You probably know that testosterone is important for men. After all, it’s responsible for things like sex drive, sperm count, fat distribution, red blood cell count, and muscle strength.
When you have low levels of testosterone, there are significant negative side effects, including:
·Diminished sex drive
·Increased breast size
·Erectile dysfunction or impotence
·Depression, irritability, and the inability to concentrate
·Loss of hair
·Decreased physical endurance
·Increased chance of bone fractures
It’s absolutely essential for you to maintain healthy levels of testosterone in order to function effectively.
This raises an important question: how can you increase testosterone levels?
After all, it’s one thing to know that you have low testosterone levels; it’s something else altogether to increase them.
Consider this article a primer on increasing your testosterone levels. We’re going to break down the what, why, and how so that you are able to make informed decisions about your health.
What Is Testosterone?
Before we discuss how to increase your testosterone levels, it’s essential to understand what exactly what testosterone is.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that’s essential for both reproductive development and sexual health. It’s part of a class of hormones called androgens (also known as “steroids” or “anabolic steroids”). While women do have testosterone in their bodies, their levels are around one-tenth to one-twentieth what’s found in men.
Testosterone is primarily created in the testes, although a small amount is also produced from the adrenal glands. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland work together to control a man’s testosterone production, with the hypothalamus instructing the pituitary gland and those instructions being passed on to the testes.
The hormone is also responsible for the initial development of male sex organs before birth, as well as the changes that happen at puberty like increased penis and testes size, increased facial and body hair, and a deeper voice.
Causes Of Low Testosterone
Normal levels of testosterone fall anywhere between 300-1000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), with free testosterone levels usually being between 3-9 ng/dl.
There are a number of causes of low testosterone levels, including:
·Pituitary gland problems
·Toxin or heavy metal exposure
·Anabolic steroid use
·And many others…
Dr. Robert Kominiarek notes:
Most commonly, I find some history of neurologic insult as the cause — a traumatic brain injury with or without loss of consciousness, stroke, surgery, medical imaging with iodinated contrast, medication, illegal drug use, excessive alcohol [consumption], toxin or heavy metal exposure, prior anabolic steroid use, penetrating or blunt trauma, radiation, chemotherapy, [arrhythmia], motorcycle accident, rollercoaster rides, boxing, martial arts, football, and the list goes on.
The point is that while there are numerous reasons for low testosterone, the cause may not be immediately apparent. And while identifying the underlying cause is crucial, it’s even more important to know how to bring testosterone levels back to normal levels.
If you think you have low testosterone levels, the easiest way to confirm your suspicion is to have your doctor perform a simple blood test.
If your levels fall below the “normal” range, then you have a problem that, thankfully, can be corrected.
How To Raise Testosterone Levels
If testing reveals that you have low testosterone levels, there are some relatively simple, yet powerful ways to increase them.
The simplest, most natural place to start is with your diet. Saturated and monounsaturated fats have both been to shown to increase testosterone levels. As a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology notes:
Individuals consuming a diet containing ∼20% fat compared with a diet containing ∼40% fat have significantly lower concentrations of T. Also, replacement of dietary carbohydrate with protein has been shown to decrease T concentrations. These studies indicate that the energy supplied by the different macronutrients has a significant influence on T concentrations.
In other words, if your diet is high in healthy fat, there’s a greater chance that your overall testosterone levels will be higher.
Some outstanding, high-fat foods to incorporate into your diet are:
·Olive and coconut oil
Two things to remember, however, as you bring these foods into your diet. First, if you’re not carefully monitoring your calorie intake, you can put on weight, which is not good for your health. Second, there is a debate about whether or not to maintain or drop your carbohydrate levels when adding high-fat food. Some say that dropping carbs can increase cortisol, leading to a drop in test levels. Others say that keeping carbohydrates high at the same time as high fat is a recipe for disaster. We tend to opt for lower carbs (around 100 grams a day), but to each their own.
In addition to improving your diet, taking supplements can also be an effective, natural way to maintain your overall testosterone levels. One thing to note: there are many supplements that seems to have a connection with raising or maintaining healthy testosterone levels. A couple of the staples for most everyone are vitamin D3 and omega-3 fish oil.
So what other supplements should you be taking?
·Zinc gluconate - low levels of zinc can lead to lower testosterone levels. It's important not to overdo it on zinc though, especially if you're not deficient. It can lead to blood sugar issues (ignore the broscience guys who tell you to take a ton of this forever).
·Magnesium - magnesium is essential for muscle health, sleep, and energy. When you’re low on magnesium you may have lower testosterone levels as well. The western diet tends to create magnesium deficiencies in many.
·There are select herbs that can really help out for some users.
o This study shows that ashwagandha can create smaller boosts in already healthy men.
o There have been several studies showing that special extracts of fenugreek can mimic testosterone, leading to many of the same benefits as higher test levels.
o A few breakthrough studies showing that Eurycoma Longifolia is being used as a replacement for TRT.
There are numerous studies that have demonstrated the testosterone boosting power of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). As William Kraemer