At early morning hours, testosterone levels is at its peak. Exercise, fasting, nutrition and less stress are healthier choices when balancing your hormones and for a healthier adrenal glands.
- The number of testosterone prescriptions have tripled over the past decade, causing researchers to sound the alarm that men may be abusing the hormone
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested that testosterone products should carry a warning label indicating a heightened risk for blood clots
- Testosterone should only be given to men with persistent symptoms and unequivocally low testosterone levels, a condition known as hypogonadism
- If you’re under the age of 45 and have erectile dysfunction, it would be wise to test your testosterone between 8-11 am for the most accurate measurement, as this is when your testosterone tends to peak
- If you’re older than 45 and have erectile dysfunction, you can do the test anytime before 2 pm without misleading results, as recent research shows the testosterone cycle gets blunted with age
There’s a fair amount of controversy on the subject of testosterone replacement therapy. Some of the evidence suggests it may cause worrisome side effects (especially if you’re not actually deficient), including:
|Thickening of the blood/blood clots||Acne|
|Reduced sperm count||Increased risk of heart disease|
|Increased risk of prostate cancer||Male infertility10|
|Liver problems||Male breast growth|
|Increased male pattern baldness||Worsening of urinary symptoms|
Nine More Ways to Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels
While I believe high intensity interval training is one of the most potent ways to optimize your natural hormone production, it’s certainly not the only way. The following strategies are also known to be quite effective:
|Whole body vibration training (WBVT)||Besides high intensity exercise, whole body vibration training using a Power Plate can also independently increase growth hormone levels. Like high intensity exercise, WBVT also works all three types of muscle fibers, and it does so more effectively and efficiently than straight cardio or weight lifting.
You can accomplish more from 15 minutes on the Power Plate than from an hour of traditional strength training. By stimulating your white muscle fiber, the Power Plate kick-starts your pituitary gland into making more growth hormone, which helps you build lean body mass and burn fat.
|Lose excess weight by optimizing your diet||If you’re overweight, shedding the excess pounds may increase your testosterone levels, according to recent research.15 Testosterone levels decrease after you eat sugar, which is likely because the sugar leads to a high insulin level, which is another factor leading to low testosterone.
The most efficient way to shed excess weight is to strictly limit the amount of sugar/fructose, grains (including organic grains) and milk (even raw) in your diet. (Milk has a sugar called lactose, which has been shown to increase insulin resistance, so it will be wise to avoid it if you are seeking to lose weight.)
Replace these dietary troublemakers with vegetables and healthy fats, such as organic pastured egg yolks, avocado, coconut oil, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, and nuts like almonds and pecans.
Saturated fats are essential for building testosterone. Research shows that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat (and that mainly from animal sources, i.e. saturated) leads to a decrease in testosterone levels.16 My personal diet is about 70-80 percent healthy fat, and other experts agree that the ideal diet includes somewhere between 50-85 percent fat. I’ve detailed a step-by-step guide to this type of healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and I urge you to consult this guide if you are trying to lose weight.
|Intermittent fasting||Another effective strategy for enhancing both testosterone and HGH release is intermittent fasting. It helps boost testosterone by improving the expression of satiety hormones, like insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucacgon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CKK), and melanocortins, which are linked to healthy testosterone function, increased libido, and the prevention of age-induced testosterone decline.|
|Consume enough, but not too much, zinc||Zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.17 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it19 — and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.18
Along with protein-rich foods like meats and fish, other good dietary sources of zinc include raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk. If you decide to use a zinc supplement, stick to a dosage of less than 40 mg a day, as this is the recommended adult upper limit. Taking too much zinc can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper, and may cause nausea as a side effect.
|Optimize your vitamin D level||Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, increases levels of testosterone, which may help boost libido. In one study,19 overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.
To get your levels into the healthy range of 50-70 ng/ml, appropriate sun exposure is your best bet. If sun exposure is not an option, a safe tanning bed (with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields) can be used.
As a last resort, a vitamin D3 supplement can be taken, but research suggests the average adult needs to take 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absoluteminimum for disease prevention. Furthermore, if you opt for a supplement, you also need to make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2, as these two nutrients work together.
|Ashwagandha||This perennial herb is known as an adaptogen, which can help boost stamina, endurance, and sexual energy. Research published in 201020found that men taking the herb Ashwagandha experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels. It also promotes overall immune function, and can help increase your resistance to occasional stress.21
While some adaptogens are stimulants in disguise, this is not the case with Ashwagandha. It can give your morning exercise routine a boost, and when taken prior to bed, it can help you get a good night’s sleep as well. I recommend using only 100% organic Ashwagandha root, free of fillers, additives, and excipients, to ensure quality.
|Saw palmetto||Another supplement that can address certain symptoms commonly associated with low testosterone is saw palmetto. This herb may also help increase testosterone levels by inhibiting up-conversion to dihydrotestosterone.22 There are about 100 clinical studies on the benefits of saw palmetto, one of them being a contributed to decreased prostate cancer risk.
When choosing a saw palmetto supplement, you should be wary of the brand, as there are those that use an inactive form of the plant. Look for an organic supercritical CO2 extract of saw palmetto oil, which is dark green in color. Since saw palmetto is a fat-soluble supplement, taking it with eggs will enhance the absorption of its nutrients.
|Astaxanthin (alone or in combination with saw palmetto)||There is also solid research indicating that if you take astaxanthin in combination with saw palmetto, you may experience significant synergistic benefits. A 2009 study published in the Journal of theInternational Society of Sports Nutrition found that an optimal dose of saw palmetto and astaxanthin decreased both DHT and estrogen whilesimultaneously increasing testosterone.23|
|Have effective strategies to address stress||During stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which blocks the effects of testosterone.24 Chronic stress, and subsequently elevated levels of cortisol, could mean that testosterone’s effects are blocked in the long term, which is what you want to avoid.
My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s a handy, free tool for unloading emotional baggage quickly and painlessly. Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. For more tips, see my article “10 Simple Steps to Help De-Stress.”
For Most Men, Testosterone Replacement Is Unnecessary
I know first-hand that low testosterone is not an automatic outcome of aging, provided you incorporate certain lifestyle strategies that can naturally boost your testosterone levels. High intensity interval exercises get top billing among them, but your diet is also an important factor, and certain supplements can be helpful adjuncts.
These strategies are part and parcel of an overall healthy lifestyle, so they also automatically reduce your risk of most chronic disease, including heart disease, which just so happens to be an adverse side effect of testosterone replacement therapy. For most men, the risks simply outweigh the benefits of testosterone therapy, and you’re far more likely to achieve optimal health by addressing lifestyle factors that brought on the symptoms of hormone dysfunction in the first place.