In order to help increase your testosterone, it may help to first know where to look. Some of these may surprise you.
- Endocrine Disruptors
Poor performance, or decreased ability in one or more of any of these areas may be an indicator of low testosterone. I could go into huge detail for all of them, but for the length of this article, I’ll keep my discussion mostly around nutrition and exercise, while touching base on the others.
I wanted to start with sleep, because it’s probably the easiest to fix, yet most neglected attribute on this list. A study showed that men who had less than 5 hours of sleep for just one week had lowered their testosterone by 10-15%. Just by not sleeping enough! Testosterone production occurs while you are asleep, so it is imperative that you give your body enough time to produce it properly.
Body Fat - just by being leaner, your body produces more testosterone. You don’t need immaculate levels here, around 8-14% is ideal. If you go too low or too high above these ranges your test can drop too much.
Micronutrients - certain micro’s can help facilitate higher testosterone production. Ideally, you want to make sure you get your blood tested to see what your true deficiencies are. The most common for guys with low test are zinc, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin D, B vitamins, iodine, selenium, vitamin K2, vitamin A and E, Manganese, and Boron.
Calories - if you are in a deficit of calories for too long your body goes into survival mode and will hold onto fat (which as stated earlier, too much will lower production). You want enough calories to be at or just above maintenance. If you are at a higher bodyfat, considering going on a 15% restrictive diet from maintenance till you get within proper ranges of body fat levels.
Make sure you are taking in high quality protein sources (i.e. meat vs soy beans) that have complete amino acid profiles. For strength training individuals I recommend .82g-1g/lb of bodyweight. Getting enough fats and carbs for hormonal balance is also important.
Shoot for 30-40% of your diet coming from fats. After you’ve calculated your protein and fats, then the remainder of your calories can come from carbohydrates.
Example: 180lb individual eating 2500 cals a day
Protein - 147-180g (180 x .82 or a gram per pound then multiply by 4 calories per gram) at 588-720 calories
Fat - 111g at 1000 calories (40% of 2500 cals is 1000 cals. Divided by 9 calories per gram)
Carbs - 195 - 228g (1000 calories from fat subtracted by either 588-720 calories from protein. Then divide by 4 calories per gram for carbs)
Hydration - make sure to drink mineral rich, clean water. Even mild dehydration can cause a spike in cortisol. Just use your pee color as a gauge, don’t worry about a gallon a day.
Creatine - helps produce energy in the body which can help increase strength, muscle mass, and power. Higher testosterone levels have been shown with men who take creatine regularly versus not.
Resistance Training - If you increase the amount of muscle mass on your frame you will increase the amount of testosterone you produce. Progressive overload in the gym will allow the body to adapt to higher levels of stress placed on the body which allows for the product of test to increase. Choose compound exercises which activate the most muscle fibers in a given session. Sprints can also help.
Aerobic Capacity - increased physical activity whether it be jogging or light walking can also help increase your production.
Fasting - Intermittent and longer fasts have been shown to help increase your body's sensitivity and uptake of testosterone production. You can try at 16/8 fast, 24 hours, or 3 day fast.
If your cortisol is elevated for too long (whether it be from too long of a lifting session or day to day life getting to you), test production decreases significantly. High cortisol makes your body think it’s constantly being chased by a tiger who wants to eat you. You may not feel the strong sense of urgency, but even at lower but constant stress levels, you can burn out. When cortisol is elevated, your body is trying to find fuel to bring it down.
Try meditating, having some carbohydrates to lower cortisol, or adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha to calm your stress down.
Make sure to be having sex at least once a week. Sex helps to lower the decline in test levels as you get older. Tell your wife it’s for the good of your health.
Simply put, all the plastics, straws, cans, detergents, preservatives, and pharmaceuticals that you put on or into your body is negatively affecting your production. Many of these products cause estrogen mimicking effects on the body, ruining the balance of estrogen to testosterone.
The biggest culprits are plastic cups, tupperware, receipts, water, detergents and cosmetics. Switch to minimal contact by either getting glass or steel, or in the case of water, a high quality reverse osmosis filter. Worst case scenario, refrain from contact at all if possible.
Hopefully this information didn’t overwhelm you. I know it’s a lot, so your best bet is to just see what stuff on this list you are already doing right and give yourself a break. Then taking your time, choose one thing on this list that you aren’t doing, and see how you can start implementing it into your day to day life.