So, you want to boost your testosterone levels. Let’s first take a look at this very important hormone. Testosterone is a key hormone in the development of male characteristics that is produced naturally in both men and women.
Natural levels of testosterone vary greatly from person to person. Additionally, testosterone levels tend to decline by about one percent per year after the age of 30. The only way to know your testosterone levels is to get them checked through a simple blood test.
There are many reasons that people may want to boost their testosterone levels. Testosterone plays a key role in:
- Building muscle and reducing body fat
- Heart health
- Healthy bones
- Erectile function
- Mood and well-being
- Cognitive ability (verbal memory and spatial abilities)
- Facial and body hair
When people have low levels of testosterone they may experience symptoms such as low sex drive, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, loss of body hair, or reduced erectile function. Men who have low testosterone also often have elevated levels of estrogen which can put them at increased risk for developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. So how do you fix it?
The gold standard treatment for low testosterone is hormone replacement therapy which should be done under the guidance of a physician. For those looking for an alternative route, there are many natural ways to boost testosterone and mitigate estrogen.
Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone
- Hit the Gym- Exercise is one of the most beneficial life changes you can do for your overall health. But what kinds of exercises boost testosterone? Heavy weightlifting and compound lifts like squats and deadlifts have been shown  to boost testosterone levels immediately after performing the exercise.
Aerobic exercise has also been shown to elevate testosterone levels. In one study , a year of aerobic exercise performed six times a week at 60-85% of maximal heart rate boosted participants testosterone by 14.5 percent. Significantly higher testosterone levels have also been found  with aerobic exercise performed just three times a week.
A combination of strength and endurance training  is best for increasing muscle and boosting testosterone levels. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day you exercise, just do what works for you.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight- Bodyweight is one of the most important factors when trying to optimize testosterone levels. Fat cells in the body metabolize testosterone to estrogen which lowers testosterone levels. Obesity also reduces levels of a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which carries testosterone in the blood. In overweight men, losing weight leads  to a direct boost in the testosterone levels. Ideally, men should aim to maintain a body fat percentage of 8-19% to optimize the body’s production of testosterone.
- Give Blood- Donating blood is a pretty good habit to get onto if your health allows it. Other than helping people in need, donating blood can have some major health benefits for men, including boosting testosterone. Men are prone to a build-up of iron in their systems which can suppress the function of sex organs and lead to lower levels of testosterone. Donating blood reduces excess iron build-up which boosts testosterone.
- Get Enough Sleep- Sleep is an essential time for your body to perform various restorative functions. Most testosterone is made during REM sleep. Research  has shown that sleep deprivation (five hours a night) is associated with a 15% reduction in testosterone levels. Getting 7-10 hours of sleep a night (depending on your lifestyle) is ideal for most people and testosterone levels seem to rise  about 15% with each additional hour of sleep.
- Cut the Booze- Alcoholic beverages contain alcohol-like compounds called phytoestrogens  and prolactin which can exert estrogen-like effects in humans. Furthermore, ethanol, the main component in alcohol, is toxic to male reproductive organs in large doses which can lower testosterone function and even damage reproductive organs. If you don’t want to cut booze out entirely, try limiting your intake to just two drinks or less per day.
- Check Your Diet- We all know that we should choose healthier food options as often as possible, but did you know that the way you eat impacts  your testosterone levels? Constant dieting or overeating can disrupt testosterone levels. A diet that is rich in whole foods, healthy fats , and high-quality proteins is ideal for optimizing testosterone production. You can also try adding testosterone-boosting foods like pomegranate  to your diet.
- Manage Your Stress Levels- Stress can cause spikes in cortisol levels which can negatively impact testosterone and even cause levels to plummet . Try stress management techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation to better manage your stress levels before they get out of control.
- Get Laid- While masturbation doesn’t seem to have any major impact on testosterone levels, having sex can be beneficial. Researchers  have found that immediately after sex levels of testosterone rise significantly.
- Try Supplements- Enter any health store and you’ll find an array of products that claim to boost testosterone. If you want to go the supplement route, one of the cheapest and healthiest supplements that also boosts testosterone > is vitamin D. If you aren’t getting much sun, try taking 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 each day to reap the benefits. Zinc has also been shown  to increase the quality of testosterone levels at 20-30mg a day, especially in people deficient in zinc.
Herbal supplements like Fenugreek  may boost testosterone when taken at a dose of 500mg a day. Ashwagandha, an herb used in ayurvedic medicine, has been shown  to increase testosterone levels by over 18%. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is another supplement that may boost testosterone levels by up to 20% when taken at a dose of 50-100mg a day. However, research is limited so use it with caution. Overall, most supplements sold as “testosterone-boosting” aren’t overly effective and results may vary depending on the individual.
Natural Ways to Mitigate Estrogen
- Ditch the Plastics- Many plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which is a synthetic estrogen. To avoid the harmful effects of BPA on your hormone levels, don’t microwave food in plastic containers, avoid plastic containers with the numbers 3,6, or 7 engraved in the triangle on the product, don’t drink from styrofoam, and buy BPA-free water containers. When drinking from plastics, choose those with the numbers 2,4,5, or 7-PLA to avoid harmful chemicals.
- Avoid Phthalates- Phthalates are chemicals commonly used in manufacturing and added to plastics to increase their flexibility. They are often found in shampoos, colognes, and moisturizers. Regular exposure can disrupt hormones and lower sperm count and quality. Avoid products with the number 3 within the triangle and the letters “V” or “PVC” below the triangle. Use this guide  for more about identifying phthalates.
- Organophosphates- Organophosphates are widely used as insecticides and cause hormonal disruption  in humans. Avoid exposure by consuming organic fruits and vegetables when possible, thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables, and discarding the outer layer of leafy greens.
- Easy on the Meat and Dairy- Red meat and dairy have become a source of hormones such as prolactin and estrogen due to farming practices that inject animals with hormones to increase production. Avoid the negative effects of these hormones by minimizing your consumption of mass-produced products and choosing dairy products sourced from farms that do not use hormones.
- Cruciferous Vegetables- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain phytochemicals that can block estrogen production. Load up on these healthy snacks to keep your hormones in check.
Low testosterone can cause many health issues and interfere with your quality of life. By adopting routines and habits that boost your natural production of testosterone and reduce estrogen levels, you can begin reaping the benefits that optimal testosterone levels can bring.
- Variations in urine excretion of steroid hormones after an acute session and after a 4-week programme of strength training. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17051372/
- Effect of Exercise on Serum Sex Hormones in Men: A 12-Month Randomized Clinical Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3040039/
- Increased physical activity has a greater effect than reduced energy intake on lifestyle modification-induced increases in testosterone. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706091/
- Effects of morning versus evening combined strength and endurance training on physical performance, muscle hypertrophy, and serum hormone concentrations. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27863207/
- Overweight men can boost low testosterone levels by losing weight. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120625124914.htm
- Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21632481/
- Sleep, sex steroid hormones, sexual activities, and aging in Asian men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19684340/
- Alcoholic Beverages as a Source of Estrogens. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-3/220.pdf
- The effect of nutritional factors on sex hormone levels in male twins. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3360302/
- Influence of diet on plasma steroids and sex hormone-binding globulin levels in adult men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2526906/
- Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women. https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0028/ea0028p313
- Stress, adaptation, and disease. Allostasis and allostatic load. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9629234/
- Male and female salivary testosterone concentrations before and after sexual activity. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0031938492904539
- Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20050857/
- Effects of folic acid and zinc sulfate on male factor subfertility: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11872201/
- Can fenugreek help boost testosterone? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fenugreek-for-testosterone#effect-on-testosterone
- Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609282/
- Phthalates: The Everywhere Chemical. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/assets/docs/j_q/phthalates_the_everywhere_chemical_handout_508.pdf
- Organophosphate Esters Bind to and Inhibit Estrogen-Related Receptor γ in Cells. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00558
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