There has always been a lot of buzz about testosterone and its benefits for aging, development, and working out. If you are a male over the age of 30, it is time to think about your testosterone levels. If you are feeling a little sluggish, you aren’t quite as good at performance – in the gym or in the bed – then you need to boost your T-levels.
Here is how to increase your testosterone.
What is Testosterone
When you hear about testosterone in the media or on forums, you hear about its dangerous effects. That is because everyone wants to talk about the negative ways men increase their testosterone levels. Put that out of your mind for a minute.
Testosterone is a dominant male hormone that is found in cisgender men and women. It is more prevalent in men than women, but it plays a role in both biologies.
Testosterone is from a class of hormones that are called androgens. Androgens are simply “male hormones.” The two dominant androgens are androstenedione and testosterone. Androgens are not estrogens. Estrogens are the dominant “female hormones.”
Testosterone is produced in a male’s testes. The hypothalamus is responsible for sending the message to the pituitary gland about how much testosterone to reproduce. Then, via the bloodstream, the information about how much to produce is sent to the testes to make the hormone.
The adrenal glands are also responsible for producing a small amount of testosterone.
In women, the testosterone levels are only about 10-12% of levels found in men. The ovaries and adrenal glands produce testosterone in women. Testosterone may also be produced in a woman’s fat cells.
Why Your Body Needs Testosterone
In men, testosterone encourages overall health and well-being. Testosterone is in full swing up until a man turns about 30 years old. Your body needs testosterone as early as birth. It is the main hormone involved in helping the body develop the male sex organs. The effects of puberty, such as penis growth, a deepening voice, and testes growth, are considered secondary sex characteristics of testosterone. As boys turn into men, testosterone is what encourages the growth of facial hair and body hair.
In women, androgens are also responsible for starting puberty. The same changes occur public hair growth and hair growth in the armpit. They may also regulate organ function.
Why Your Workout Needs Testosterone
When you workout, your T-levels influence muscle growth and fat loss. That is because testosterone drives muscle growth. If you have elevated T-levels, you create the ideal environment for muscle to grow. Unfortunately, as you age, your testosterone levels begin to dip. By the time you are 30, good luck building muscle as quickly or as easily as you remember in your early 20s.
Increasing your testosterone levels is not as easy as it sounds. You need to know your levels before you can accurately increase your testosterone levels.
How to Test T-Levels
A lot of times, you will know when your T-levels are low, but how low are they really when you start feeling the signs?
The most common way to test your testosterone levels is with a blood test – also called Testosterone level test. The results appear in ng/dL, or nanograms per deciliter.
Many men don’t want to run to the doctor when they need to know their T-levels, so they listen to their bodies and look for the signs.
Your body has a lot to tell you. One way to test your testosterone levels as home is to take a look downstairs. Yes, down there. Keep an eye for these signs of low T-levels.
- You can’t quite “get it up” as often or as easily as before. You can assume that your levels are lower than 300 ng/dl if you are over the age of 30, or 500 ng/dl if you are younger than that.
- Feel your testicles. Are they as large as you remember, or do they feel a little smaller these days? If the boys are plump and firm, they are producing sperm.
Other ways to test your T-levels without having your blood drawn is to take an at-home saliva test or blood spot testosterone test kit. These may not be as accurate because you are not a skilled physician and your testosterone levels fluctuate.
What is the Best Testosterone Level?
Normal testosterone levels in men range between 300 ng/dL or 10.41-34.70 nmol/L. In women, typical, or “normal” testosterone levels are much lower at 15-70 ng/dL or 0.52-2.43 nmol/L.
Now that you know how to test your T-levels, or at least how to get to know them a little better, you need to know what the best testosterone level is. It is not easy enough to say you need to “increase testosterone” levels without knowing how much you actually need to boost them.
When you increase your testosterone levels, studies show that minor increases may not be enough.
If your T-levels are stable or near normal, you can’t build more muscle by only making them a little higher than normal. For more muscle mass, you need a statistically significant increase in testosterone levels to grow muscle. The levels that encourage muscle bulk are increases in testosterone levels about 20-30% more than the normal range.
Side Effects of Low Testosterone
Before we get into the ways to increase your testosterone, let’s first understand the side effects of low testosterone. Unfortunately, after you turn 30, a male’s testosterone levels dip about 1% per year. That is a drastic drop, so you have a lot of work to do to catch up.
Signs of low testosterone are one or more of the following:
- Muscle wasting
- Low libido and little interest in sex
- Infertility and low sperm production
- Thinning of the bones
- Small testes
- Sluggishness and irritability
If you have certain conditions, it can lead to low levels of testosterone. One of the biggest causes for low testosterone levels is age, but these conditions can lead to low T-levels as well:
- Pituitary gland dysfunction or adenoma
- Low or limited thyroid function
- Delayed puberty
- Chronic illnesses and disease
- Hormonal imbalances in the brain
- Testicle injuries
- Testicular cancer
- Immune disorders
- Inability to concentrate
Side Effects of too Much Testosterone
I want you to increase your testosterone by 20-30% for muscle bulk, but I want you to err on the side of caution. There are side effects of too much testosterone.
- Mood swings and depression
- Acne and oily skin
- Hair thinning
- Increased blood pressure
- Dips in good cholesterol and increases in high cholesterol
- Rough patches or dark spots on the skin
- Large clitoris (in women)
- Testicle shrinkage (in men)
- Deep voice (in women)
- Missed or non-existent periods (in women)
Not all high levels of testosterone are bad.
Benefits of Increased Testosterone
If you increase your testosterone to the ideal levels for building bulk, here are a few benefits you can expect to see when you increase your testosterone safely.
- Increased muscle bulk
- Improved muscle strength
- Improved libido and sexual desire
- Greater ambition and motivation
- Improved endurance and energy drive
- Mental clarity and mental well-being
- Increased assertiveness and confidence
- Improved work capacity
- Reduction in body fat
- Higher BMR (basal metabolic rate)
6 Ways to Increase Testosterone
Now, you know you need to increase your testosterone by 20-30%, but how can you do it without injecting yourself with steroids. Here are the 6 best ways to increase your testosterone.
1. Hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed and monitored by your physician. Testosterone replacement therapy helps men who suffer from age-related testosterone loss. It may also be necessary for men who suffer from testosterone declines because of other conditions or illnesses such as hypogonadism.
Testosterone is increased by either injecting the testosterone into muscle or applying testosterone topically with a cream.
2. Choose better foods
Changing your diet, or adding the right foods to an already good diet, is a good way to naturally boost testosterone levels in men. The first step to changing your diet as a way of increasing testosterone is to cut out the fatty foods – especially saturated and trans fats.
You need to focus on adding healthy fats to your diets. This means adding more olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, avocados, palm oil, ray walnuts, almonds, pecans, organic milk, and grass-fed meats. When choosing meat, make sure you choose lean proteins instead of fatty ones.
Another ingredient to add to your diet is branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA. A branched-chain amino acid is one that has a central carbon atom that is bound with at least three more carbon atoms. These chains are metabolized in your muscles. As a result, they provide your muscles and your body with the energy necessary to boost protein synthesis and limit exercised-induced injury to the muscle.
The three branched-chain amino acids you need from food are leucine, valine, and isoleucine.
You can get BCAAs from whey proteins and animal-based proteins. Animal sources of BCAAs are beef, dairy products, fish, and chicken.
If you are a vegetarian who needs to find animal-free sources of BCAAs and meal replacements, the green part of the food pyramid is loaded with choices. Vegans and vegetarians can boost BCAAs with brown rice or quinoa, whole wheat, corn, lentils and legumes, and raw nuts.
You must also be cognizant of adding more zinc to your diet to boost your testosterone levels. The mineral zinc plays an important role in encouraging and supporting testosterone production. When you add more zinc to your diet, you may be able to curb the side effects of testosterone loss. You will notice that many of the foods that provide your body with the necessary zinc it needs for healthy testosterone levels are the same foods that add critical amino acid chains and protein to your diet.
Foods high in zinc are raw milk, raw yogurt or cheese, and beans. I want to stress here that you must choose grass-fed meats or organic milks to avoid consuming foods that have been robbed of zinc and other important minerals due to excessive fertilization and hormone use. Don’t take zinc supplements, because it is possible to consume too much zinc.
Too much zinc in your diet prevents your body from absorbing minerals. It will also cause digestional discomfort.
On the subject of milk and minerals, let’s talk about one more that may affect your testosterone levels – Vitamin D. Add more Vitamin D to your diet because it is a steroid hormone. It naturally increases your testosterone levels.
3. Cut the sugar
Sugar is everywhere and in everything. You need to make it a point to cut, or at least reduce, your sugar intake. When your body has too much sugar, your insulin levels spike. High insulin means low testosterone.
Common foods with sugar are breads, pastas, soda, juice, granola bars, and more than half of the protein or meal replacement bars sold on the market today.
Start small when cutting sugar from your diet.Don’t add sugar or flavored creamers to your tea or coffee. Reduce the number of breakfast foods you have in the morning, especially packaged ones. Muffins, granola, cereal, pancakes, and waffles loaded with sugar. Don’t be fooled by “sugar free” foods. They are still used with a sugar alcohol. It is best to stick with natural sugars, such as those found in apples, bananas, and berries.
4. Lose weight
Cut the fat to boost your T-levels. When you are overweight, it kills your workout and workout goals, limits your productivity and endurance, and sucks the life out of your libido. Why? Because fat, especially visceral fat, impedes your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
Keep all the tips in mind that I mentioned before. Consider counting your macros instead of counting your calories. Add more lean meats for the protein, cut carbs, reduce sugar, and boost your Vitamin D levels.
A conscious effort to reduce reduce body has a double benefit. Body fat reduces your testosterone levels, but reducing the body fat boosts them.
5. Workout more
Your workout is a great way to increase your testosterone levels. Strength training and high intensity workouts are the most beneficial to boost your T-levels. The nice thing about working out is that you increase your hormone levels and build muscle mass while reducing your body fat at the same time.
Short and intense workouts are beneficial for increasing your testosterone levels as well as curbing testosterone decline as you age.
Finally, to improve your testosterone levels, take a break. Reduce your stress. Stress is a big problem in the United States. Stress makes your blood pressure spike, it causes tension in the muscles, it leads to anxiety and depression, and it causes headaches and migraines. Stress is bad for your brain, it’s bad for your heart, and it is terrible for your testosterone levels. Stress can also encourage you to make poor choices to reduce stress. By that I mean you might turn to alcohol, opioids, smoking, and recreational drugs to avoid stress. All of those affect your testosterone levels as well.
When your body is under stress, the body releases a new kind of hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is the wall between you and your testosterone. Cortisol blocks testosterone effects and benefits in the body. Stress also feeds into a dangerous and testosterone-killing cycle. Stress causes belly fat, and you remember, that belly fat kills testosterone levels too.
To manage stress, do the things you love. Go for a run, hike, or hit the gym. Consider alternative stress control methods such as meditation, yoga, and even going to a show to take a load off. You can also reduce your stress by following the list above.
A good testosterone plan is an overall good deal for you and your T-levels.
Ways Not to Increase Testosterone
When you are increasing your testosterone levels, don’t do it dangerously. Don’t stalk the corners or the internet to find an injectable that you aren’t sure of. TRT shots and misinformation about them fill online forums, and people who want to sell it have a funny way of skewing the dangers and information about TRT. There are real cardiovascular and psychological effects of taking testosterone injections without medical supervision.
Before you turn to the needle, take a good look at your lifestyle to see if that is the real cause for your low T-levels. Then, if it is, make the switch. Boost your testosterone without damaging your body or impeding your workout.
Tips for Healthy Testosterone Support
When you are increasing your testosterone, keep these tips in mind for healthy testosterone production support. Use pre- and post-workout supplements from Vaxxen to help you achieve your workout goals. I mentioned earlier that whey protein and meal replacements are a good way to boost your levels. Find out which ones are perfect for your muscle mass and fat reduction.