Testosterone. Many people refer to it as the “hormone of desire”. Testosterone is largely responsible for managing and increasing muscle mass, mood, sex drive and energy levels in both males AND females. If you have an abundance of testosterone, then it will make your “gym life” a whole lot easier in terms of training goals like building muscle and shredding body fat.
By possessing good levels of testosterone, here are some of the benefits it can have on you:
- Increase of muscle mass
- Plenty of energy
- Sharper mind
- Healthy heart
- Healthy libido/sex drive
- Strong bones
- Increase of body fat
- Constant fatigue
- Increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Suffer from depression
- Increased risk of erectile dysfunction and poor libido
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
Now I hope those of you who are reading this, don’t suffer from anything from the second list and never do. Testosterone levels start to decline as early as the age of 25, so it is important that we do what we can to keep this hormone being produced. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to increase testosterone levels naturally and keep them as high as possible. So without further ado here are our top 5 ways to increase testosterone levels NATURALLY.
Strength training really is a kind of hormone therapy, especially for testosterone production. Researchers from the Spanish University of Extremadura showed that regular weight training can increase testosterone levels by up to 40%. Another short term study done by the European Journal of Applied Physiology got 8 young men together aged 17 and got them on a strength training programme for 11 weeks. Ok, so testosterone levels should be high in males at this age, but by just getting them to start lifting weights, there testosterone levels increased by 7.5% in less than 3 months!
It’s simple, the evidence is there. If you lift weights regularly, testosterone levels will be higher than someone who doesn’t. So if you’re just someone who only does cardio, get down to the weights room, mix it up, and let us know how you feel in 3 months’ time.
Control stress/Cortisol levels
Chronic stress will kill testosterone production. The more stress in your life the less material you will have for growth and repair. It is very hard to get lean and healthy when you’re constantly stressed. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and one of the primary stress hormones. It is secreted from the adrenal glands and regulates the way your body uses various fuel sources and is essential for recouping energy following stress. When we train we release cortisol, which is why it is important we do not over train when we are stressed, the adrenal glands will get burnt out, also known as adrenal fatigue.
This is backed up by an experiment when a group of young soldiers were undergoing army training. At the peak of training their testosterone levels dropped by 30%. Within a few weeks after the training finished, thus removing physiological and physical stress, their testosterone levels returned back to normal. So as you can see, if you’re in a stressed environment the majority of the time and train regularly, you won’t see many “gains” or progress will eventually just stop.
So get your stress levels in check, take time out once in a while, give your body time to “switch off” from all the real world problems. Be happy, positive and enjoy life from time to time! This will automatically put you in a more anabolic state and testosterone levels won’t suffer.
Minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption
Following on from the previous point, regular consumption of alcohol and caffeine will keep constantly releasing cortisol, putting a lot of pressure on the adrenals and elevating stress.
Limit alcohol consumption if you want cortisol levels to be healthy. After a moderate to heavy drinking session, alcohol can keep cortisol levels high for as long as 24 hours. Cortisol is secreted to overcome the toxic effects of alcohol, the more you drink the longer it stays elevated. Alcohol also blocks your liver from breaking down glycogen into sugar for brain energy, cortisol helps your body bypass this blockage by breaking down your muscle cells to turn into the glucose, to make a new sugar, this process in known as gluconeogenesis. So, if you do this regularly, getting lean won’t happen.
Limiting caffeine is one of the quickest ways to reduce cortisol levels and increase the production of testosterone. 200mg of caffeine (1 large coffee) can increase blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour, and this can stay elevated for up to 18 hours. So avoid drinking coffee or any sort of caffeine throughout the day if you don’t want cortisol levels to constantly be high and burn out your adrenals. We normally have 1-3 coffees/green teas a day, depending on how busy the day is. We’d recommend no more than 300mg of caffeine a day (that’s 2-3 coffees) and avoid caffeine past 5pm, as this may affect your sleep.
Consume foods rich in cholesterol
All of our steroid hormones are made from cholesterol. Pregnenolone and progesterone are the basic precursors which then will be converted into other hormones such as testosterone and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which are both critical for lean muscle development, fat burning, bone growth, skin health and immunity. Cholesterol will also convert vitamin D from direct sunlight, the best way to get free vitamin D is from sunlight, so without cholesterol in our diets, we won’t get that vitamin so many of us are deficient in, but we’ll get into that more in the next point.
The bottom line is we need cholesterol in our diets for us to produce a healthy amount of testosterone and regulate other steroid hormones. For example, look at bodybuilders and or guys/girls prepping for a physique show, they cut fat drastically in order to get into insane shape. Ask any person who’s gone through this process and they’ll say they had no sex drive, barely any energy and probably had to rely on other substances to get them through the whole process. But remember that’s a process people only go through for a couple of months, if you do it all year round, your training will suffer and you’d generally just feel awful!
Get these cholesterol rich foods in your diet daily to make sure your testosterone levels are healthy:
- Whole eggs
- Grass fed butter and oils such as olive oil
- Grass fed beef
- Fish/Fish oils
- Dairy products
- Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts)
Get out in the sun
Our final point can be a tough for those of us living in the UK! Vitamin D is another steroid hormone, which is essential for production of healthy cells and helps maintain good sperm quality and sperm count. Vitamin D will also help increase testosterone. The most efficient way (and cheapest way) to get vitamin D is through direct sunlight onto your skin.
Sunbathing may increase testosterone levels and therefore increase sex drive. Researchers from the medical University of Graz, Austria tested vitamin D levels in 2, 229 men over the course of several months and found that testosterone was higher in the summer months and dropped during the winter months. The darker your skin the more time you need to spend in the sun to get a good amount of vitamin D. But normally 20-30 minutes will be enough.
Food sources of vitamin D are also in the list above, so again, make sure you’re eating foods rich in cholesterol, but sometimes food alone is not enough. During the winter months we normally take a good vitamin D3 supplement to make sure we get enough vitamin D. The average adult needs to take around 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day, through food alone that’s tough, so invest in GoNutrition’s super vitamin D supplement to make sure you’re getting enough of this crucial vitamin, which in turn help increase natural testosterone levels.
So there you have it. Our top 5 ways of increasing testosterone levels and keeping them high. Apply these methods all year round when you can. Follow these simple steps and you will boost virility, vitality, strength, power and energy. Of course this will only pay dividends in the end when it comes to performance not only in the gym but also in your sex life too!