For many men, declining testosterone levels can be a concern that has an impact on many facets of life, including work, relationships, and health. As a result, many men want to know how they can help their body produce more testosterone, naturally.
While pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe that their drugs are the only solution for men with low levels of testosterone, some of the best testosterone boosters are natural and available without a prescription.
Before we discuss natural testosterone boosters, let's review some basic facts about this hormone.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the natural steroid hormone produced mostly by the reproductive glands in the human body. Men produce it in their testicles, and women produce it in their ovaries. Yes, women have and need testosterone, too.
The primary function of testosterone in men is to develop the male sexual organs during puberty and to act as an anabolic (growth creating) hormone. In its capacity as an anabolic hormone, it is responsible for increasing muscle size, building bone density, influencing traits such as facial and body hair, deepening of the voice, and male facial features1.
As time passes and a person ages, the organs that produce testosterone become less efficient and ultimately produce less of the hormone1. As men reach 35-40 years of age, testosterone will begin to decline at a rate of about 1-3% per year; a decline that eventually results in the condition known as andropause2, which is the male version of menopause. As testosterone levels fall, so do the beneficial effects of the hormone. Weight loss, weaker bones, more feminine appearance in males, and diminishing sex drive and performance can become challenges for men with low testosterone levels1.
For men who are interested in finding answers about how to help their bodies naturally produce more testosterone (and we assume that's you, if you are reading this article), here are six great ways we've found to boost testosterone levels, naturally.
6 Ways to Naturally Boost Testosterone Levels
- Lift heavy weights and do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio,
- Get plenty of high-quality REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep,
- Reduce stress levels,
- Avoid estrogen-like chemicals,
- Strike a (power) pose, and
- Take health supplements that help boost testosterone production.
#1: Lift Heavy Weights and Do HIIT Cardio
Lifting heavy weights to build stronger and larger muscles is one way to boost testosterone levels, naturally. In a study done by Vingren, et al., testosterone was found to be elevated in men directly following heavy resistance exercise, and the best results were seen in men who worked their muscles to the point of failure2.
To maximize the results of resistance training, add high-intensity interval cardio training (HIIT) to the workout. A common HIIT workout consists of running 90-second sprints, followed by a short period of rest, repeated in intervals until the workout time is completed. One study compared HIIT to traditional cardio exercise and found higher levels of testosterone in the blood of men who had done HIIT2,3.
The next time you're at the gym, try this combined workout routine to provide testosterone production support.
#2: Get Plenty of High-Quality REM Sleep
Probably the easiest way to naturally produce more testosterone is to get better sleep. There is one type of sleep in particular that has the greatest effect on testosterone, and that is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep4. REM is the stage of sleep wherein a person dreams, and the eyes move under the eyelids, most likely because the mind thinks it is looking at actual objects in front of it.
REM sleep can occur several times during the night, depending on how long a person sleeps4, and studies have shown that peak testosterone levels coincide with the onset of REM sleep7. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that with less REM sleep comes fewer testosterone peaks during the night. In older individuals especially, lower concentrations of testosterone were observed with less REM sleep7.
Getting plenty of high-quality REM sleep has also been shown to increase memory and learning during alert times, making activities such as resistance training easier to achieve and maintain5,6.
Bottom line: High quality sleep and dreaming are great testosterone boosters!
#3: Reduce Stress
Stress is a killer - in more ways than one. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin noted that high levels of stress trigger the body's fight or flight response, prompting it to produce a steroid hormone called cortisol that competes with testosterone in the body8.
Cortisol regulates blood sugar, memory formation, salt and water content, and reduces inflammation in the body. Researchers noticed that when cortisol levels were high, testosterone’s ability to affect cells was reduced9.
One of the best ways to reduce stress may be to take an adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances produced by nature that are thought to help the body adapt to stress by helping rebalance all of its systems10. Ashwagandha, a plant used in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia, has been used as an adaptogen to combat stress with great results.
#4: Avoid Sources of Estrogen-like Chemicals
Testosterone snatchers are hiding in everyday objects as estrogen-like, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EEDCs), which are external, artificial chemicals that change the way the body's endocrine system works, and cause various health defects by interfering with the synthesis, metabolism, binding, or cellular responses of natural estrogens11.
EEDCs are structurally similar to natural estrogen, which allows them to bind to and activate estrogen receptors, which can lead to inhibition of testosterone production1,11.
EEDCs have been found in various plastic products, flame retardants, pesticides, and many other products that we use daily.
Major EEDCs found abundantly in our environment include: dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), phthalate esters, endosulfan, atrazine, and zeranol.
Check the labels of your household items, and do your best to avoid the chemicals mentioned above to safeguard your body's testosterone production and function.
#5: Strike a (Power) Pose
One of the most surprising ways to boost testosterone naturally is to stretch out and do a pose. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and TED scholar, explains in a TED talk how body position affects the levels of cortisol and testosterone a person produces.
In her TED talk she describes a scenario wherein individuals enter a room.
“From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20-percent increase [in testosterone], and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease [in testosterone]. On cortisol: high-power people experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-power people experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down ... our bodies change our minds.”12
So, how do you ensure that you enter a room as a high-power person? You can do what Cuddy calls a “power pose"12. Stand with your arms spread out to the side, palms forward, and chest pointing upward, open, and relaxed, for at least two minutes. It is believed that this stretch encourages the mind to think in a more dominant way, therefore increasing testosterone and feelings of confidence12. When you need a quick testosterone and confidence boost, try this pose, and see how you feel.
#6: Take Supplements
Finally, take supplements to naturally boost testosterone levels.
Tribulus in extract form has been shown to increase testosterone levels indirectly, by raising blood levels of another hormone, Luteinizing Hormone (LH)13. LH is produced by the Pituitary Gland and naturally boosts testosterone production in humans.13
Longjax is a plant that is farmed primarily in Indonesia. Research has demonstrated that Longjax supplementation may increase testosterone levels14. The way it works is still unclear, but existing data does show the positive effects it has on boosting testosterone levels.
What do you think? Have we educated or excited you with new or interesting ways to naturally boost testosterone levels? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Facebook to start a conversation.
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