7 Strategies to Increase Testosterone Naturally
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of T decline, there are some strategies that will naturally lift your levels before you embark on a bioidentical hormone replacement plan.
Testosterone (T) decline can have pretty serious effects on the lives of men (and women).It’s all too frequent that we hear the following complaints by our male patients:
- I don’t have the motivation to play sports like I used to
- I’m tired and irritable
- I’m gaining a spare tire. What happened to my abs?!
- My weight routine sucks! I’m losing muscle, but feel more sore than ever after a workout
- My joints hurt
- My sex drive has tanked
- I’m having trouble sleeping and wake in a panic in the middle of the night
Surprisingly, this isn’t only coming from men in their middle ages. More commonly we hear this from men in their thirties!
Unfortunately T typically declines after the age of 30, although there are some cases where this actually happens in the 20s! Declining testosterone may increase a man’s risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes and results in lower muscle mass, bone density, motivation, decreased physical performance, and a plummeting sex drive.
If you believe that you may be suffering from low testosterone, get your levels checked. It is very important to have this done under the guidance of a physician who understands which tests must be ordered to determine the interaction of all hormones and not only testosterone itself.
Before embarking on a bioidentical hormone replacement plan, follow these 7 strategies to increase testosterone to lift your levels naturally and regain your life:
- Eat More Fat
- Get More Sleep
- Supercharge Your Workouts
- Avoid Sugar
- Manage Stress
- Watch that Soap!
1. Eat More Fat
All hormones in the body are derived from cholesterol. Limiting fats, especially the so-called “good fats” can affect the production of downstream hormones including testosterone. Several studies have illustrated the testosterone reducing effect of switching to a lower fat diet (1,2). For men interested in maximizing lean body mass while dieting, anabolic hormone concentrations are influenced by dietary fat intake (2,3,4). Monounsaturates and quality saturated fats have been shown to increase T the most (5)
Examples of Monounsaturated Fats: Olive oil, avocados, peanut/almond/cashew butter, tahini, cold-water fish.
Examples of Quality Saturated Fats: Grass-fed beef, whole eggs, cheese, dark chocolate
2. Get More Sleep
A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported the effect of one week of sleep restriction in healthy, young men (6). Previous studies have shown that gradual decrease in sleep time is partially responsible for low T in older men. It appears that the deep, undisturbed sleep cycle of REM is required to properly restore normal testosterone production by the body, which primarily happens at night. Sleep apnea – periods in which breathing is interrupted, may be a cause behind your lack of restful sleep also and if you are a loud snorer then this should be investigated.
3. Supercharge Your Workouts
All forms of exercise increase oxidate stress in your body – an imbalance between production of free radicals and the inability of the body to counteract them. Short-term oxidative stress from high-intensity burst training is beneficial in anti-aging effects such as increases in testosterone and growth hormone. Let’s contrast this to longer term oxidative stress in hard, long running periods for example. This time factor has a significant negative effect on endogenous production of testosterone and growth hormone. It also has less post fat-burning effects than shorter, higher intensity burst training and higher catabolic effect (wasting) on muscle rather than anabolic (building)
- Each interval should last between 30-60 seconds
- The intensity of the interval should be high enought to cause heavy breathing and be too difficult to have a conversation with someone.
- Rest 30 seconds
- Repeat 3-4 times.
You can choose any exercise such as skipping rope, climbing stairs, sprinting, burpees, etc. Please consult your doctor before beginning any program like this to determine if you heart is healthy enough.
If the above seems like too much of a fitness leap for you, just get in the gym and lift some weights! Resistance exercise, whether it be dumbbells, barbells, cables, bands or your own body-weight, is important and necessary to stimulate the production of testosterone.
4. Avoid Sugar
The average American consumes 3 lbs of sugar per week. Say what?! Yes that’s right – three pounds. Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to note that there are two main categories of sugars – simple and complex and one less well-known type called oligosaccharides. Let’s look at some examples.
- Monosaccharides – This is what most people visualize when we say, “sugar”. This type is found in fruit, table sugar, candy, and the majority of processed foods. Monosaccharides can be furtherbroken down into glucose, fructose and galactose.
- Oligosaccharides – Mostly known as dietary fiber. They are in-between simple and complex sugars, leaning towards complex sugars.
- Polysaccharides – Starchy, complex sugars found in foods such as potatoes. These are long chains of monosaccharides.
5. Manage Stress
Stress triggers an in increase in cortisol, secreted from the adrenal glands. Cortisol is often to referred to as the ‘stress hormone” for this very reason. Increased cortisol can reduce testosterone levels and then turn this into a vicious downward cycle – lower T can cause stress which can cause testosterone levels even lower.
So can how can one manage this testosterone slaughtering stress hormone? That’s not an easy answer as it really depends on the individual. In general it is recommended to follow No.4 above, increase exercise levels and make sure your adrenal glands are being nourished with trace minerals, especially before bedtime. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, Siberian & panax ginseng are excellent at helping your body adapt to biological and physiological stress by making it easier for you to balance the hormonal system.
6. Watch that Soap!
At a recent IV therapy seminar in Chicago, a presenter got slightly off topic on bio-identical hormones and mentioned a case of a patient who had rock bottom testosterone levels. After treating with testosterone cream, his levels were still low and following a deeper probe into this patient’s lifestyle, it was found that he washed his hands up to 12 times per day with an antibacterial soap (he was a mechanic).
Triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soap is a testosterone killer. By switching to an alternative cleanser, this particular patient’s testosterone levels shot up to the mid normal range and he no longer required any exogenous supplementation. Although the literature is mixed with regards to this chemical affecting hormone axes, including the thyroid hormone cascade, it is best to simply avoid triclosan in general.
Testosterone replacement therapy is not always the answer for low T. Ensuring your body has then necessary building blocks and elements to retain the testosterone you have, is essential.
- Vitamin D – Researchers in Germany investigated the effects of Vitamin D3 on weight loss in overweight males. The tested dosage of 3,333 iu per day failed to have an effect, however the unexpected outcome of an increase in serum testosterone was observed (7,8) . This vitamin really is more than just the sunshine vitamin as it regulates over 1,000 bodily processes.
- Zinc – By supplementing with this mineral in zinc deficient males, testosterone levels increased significantly (9). When adding Magnesium and B6 to aid in the absorption and conversion of free cholesterol to testosterone, effects were even more pronounced. Long realized in the bodybuilding word, ZMA, which is combination of the three aforementioned, has been used for decades.
- Pomegranate – This super-fruit is known to decrease systolic blood pressure from its upregulation of nitric oxide levels (10). Early research demonstrated that pomegranate juice may increase serum testosterone up to 24%, however further research has failed to reproduce these results. The jury is still out on this one.
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) – not all supplements need to boost testosterone directly. A balance of other hormones is necessary for optimal hormone function. DIM is one such that helps reduce estrogens and in particular helps metabolizes potent forms of estrogen into less potent forms. DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli and brussel sprouts.
- Dorgan JF, Judd JT, Longcope C, Brown C, Schatzkin A, Clevidence BA, Campbell WS, Nair PP, Franz C, Kahle L, Taylor PR: Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996, 64: 850-855.
- Hämäläinen EK, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, Pietinen P: Decrease of serum total and free testosterone during a low-fat high-fibre diet. J Steroid Biochem. 1983, 18: 369-370. 10.1016/0022-4731(83)90117-6.
- Lambert CP, Frank LL, Evans WJ: Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Med. 2004, 34: 317-327. 10.2165/00007256-200434050-00004.
- Slater G, Phillips SM: Nutrition guidelines for strength sports: sprinting, weightlifting, throwing events, and bodybuilding. J Sports Sci. 2011, 29: S67-S77. 10.1080/02640414.2011.574722.
- Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Bush JA, Incledon T, Boetes M: Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1997, 82: 49-54. 10.1063/1.365847.
- Leproult,R., Cauter, E. (2011). Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-2174.
- Foresta C, Strapazzon G, De Toni L, et al. Bone mineral density and testicular failure: evidence for a role of vitamin D 25-hydroxylase in human testis.Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011 Apr;96(4):E646-52.
- Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5.
- Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults.
Prasad AS, Mantzoros CS, Beck FW, Hess JW, Brewer GJ.
Nutrition. 1996 May;12(5):344-8.
- Al Dujaili, E., Smail, N. Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women. Endocrine Abstracts (2012) 28 P313.