Both men and women need optimal testosterone levels. While the average male has ten times more testosterone than a female, females are much more sensitive to the hormone. Whether you’re a man or woman, testosterone is responsible for many of the body’s functions. A very short list of these include:
- sexual desire
- bone strength
- mental and physical energy
- protein synthesis
- hair growth
- muscle growth
- fat loss
With testosterone being such an important hormone, you should be doing everything you can to keep this powerful androgen at optimal levels. How do you do that? The following are 7 ways you can naturally boost testosterone levels.
Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting those pink 5 pound dumbbells isn’t going to cut it. You need to be using heavy weights with compound movements that recruit maximum muscle fibers. Exercises like bench press, squats, and deadlifts should be staples in your exercise routine. Push yourself hard in the gym and try to keep your rest intervals around 90 seconds or so. Studies have shown that resistance training coupled with short rest intervals boost testosterone and growth hormone production.
In my opinion, sprints are one of the best full body fat burning exercises. No other exercise puts your entire body at 100% intensity for an extended period of time. All the lactic acid that is produced from sprinting is correlated with testosterone production. That burning sensation you get in your muscles when you are lifting weights – lactic acid.
When your demand for energy is high (such as when sprinting), your levels of lactate rise faster than your body can remove it. This causes lactic acid levels to rise. This lactate production is a sure sign that you are working out with enough intensity to boost testosterone production.
Fats, especially saturated and monounsaturated fats have been shown to be correlated with testosterone levels. Healthy fats like those in nuts and seeds aid in the production of testosterone. Essential fatty acids also need to be ingested through your diet. If you aren’t getting enough, consider supplementing with an omega-3 oil. And yes, even saturated fat plays a vital role in our bodies. It’s the trans fat that you need to avoid. A diet consisting of 20-30 percent fat seems to be the sweet spot to boost testosterone levels. Make sure you are eating fat. Eating fat does not make you fat! Eating too many calories and processed foods will.
Eat Enough Food
When you don’t eat enough food, your body’s starvation mechanisms start to show themselves. When your body senses famine ahead, it has no need to reproduce, and as a result, it shuts down testosterone production. Make sure you are eating enough calories. This is one of the top reasons diets fail. Once you start cutting calories too low, it causes a cascade of negative reactions in the body, none of which are beneficial to your fat loss goals. Eat at least 10 calories per pound of body weight. There really is no reason to go below this number unless you are either morbidly obese, or you’re not exercising.
Make Sure You Rest and Recover
Rest and recovery are probably the most overlooked aspects of a fitness program. In order to be successful, you need to place equal importance on your diet, exercise, and recovery. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and that you are going to sleep at similar times every night.
Studies have shown that circulating testosterone levels can drop by more than 40% as a result of under-recovering. If you are lifting heavy, give your muscles enough time to recover. Soreness is usually a good sign that you need more rest. At the beginning of a fitness program, you might be sore for a longer period of time until your body adapts to the new stresses placed on it. Don’t get ahead of yourself at the beginning. Give yourself ample time to recover.
Eat Low Glycemic Foods
Research has shown that blood sugar levels are tied to testosterone production. High levels of blood sugar can cut circulating testosterone by as much as 25%. So how do you keep your blood sugar levels low? One way is to not eat any carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this isn’t the ideal scenario for most people. Carbohydrates (glucose) are needed to fuel high-intensity exercise, brain function, and resistance training. And as you already read, heavy weight lifting and sprints, both of which use carbohydrates as fuel, are two ways to effectively increase testosterone production.
The other way to keep your blood sugar “low” is to eat low glycemic carbohydrates. These foods are digested slowly, and they produce a nice steady drip of glucose into the bloodstream. Eat whole foods with plenty of fiber, and you should be on the right track.
Lower Your Body Fat
Your body fat levels are inversely correlated with testosterone levels. What this means is that as your body fat rises, your testosterone levels decrease. Fat cells produce estrogen. The more fat you have, the more estrogen is produced, and the more testosterone is suppressed. You need to make sure you are working towards a goal of having a lower body fat percentage. The more fat you put on, the more of an uphill battle it becomes to lose fat.
Use these 7 ways to boost your testosterone naturally. You’ll notice that they all seem to have something in common – they all have to do with your diet and exercise. Nearly every hormone in your body can be manipulated through diet and exercise. If you have low testosterone levels, and you don’t have a medical condition, more than likely your problem stems from a lack of optimizing one of the 7 tips listed above. Use as many as you can, you have no reason not to.