Testosterone is a predominant male androgen hormone that helps regulate libido, sperm count, muscle and bone growth, production of red blood cells, mood and fat distribution. If testosterone levels are too high or low, these functions can be affected in the male body. If testosterone levels are too low, there are medications for increasing testosterone levels. However, there are natural ways to boost testosterone levels.
If you are concerned testosterone levels may be too low, speak with your physician. A blood test can help determine if testosterone levels are too low. Daily habits can contribute to testosterone levels including levels of sleep, stress, exercise and weight.
Making sure you get enough sleep, exercise and lowering stress levels can help naturally increase testosterone levels.
Get enough sleep
The majority of testosterone release occurs at night. Therefore if sleep gets interfered with, testosterone levels can get affected. Dr. George Mu from the George Washington University Medical Center (1) suggests poor sleep is one of the main factors for men with low testosterone.
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is a general recommendation for adequate sleep.
Rearranging your schedule and daily habits to ensure adequate sleep at night can be the first place to naturally boost testosterone levels.
Researchers controlled study participants’ sleep levels for 11 days. When participants got 5 hours of sleep per night for 7 days, testosterone levels were 10-15% lower than normal.
Exercise, but not too much
Exercise can have a direct effect on testosterone levels, and the effect depends on exercise duration and intensity.
A single bout of short, intense exercise can increase testosterone levels. However, aerobic exercise lasting more than 2 hours can be followed by a decline in testosterone levels.
If testosterone levels are too low, it could counter act the effects of exercise for building muscle mass and may increase risk for over training syndrome.
Too low levels of testosterone, especially a risk for endurance elite athlete, could also impair bone density levels and affect mood (4).
To get maximal benefit of boosting testosterone, add in some resistance exercise to your exercise routine. Resistance training can help increase lean muscle mass, and testosterone can also help boost lean muscle mass.
Avoid doing extreme weight lifting, as this could also boost levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can work against testosterone.
For more expert advice about planning a fitness routine with resistance exercise to increase testosterone levels, speak with an exercise scientist or fitness expert.
In general, add in resistance exercise that includes major muscle groups, using heavier weights some days, incorporating at least 3 sets of reps per exercise, take at least 1-2 days off per week and eat proper nutrients to fuel muscle growth (5).
Men who are overweight or obese are more likely to have lower levels of testosterone. Weight loss could reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight or obese middle aged men by about 50% according to research presented at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting (6).
In order to improve testosterone levels, weight loss through diet and exercise could have a significant impact on testosterone levels and should be a first step instead of medications for boosting testosterone.
On the other hand, men who are underweight can also have too low levels of testosterone. Therefore, having a healthy weight that is not over weight or underweight can be important for healthy levels of testosterone.
One of the main hormones released when the body is stressed is cortisol. When stress hormones like cortisol are at high levels, testosterone is more likely to be low.
Therefore, keeping stress levels chronically within a healthy range is important for boosting testosterone levels.
Long work hours can be a common problem for men who feel stressed. Cutting back on over time could be helpful for having a healthier balance of stress, and making time for enjoyable activities can also help lower stress levels.
Incorporating exercise as a stress reliever can be a double benefit for boosting testosterone.
Balanced diet with nutrient dense foods
Eating a balance of nutrient dense foods like nuts, heart healthy oils, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins and dairy is beneficial for overall health.
The same can be true for offering the body the most amount of nutrients to support healthy testosterone levels.
Some websites promote boron as a nutrient that may help boost testosterone levels, but not all research has shown a connection between high boron intakes and increased levels of testosterone.
Some supplements also claim to be able to boost testosterone levels naturally, but there is not research to back up these claims. Before taking any supplement, speak with your health care team.
Testosterone levels in the body can be influenced by a number of things that are a part of daily routine. Quality and quantity of sleep can have a direct impact on testosterone levels.
Getting adequate sleep is one natural way to boost levels of testosterone, and being sleep deprived for as little as one week has been shown to lower testosterone in healthy men.
Limiting stress can also be beneficial for testosterone levels. Hormones that get released from stress can counteract testosterone.
Constantly feeling stressed, which is a battle for many people, can keep stress hormones elevated. To combat this, incorporate stress relieving activities in your daily life.
Exercise and keeping a healthy weight are other ways to naturally boost testosterone levels. Being over or under weight can lower testosterone.
Exercise, especially resistance exercise, can help increase testosterone levels. However, high levels of endurance exercise can also suppress testosterone.
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