As a man ages, testosterone levels will naturally begin to diminish, leading to some negative effects on health and lifestyle. Around the age of 30, there can be a noticeable decrease in muscle mass and a diminished sex drive. There are also more hidden concerns, including a decrease in bone density and an increased risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. Even mood and a man’s sense of wellbeing can be adversely affected. Depression and difficulties with memory are a common symptom in men diagnosed with low testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a large role in male sexuality, reproduction, muscle mass and hair growth as well as more important roles for health and vitality.
Before running out to buy replacement hormones, though, there are some ways to naturally boost testosterone levels.
Being overweight means you are already likely to have low testosterone. Just carrying 30 extra pounds can add 10 years to your age in terms of testosterone loss. Limiting carbohydrates, eating more lean protein and vegetables, and getting plenty of exercise will all help get rid of the weight.
Eliminating processed and added sugars from the diet will not only help you to lose weight, it also keeps your body from losing more testosterone. Sugars in the diet lead to high insulin levels that are a factor in low testosterone levels in men.
Table sugar is not the only culprit. Stay away from sweet teas and sodas as well as fruit juice. Whole fruit is high in fiber and this keeps the body from processing the sugar too quickly. Still, it’s best to keep fruit to moderate levels and limit your diet to one or two servings a day.
Processed breads, pastries, and pastas break down quickly into sugars by the digestive system. Limiting these foods or eliminating them altogether can be immensely helpful in weight loss and in keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Eat Healthy Fats
While you’re working to lose that weight, don’t make the mistake of cutting out the good fats from your diet. Dietary fat will increase testosterone levels. Aim for getting at least 50 percent of your daily calories from fats in order to increase your T levels. But, make sure it is the right fat. A combination of the following fats is recommended for healthy testosterone levels.
- Olives and olive oil;
- Raw almonds and walnuts;
- Avocados and avocado oil;
- Coconut oil;
- Grass-fed meats and butter;
- Organic egg yolks;
- Eat Zinc.
Increasing the mineral zinc in your diet will also improve testosterone levels. Many people do not get enough zinc in their diets due to current farming practices and it is very difficult for vegetarians. The best sources of zinc are meats, fish, raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt, raw milk kefir and beans. Overcooking your meats and dairy will reduce the zinc in your food. That old saying that raw oysters are for lovers? There’s science behind it. Oysters are an excellent source of zinc – especially when eaten raw.
If you opt to take a zinc supplement, keep the dosage to less than 40 mg a day. Going higher is not good for health and can inhibit absorption of other minerals that the body needs. Adult males really only need 11 mg each day, so try and get it from your diet first.
Best bets for dietary zinc are:
- Red meat;
- Crab and lobster;
- Exercise and strength building.
You do not need to spend all day in the gym to get testosterone levels higher. Short, intense exercise boosts T levels better than longer forms of exercise or aerobics. High intensity interval training is what to aim for. This can be done with sprints, stationary bike sessions, or even swimming. For 30 seconds, go as hard and as fast as you can. Then, slow to a recovery pace for 90 seconds. Repeat until you’ve reached 20 minutes – about 8 intervals.
Strength training will also boost testosterone. This also needs to be done at a high intensity to be more effective. This doesn’t mean fast – going slower is actually better at getting the muscles to burn. High intensity means increasing the weight and lowering the repetitions. Focus on large muscle groups. Do strength training at least twice a week, but no more than three times a week. Muscles require some recovery time in order to mend and strengthen muscle fibers.
Get Enough Sleep
The amount of sleep a man gets determines how high the morning levels of testosterone will be and too little sleep adds stress and increases cortisol levels – another way to reduce T levels.
Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is good for most people to function well and for testosterone levels to improve. If you don’t fall asleep easily or if you have trouble staying asleep, check with your doctor or visit a sleep center. There are ways to improve the amount and quality of the sleep you get. Plus, the added exercise and improved diet you’ve already been working on will also help with getting more quality sleep.
Some other tips for getting to sleep more easily:
1) Increase magnesium in the diet. It has been proven that a magnesium deficiency makes it more difficult to maintain healthy sleep patterns. Dietary magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, and avocados.
2) Turn off all electronic screens one to two hours before you go to bed. Yes, this means your smart phone as well. The light from monitors and screens tricks the mind and body into thinking it isn’t dark outside and the wake/sleep cycle gets disrupted. Turn off the television, turn the lights down low and do some light reading, listen to soothing music, or take a bath with Epsom salts (also high in magnesium). You’ll be much more ready to sleep following this bedtime ritual.
3) Make sure the bedroom is dark. If streetlights can be seen through the windows, try getting some blackout curtains to block the light.
Remember cortisol that was mentioned earlier in not getting enough sleep? Cortisol is a hormone that increases in the body when stress increases. Cortisol keeps the body from making testosterone and from using it when needed. Getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right all help to reduce stress. Meditation and deep breathing can also help. These are good practices to develop if you have a stressful occupation.
Get Vitamin D
There’s a lot of talk about vitamin D these days, and for good reason. It’s a powerhouse vitamin that is proving to be more and more important to our physical and mental wellbeing. For those who are low in testosterone, note that vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is essential for sperm count and reproduction and it increases levels of testosterone.
The body creates vitamin D through the skin’s exposure to the sun. It’s recommended that a large area of the body’s skin be exposed to the noon or near-noon Sun – without sunscreen – for 10 minutes if you are light-skinned. 20-30 minutes if you have a darker complexion. During the winter months it is good to take a vitamin D3 supplement and to also eat oily fish like salmon, herring and trout or eat flax seeds and flax seed oil, nuts, and avocados.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to boost the body’s ability to produce and use testosterone through lifestyle choices, diet and exercise. If you still have concerns after implementing these, see your doctor to get your T levels checked. There are medical supplements and options for boosting testosterone and improving your health.