12 Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels
Most people associate testosterone with facial hair, gigantic muscles & illegal steroids. Naturally produced testosterone plays a very important role in male/female metabolic function. Lowered testosterone is a chronic epidemic that is threatening lives all around the world. This article will go over 12 ways to boost testosterone levels naturally through healthy lifestyle measures.
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid hormone that plays a critical role in metabolism, sex drive, muscle building, mood regulation, memory & cognitive function. Normal testosterone levels play a huge role in maintaining optimal weight as well as reducing risk of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, & certain cancers (1, 2, 3).
Women produce testosterone but in significantly lower amounts than men. In the man, testosterone is produced in the testes and adrenal glands. Meanwhile, women produce it in the adrenals & ovaries. Testosterone is known to peak in the early twenties and then drop about 10% with each successive decade.
Post-menopausal women lose the function of their ovaries and are at risk for low testosterone later in life. With inadequate testosterone, women are at much greater risk for developing osteoporosis/osteopenia and other chronic diseases.
The Problem With Low Testosterone:
Men are said to lose 1.5% of their testosterone production each year beyond 30. Men who lose a greater proportion of their testosterone are said to have andropause (4).
The Alliance for Aging Research has indicated that one third of American men over the age of 39 have reported two or more symptoms of low testosterone (5). Symptoms of male andropause include lowered libido, decreased muscle mass, increased abdominal fat accumulation, depression and lack of drive.
The changes involved in andropause are gradual over time. They often go unnoticed for years. In a large study of 858 males over 40, men with low testosterone had an 88% increase risk of death compared with those who had normal levels (6).
The Problem with Aromatase:
Aromatase is an enzyme that is found in estrogen producing cells located in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, brain and fat tissue. Higher levels of aromatase in the body convert more testosterone and progesterone into estrogen. This process of converting androgenic hormones into estrogens is called aromatization.
Elevated aromatase activity and estrogen dominance are some of the most common factors associated with breast, uterine and ovarian cancers in women (7). Prostate, colon and breast cancer in men are associated with estrogen dominance.
Stress Hormones and Testosterone:
Chronic stress is one of the biggest factors that must be addressed in order to boost testosterone. The body produces stress hormones and in particular high cortisol when faced with chronic chemical, physical, & emotional stressors. Cortisol is the anti-thesis to testosterone.
The testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which protects your testosterone molecules from the effects cortisol. During times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated cortisol, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle. This results in testosterone molecules being destroyed inside the gonads before they even enter the bloodstream (8, 9).
Additionally, high stress hormone production reduces the amount of testosterone production through a process called pregnenolone steal. Elevated stress will also increase aromatase activity and convert testosterone into estrogen creating a state of estrogen dominance (10).
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, journaling, counseling, etc. can dramatically help reduce stress. Additionally, focusing on good sleep habits is critical for healthy testosterone levels.
The key to stabilizing testosterone levels begins with an anti-inflammatory diet. This should be loaded with phytonutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Grains and sugars stimulate higher levels of insulin and cortisol.
Healthy fat sources are extremely critical for good hormone function. Fats and cholesterol play a critical role in forming the structure and rigidity of our cell membranes. These fats impact cell messaging by acting as enzyme and hormone regulators (11).
The nutrition plan should consist of ample amounts of good fats such as avocado, coconut, & olive oil. Saturated fats, cholesterol, conjugated linoleic acids and essential omega 3 fatty acids from healthy grass-fed animal products are especially important.
Get Rid of Environmental Toxins:
Xenoestrogens, artificial hormone mimicking substances, are linked to lower testosterone levels. These xenoestrogens are found in tap water, plastics, home cleaning agents, deodorants, soaps, make-up & body lotions (12).
Many medications also contain heavy amounts of synthetic xenoestrogens as well. Avoiding these sources along with a diet rich in raw and lightly cooked fruits and vegetables provide fiber and phytonutrients that help the body eliminate these toxic substances.
High intensity exercise is crucial to boost testosterone (13). Exercises should be explosive in nature and maximize the resistant overload on the muscles. Large muscle group compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts & burpees are some of the best testosterone boosting exercises. The training session should be short (5-30 mins) and have very little rest periods between sets.
I highly recommend using a great essential amino acid mix post-exercise in order to boost testosterone. These essential amino acids and especially the concentrated branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Getting these amino acids in the post-workout window dramatically boosts testosterone production (14). I like using our Amino Strong and will often recommend a scoop pre-workout and post-workout for the best muscle building, testosterone boosting benefits.
12 Steps to Boost Testosterone:
Here are 12 key steps to follow in order to boost and optimize your testosterone levels. If you apply these principles and do not see a significant change in your mood, energy, weight and libido than I would highly recommend working with a natural health care practitioner.
A good practitioner can run functional labs to assess for a chronic infection or environmental toxin exposure that may be holding you back from achieving your health goals.
1) Good Sleep: It is absolutely critical to sleep well in order to produce healthy sex hormones. Inadequate sleep will result in elevated stress hormone production and lowered testosterone. Follow these strategies to improve your sleep quality.
2) Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Focus on good fats, anti-oxidants and clean proteins. Good fats such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, olives and olive oil and fish oil provide the key fatty acids needed for testosterone production. Here is a helpful group of shopping lists to help you follow the right diet.
3) Intermittent Fasting: Going 16 hours between dinner and breakfast is one of the best ways to boost testosterone. Consume your meals in an 8 hour window such as 11am – 7pm. Read this article for more info on fasting.
4) High Intensity Exercise: High intensity training, especially resistance training boosts testosterone. Do large muscle group, compound exercises such as squats, lunges, bench press, T-bar rows, pull-ups, overhead press, etc. Be sure to lift heavy!!
The more muscle tissue that is intensely stimulated, the more testosterone production will go up. Be sure to get good rest between workouts. I like to do an upper body day, lower body day and then a day off. Then back to upper body and lower body and then another day off…and so on and so on.
5) Low Intensity Movement: A sedentary lifestyle depletes testosterone but so does over-training. Be sure that your workouts are intense but short (30 minutes max). Throughout the day, get a lot of low-intensity movement such as walking, light cycling, playing, etc.
5) Use Amino Acids: Getting in high quality essential amino acids will help improve muscular strength and endurance, build lean body tissue and burn fat. This combination will help support optimal testosterone levels. I recommend taking a dose of amino strong both pre and post workout for optimal results.
6) Take Cold Showers: Cold showers have been known to stimulate and boost testosterone production and improve metabolism, detoxification and brain function. Start your shower with warm/hot water and turn it to cold for the last 30-60 seconds while pumping your muscles and creating a big shiver as your muscles contract. That will help to boost internal heat and boost testosterone production. This article will help you.
7) Optimize Your Vitamin D: Low vitamin D3 is associated with low testosterone production (15). Be sure to increase your vitamin D through good amounts of regular sun exposure and/or taking a high quality vitamin D3/K2 supplement.
8) Zinc and Magnesium: Be sure to optimize your zinc and magnesium levels. Both of these nutrients are key for testosterone production. Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of both zinc and magnesium. Additionally, make green drinks or use super green powders and consume healthy organic meat products.
9) Reduce Estrogen Load: Avoid foods with phytoestrogens such as soy, flax and many beans. Additionally, consume lots of cruciferous veggies and in particular broccoli sprouts which have tons of I3C and DIM which help to detoxify bad estrogen metabolites that cause problems with estrogen/testosterone balance.
I also recommend steamed crucifers (brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) with grass-fed butter/ghee melted over the top and added herbs. You can also use an estrogen detoxifying supplement such as EstroProtect here
10) Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing can help calm an overactive sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and relax the body. This lowers stress hormone and enhances the production of sex hormones like testosterone that are needed for growth and repair. Check this article out for more info on deep breathing.
11) Eat Spinach and Garlic: Spinach contains its own type of plant based steroids called phytoecdysteroids. These unique compounds protect the spinach plant from plant-parasitic nematodes. They also help to balance blood sugar, stabilize stress hormone and boost testosterone (16, 17).
Garlic has been shown to improve testosterone output in rats on a high protein diet (18). Since a testosterone boosting nutrition plan should naturally be higher in quality proteins it makes sense to use lots of garlic as well.
12) Use Aswaghanda and Collagen Protein: This adaptogenic herb has been shown to reduce stress hormone, increase DHEA and boost testosterone levels. You can take the Cortisol Defense to help you get restorative sleep at night which will support your testosterone. In addition, I personally enjoy using the Organic Bone Broth Collagen in addition to the Amino Strong for a post weight training shake. This protein powder has all the benefits of collagen protein and it has 500 mg of high potency ashwagandha in each serving!