What Is Testosterone?
Before discussing how to increase testosterone levels in men, we need to look at what testosterone is and what it does.
Testosterone is the most well-known androgen; these are a group of hormones that facilitate communication networks between specific cells around the body. While testosterone is primarily a hormone responsible for sexual development in males, women also produce and require a certain testosterone level.
In men, testosterone is produced mainly in the testicles and in women, the ovaries. The adrenal glands also produce small amounts in both sexes. Androgen hormones like testosterone stimulate male characteristics such as a deeper voice, body hair, and sexual maturity. Most women do not have enough of this hormone to take on any ‘manly’ traits or stimulate a man’s characteristics.
During puberty, a man’s testosterone production ramps up, turning a boy into a man. This testosterone production keeps going until a man reaches 35 or so and then starts to drop. This decline in production is perfectly normal and merely a part of growing older.
Having ‘normal’ testosterone levels is not always a given for many men and women. There are various conditions and other factors that can send your hormone levels out of whack: hypogonadism, injury, substance abuse, and illness, to name but a few.
- Chronic diseases, such as liver or kidney disease, obesity, or type 2 diabetes
- Pituitary gland issues
- Injury or disease of the hypothalamus
- Benign tumors in the pituitary cells
- Klinefelter syndrome and other genetic illnesses
- Medications, such as opiate painkillers and some antidepressants (SSRI’s)
- Radiation or chemotherapy
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Signs that your testosterone levels may be falling are universal and pretty easy to diagnose; it’s called being middle-aged!
- Hair loss
- Increased body fat, especially around your middle
- Decreased bone mass
- Lower sex drive
- Loss of motivation
- Decreased lean muscle mass
- Lack of concentration
Can you Increase Testosterone levels Naturally?
There are hundreds of articles online and products claiming that you can increase testosterone with lifestyle changes including, supplements, vitamins even eating oysters! The truth of the matter is not so simple; you can give your levels a boost but generally not in any way that will benefit you long term. It is more important to think of it from another angle, there are things you can do to prevent testosterone from falling too quickly, but there is not a lot you can do to stop this natural decline.
Lifestyle factors directly influence Testosterone production.
- Fitness levels
- Alcohol consumption
Can you Increase Testosterone with Diet?
The simple answer to this question is probably not. Some foods can temporarily increase testosterone levels, but this will never be a long-term solution.
Oily fish such as mackerel contains omega-3 along with salmon, sardines, and anchovies. They also contain vitamin D and zinc, all of which supposedly boost testosterone production. Tuna, either fresh or canned, is also a great vitamin D source while having lots of protein and very few calories. Zinc does help testosterone production, with the highest proportion found in oysters but also crab and other shellfish.
Zinc and vitamin D increase testosterone in hypogonadal men, but very few studies have discovered how much and how. If you have reduced testosterone levels, any ‘testosterone boosting foods’ will not have the power to get your hormone production back to the same levels as in your mid-twenties.
For argument sake, you have a level of 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Then you feast on a diet rich in zinc and vitamin D. This increases your testosterone level by an improbable 20%, which still leaves only you with a level of only 360 ng/dL. It is not a big difference when you consider that an optimal level is in the 800-1100 bracket during testosterone replacement therapy.
In one study, they discovered that zinc supplements would do nothing to raise your testosterone levels if you already have enough zinc in your system. You can have too much zinc in your body. Too much zinc (40 milligrams a day plus) can cause poisoning and nasty side effects such as stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea.
Other foods such as the brassica family, including broccoli, kale, and cabbages, all lay claim to increase testosterone levels due to containing indole-3-carbinol. This chemical does limit estrogen effects, indirectly increasing testosterone levels in the body. Again, however, the results will be minimal and unlikely to make you feel any different.
Macadamia nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, lean meat, almonds, broccoli, honey, eggs, and mushrooms are all part of a long list of alleged testosterone boosting foods. Eating plenty of fresh fruit and maintaining a healthy diet will undoubtedly help you keep testosterone levels for longer. But don’t rely on it to increase your levels in any significant manner.
Can You Increase Testosterone with Exercise?
It often said that exercise could increase testosterone levels. There are loads of articles online, making claims ‘HIT’ workouts will boost your levels and that there are exercises that naturally increase testosterone. The truth of the matter is a little more complicated.
Let’s start with the obvious. If you are overweight (especially if you are over 40), you will most likely have reduced testosterone levels. Exercise will probably help you lose weight and may increase your testosterone and make you healthier. The problem lies in the fact that visceral fat surrounding your belly and internal organs promote an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol. Increased estradiol leads to hormone resistance, making it hard to lose that belly.
A solution for many men in this position is TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). They find that they find it far easier to shed those pounds when they reach optimal levels if not before. This new ability to lose weight is because the relationship between fat, testosterone, and estradiol breaks, and your metabolism is working efficiently again.
But can exercise itself directly promote the production of testosterone? Exercise does increase testosterone levels giving you a small boost, but this level is only temporary. The increase in testosterone also depends on your age, fitness levels, weight, and what time of day you workout. If you are physically unfit, you will initially experience a more significant boost in testosterone than a fit guy. Despite a brief ‘lift’ in hormone levels, this will soon decrease as your body becomes more used to the workouts.
In one particular study (1) of 100 sedentary guys, researchers discovered that after a year of exercise, there was no significant boost in androgen levels apart from DHT and SHBG. Sex Hormone binding globulin is a protein that transports testosterone around the body, and Dihydrotestosterone is a derivative of testosterone.
About 10 percent of testosterone in all men transforms into DHT with the help of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). DHT is more potent than testosterone and is credited with the onset of puberty, sexual maturity, and hair growth, and is also responsible for a condition called male pattern baldness. The study also stated, ‘No statistically significant differences were observed for testosterone, free testosterone, 3α-Diol-G, estradiol, or free estradiol in exercisers versus controls.’
Exercise is vital to keeping healthy. Sedentary men are way more likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes, both of which crush testosterone production. Exercise is a great preventative but most likely will not get your hormone levels back up from the natural decline.
(1) Hawkins VN, Foster-Schubert K, Chubak J, et al. Effect of exercise on serum sex hormones in men: a 12-month randomized clinical trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(2):223-233. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31815bbba9
Can You Increase Testosterone with More Sleep?
The relationship between sleep and testosterone is fascinating. Testosterone builds up in your body while you sleep, meaning your levels will be at their highest when you wake. So, if you suffer from a bad night’s sleep or get too little sleep, your testosterone levels will suffer.
Interestingly, lower testosterone often leads to lighter sleep and broken sleep patterns implying that testosterone helps you get a good night’s sleep. Erratic sleep patterns also increase the release of cortisol ‘the stress hormone,’ which promotes wakefulness and heightened senses, not great if you are trying to get to sleep!
In one study (2) of healthy young men, Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., a professor in medicine, found that men who slept less than five hours a night for one week in a laboratory had significantly lower levels of testosterone than when they had a full night’s sleep. Their testosterone levels jumped the equivalent of 10-15 years in advance due to a lack of sleep.
If you consider that at least 15% of the USA’s adult working population gets on average five or fewer hours sleep a night, these findings are hugely significant. There is a long understanding that lack of sleep harms the endocrine (hormone) system, but this study highlights just how disruptive it can be.
Getting more sleep when you already have reduced testosterone is very unlikely to boost your levels. It is essential to maintain good sleep patterns and get 8 hours a night so your levels don’t fall faster than they would due to natural decline. On average, from around 35, you can expect levels to fall 1-2 % a year. So as you can see, sleep is crucial when it comes to maintaining testosterone levels, but can sleep increase your testosterone levels? Put it this way; if you have a natural level of 400 ng/dL and you are sleep-deprived, then it may help. However, if you are well-rested, then it will make very little difference.
(2) Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-2174. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.710
Can You Increase Testosterone by Reducing Stress?
Symptoms common to stress and low testosterone are often similar, and it can be challenging to pinpoint the cause.
- Loss of libido
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of energy and lack of vitality
When under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, aka ‘the stress hormone.’ Cortisol at high levels can push down testosterone levels and cause all sorts of other detrimental health conditions.
Most people feel stressed from time to time, and most will recognize the ‘buzz’ you feel during these circumstances. This ‘buzz’ from cortisol and adrenaline puts your body in a heightened state of alertness. Unfortunately, suppose you live with this repeatedly. In that case, it will affect your sleep, which can stop your desire to exercise and make you depressed, possibly leading to a loss of direction in terms of diet, all things that can deplete testosterone levels.
It is incredibly difficult to avoid stress in this modern world with work, life pressures, digital interference, and especially covid-19. If there is a way you can avoid stress, it will inevitably positively impact your hormone levels. The big question is whether ‘optimal’ testosterone can help you deal with stress?
Indirectly it indeed can. Men with low testosterone tend to suffer from a particular set of symptoms. Lack of vitality, depression, weight gain, and brain fog, for example, can all induce self-loathing, significantly adding to feelings of stress! With testosterone replacement therapy, men tend to regain their vitality, find it far easier to lose weight, feel more confident, and ultimately say goodbye to that nagging stressed feeling inside.
Can You Increase Testosterone by Cutting Down on Alcohol?
Alcohol abuse affects every aspect of your health, and your hormones don’t get away scot-free! If you drink to excess, it can cause both short and long-term changes to your hormone health. It affects testosterone production in many ways.
Production of testosterone happens in the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the testicles. These three glands can all be damaged by alcohol abuse, which affects your testosterone production in many ways.
- The hypothalamus releases a trophic peptide hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This then acts on your anterior pituitary gland.
- Your anterior pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
- LH and FSH act as a signal to your testes to produce testosterone.
Long-term effects of alcohol on testosterone
Men who drink too much (15+ drinks per week) are far more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, and deflated libido. Too much alcohol damages the Leydig cells in your testicles, which essentially are responsible for testosterone production.
Also, your liver, which carries out hundreds of vital bodily functions, can become overworked, trying to remove alcohol from your system. It prioritizes this function over others. The liver produces sex-binding globulin, a protein that binds to testosterone to transport it around your body. Long-term alcohol abuse can seriously damage the delicate balance between the whole endocrine system, and if the liver is permanently damaged, you can say goodbye to testosterone.
Can You Increase Testosterone by Losing Weight?
The relationship between being overweight and testosterone is intrinsically linked. Visceral fat kills testosterone production. The more fat you have, the less testosterone your body will produce, simple! Unfortunately, it all becomes a vicious circle. Low testosterone levels increase fat deposits, which slow testosterone production even further. Fat cells promote the creation of an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol.
So why is this such a bad thing? Estradiol from fat has an adverse feedback mechanism on the production of testosterone, thus reducing hormone levels. This reduction in estradiol is why overweight men have so many problems losing weight. In this case, it is not the estradiol causing the problems; it is the fat. The estradiol is simply an innocent bystander that happens to knock down your testosterone.
Can you Increase Testosterone with Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy is the most effective solution for guys suffering from the symptoms of reduced testosterone. Testosterone therapy is gaining popularity and rightly so. With the development of testosterone cypionate in its bioidentical form, doctors can safely help guys reach their optimum levels with confidence.
Being available as injectable or a topical cream gives guys the freedom of choice and total convenience previously unavailable. The Male Excel doctors prescribe both options as a daily treatment to increase testosterone back to optimal levels. A daily dose mimics your body’s natural production avoiding the peak and troughs of outdated alternatives.
Because the medication is bioidentical, your body’s hormone receptors can tell no difference between this and the real thing, thus limiting unwanted side effects known with previous therapies.
So, How Can You Increase Testosterone Levels?
So, if you are a young guy without any medical issues, have a healthy diet, keep fit, don’t drink too much alcohol, and maintain a healthy weight. Lucky you! This ideal will undoubtedly help maintain and possibly increase your testosterone levels. The problem arises for guys who have started on the inevitable road to reduced levels, which will only go one way….down.
For some, this is never a problem, and they don’t even notice any difference. On the other hand, some men really feel the effects of reducing hormone levels and suffer serious symptoms. Testosterone replacement therapy is the only surefire way to increase testosterone back to your normal levels, and the benefits speak for themselves.
- A better night’s sleep, no more long foggy days!
- More muscle, less fat, and a healthier body giving you confidence and self-belief
- Improved drive, motivation, and reduced symptoms of depression. Get your zest for life back again!
- Improved red blood cell count, some studies show testosterone treatment can increase red blood cell production, so oxygen is delivered more efficiently from your lungs to your organs.
- Better cardiovascular health, a healthy heart and lungs are central to you being fit and healthy. If your engine runs smoothly, so will you!
Most guys who embark on their testosterone replacement journey never look back. Natural hormone replacement therapy for optimum levels helps men regain the positive, healthy aspects of their younger years. Once upon a time, your hormones were at optimum levels, and your body was working like clockwork, and they can be again. With bioidentical testosterone therapy and our specialist team, we will help you regain your vitality and your lust for life!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please consult a doctor.