How To Naturally Boost Your Testosterone
Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger on Venice Beach, July 1979. Photograph by Mr Douglas Kent Hall/ZUMA Press
Five tips to help you maintain your natural masculinity.
Forget the overzealous promises of fancy grooming gear or the Herculean claims of sports supplements, testosterone is the only elixir of youth and strength that science can verify with any clarity. But, as bad luck would have it, testosterone levels start to plummet at a rate of about one to three per cent per year after the age of 30. As a direct result, muscle mass, energy levels, skin tone, mood and, of course, libido all take a nosedive. The net result has been cruelly dubbed the “man-opause”.
Prior to the advent of bio-identical hormones, which are starting to make an impact in the grooming and cosmetics market, it was only trans men who had any real experience of what it was like to mainline a “physiologic dose” of pure T or apply a T-infused topical gel to their body. In the next few years, hormone therapy for men is likely to become the norm but, until health and safety issues are fully ironed out, you can rely on these natural ways to boost your T.
Drop excess weight
A handful of studies have touted testosterone as a miracle cure for excess weight. But the equation works both ways: you can increase testosterone levels by shifting belly fat. To prove this point, the Diabetes Prevention Program conducted a study in which middle-aged men undertook a year-long diet and exercise programme. The participants were able to boost their testosterone levels by an impressive 50 per cent.
Part of the reason that belly fat goes hand in hand with low testosterone is because it contains aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into oestrogen (the female sex hormone) – and the more oestrogen you have in your body, the less testosterone you produce. This starts a vicious cycle that may or may not culminate in man boobs. The correlation is so strong that organisations such as the New England Research Institutes now claim that a man’s waistline is the single greatest indicator of testosterone levels.
Do heavier reps
Intense resistance training for anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour triggers a substantial boost of testosterone, a medical fact that might go some way to explain the overbearing, Hulk-like behaviour of gym rats with no day job. A study from the University of Nebraska Medical Centre explored the relationship between reps and testosterone levels, concluding that even a moderate amount of weight lifting can have a significant impact on T.
We recommend high-intensity bursts of exercise with short periods of recovery in between, as this approach burns through glycogen stores (meaning less man belly – see above) in addition to building more muscle.
Eat more fat
In spite of Machiavellian propaganda from the sugar industry, fats are not your enemy. In fact, a good 20-30 per cent of your daily intake should come from fats. We know that monounsaturated fats from foods such as avocado and olive oil are beneficial, but saturated fats, which contain cholesterol, should feature on the menu, too.
The reason for this is that your testes convert cholesterol into testosterone. You can go without fats for a while but starving yourself of coconut oil and raw, fermented dairy products such as goat’s milk and kefir, will put a stop to the whole business.
Top up on zinc
Zinc plays a pivotal role in testosterone production, not to mention wound-healing, immunity, prostate health and sperm motility (ie how far the little guys can swim). The catch is that the human body doesn’t store zinc, so it will need replenishing. In former days, you might have been able to do this solely through a diet of lots of greens, but modern farming methods have stripped the soil of trace minerals (including zinc), so in 2017 the easiest way to get zinc is through supplements. Just be sure to limit your intake to no more than 40mg a day – too much can throw the absorption of other minerals out of balance. And cause nausea, vomiting, pain, cramps and/or diarrhoea (not necessarily in that order).
It’s widely understood that sleep deprivation can throw your hormonal mechanisms out of whack. REM sleep is the one time when your brain starts talking to your testes (in a constructive way) and encourages them to start producing testosterone.
Needless to say, men who sleep more reap the benefits. Research has shown that men who get a solid eight hours of sleep a night have more than double the testosterone upon waking than those who only caught four hours’ kip. To optimise your sleep routine, read our Seven Steps To Better Sleep.