume a lot of Zinc
Zinc supplementation increases testosterone.6 Likewise, a diet that lacks zinc decreases testosterone.7 The best way to improve zinc in the diet is by eating foods rich in zinc such as oysters, beef, pumpkin and squash seeds, and spinach. As a bonus, zinc can also aid in weight loss.8 If you plan on taking zinc supplements, it’s best to go with 40 mg a day as this is the adult upper limit.
Get plenty of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is best known to be “vitamin from the sun’ as most people get their share of vitamin D from the sun’s rays. But it may have more to offer when you want to naturally boost testosterone. In fact, a study concluded9 that adequate amounts of vitamin D in the body can have a positive effect on those who want to increase testosterone naturally.
Avoid high-sugar foods
Sugar is one of the big baddies in the fitness world. It causes unnecessary weight gain, and increases the risk for a lot of diseases specially heart disease and diabetes. As if that wasn’t enough, sugar can also cause testosterone levels to drop. Consuming high amounts of sugar causes your body to produce high levels of insulin too and an increase in insulin is being considered as another factor that contributes to low testosterone.10
If a person is often stressed, then you can expect their testosterone levels to be lower than average. As testosterone is a hormone so is cortisol a.k.a. the hormone the body secretes during stressful situations. High levels of stress lead to high levels of cortisol which in turn blocks the effect of testosterone. The reasons are still unclear but many speculate how it’s because of our body’s response to emergency situations, wherein testosterone, primarily used for mating and fighting, is not much use.
Meditation is one way to beat stress11 and increase testosterone naturally. This is because meditation requires you to remove yourself from the source of stress and instead focus on keeping a clear mind with various breathing exercises. This leads to lower levels of cortisol and, as a result, higher levels of testosterone.
What’s more, meditation improves the quality of sleep, reduces post-workout pain, and even promotes muscular recovery from intense exercise.
Meditation also allows you to rest not just your body but your mind as well, helping you get a positive outlook in life and this happy and optimistic approach, believe it or not, happens when you increase testosterone naturally.12
About The Author:
Food Scientist. Fitness and Health Aficionado. Investor. Writer. Robert James likes to tell people how to grow their money and how to naturally lose body fat. owns Fit And Write, a website catered to his passion to write about health and fitness. His main weapon against weakness is the kettlebell. Find him on Facebook