*This is a guest post from our friend Mathews McGarry from Ripped.me
Testosterone is also known as the “male hormone” – an androgen, which means that it stimulates the development of male characteristics. It is produced in the testes (men) and ovaries (women), as well as by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is important because it ensures that bones and muscles stay strong during and after puberty, signals the body to make new blood cells, promotes protein synthesis, and enhances libido in both sexes.
In a case of a testosterone deficiency, one can experience depression, insomnia, low libido, weight gain, and fatigue. After the age of 30, many men experience a slow decline in testosterone levels, putting them at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, impaired sexual function, low mineral density, obesity, diminished physical performance, and reduced muscle mass. However, testosterone can be increased naturally in many ways, through proper nutrition, resistance training, and some crucial lifestyle changes. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.
#1 – Exercise
If you realize that your testosterone levels are low, then the first thing you should do is start doing some resistance training. Deadlifts, heavy squats, and other weightlifting exercises have been shown to raise levels of testosterone in both sexes. A good pre-workout snack and a post-workout steak will definitely launch your testosterone up. Use compound lifts (deadlift, squat, bench press and shoulder press) and go for high workout volume. It is all right to push yourself to failure on the last set, but don’t do it on every set you perform, so don’t overtrain.
#2 – Sunlight
Most people need more Vitamin D that they are getting. Vitamin D is known as a natural testosterone booster, and a great way of getting some is by socializing with Mother Nature – outside, absorbing the sun rays. Also, you can get some through your multivitamin drinks (which, again, is not sufficient if you’re a training athlete). A daily intake of 800-1000 mg of Vitamin D is enough to increase overall strength markers and testosterone levels.
#3 – Testosterone Boosting Foods
You are what you eat, aren’t you? Luckily, problems with low testosterone levels can be solved by consuming various superfoods that are known to promote the secretion of testosterone. Spring salad and spinach, broccoli, avocado, olives and olive oil, grapes, garlic, eggs, tuna, and meat (particularly beef) are all known as testosterone-boosting foods. Any food rich in magnesium, zinc, cholesterol and good fats, and other compounds that help your testosterone-producing Leydig cells to do their job better.
#4 – Manage Stress
You can do it by mastering various breathing techniques for relaxation, short meditation, or simply getting out for a walk when feeling stressed. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels go up when we feel stressed because of the primal fight-or-flight response – our bodies are getting prepared to handle the stressful situation. When cortisol levels are high, there is a decrease in testosterone levels. Find your favorite stress management technique and practice it regularly.
What Not To Do
Never skip sleep. There are many different benefits of a good night’s sleep, but sometimes it just feels hard to get those couple of extra hours in bed. Besides causing a decrease in testosterone levels, sleep deprivation can have various consequences on our bodies, such as nausea, increased heart disease risk, diabetes, depression, hallucinations and impaired brain activity, cognitive dysfunction, and weak immune response. According to a study conducted by the National University of Singapore, men who slept longer than 8 hours in a 24-hour period had 60% more total testosterone than those who slept less than 4 hours.
Don’t use testosterone-boosting supplements. Avoid everything with the word “steroid” printed on it. It will keep you awake at night and wear you out after a workout, even though you might feel strong and great during your training. Save yourself some money and buy testosterone-boosting superfoods. If you want to use supplementation, then opt for something safe, such as cellucor c4, that doesn’t affect your hormone levels, only provides extra energy for your strength training.
Avoid eating sugar. According to research results presented at the Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., testosterone levels may be transiently lower after eating sugar. The results showed that regardless whether men had normal glucose tolerance, diabetes or prediabetes, blood levels of testosterone were decreased by as much as 25%.
The decision on how you will raise your testosterone level is a personal one. In case you are not a competing athlete, and your number one goal is to simply feel your best, we suggest you choose a natural way of boosting testosterone – make healthy lifestyle changes, eat right, exercise regularly, and don’t forget to manage your stress.
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull.