Understanding Testosterone and How To Boost It Naturally
Testosterone is one of your body’s most misunderstood hormones. Some might assume that it makes you unnaturally aggressive. Others think that an “alpha male” type obviously has more testosterone flaring through their bodies than others. There’s a lot we think we know about this hormone. But not a lot of it is truth.
You might think of it as the hormone that creates beards and moustaches. You might think of it as a hormone that boosts libido.
This article is going to dispel some myths and break down how this little hormone is one of your best friends in the gym. We’ll even show you what it takes to boost your testosterone naturally so that you can see even greater benefits.
What Does Testosterone Do?
Starting from puberty, a man’s body starts to secrete testosterone. And this is when your body starts to show signs that you have a masculine body. Facial hair, a pronounced Adam’s Apple, a deeper voice, and hair growth on the body come from this hormone.
It also is responsible for increased muscle density. And, while testosterone is produced in the testicles, it’s not just a male hormone - however it is true that men have 7-8 times more testosterone in their bodies than women, making it a very important hormone in the male body.
If you take a look at the chemical compound of testosterone, you’ll see that this hormone is essentially an anabolic steroid. That means that it enhances the production and synthesis of protein in your body. This accounts for the increased muscle in male bodies. Bodybuilders and high-performance athletes have been known to supplement their bodies with synthetic testosterone to boost their bodies’ ability to produce muscle mass. But does it work?
Measuring Testosterone Levels
Testing testosterone levels is can only be done through blood tests and the best time is in the morning because your levels will fluctuate throughout the day. Most of your testosterone is derived from your cholesterol, which is made while you sleep.
Average men have between 300-800 nanograms of testosterone per decilitre of blood. It’s a confusing measurement, but that’s what the doctors use. You can actually have too little and too much testosterone, both causing negative side effects that you want to steer clear from. When you get your testosterone measured, the test is looking for free testosterone - this is the testosterone flowing in your blood that is ready to be used by your body.
19-39% of men have low testosterone in their bodies. Anything below the 300 ng/dL is considered low. Here are some contributing factors that may be lowering your testosterone levels.
- Age - A 20-year-old is producing their maximum testosterone levels and it decreases from there. This is a natural process and the older you are, the less natural testosterone your body will produce.
- Stress - Stress affects the hormones that encourage testosterone to be released. Stress causes cortisol to be released which inhibits testosterone.
- Gland Disorders - With any disorder in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus or testicles will result in low levels
- Injury to the Testicles
But there are ways to naturally boost your testosterone levels so that you can see more improvements in the gym. Through the routines you create and the food you eat, you can encourage your body to produce higher levels of testosterone.
Boost Your Testosterone Levels
The system to produce testosterone is complicated and involves many steps along the way. Two different glands secreting four different hormones cause your body to release testosterone into your bloodstream.
You can’t simply treat low testosterone with a shot from your doctor. The shot won’t affect a difference in your mood, your libido, or more importantly, your ability to produce muscle. You need to affect the entire chain to see results. Who would have thought that you body would turn out to be complicated?
NOTE: If you are serious about boosting your testosterone, make sure to test your levels. Get a baseline so you know where you are at, and test after 4-6 weeks of these new methods to see results.
But you can do it. Tim Ferris, in his book The 4-Hour Body experimented with his own body to determine the best results for boosting testosterone. You can increase your body’s testosterone production and reception. And one of the first ways doesn’t involve eating or drinking anything at all. But you probably won’t like it.
Cold showers work too. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating your heat production in response to cold. By taking 10 minute ice baths or cold showers in the morning, you initiate that response to boost the hypothalamus releasing it’s hormones. It’s full of wonderful benefits for your recovery periods and intermittent exposure to cold temperatures has a measurable impact on testosterone levels.
Eat ”Good” Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is healthy and it inhibits a hormone called SHBG or Sex-hormone binding globulin. It attaches itself to testosterone and makes it inert. It’s not bad, but you want less of it so you can have more free testosterone to do it’s work on your muscles. HDL cholesterol is found in the egg yolk, 200 mg to be precise. So 3-4 eggs per day will boost your body’s ability to inhibit the SHBG that could be slowing your testosterone down.
Brazil nuts and almonds to be exact. The selenium found in Brazil nuts work directly on the testes productiveness. More selenium means a healthier testes region. Almonds work directly on that chain of hormones that start from your hypothalamus. It encourages production of LHRH, or luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, which stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. They also come loaded with Vitamin E, a great inhibitor to stress. Stress is NOT your friend if you have low testosterone levels. A handful of almonds a day or some organic almond butter should give you the daily value you’ll need to see results.
Fish oil and cod liver oil are both excellent sources of Vitamin A which has a positive effect on the production of testosterone. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are also rich sources of Vitamin A, but it’s not as easy is taking a spoonful of cod liver oil. It doesn’t taste great, but it works.
Vitamin D is one of the one vitamins that you don’t ingest but that your body produces. Get enough sunlight and your body will respond by producing Vitamin D. Just 10 minutes of full sunlight on your body will produce up to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D. It’s also one of the most important vitamins associated with the production of testosterone.
Vitamin D also has the effect of increasing the percentage of your fast-twitch muscle fibres and increasing the muscle fibre size as well. Only persistent full-body exposure to sun will produce the necessary quantities of this vitamin.
Your body’s testosterone production will peak around 20 years old. And then as you age, your production decreases. When it comes to playing around your body’s hormone production, it’s better to be too informed than too little. You should know that testosterone does have an effect on muscle growth and low levels will affect your body’s performance.
If you think you may have low testosterone levels, the best thing to do is consult with a doctor first and then take healthy, actionable steps toward helping your body increase production.