1. Exercise Hard and Fast to Boost T
Most of you probably think that all exercise is created equal. That it all has the same effect. For us guys over 40 though that’s not the case.
The best exercise for promoting a rise in testosterone levels is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a fast, furious, and brief exercise program that takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes per day. This tip delivers a two-fold benefit: it helps you increase testosterone levels through exercise and also reduces weight, which will naturally increase your T levels.
A new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reported that levels of testosterone rose immediately as well as 30 minutes after athletes engaged in HIIT. Another research effort showed that men who participated in HIIT showed a significant increase in testosterone and an improvement in their testosterone-to-cortisol ratio when they completed the exercise. An Italian study found that adding resistance exercise to HIIT also resulted in an increase in testosterone with a corresponding rise in cortisol.
Here’s how to practice HIIT. Take a cardio exercise, such as running. Run at maximum capacity for 30 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, then repeat the sequence seven more times. The first few times you do this exercise, you may complete only four or five sequences, but gradually increase it to seven or eight. You can choose whatever physical activity you want: running, jumping rope, an elliptical machine, rowing, or cycling. The secret is to perform your chosen activity at maximum effort followed by moderate activity and then repeating the sequence. Practice HIIT three to four times per week.
2. Stop All Long, Slow, Cardio Endurance Exercise
In contrast to fast, brief HIIT cardio workouts, which boost both testosterone and human growth hormone levels, long, slow cardio exercise has the opposite effect. According to Todd Schroeder, PhD, of the University of Southern California, amateurs and elite athletes alike who train too hard can experience a drop in their testosterone levels along with a climb in their cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Both of these bodily responses to long, slow physical effort are signs that they are harmful to the body.
Also, in a study that evaluated the effect of long duration cardio exercise (running on a treadmill for two hours five times a week), the male participants showed a decline in both their total and free testosterone and a rise in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). When SHBG levels rise, T levels fall because the former makes less testosterone available to the body.
Another study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, in middle-aged long-distance runners, “training was inversely proportionate to testosterone levels”—the longer the men ran, the lower their T.
So forget the 3-hour bike rides and marathon training. If you love to run then run fast and train for shorter distance races, or go on shorter, higher intensity mountain bike rides. One 2010 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that testosterone levels increased measurably in young men after they performed sprint intervals on a stationary bike lasting just six seconds. It doesn’t take much.
3. Start Lifting Weights
Exercise, particularly lifting heavy weights, increases testosterone—at least briefly. Studies from as far back as 1988 indicate that testosterone does jump significantly in response to exercise, especially compound-joint movements like squats, dead lifts, chins, and presses performed with weights equaling or exceeding 85 percent of what you can lift once (meaning you probably won’t be able to lift a weight that heavy more than five or six times). The time between sets should hover around thirty to sixty seconds, and the workout duration should remain at or around sixty minutes. Since T levels are typically highest in the morning, working out in the afternoon may result in a greater boost in average testosterone levels throughout the day.
All that said, although “lift weights to increase your T” has been an axiom among the überfit for decades, it’s actually unclear whether the temporary jump in testosterone brought on by strength training can have a noticeable impact on your long-term T levels. Still, those transient spikes in T will bring up your average T levels over the course of any day that you lift weights, and that certainly can’t hurt.
Either way, strength training should still be mandatory for all of us. Since the proven, indisputable benefits of exercise – for things like self-esteem, blood flow, and confidence – mimic many of the benefits of increased T (without the need to take drugs), the direct effect on T almost doesn’t matter.
4. Try And Sleep Seven Solid Hours
One important tactic in stopping the spiral down into the T basement? More sleep. If burning the midnight oil, getting up at the crack of dawn, and toughing it out all day with Red Bull makes you feel manly, be advised that it won’t do so for long: most of the T you burn off during the day is replenished during sleep – so the fewer Z’s you catch, the less time your body has to replenish those stores. One University of Chicago study found that men who averaged five hours of sleep a night experienced a 10 to 15 percent drop in testosterone the following day.
Older guys may be especially susceptible to the T-draining effects of skimping on sleep. One study found that young male rats who were deprived of sleep experienced a decline in testosterone over five days—but for older rats, the drop was even steeper, and it took longer for their T to return to normal when they resumed a regular sleep schedule.
Your mom was right: seven to eight hours of sleep a night is optimal for all-around health. When we were kids, we could afford to skimp a little more, but no longer. Get all the sleep you can—at night or in catnaps during the day.
Integrate these recommendations into your nightly routine and you can expect to experience better sleep:
- Eliminate all electronic devices from your sleeping area; that means TV (at least turn it off!), cell phones, laptops, and tablets
- Keep your room dark; even a lighted alarm clock can disturb some people
- Practice a stress-reducing activity immediately before retiring, such as progressive relaxation, visualization, meditation, a hot shower
- Use relaxing aromatherapy scents in your bedroom (e.g., lavender, rose, frankincense, vanilla)
- Sleep in the nude. You’ll sleep better, according to Dr. W. Christopher Winter, who says clothing interferes with natural body temperature fluctuations during the night.
- Keep it cool. Sleep in a cool room, about 65 degrees F. This tip, along with sleeping in the nude, supports a lower scrotum temperature and better T production, as well as promotes better sleep.
- If you have to get up to go to the bathroom at night don’t turn on the light. Instead, invest in a red or blue light torch to guide you so your body won’t think it’s time to get up.
5. Lower Your Stress As Much As Possible
Stress gets a bad rap in the twenty-first century. In reality, it’s as essential to our health as air or water. Just as your muscles and joints become weaker and smaller without a certain amount of impact and strain, we get restless, bored, and unfocused without a certain amount of stress in our lives. We’re made to absorb and deal with stress. Why go to sporting events, or participate in a sport, or even go to a movie or watch a TV show except to experience a vicarious sense of tension and drama?
Too much chronic stress, however, is harmful. Long-term chronic stress places an enormous load on your adrenal glands, leaving you fatigued, irritable, depressed, and turned-off. The stress hormone cortisol, produced in the adrenals, can also deplete the body of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is one of the major building blocks of testosterone. In short: higher cortisol, lower T.
It’s been theorized that, evolutionarily speaking, lower T was useful in times of high stress because the behaviors associated with high T – things like aggression, mating, and competitiveness – were likely to get you killed when the heat was on (remember that the hyper-aggressive soldier type always gets eaten in the first reel of a zombie flick, while the rational, more cautious hero survives). These days, it’s no longer tribal warfare and woolly mammoths that stoke our anxieties, but deadlines, angry bosses, and mortgage payments. Physiologically, however, the result is the same: high stress, low T.
Common stress relievers like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, positive visualization, and connecting with friends and family should be essential parts of your life anyway—but the additional boost these activities give to your T is yet another reason to commit to doing them regularly.
6. Lose As Much Weight As You Can
Abdominal fat increases the conversion of testosterone (and androstenedione, a precursor of testosterone) into estradiol, a female hormone. In turn, as estrogen increases, so does the tendency to store abdominal fat. As your T drops further, you’ll be even more likely to accumulate abdominal fat – and fat everywhere else as well.
All told, the fatter you get, the less T you have. So if you’re a heavier guy and can’t seem to rouse the energy to get out of bed, much less hit the gym after a day at work, it may not just be the additional heft that’s weighing you down, but also your exponentially worsening hormonal profile.
If you slim down, your T will increase, alongside all the other health benefits of weight loss you’ll receive. One 2012 study from the Endocrine Society found that when a group of over-forty pre-diabetic men lost weight, the incidence of low T in the group went down 50 percent.
I’ll also add that you actually don’t have to lose a huge amount of weight to reverse the T-sapping trend. Another study found that obese men who lost seventeen pounds (which is a manageable amount if you’re substantially overweight) saw their testosterone level increase by 15 percent. Even if you stop the cycle of packing on five pounds every year or so and merely maintain your current weight, you’ll be taking very positive steps in the right direction.
7. Clean Up Your Diet And Eliminate All Added Sugars
Many foods have been shown to cause a substantial drop in T. A 2009 study, for example, found that ingesting a solution of pure glucose (sugar in its simplest form) could suppress T levels by up to 25 percent for up to two hours afterward. Other research indicates that dioxins – a chemical family found in herbicides used to treat animal feed – can not only lower T levels, but also cause damage to the male reproductive system in other ways as well.
The takeaway here is that keeping T topped off means staying away from too much simple sugar and too many quick-digesting carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and desserts, which quickly convert to glucose in the body—though don’t eliminate carbs or lower them too steeply, either! (see the later slide on carbs). If you’re going to eat these things, you should at least eat them with other foods that take longer to break down, such as protein and veggies. Also, consider avoiding conventionally raised meat products, especially fatter cuts of meat (dioxins accumulate not in the lean tissue but in the fat of animals we eat), as well as nonorganic, high-fat dairy products.
8. Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain the phytonutrient (plant- based nutrient) indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a precursor to another tough-to-spell phytonutrient called diindolylmethane (DIM). Both I3C and DIM, which you can also take in supplement form, do clean-up detail on the harmful, T-sapping estrogens in your body, while also helping combat prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH;- an enlarged prostate). Take in these treelike veggies daily if you can. In general, veggies also help control inflammation (kale, spinach, and blueberries are especially good for this), which helps you stay lean and gives your T another added boost.
9. Go Green(er), Reduce Toxins, and Eliminate Environmental Chemicals
Xenoestrogens are chemical compounds that can ramp up estrogen production and destroy your T.
Unfortunately they are pretty ubiquitous. Here’s a partial list of where these nasty substances can show up (brace yourself):
- Inorganic meat products (choose organic as much as possible).
- Chemical-laden cleaning products (choose plant-based cleaners whenever possible and check the labels for chemicals).
- Any personal care products (shampoo, deodorant, lotions) that contain the following ingredients (all of which are estrogenic): DBP, DEP, DEHP, BzBP, DMP.
- Most products with “fragrances,” such as cleaning products, soap, shampoo, air fresheners, and scented candles. (Those made with essential oils are typically safe.)
- Most plastic containers for food and water, which contain BPA (bisphenol-A)—a substance that mimics estrogen in the body and reduces testosterone. Use glass or stainless steel containers instead.
- Anything that has been heated in a plastic container.(I don’t use a microwave for this reason!)
- Plastic bags. Here in California, they’re now banned in many stores, so we’re becoming a state of cloth-bag carriers. If your local store is lagging behind, opt for paper.
- Receipts. Surprisingly, about 50 percent of receipts contain BPA! Choose the email receipt option whenever possible. And when they ask, “Do you want your receipt in the bag?” say yes. Anywhere but in your hand.
That’s a hefty list I know. And I certainly don’t want you to hide out in your organically scrubbed apartment, Geiger-countering the mail for estrogenic substances. But be on the alert for these things and see if you can figure out ways to limit your consumption and handling of them. At the very least, grab on to the concept that T-sapping xenoestrogen substances are in items all around us, and that going organic and natural with as many of the products you buy as possible is for the best. Your T levels will thank you for it.
10. Socialize More
Unsurprisingly, T gets a healthy boost when you interact with attractive women. One study found that when heterosexual men had a five-minute conversation with an attractive woman, it caused T levels to jump 30 percent (conversing with other men caused a smaller jump of 13 percent). It should be noted that T levels saw a similar jump whether or not the women seemed interested in the men—evidence (as if any more were needed) that we’re sometimes as clueless as our wives and girlfriends say we are.
Finally, having actual sex causes T to increase as well. One study found that men over sixty who engaged in frequent sexual activity had significantly higher T than those who didn’t. Watching sexually arousing videos also increases T, as does masturbation. Ejaculation— contrary to common boxing-gym wisdom—does not cause testosterone levels to drop substantially, though, through the action of a number of other hormones, it does tend to mellow you out for a time. T is a social hormone, so get out there and interact.
11. Stay Away From "Phthalates"
Recently, information and studies have surfaced about a group of chemicals—found in plastics and personal health care products, among other places—that are a definite threat to our manhood.
“Phthalates” are even more of an insult to your system than they are to my spell-checker. They belong to the same class of pollutants as BPA, called “endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs). And although phthalates have been studied extensively (and declared “safe,” predictably, by interested parties), the true extent of the dangers they present is only now coming to light.
According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, “exposure to phthalates, chemicals found in plastics and personal care products, is associated with reduced androgen levels and associated disorders.” The study found that the presence of high levels of these chemicals in the urine of test subjects was associated with significantly reduced T levels in all the populations tested – men and women, young and old. There was a particularly pronounced reduction in boys ages six to twelve and men ages forty to sixty, for whom exposure was linked to a 13 percent decrease in T levels.
No pollutants are good, of course—but for men hoping to hang on to their masculinity hormones, phthalates are particularly nasty: the highest levels of phthalates are associated with all kinds of side effects from breast growth to infertility. So you’re smart to keep these pollutants out of your home as much as possible, and away from your family as well. The trouble is, they’re almost everywhere. Here’s a quick list of a few places you’re likely to find these chemicals:
- Plastic food and beverage containers, especially plastic-wrapped foods, such as meats and other produce.
- Hair spray and hair gel.
- Anything fragranced (soap, shampoo, air fresheners, laundry detergent, aftershave, face and hand lotions). If it’s scented, you can bet it contains phthalates and other EDCs.
- Insect repellent.
- Cleaning products.
- New cars. That “new car smell” is nothing but the fine scent of phthalates. Same with those plastic “hang tags” that the gas station sells to make your car small “nice” – avoid them at all cost!
- Vinyl flooring.
- Insulation on wires and cables.
- Shower curtains.
- Plastic toys.
- Steering wheels, dashboards, gearshifts.
- Medical devices (IV drip bags).
- Plastic sex toys.
- Sexual lubricants like K-Y Jelly.
- Cream-based dairy products.
- Pesticides found on conventionally raised fruits and vegetable.
Get the picture? Short of going off the grid, it’s hard to imagine a life without some exposure to phthalates – which is probably why they are found in the urine of 95 percent of people tested.
So the key is to get rid of as many of the highest-risk items as possible, using these few quick-and-dirty steps:
Go fragrance-free. Don’t use anything on your body or in your home that has a fake-smelling odor. Clear out all scented cleaning and personal body products, and look for brands that are fragrance-free or that are made using natural plant-based oils – or that carry the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment seal. Use plain bar soap for shaving (see below) and coconut oil for moisturizing. Go all-natural for your shampoos and conditioners, and ditch the aftershave.
Store food only in metal or glass. Avoid any packaging with the 3, 6, and 7 recycling codes. Packaging with these codes may contain phthalates or BPA. Instead, look for recycling codes 1, 2, 4, and 5, especially for anything in which you carry, store, or cook food. Mason jars are great for leftovers. Use stainless steel containers like the Klean Kanteen for drinking water.
Microwave in glass. Forget “microwave safe”: get some solid, high-quality glass or stainless steel containers for heating your food. Even supposedly “safe” plastics can leach EDCs into your foods at higher temperatures.
Go organic. Conventional agriculture is full of phthalates, thanks to pesticides—but not organic produce and meat. Get the good stuff whenever you can afford it. And avoid all meats that are wrapped in plastic—especially chicken—which often sit for days on display fermenting in E. coli bacteria. Buy the fresh cuts and get them wrapped in BPA-free paper. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Use non-synthetic bar soap. Antibacterial soaps and body washes often contain triclocarban, another EDC that has been associated with testosterone disruption and prostate enlargement. Use a good old-fashioned non-scented bar soap. You get the same cleanup without the side effects.
Go filtered. Filter your water. It may not be perfect – some EDCs may still get through despite the filtering – but it’s at least an ounce of prevention against some of the phthalates that show up in public drinking water.
Say N-O to the K-Y. Processed sexual lubricants contain chemicals linked to infertility, decreased sperm levels, and other endocrine-related disorders—not the stuff you want to be thinking about during sex. As an alternative, use coconut oil—it’s antibacterial and a great lubricant, and it tastes a lot better than K-Y. It’s also a great source of saturated fats that you can ingest in ways limited only by your imagination!
12. Add Supplements That Can Boost Testosterone
Flip to the back of just about any magazine whose readership is largely male, and you’ll see a host of products promising to make you ooze T from your pores. Many are dispensable, and a few are a complete waste of money, but I believe some have enough legitimate science behind them to warrant your attention.
Here are the best ones, which I take myself – and, full disclosure, I have also developed these into a formula for men that I take and highly recommend called EveryDay Male.
- Vitamin D: A deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with low T, so make sure you’re getting enough. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, cheese, eggs, and fortified products like milk, but this may be one vitamin that’s best to take in supplement form, as it can be hard to get enough of it from whole foods.
- Zinc: Similarly, your T may drop if your zinc level falls below a certain threshold (though that doesn’t mean that getting more zinc beyond that limit turns you into Superman). You can find zinc in lean meats, poultry, beans, eggs, nuts, and chickpeas. Supplement, if necessary, with 15 milligrams per day.
- Avena sativa: More commonly known as wild oats, Avena sativa inspired the expression “sow your wild oats.” An extract from oats called avenacosides enhances the release of a luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates production of testosterone. Wild oats also boost sex drive and help support better erectile function.
- Tribulus terrestris: This is an herb that contains a saponin substance called protodioscin, which also seems to boost testosterone by stimulating the release of a luteinizing hormone. The herb also increases production of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is a precursor of testosterone.
- Green tea extracts: Green tea extracts, including the catechins, can interfere with testosterone “glucuronidation” (a metabolic process leading to the breakdown of T), causing an increase in the level of circulating testosterone.
- Stinging nettle: This is an herb that has long been used to treat urinary tract problems, including those associated with prostate problems such as prostatitis and BPH. Stinging nettle also has an ability to interfere with the hormone SHBG, as noted by several researchers. It works “by blocking the interaction between free testosterone and SHBG, thereby making higher levels of free testosterone available in the body.”
- Tongkat ali: This is a tree that is native to countries in the Far East. In a 2012 study, seventy-six men with low testosterone were given 200 milligrams of tongkat ali daily for one month, after which over 90 percent of them had normal levels. In a more recent study, thirteen older, physically active men took 400 milligrams of tongkat ali extract daily for five weeks, after which the men showed a significant increase in both total and free T concentrations.
- Magnesium: A 2011 study of martial arts athletes and sedentary men indicated that a magnesium supplement of 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight raised free and total testosterone levels both at rest and after exercise.
- I3C and DIM, two phytonutrients found in cruciferous vegetables, can also be taken in supplemental form, which may aid in restoring the balance between estrogen and testosterone in the body.
- Fenugreek, or Greek hay, often used in cooking, boosts libido and “may assist to maintain normal healthy testosterone levels,” as noted in a 2011 study. There was also a 2010 study that suggested fenugreek may aid in muscle-building and fat-burning; another study showed that it boosts free testosterone.
Here are the other main supplements I take daily:
13. Drink Coffee (sometimes)
Caffeine – and coffee in particular – appears to boost athletic performance and reduce inflammation, and it may give your T a boost as well. One small study, conducted on people who had undergone a two-week abstinence from coffee, found that after four weeks, men drinking caffeinated coffee increased their total testosterone and decreased their concentration of estradiol, whereas men drinking decaffeinated coffee did not. After eight weeks, however, the differences leveled off.
For self-experimenting types, that means you’ll probably get the biggest boost out of caffeine by cycling it: abstaining for a couple of weeks, then going back to it when you need a little extra edge. I know one guy – a competitive runner – who drinks virtually no caffeine year-round, then loads up on it on race day. He swears by that technique, and if you’re that disciplined, go for it. Other athletes I know use flat Coca-Cola on race day instead of traditional sports drinks.
Practically speaking, even if you cycle it, caffeine is never going to turn you from a muskrat to a musk ox. Still, a little joe won’t hurt your T levels, either, and because of its other benefits (improved alertness, focus, and athletic performance, reduced inflammation), guys over forty may want to drink a cup or two a day. Just pass on the cream and sugar.
14. Take Ice Baths and Cold Showers
Submerging some or all of your body in ice water or taking cold showers may not be the first, or the most pleasant thing, you think of when looking to get a T boost – but the following studies have suggested a strong link between cold therapy and optimal testicular function. For example:
- A Japanese study found that, for DNA synthesis, sperm production, and “most likely” for testosterone production as well, the optimal temperature is 87 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit – a few degrees below body temp.
- One animal study found that exposing rats to high temperatures substantially lowered testicular weight and testosterone production; two others demonstrated that the Leydig cells of monkeys and rams secrete testosterone more effectively when cooled than when exposed to heat.
- In a 2013 study, researchers studying 6,455 men over a period of three years found that sperm quality, volume, and motility were significantly higher in the colder months of the year (making you more fertile during winter months). Since the same hormones stimulate sperm production and testosterone production, cold may help you crank out more T as well.
I’ll also add that colder temps in general may enable fat loss, lower inflammation, and, at night, facilitate better sleep, particularly in those of us who exercise a lot and whose core temperatures tend to run a little hot (pro athletes, for example, almost always prefer to sleep in a colder room). Better sleep, as I mentioned earlier, facilitates higher T. Most studies agree that a temperature above 60 and below 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleeping, while temps below 54 and above 75 are disruptive.
For most guys, installing an in-home ice bath is probably going a little overboard. But the DIY version is pretty easy: run the tub (cold water only) and top it off with three to four big bags of ice (or enough to make a solid two-inch-thick layer of ice in the tub). The first few times out, submerge your lower body only (I recommend wearing shorts to avoid any ice-to-skin contact on delicate areas) and stay in for three to five minutes at a stretch. Over time, work up to full-body immersion for ten to fifteen minutes at a stretch – or as long as you can handle it!
Another alternative is cryotherapy, which I do 2-3 times a week. Basically it involves a 3-minute session standing mostly naked in a nitrogen filled chamber that reduces your outer body temperature to close to freezing point. There are a lot of commercial cryotherapy centers popping up at the moment so search your local area for one close to you if you want to try it. I highly recommend it.
15. Do An Alcohol Fast
If you’re committed to increasing your T and getting healthy then you need to completely eliminate alcohol for the next month. Here’s why:
Alcohol packs on the fat
It’s pretty simple: if you want to lose weight and decrease fat, cut out the alcohol and give your liver a rest. Among the many critical tasks your liver performs, two of them are the metabolism of testosterone and fat. However, when you drink it overloads your liver and causes it to metabolize (burn) the alcohol as a priority rather than fat. That extra fat just hangs around in the liver and piles on the extra pounds. You’d be surprised how many calories are in your drinks – and how they add up over the days, weeks, and months. Two glasses of wine a day? That can add up to 10-15,000 extra calories a month. Giving up drinking is probably the #1 thing you can do if you are looking to lose weight and increase your T – period.
Alcohol messes up your liver
The liver is the organ responsible for processing food and beverages into energy and nutrients as well as being a detox center for removing damaging substances from your blood. Drinking alcohol can seriously damage or destroy your liver cells, which can result in a breakdown of these vital processes.
I’ve already mentioned how the liver breaks down alcohol over fat, and that process is also a key risk factor in the development of liver diseases associated with alcohol consumption. These include alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis, two conditions characterized by fat deposits in liver cells. Alcoholic cirrhosis, the most advanced type of liver damage associated with alcohol, involves severe scarring and disruption of liver structure and function. Not a good thing.
Alcohol reduces your T – significantly
When you’re partying, your liver is hard at work breaking down the alcohol, and that process interferes with one of the liver’s other jobs: producing testosterone. So while the alcohol is going down, so are your T levels.
In a four-week study, normal, healthy men who consumed 220 grams (7.7 oz) of alcohol daily saw their testosterone levels decline significantly after only five days – and continue to drop throughout the whole period of the study.
Plenty of studies confirm this, including a recent one that discusses the effect of alcohol on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis—the hormonal network that affects male reproduction. Turns out that alcohol not only lowers T but generally lowers fertility as well—a fact that may have been welcome news back when you were a tipsy teenager looking for action on a Friday night, but probably not so much now that you’re an adult trying to hang on to your T.
So if you’re struggling with low T you should cut back on the alcohol or eliminate it completely for a while and see how your body (an T level) reacts.
Drinking contributes to prostate cancer
Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, wine, and bourbon, contain congeners – substances that have estrogen-like properties that can play a role in the development of cancer. (Clear alcoholic beverages have the least amount of congeners; e.g., gin, vodka, white rum, and white wine.) Those estrogen-like traits in your drink can contribute to the development of prostate cancer by damaging genetic information in your cells and causing inflammation, two classic factors involved in the birth of cancer, even if you have just a few drinks.
Alcohol promotes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (not a good thing)
As you age, your T levels decline and your estrogen levels tend to rise, as do levels of the enzyme (aromatase) that converts T to estrogen. Drinking alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to get rid of excess estrogen, because the liver, which is responsible for eliminating extra estrogen, has to focus on metabolizing the alcohol instead. That leads to an accumulation of extra estrogen, which contributes to extra weight and fat cells as I mentioned above. And these fat cells are where aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen.
In case you were wondering what higher estrogen levels mean for men – think, low testosterone, man boobs, increased body fat, an increased risk of prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, heart attack and stroke, as well as a higher risk of bone loss and fracture. That’s just for starters. All stuff you want to avoid as you age.
Drinking reduces your libido and sexual performance
You may feel superhuman as you leave the bar, but wishing won’t make it so. Long-term use of alcohol is associated with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Even among younger men(18-25), alcohol use plays a role in premature ejaculation.
Drinking is just wasted calories
Alcohol contains virtually no nutritional value, and drinking can contribute to malnutrition because some people get a large percentage of their daily calories from alcohol (and sodas) rather than food. So the message is “don’t drink your calories” – get them from nutritious, plant-based organic sources – not beer and wine.
You want to perform at your peak athletically, sexually, and mentally as you age. And you want to continue to stay in peak physical health. So consider doing an “alcohol fast.” Maybe it’s something you’ll end up doing on a more consistent basis as the benefits are pretty convincing.
16. Eat Healthy Fats
There’s a reason that injectable T is administered in an oily solution: it’s fat-soluble. Cutting fat out of your diet – or even lowering it substantially – can reduce T levels. One study indicated that a diet consisting of less than 40 percent fat (with that fat coming mostly from animal sources) can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels.
Another study showed that increasing fat consumption from 20 percent of total calories to 40 percent increased T levels significantly. Conversely, following a low-fat, high-fiber diet (ironically, the type of diet that was strongly recommended for optimal health even up to a decade ago), reduces testosterone by 12 percent. While 40 percent is an awfully high percentage of your diet to come from fat calories, this fact certainly drives home the point that dietary fat is important. So make (the right) fat your friend including fatty fish (omega 3 oils), coconut oil, avocados, and nuts.
17. Don't Be Scared of Carbs
After the Great Dietary Fat Scare of the 1980s and 1990s turned out to be overblown, the Twenty-First-Century Carb Crackdown quickly took its place. Carbs stand accused of all manner of crimes, from expanding waistlines to brain fog to, invariably, diabetes and obesity.
When it comes to overly processed junk food (corn syrup–laden desserts, Wonder Bread, Saltines, sugary cereals), I couldn’t agree more: that stuff’s nutritionally bankrupt crap. But legitimate whole-wheat products, eaten in moderation, are another story entirely – the much maligned bread and pasta included, which have caused all kinds of objections.
A recent study in the journal Life Sciences found that men who ate a high-carb diet for ten days had higher T and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than men who ate low-carb during the same period. If you exercise regularly (or perhaps plan to start exercising regularly soon), a low-carb diet is an even worse idea. In 2010, researchers studied the effect of low-carb dieting on athletic performance and found that after just three days of low-carb dieting, most subjects were unable to complete a cycling test. After three days back on carbs, they completed the test with ease.
Low-carb dieting, then, results in lower T, higher cortisol, and a drop in athletic performance. And since exercising hard and heavy is one of the most potent ways to up your T, eating low-carb is, effectively, another double whammy against your T levels.
Don’t take this advice as a license to chow down on carbs of any kind: consumption of an exceptionally high-carb meal results in a temporary drop in circulating T. Moderate carb consumption seems to be the way to go.
18. Eliminate All Soy Products
Stroll through the aisle of your average GNC or Vitamin Shoppe and you’ll see tons of protein powders loaded up with soy. There’s a reason: soybeans are cheap and plentiful, and it’s easy to grind them up and make them into protein-filled powder (usually called soy protein isolate on the label) that consumers think will help them build muscle.
My advice is to stay away. After years of back-and-forth wrangling, researchers have demonstrated conclusively that if you’re trying to hold on to your testosterone, skip the soy. In active men, soy protein lowers T and raises cortisol – the stress hormone that most of us already have plenty of. Estrogen levels may also be affected, and not in a good way: one study (in which subjects admittedly ate soy in huge quantities) showed that some of the male subjects developed breast enlargement and nipple discharge. Yikes.
Read the labels on your protein powder, and skip the tofu at the local vegetarian joint.
19. Eat Protein - But In Moderation
The caveman in all of us would probably like to believe that a high-protein diet boosts testosterone: you spend the day hunting the elk, you drink its blood and eat its flesh, it makes you strong and manly.
Sorry. Stuffing yourself morning to night with flesh of one kind or another (as some obsessive Atkins proponents do) won’t up your T – and according to one small study from 2008, it might even lower it by boosting insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which interferes with T production. So as far as T goes, eating either way too much or way too little of any of the three major macronutrients (carb, fat, and protein) is wrongheaded. Balance is key.
Still, protein is essential for building muscle and repairing tissue, as well as for satiety. And protein also contains branched-chain amino acids, a potent muscle-builder and promoter of T levels. So though you probably shouldn’t pound down an 84-ounce porterhouse every night, you should make sure you’re getting enough good-quality protein throughout the day – from vegetarian sources, salmon and sardines, and some organic meats.
20. Stop Using Using Marijuana and Other Drugs
Many men believe there’s no harm in enjoying marijuana every now and then, but the drug can be affecting your testosterone. The THC in marijuana, for example, affects testosterone levels by blocking the release of GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone). This causes a decline in the levels of two hormones (luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone), which in turn results in reduced T production by the Leydig cells in the testis. Another study found that prolonged exposure to THC resulted in a decline in human growth hormone among male volunteers. The decrease in HGH was associated with suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, a system that coordinates the activities of major hormones.
Also, if you want to have a family, marijuana can have an impact on your fertility. In a 2015 study of 1,215 healthy young men, there was a 28 percent lower sperm concentration and a 29 percent lower total sperm count among those who smoked marijuana more than once per week. Use of marijuana more than once per week along with use of other recreational drugs reduced sperm concentration by 52 percent and sperm count by 55 percent. Use of other recreational drugs, including anabolic steroids, cocaine, opioid narcotics, and methamphetamines all have a negative impact on male fertility including damage to sperm function and testicular structure.
Here's Your "T Boosting" Plan For the Month in A Nutshell
Try to remember to apply as many of the tips and information as you can over the next 30 days. Good luck!
- Exercise Harder and Faster, Using HIIT Training Methods
- Stop All Long, Slow, Cardio Endurance Exercise
- Start Lifting Weights
- Try And Sleep Seven Solid Hours
- Lower Your Stress Levels
- Lose As Much Weight As Possible
- Clean Up Your Diet – And Eliminate Sugar
- Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables
- Go Green(er), and Eliminate Toxins
- Socialize More
- Stay Away From “Phthalates” And Other Chemicals
- Take Supplements That Boost T
- Drink Coffee
- Take Ice Baths and Cold Showers
- Do An Alcohol Fast
- Eat Healthy Fats
- Don’t Be Scared of Carbs
- Eliminate All Soy
- Eat Protein – But In Moderation
- Stop Using Using Marijuana and Other Drugs
Next….your “T-Boosting Shopping List“.
Your "T-Boosting Shopping List"
General Principles of Shopping for Higher T Foods:
- Organic/grass-fed/free-range should always be the priority when possible and where budget allows.
- Where applicable, eat food in its raw state, not juiced.
- No commercial fruit juices.
- Frozen organic vegetables are okay.
- Items marked with an asterisk “*” below are low on the glycemic index and help with stabilizing blood sugars.
Some Additional Grocery-Shopping Rules
- Buy as much local produce as possible.
- Shop at local farmers markets.
- Avoid big organic brands (like Horizon milk, for example). Most large corporate organic brands are technically “organic” but fail many of my principles of healthy living (they use GMO seeds, have unhealthy living conditions for chickens, cows and other animals, etc.).
- Buy eggs that come only from small non-factory farms, and that come from chickens that are pasture-fed, free-range, and organic.
Meat and Dairy (always organic)
- beef (In very moderate amounts. Look for organic, grass-fed only.)
- butter (Organic, pasture-raised—look for a bright yellow color, indicating high omega-3 and carotene.)
- chicken (In moderation – always organic, hormone free)
- eggs (Only pasture-fed/organic and free-range. Maximum two servings a week.)
- Greek yogurt (Organic, in moderation.)
- kefir (Non-GMO. Use sparingly, as it is a dairy source)
- sardines (only those in non-BPA cans.)
- wild Alaskan salmon (Vital Choice brand offers home delivery.)
- canned salmon and tuna (BPA-free cans only.)
- baby spinach
- bell peppers*
- green beans*
- lettuce (boston, green leaf, red leaf)*
- onions (red and white)
- tomatoes (raw or in bottles, never canned)
- wheat germ
- whole wheat Ezekiel-brand bread
- split peas
- white beans
- Manuka honey (from New Zealand)
Beans and Legumes
- black beans
- fava beans
- garbanzo beans
- kidney beans
- lentils (green, red, and black)
- pinto beans
- oats and oatmeal
- dark 70–100 percent cacao chocolate (cacao percentage depending on taste)
- dark-chocolate goji berries dark-chocolate-covered
Nuts, Seeds, and Oils
- brazil nuts
- chia seeds
- coconut oil
- extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
- flaxseeds and flaxseed oil macadamia nuts
- red palm oil
- MCT oil
- nut and seed butters (e.g., almond butter, hemp seed butter)
- palm kernel oil
- pumpkin seeds*
- sesame seeds
- sunflower seeds walnuts
Grocery Items (in glass jars or frozen, no cans)
- miso (in moderation) Herbs and Spices
- turmeric oregano
chili peppers cinnamon
- Vega “Sport” Performance Protein Powder
- curry powder
- Paradise Herbs “Protein & Greens” Antioxidant Protein Powder
The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”
Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) prepares a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” which is a list of the twelve conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues. For 2016, the “dirty” list included apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and potatoes. The number of different pesticides varies for each food item, but the concentrations are high relative to other produce. Always strive to buy only organic foods for those listed on the “dirty” list.
On the positive side, the EWG also prepares a list of the “Clean Fifteen.” These fruits and vegetables have demonstrated few and low concentrations of pesticides. For 2014 they included avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. “Clean” foods can be purchased nonorganic if your budget doesn’t allow for the organic option.
- coconut water
- organic coffee (freshly ground preferred)
- organic green tea
- organic hibiscus tea
- Japanese matcha “ceremonial” tea powder
- kombucha probiotic drink
- white tea
- almond milk
- rice milk
- coconut milk drink
- filtered water (if buying in plastic bottles, avoid bottles with the recycling codes 3, 6, or 7)
All must be labeled “fragrance-free” and contain natural oils. Visit the Environmental Working Group for critical information about personal care products.
Deodorant: Make sure the type you choose is not aluminum-based (most that are labeled “antiperspirant” are; most with “deodorant” only on the label are not). Choose a fragrance free/non-paraben brand like Crystal Rock.
Soap: Avoid anything labeled “antibacterial.” Triclosan, the chemical that kills bacteria, is
a hormone disrupter currently on its way to being (rightfully) banned in commercial products.
Shampoo: Watch out for fragrances, preservatives, and the “surfactants” SLS, SLES, and DEA. Mousse and gel: These products often contain carcinogens, human and animal toxicants, and environmental pollutants. Consider switching to an organic product.
Shaving cream: Anything that’s as foamy and fragrant as the stuff your dad used to use is almost certain to contain nasty chemicals that suck your testosterone. Try using coconut oil instead or a natural soap.
Moisturizer and face creams: It’s shocking how many chemicals we smear on our faces every day. Aim for chemical-and fragrance-free products.
Laundry products: Loaded with endocrine disrupters (often in the form of fragrances), laundry products are the most toxic personal care products on the market. Because we wear clothing covered with its residue during most of our daily lives, it also has a huge potential to do us harm. Detergents do not always list dangerous ingredients, so let the buyer beware on this one.
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