Testosterone is the hormone of manliness. Yes, women make testosterone too, yet men make much more to achieve the body size, muscle mass, bone density and strength associated with manhood. Low testosterone levels contribute to infertility, loss of lean body mass, increased body fat, moodiness and even hot flashes. Yes, men have hot flashes too.
In men, testosterone is a hormone produced primarily by the testicles. As men age, testosterone levels decline. By age 30, stress, lack of exercise, highly processed foods and exposure to xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that have estrogenic effects like those found in pesticides) depletes testosterone levels.
In the past fifteen years the norm for blood levels of testosterone in men has dropped dramatically. Most men have no idea what their testosterone levels were when they were young and virile. By the time they seek medical attention with signs of low testosterone including erectile dysfunction, low libido, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and rising cholesterol levels, their testosterone has dropped significantly.
In severe cases, bio-identical testosterone replacement therapy can be prescribed by an experienced health practitioner. Yet high doses and continual use will diminish your natural ability to make testosterone.
8 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
1. Lose Body Fat
Healthy men should have less than 18% body fat. The American Council on Exercise compares male and female body fat percentages by activity level.
Notice that women need more body fat to produce hormones specifically estrogen. When men approach female body fat levels, guess what, they produce more estrogen too!
Lose the belly fat by cutting out all refined sugars and starches. Eat only whole grains and get most of your carbohydrate calories from vegetables. Your diet should consist of no more than 30-40% of your calories from carbohydrates. Carbs are fuel. If you aren’t using them as energy, you’re storing them as fat.
2. Exercise Almost Every Day
High-intensity exercise, combined with really slow weight resistance is the best way to increase lean body mass. This means interval training. Do some type of high-intensity exercise for short bursts—running, biking, treadmill, rowing, elliptical—about 30 seconds as fast and hard as you can. Then slow down for 60-90 seconds. And repeat the cycle 8-10 times. Do this three times per week and you will burn fat and increase lean body mass.
Once a week, go for a long slow aerobic activity—hike, bike, run, swim. Be sure to stretch after each exercise session and always warm up well. As you get older, you lose flexibility, so warming up for at least ten minutes and cooling down with adequate stretching will prevent injury. Go slow, if you are a former couch potato.
At least once weekly, lift heavy weights really, really slow. Strive for a contraction phase of 40-60 seconds and a release phase of double the time (80-120 seconds). Do just one exercise per body part, and you will increase your muscle strength and endurance significantly. Be sure to get professional help at the gym before tackling heavy weights, so you don’t hurt yourself. And of course, warm up first!
At least once weekly, take a day off. This allows your muscles to repair themselves. You will notice results faster with fewer injuries if you give your body a weekly break. Take a relaxing stroll with a loved one, walk the dog, do some light gardening — just no intense exercise.
3. Get Enough Sunshine
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. It’s a pro-hormone that allows your steroid hormones to get into the cells. You need at least 15-20 minutes of sunbathing (80% of your skin exposed without sunscreen) to make enough Vitamin D for your daily needs. If your serum levels are low, you may need to supplement with a triglyceride based Vitamin D to optimize your levels. Studies have shown that those populations with the longest longevity average 50 ng/dl of 25OH Vitamin D in their blood.
4. Consume Enough Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that is important for testosterone production. Too much zinc can dangerously lower copper levels, so it is best to get zinc from your diet, rather than supplementation. Zinc is found in meats and fish, raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk. Be sure to eat organic grass-fed meats and dairy products as conventional farming methods rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides which rob the soil of nutrients like zinc.
5. Eat Enough Healthy Fat
Testosterone is a steroid hormone which means it’s made from cholesterol. As your testosterone levels drop, your cholesterol levels rise specifically LDL cholesterol (the large particle type). You need to eat fat to make testosterone. Be sure to get at least 30-50% of your calories from fat. And on third of those fat calories should come from saturated fats. Saturated fats help create cell membranes allowing hormones to get into the cells through receptor sites.
Healthy fats include: olives and olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Fried foods do not count as healthy fats. In fact, high heat adulterates fat and should be avoided.
6. Get Enough Protein
Protein is made up of amino acids which are the basic building blocks of all your tissues. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) like leucine, isoleucine and valine are needed to build muscle and connective tissue like tendons and ligaments. Whey protein is rich in BCAAs and a safer alternative to using individual amino acid supplements. Animal proteins are the best source of BCAAs, but legumes are a good alternative.
You should be eating 0.5-0.75gm of protein per pound of lean body mass. Your lean body mass can be calculated by subtracting your body fat in pounds from your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 200# and you have 15% body fat (or 30# of body fat) your lean body mass LBM = 170#. This means you need at least 85 grams of protein daily to maintain your lean body mass. A 4 oz chicken breast has about 28gm of protein.
7. Reduce Stress
Stress in any form creates a fight or flight reaction. Your adrenals do not know the difference between a tiger chasing you and your worry over a late bill. The reaction is the same—adrenaline surges to get your out of danger, followed by cortisol released to fuel the fight or flight. If you were really running away from a tiger, the stored sugar released by your cortisol surge would fuel your flight. If not, you get to store it as body fat!
Cortisol blocks the effect of testosterone in the body. While testosterone is an anabolic hormone (builds tissue), cortisol is a catabolic hormone (breaks down tissue).
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Learning relaxation skills like deep breathing and visualization can help reduce stress. Most stress responses are learned. Seek professional help from a licensed therapist to teach you how to be less reactive to your stressors. Chronic stress is the biggest hormone challenger which will age you rapidly.
8. Balance Your Hypothalamus
Most hormonally challenged men have been testosterone deficient and cortisol driven for so long, their hypothalamic-pituitary axis is disturbed. In the center of your brain, the hypothalamus orchestrates your hormonal response, all of them. The hypothalamus perceives your world through your senses and all the hormones you produce via the bloodstream. It then tells the pituitary what hormones to stimulate according to what is most necessary for survival. If you do not correct hypothalamic imbalance, you will need hormone supplementation for life.
I created Genesis Gold® to help balance out the entire symphony of hormones and optimize hypothalamic response. Plus the whole food phytonutrients help your body metabolize and detoxify your hormones safely.
My male patients who take Genesis Gold® consistently experience increased libido, more energy, deeper sleep, increased endurance, leaner body mass, and increased strength. Plus their wives and significant others notice more motivation and less irritability, plus they seem to communicate at a deeper level.
I have done some case studies in my male patients who have chosen to use either bio-identical testosterone replacement alone and then with Genesis Gold®.
Those who add Genesis Gold® to their healing regimen find that they get more bang for their buck. They need less testosterone as their receptor sites heal and allow testosterone into their cells from optimal functioning. They have less estrogen conversion which means less weight gain as fat and more lean body mass. And they have less dihydrotestosterone conversion which means less hair loss. Many are able to get off their testosterone replacement as they begin making their own testosterone after months of taking Genesis Gold®.*
May your Hormones be in Harmony,
Deborah Maragopoulos MN FNP
Intuitive Integrative Health
*Statements not evaluated by the FDA