Testosterone has gotten such a bad rep- even if it’s not what you think about it, what have you heard others say about it? Macho men? Unbridled aggression? Impatient, compulsive behavior? Unhealthy sporting practices?- you name it. But the truth is testosterone and a healthy, functioning body go hand and hand. Without T (testosterone) the body is exposed to numerous unhealthy developments (both physical and mental), many of which can become chronic over time. Healthy T levels have been attributed to far more benefits than downsides. And for this reason we’ll explore it’s importance and methods to boost it naturally.
Testosterone And The Body
Testosterone’s role in bad behavior is largely a fabrication. To be honest testosterone in our body is playing a larger role in our bodies right now to keep us healthy than we ever give it credit for. And we don’t just have it, we need it- men and women alike to protect us, grow us, balance us. If you get nothing else from this article just remember that there’s more to it than the negativity.
Testosterone is not the only sex hormone at work in the body, but it is one of the most significant that plays a number of roles such as
- The development of the penis and testes
- The deepening of the voice during puberty
- The appearance of facial and pubic hair starting at puberty; later in life, it may play a role in balding
- Muscle size and strength
- Bone growth and strength
- Sex drive (libido)
- Sperm production
If you thought testosterone was only important to men, you would be mistaken. Estrogen is the predominant female hormone, testosterone in women:
- Help manage ovarian function
- Manage bone strength
- Regulate sexual behavior including normal libido
The consequences of having low testosterone definitely aren’t ideal as you’ll see. Some of the side effects include:
- Reduced body and facial hair
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low libido, impotence, small testicles, reduced sperm count and infertility
- Increased breast size
- Hot flashes
- Irritability, poor concentration and depression
- Loss of body hair
- Brittle bones and an increased risk of fracture (4)
Why It’s Important To Boost Testosterone
It’s important to know what factors go into bodily change. The general understanding of fitness is “lift weights and grow” without knowing the how’s and why’s to true, progressive growth. If you don’t know the deeper reasoning behind how to get to your goals, you restrict your options as far as strategy and execution.
This is why understanding and increasing testosterone is so important.
Testosterone is a growth hormone, growth hormones naturally being the most important aid in physical development. It’s role in normal bodily function is tremendous. The body literally can’t grow without it, men or women. Estrogen (though it has its place for both men and women) won’t cut it, which is why men naturally grow larger than women (men having 15x the amount of testosterone than children or women).
Testosterone Unlocks The Key To The Body’s Physical Potential
Like it or not, there’s a reason athletes and gym casuals use and sometimes abuse substances containing T. If you’ve ever seen bodybuilders compete, you’ve seen the lengths to which it can push the body. It can be a tool to break records, it can help us lift heavier and longer than we thought possible…like it or not testosterone is can push the boundaries of physical performance and results on so many different fronts. And when it’s used reasonably and naturally it can and will benefit your life.
How To Increase T levels
Use Heavy Resistance Training!
I mean obviously this sounds like the stereotypical choice, but the science backs up the fact that “all forms of exercise aren’t equal for raising testosterone”. Take endurance exercise for example. Research has found that prolonged endurance training significantly affects test production in the male body. At rest testosterone appears to be LOWER in the endurance trained male than the untrained male (2).
Endurance training in itself isn’t a bad thing, but cortisol can have an impact on your muscle mass, sleep and mood. However moderate cardio exercise (around 30 minutes, five days a week) benefits your heart, lungs, and won’t trigger excess cortisol production.
Strength training is a great place to start for boosting testosterone. There are plenty of programs out there that utilize 3 to 5 sets with a rep range of around 3 to 5 at about 95 percent maximal effort that would be perfect for this. Programs that incorporate compound movements (exercises using more than one muscle group) are essential for build strength, activating growth hormones, protecting the body from injuries, and speeding up the metabolism.
High Intensity Interval Training
(HIIT) is another option for increasing testosterone levels. Studies verify that high intensity intervals produce more free testosterone than steady state exercise (3) and cause increases in even the highest levels of athletes.
Having a weightlifting split of 2 or 3 days and adding HIIT in another 2 days the same week is a solid combination for enhancing test and promoting heart health.
Best Workout Time
testosterone secretion follows a circadian rhythm in young and aging men, with its highest levels in the early morning hours. Early morning workouts can not only help with testosterone, they have also been shown (in a fasted state) to boost the body’s metabolism and burn more calories over a 24 hour period than any other time of the day.
Train regularly: it’s not just how you train, it’s also about how often you train that ultimately changes your test levels. Studies have revealed that consistent training (at least 130 hrs a week) raises testosterone to optimal levels.
Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is one of the best tools we have for stabilizing test (ironically). Sleep is a stress reliever, we spend a third of our life in this state, so you can understand why sleep can make or break our physical and emotional balance. A study observing the link between sleep deprivation and T levels found that T levels were definitely lower after sleep restriction than in a rested state (7). it’s important to get the best rest possible; to do this try:
- Sleeping at the same time everyday
- Eat a hearty breakfast
- Control your exposure to light
- Stay active during the day
- Try to reduce screen time 1-2 hours before bed
Watch Your Nutrition
While the dietary practices associated with T are less clear, we do know there is a strong correlation between obesity and low T levels. If this is the case then even what you eat and drink (as it relates to body composition) can help or hinder the amount of testosterone in your body. So there isn’t a consensus yet on macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats) and their role in high or low T levels, but if there is such a strong connection between obesity and low T, then we have an idea of what to look out for. In a randomized questionnaire The total T-related dietary pattern (a high consumption of bread and pastries, dairy products, and desserts, eating out, and a low intake of homemade foods, noodles, and dark green vegetables) independently predicted hypogonadism (A failure of the gonads, testes in men and ovaries in women, to function properly). This makes sense when you consider all of Do’s on that list are a one way ticket to obesity.
Having a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fats is important for overall health. If you were considering strength training, pairing it with a high protein diet may be a great compliment for many reasons; promoting muscle growth/ protein synthesis, decreased consumption over a 24 hour period, fullness, the thermic effect of food, fat loss- all of which will fight off obesity and regulate testosterone levels.
Nutrition in a nutshell comes down to staying away from processed food and eating Whole Foods and home cooked meals as possible.
Minimize Your Stress
Nothing can disrupt the flow of testosterone like unnecessary stress. Low levels of serum T have been reported in response to psychological stress, physical stress, and actual stress (like surgery). Unlike men with normal T levels men with low T levels tend to have more anxiety and irritability (5).
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise (1).
There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep: Exercise is great for both muscle growth and sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
Connect With Friends And Family
Spend time with friends and family: A study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety(6). We’re social creatures that thrive off of connecting with others. Even if your social circle is small, cultivate those relationship, for your mental/physical health and theirs.
Their must be something behind the saying “laughter is the best medicine” it relieves your stress response, improves your immune system, relaxes your body, and doesn’t cost you a penny.
I hope this will help you see testosterone as one more necessary piece of a larger picture- you can’t complete your healthy, ideal body without it. With time it will aid you in building the well-rounded health and lifestyle you desire. Until next time- BE WELL!!!