Ten Ways To Improve Testosterone Levels For A Healthier, Leaner Body

Ten Ways To Improve Testosterone Levels For A Healthier, Leaner Body

Having optimal testosterone levels can make a huge difference in your athleticism, body composition, and overall well being. Unfortunately, low testosterone is increasingly common.

For both men and women, low testosterone can lead to fat gain, low muscle, psychological problems, and physical weakness. Some people turn to testosterone replacement medications, but this approach doesn’t target the root cause. Therefore, this article will give you ten tips to naturally improve testosterone (T) levels for a healthier, leaner body.

#1: Strength Train

Because training decreases body fat, it will help raise testosterone levels if you are deficient. Additionally, anaerobic exercise, such as strength training or sprint intervals, will lead to a post-workout release of testosterone to accelerate tissue repair. Use compound, multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups etc.

#2: Go Hard

Intense training with heavy loads and a large volume of work has been shown to significantly increase testosterone. This elevation in testosterone doesn’t directly build muscle, but it does interact with the neuromuscular and central nervous system to get you better results in training. It also increases training motivation, reducing how “hard” a workout feels and boosting work and power output (1).

#3: Be A Competitor

Studies show that in both genders, winning athletes have higher levels of pre-competition testosterone than losers (2-4). Researchers think that higher testosterone may allow for greater aggression and higher power output during competition. But they also think that testosterone levels may be enhanced by competition, with the body becoming conditioned to release testosterone in preparation for athletic performance.

#4: Meditate

People who meditate regularly have higher testosterone and lower cortisol (the stress hormone that degrades muscle tissue and counters many of the benefits of testosterone) (5). In addition, when people who meditate experience extreme stress, they have a more robust hormone release so as to better respond to the threat. You don’t have to commit to a lot: Just try 5 to 10 minutes a few days a week of deep breathing during which you clear your mind and focus on the present moment to get T-boosting benefits.

#5: Avoid Cardio & Weights In The Same Session

Doing contradictory training modes such as aerobic cardio and strength training in the same workout has been shown to suppress testosterone in the 48 hours following the workout (6-7). This indicates a delayed recovery and may limit the development of explosive strength over the long term. It’s possible that it may also increase cortisol, which can lead to a catabolic state and reduced lean mass development. Instead, ensure proper recovery and do your weight training workouts separately from cardio workouts.

#6: Eat Plenty of Healthy Fat

A low-fat diet increases your likelihood of low testosterone because it deprives the body of the cholesterol building blocks needed to synthesize testosterone and related androgen hormones. Be sure to get fat from a variety of sources including a reasonable amount of saturated fat that supplies cholesterol. Include fish, meat, eggs, whole-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado in your diet, eating some fat with every meal.

#7: Avoid Sugar & Refined Carbs

Testosterone is decreased by as much as 25 percent in response to a blood sugar spike (8-9). Over time, this can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity and chronically low testosterone, as well as increasing your risk of fat gain and obesity. Instead, plan meals around high-quality protein, vegetables and complex carbs, and healthy fat. Avoid sugar and refined carbs, or at least, save them for special occasions.

#8: Optimize Your Circadian Rhythm & Improve Sleep

Your circadian rhythm is your biological clock and it is influenced by many factors including your genes, light exposure, nutrition, and physical activity. Because circadian function regulates the release of hormones, improving it will result in more robust testosterone levels.

A classic example is men who sleep according to their chronotype (tendency to be a morning or evening person) have significantly higher T than those who must go against it for some reason (10). Other ways to improve circadian function include early morning light exposure and eating at the same time every day.

#9: Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies

Deficiencies in certain key nutrients are associated with clinically low testosterone levels (called hypogonadism). The most common and widely researched deficiencies are vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium.

A 2013 study found that men with low testosterone who took 3,332 IU of vitamin D daily for a year increased their bioavailable testosterone by 20 percent (11-12). Something similar happened when tae kwon do athletes with normal T levels took 750 mg of magnesium—they increased free T by 26 percent (13-14). Finally, supplementing with zinc in older men who had hypogonadism doubled their testosterone levels in 5 months (15).

#10: Eliminate Alcohol

Alcohol consumption, and beer in particular, is associated with reduced testosterone because it increases levels of an enzyme (called aromatase) that turns testosterone into estrogen. Other negative effects of alcohol are that it hinders sleep and lowers dietary inhibitions such that people will often eat more high-carb junk foods when drinking, which may lead to fat gain over time. The one exception to the no-alcohol rule is red wine, which has been found to inhibit aromatase action due to the phytochemicals it contains.

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