Testosterone is a steroid hormone primarily secreted by a man’s testicles. Women have testosterone, too, but in very small amounts.
This hormone is responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics. Testosterone is also important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, a sense of well-being, and sexual function.
With age, usually after the age of 30, the amount of testosterone in the body declines.
Other causes of low testosterone levels include an injury or infection, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, genetic abnormalities, hemochromatosis (iron overload), pituitary gland dysfunction, inflammatory diseases that impact the pituitary gland, stress, alcoholism and obesity and certain medications. It is also associated with certain nutritional deficiencies.
A low testosterone level can affect both your quality of life and your health. It can cause fatigue, erectile dysfunction, depression and other emotional issues, insomnia, poor concentration, decreased bone density, and increase in body fat.
To find out their testosterone levels, men can opt for a blood test. In case the test shows low testosterone level and you experience the signs and symptoms for the same, don’t worry. Some simple lifestyle and dietary changes can help boost your testosterone level naturally.
Here are the top 10 ways to boost your testosterone level naturally.
1. Lose Weight
There is a strong connection between weight gain and hormonal imbalance. Low testosterone levels tend to increase body fat which in turn creates further hormone imbalance by increasing the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Diabetes Care, 40 percent of obese non-diabetic men and 50 percent of obese diabetic men age 45 or older have lower than normal free testosterone concentrations.
Moreover, a 2012 study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Switzerland found that losing excess weight can help middle-aged men with prediabetes reduce their prevalence of low testosterone levels by almost 50%.
Shedding excess pounds will help increase your testosterone level. The best approach is to work toward losing 1 to 3 pounds of fat per week. Try not to diet or cut back on your calorie intake abruptly when trying to lose body fat. If your body goes into starvation or survival mode, it will stop making testosterone.
The healthiest way to maintain a healthy weight is through well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
Regular exercise helps raise testosterone in men with low levels. It also boosts energy and endurance and will help you sleep better. Plus, it decreases your chances of being overweight, which contributes to low testosterone.
- Weight lifting is the most effective form of exercise for boosting testosterone levels. For best results, lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Stick with weight-lifting exercises like bench presses, squats, dead lifts and shoulder presses. Do weight-lifting exercises for 30 minutes, 4 or 5 times a week.
- High-intensity interval training is another form of exercise that can actively increase testosterone levels. This involves exercising in short, intense bursts, followed by easier, recovery exercises. You can do this type of exercise on the treadmill, the elliptical trainer or in the swimming pool, for example.
- Incorporate cardio workouts into your exercise routine a few times each week. Running, swimming, spinning or other aerobic exercises are helpful in losing weight. Do not overtrain as it may cause a drop in your testosterone level.
To reap the benefits of exercise, give your body the time it needs to recover between workouts. Otherwise, your exercise regime could have a negative effect on your testosterone level. It is best to work with a trainer to learn proper forms of exercises and develop a plan that suits your lifestyle and body type.
3. Get Adequate Sleep
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011, cutting back on sleep drastically reduces a healthy young man’s testosterone level.
The study found that the testosterone levels in young men who slept less than 5 hours a night for a week had a 10 to 15% decrease in their testosterone levels as compared to those who had a full night’s sleep.
In addition to decreased testosterone production, lack of sleep increases the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone), and high levels of cortisol also impact testosterone levels.
So, get quality sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adult males generally need between 7 and 9 hours per night.
To improve the quality of your sleep, turn off all computers and electronics 1 hour before bed, avoid caffeinated drinks late in the evening, do some meditation before going to bed, take a hot shower before bed and maintain a regular bedtime. If you are having trouble getting good sleep on a regular basis, talk to your doctor.
4. Reduce Stress
High stress is also associated with low testosterone levels. It also affects your sleep which in turn affects your testosterone levels. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol makes you gain belly fat and excess weight means less testosterone.
If stress is the reason behind your low testosterone level, the only solution is to stop stress before it stops you. There are many ways to tame your stress and keep it at bay.
- Perform deep-breathing exercises.
- Do meditation and yoga for 20 minutes daily.
- Make time for music, art or other hobbies that you like.
- Learn to identify stressors and avoid them.
- Organize your daily activities in a systematic and realistic manner to manage your time wisely.
- Keep a positive, realistic attitude.
- Spend time with people you love.
If you cannot manage your stress, talk with a counselor or take a stress management class.