If you have ever lifted a dumbbell, I am sure you know the power of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that makes you man and gives you your male features and traits. It exists in women too but it of particular importance for males.
As far as a male lifter is concerned, optimizing natural testosterone levels is of great importance. If your testosterone is too low, you might find it really hard to burn fat and build muscle. Not just this, a lot of other health issues are likely to crop up. Some of such issues night include diabetes, heart disease, muscle weakness, mood swings, depression, chronic fatigue… the list goes on.
Testosterone levels can vary throughout life. Typically, natural testosterone levels peak when a man is aged between 18-25 years. Things begin changing once he hits 30. It is known that testosterone levels begin plunging at about 1% a year after 30. Though it doesn’t sound a lot, it quickly adds up to a loss of 10-20% by the time, a man hits his 40 0r 50. This is when it begins having an effect on one’s health and physique.
Apart from this natural decline, certain lifestyle factors can also play a noticeable role. Certain foods, supplements and lifestyle changes can trigger an increase in your testosterone levels. In contrast, poor food choices, alcohol and substance abuse, stress and sleep deprivation can negatively affect testosterone levels in your body.
5 Sure Fire Ways to Boost Testosterone
1. OPTIMIZE SLEEP
Sleep is vitally important for your overall health. It becomes even more important if you are trying to push your body’s boundaries like during an intense gym workout or dietary regime. Poor, interrupted sleep or lack of sleep or misalignment of your circadian rhythm can all lower testosterone production in your body. Studies indicate a direct link between the hours of sleep and your morning testosterone levels.
First and foremost, you must try to get good quality sleep by trying to remove all kinds of disruptions. Here are some simple and effective ways to do so:
- Around half an hour before bed, you must try to wind down. Draw the curtains, put off external lights, switch off your TV, tablets and phone. Try something relaxing like read a book, write a journal etc.
- Find out how much sleep you actually need. Some people function well with 6 hours, while others feel the need to sleep for at least 8 hours. There’s no hard and fast rule and it entirely depends upon you. However, most people tend to do well with 7-9 hours per night.
- In order to aid sleep you can certain supplements too. 5-HTP and Melatonin are likely to be great sleep inducers.
- Also, you must avoid training too late in the day. Try to get done with your workout at least 1-2 hours before hitting the sack. This is because when you exercise your body is energized with active hormones like adrenaline being raised. This can make it harder for you to sleep.
2. INCREASE DIETARY INTAKE OF HEALTHY FAT
There was a time when all fat was labeled as bad. However, things have changed and people now understand that natural, healthy and dietary fats are important for hormonal production in your body, particularly so when it comes to testosterone.
It’s established fact now that mono unsaturated fats help increase testosterone production in men. One study revealed that natural testosterone production dips when dietary fat intake is reduced to less than 40% of total energy intake.
Some of the healthy fat sources that your should include in your diet are as follows:
- olives and olive oil
- coconut oil
- nuts and beans
- grass fed meats
- egg yolks
- oily fish like salmons, sardines etc.
3. HEAD TO THE BEACH! – VITAMIN D & TESTOSTERONE:
Vitamin D is also essential for testosterone production. It not only stimulates testosterone production but also provides a whole list of other health benefits. Unfortunately, a vast percentage of people living in countries like US are deficient in this Vitamin.
Vitamin D is also known to play an important role in sperm count and quality. Not just this, its also vital for muscle function and prevention of certain diseases.
A study was conducted way back in 2011 to find out how men responded to Vitamin D supplementation as far as their testosterone was concerned. All these men had low testosterone levels. After a year, their testosterone levels were found to have doubled, with no change in the placebo group.
The best way to increase Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. However, this is often not possible for more people. Another alternative is supplementation with 5000iu of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis.
4. REDUCE STRESS & OPTIMIZE RECOVERY
Stress is a common problem these days. Let’s admit it guys, most of us live in highly stressful conditions. Stress can relate to work or home but what is certain is that it’s likely to take a toll on your testosterone levels. Stress and testosterone have an inverse relationship.
Chronic stress tends to raise hormone Cortisol in your body, which triggers flight or fight syndrome. In such cases, your body thinks that you do not need testosterone which is the main sex hormone. Thus, it slows down testosterone production.
A drop in testosterone levels can lead to a lot of problems resulting in poor libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle, weight gain etc.
There are a couple of ways to beat stress and some of them are outlined below:
- yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress
- meditation is another great way to combating stress
- watching a light comedy is also a great way to ward off stress
- basically indulging in anything that you enjoy can help bust stress
Stress and Overtraining
A lot of athletes and bodybuilders train for hours at stretch and if recovery strategies are not in place such training can result in “over training” leading to decreased performance, loss of strength, illness and of course, a drop in testosterone levels.
According to a study, a natural bodybuilder during a contest prep found a 45% drop in his testosterone levels. And you guesses it right, it was all due to over training.
Thus you must take adequate rest in order to recover and also cut short your workout time. Most experts recommend a workout of 30-45 minutes per session. Anything above an hour triggers an increase in Cortisol levels resulting in a drop in testosterone.
As far as contest prep is concerned, take longer to diet, intake a good amount of dietary fat and use novel strategies such and calorie cycling to prevent a drop in your T-levels.
5. FINALLY, PERFORM HIGH INTENSE WEIGHT TRAINING AND INTERVAL TRAINING
Weight training with compound movements is one of the best ways to help your body start producing more testosterone. As compared to isolation exercise such as bicep curls etc., compound movements like squats, deadlifts etc. are known to have a better impact on your testosterone production. And it happens to be the same for growth hormone.
Along with weight training, HIIT or High Intense Interval Training is also known to ensure an increase in both testosterone and growth hormone or HGH.
So, if you want to boost your testosterone levels, try to keep the above things in mind and I am pretty sure that you would see your T-levels rise.