What Is Testosterone?
Before discussing how to increase testosterone levels in men, we need to look at testosterone and what it does.
Testosterone is the most well-known androgen. Androgens are a group of hormones that help communication 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.
A man's testosterone production ramps up during puberty, turning a boy into a man. This testosterone production keeps going until a man reaches 35 and then starts to drop. This production decline is normal and merely a part of growing older.
Having 'normal' testosterone levels is not always a given for many men and women. Various conditions and other factors can disrupt hormone levels: 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 (SSRIs)
- 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?
Hundreds of online articles and products claim that you can boost testosterone with lifestyle changes, including supplements, vitamins, and even oysters. The truth isn't so simple; you can increase levels but generally not in a way that will benefit you long-term. You can do things to prevent testosterone from falling too quickly, but you can't stop the 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 raise testosterone levels, but this will never be a long-term solution.
Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and anchovies are a great source of omega-3. They also contain vitamin D and zinc, which supposedly boost testosterone production. Tuna, fresh or canned, is also a great vitamin D source, with lots of protein and few calories. Zinc does help testosterone production, with the highest proportion found in oysters, crab, and other shellfish.
Zinc and vitamin D raise testosterone levels in hypogonadal men, but very few studies show how much or how it works. If you have reduced testosterone levels, foods claiming to boost levels will not restore production.
For argument's sake, you have a level of 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). If you eat a diet rich in zinc and vitamin D, your testosterone level may increase by 20%. It still leaves you with only 360 ng/dL. Not a big difference considering that an optimal level is in the 800-1100 bracket.
One study discovered that zinc supplements do nothing to raise testosterone levels if you already have enough zinc in your system. You can have too much zinc in your body. Zinc poisoning can cause stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea.
Other foods, such as the brassica family, including broccoli, kale, and cabbages, all claim to boost testosterone because they contain indole-3-carbinol. This chemical limits estrogen's effect, 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 on a long list of 'testosterone-boosting' foods. Eating plenty of fresh fruit and maintaining a healthy diet will help you keep your testosterone levels for longer. But don't rely on it to increase your levels significantly.
Can You Increase Testosterone with Exercise?
Many claim exercise can raise testosterone levels. There are loads of online articles making claims 'HIT' workouts will boost your levels and that exercise naturally increases testosterone. The truth of the matter is a little more complicated.
Let's start with the obvious. If you are overweight (and over 40), you will most likely have reduced testosterone levels. Exercise will probably help you lose weight, increase your testosterone, and make you healthier.
The problem is that visceral fat surrounding your internal organs produce 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). Many find it far easier to shed those pounds when they reach optimal levels. This ability to lose weight is because the relationship between fat, testosterone, and estradiol breaks, and your metabolism works efficiently again.
But can exercise itself directly promote the production of testosterone? Exercise does raise testosterone levels giving you a slight 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 work out.
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.
A study (1) of 100 sedentary guys found 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 helps kick start puberty, sexual maturity, and hair growth. The study also states:
'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. Getting enough exercise is a great preventative measure, but it will not get your hormone levels back to optimal.
(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, your testosterone levels will suffer if you suffer from a bad night's sleep or get too little.
Interestingly, lower testosterone often leads to 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), Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., found that men who slept less than five hours a night for one week had significantly lower testosterone levels. An average of 15% of the USA's adult working population gets five or fewer hours of sleep a night. There is a long understanding that lack of sleep disrupts hormones, but this study highlights just how disruptive it can be.
Getting more sleep when you already have reduced testosterone is unlikely to boost your levels. Maintaining good sleep patterns and getting 8 hours a night is essential; this may help maintain levels for longer.
On average, from around 35, you can expect levels to drop 1-2 % a year. So as you can see, sleep is crucial 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 are sleep-deprived, it may help. However, if you are well-rested, it will make very little difference.
(2) Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in healthy young 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 the stress hormone cortisol. At high levels, cortisol can push down testosterone levels and cause 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. It can disrupt your sleep, which can, in turn, kill your motivation to exercise and make you depressed. All of these can lead to bad eating habits, all of which can lower testosterone levels.
It is tough 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 can all induce self-loathing, significantly adding to feelings of stress.
With testosterone replacement therapy, men tend to regain vitality and lose weight more quickly. They also feel more confident and less stressed.
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 excessively, it can cause short- and long-term changes to your hormone health. It affects testosterone production in many ways.
Testosterone is produced in the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the testicles—alcohol abuse damages these glands, which affects your testosterone production in many ways.
- The hypothalamus releases a trophic peptide hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which 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 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 of your endocrine system. 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! 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 testosterone production, 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. 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, doctors can safely help guys maintain optimum levels.
Available as both injectable or a topical cream, Male Excel's TRT gives guys the freedom of choice and total convenience. The Male Excel medical providers prescribe both options as a daily treatment to raise testosterone back to optimal levels. A daily dose mimics your body's natural production avoiding the peak and troughs of outdated alternatives.
The medication is bioidentical, so it is indistinguishable from the real thing to your body's hormone receptors. This limits side effects.
So, How Can You Increase Testosterone Levels?
If you are young and healthy, with no medical issues, and eat a healthy diet, this supports testosterone levels. However, the problem for aging guys with reduced levels is that they will continue to decline.
The reality is that all men over 40 should probably look at replacing lost hormone levels with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Some men feel the effects of reducing hormone levels and suffer severe symptoms. With numerous benefits, testosterone replacement therapy is the most effective way to raise testosterone levels back to normal.
- A better night's sleep, no more long foggy days!
- More muscle, less fat, and a healthier body restore confidence and self-belief.
- Improved drive, increased 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. Oxygen is then delivered more efficiently from your lungs to your organs.
- Better cardiovascular health and a healthy heart and lungs are central to 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 lost energy and the vigor of younger years. Once upon a time, your hormones were optimum, your body worked like clockwork, and they could 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.