Originally distributed from prostate.net as the e-book Testosterone Forever: The Complete Guide to Increasing and Maintaining Testosterone As You Age by Craig Cooper, host of the CNBC network show “Adventure Capitalists”, advocate for 40+ men’s health, and the founder of Prostate.net.
This book contains advice and information relating to health care. It is not intended to replace medical advice and should be used to supplement rather than replace regular care by your doctor. It is recommended that you seek your physician’s advice before embarking on any medical program or treatment. All efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the information contained in this book as of the date of publication. The publisher and the author disclaim liability for any medical outcomes that may occur as a result of applying the methods suggested in this book.
Between the ages of 46 and 52, I increased my testosterone levels by 36 percent, despite the fact that a normal man’s T levels typically begin to decline by about 1 percent per year starting at age 30.
Here’s something else about T levels that make those dropping values more concerning-and the fact that I turned mine around even more satisfying. A 2013 study revealed that a man who turned 65 in 2002 had testosterone levels that were approximately 20% lower than those of a man who turned 65 in 1987.1 The scientists found that overall, men’s testosterone levels had dropped 17 percent from 1987 to 2004, and that’s after the experts allowed for factors such as diabetes and obesity, which are generally known to cause a decline in T levels.
Obviously, something is making our T levels decline, and it’s not just about getting older.
And guess what: there’s evidence to support this claim.
A ground-breaking study from a team of researchers at the University of Sydney recently found that the decline in T levels as men get older appears to be the result-and not the cause-of worsening health. According to the study’s principal investigator, David Handelsman, MD, PhD, growing older, by itself, has no impact on testosterone levels in healthy older men. In his own words:
“The modest decline in blood testosterone among older men, usually coupled with nonspecific symptoms, such as easy fatigue and low sexual desire, may be due to symptomatic disorders that accumulate during aging, including obesity and heart disease. It does not appear to be a hormone deficiency state.” (My emphasis)
And here’s the next critical statement: “Older men with testosterone levels do not need testosterone therapy unless have diseases of their pituitary or testes.” (My emphasis again)2
So what’s going on with our testosterone? How did I-and how can you• stop and even reverse the decline of testosterone, make your T levels significantly better–and here’s the important part-without drugs or unnecessary, damaging testosterone replacement therapy. Forget the infomercials, internet ads, drug company pitches, and email blasts telling you to need to use testosterone pills, patches, or shots to battle your flagging T levels and the associated symptoms.
Ignore any claims that rhino powder, tiger penises, or some magic voodoo elixir will restore your “T” (however, there are scientifically proven natural supplements that can help with natural T levels-much more about them in later chapters). Manhood isn’t in any of these things, and it isn’t in testosterone replacement therapy either. In fact, medical testosterone replacement therapy should be used only by a very small percentage of men who have very specific medical conditions-but more about that later.
If you’re a post-forty male like me, you’re likely wanting to hold on for as long as possible to what’s left of your sex life, physique, and mind, and to significantly enhance all three. I did it, and you can too. That’s why in the next few chapters I will:
• Reveal what every man needs to know about a proven ways to boost your T levels without supplemental testosterone, aka prescription testosterone or testosterone replacement therapy. In fact, I’m going to explain why T therapy, which uses the synthetic hormone to alter your testosterone levels, is definitely not the way to go for the vast majority of men.
• Explain in detail how you can easily incorporate simple T-boosting lifestyle actions into your daily life.
• Discuss the pros and significant cons of taking prescription testosterone therapy; and
• Explain how to use testosterone therapy safely if you decide to ignore my advice on natural treatments and use it anyway.
Remember though I’m not a doctor. I’m just a guy that took my health into my own hands. I spent 15 years researching and being a test dummy for my own experiments in order to keep myself performing at my peak in all the areas that matter – mentally, sexually, and physically. I’m 53 now and I’ve never felt better – and my T levels have never been higher. That’s the life-changing information that I want to pass on to you. You can take it or leave it. Follow my advice or not – it’s your decision.
But first, some basics:
CHAPTER 1: TESTOSTERONE 101
You might remember back in sex-ed or health class when you were told how testosterone was the male sex hormone responsible for putting hair on your chest and between your legs, deepening your voice, pumping up your muscles, and making it time to wear that condom if you didn’t want fatherhood added to your resume anytime soon. Testosterone also has a role in building and maintaining bone density, muscle, and strength while indirectly reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by helping men lower their cholesterol, burn glucose more efficiently, and lowering fat.
In other words, T is one potent hormone, and your testes dutifully keep producing it (with a small amount of help from the adrenal glands) throughout your life, although as I mentioned before, levels do begin to drop off around age 30.
What Brings Testosterone Levels Down?
Our testosterone levels are under attack from all angles, beginning with, but not exclusively because of, aging. Testosterone decline associated with aging is caused by the overactivity of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that transforms T into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). You may recognize DHT as the culprit in another age-related issue facing many men: hair loss and balding, as well as an enlarged prostate and even an increased risk of cancer. When testosterone is converted to DHT, it also automatically reduces T levels.
Another source of attack on our T levels is lifestyle, including the Fearsome Four:
• Sedentary lifestyle (basically, not exercising, or moving enough); and
• Being overweight
These factors usually exist in tandem, a relationship that can work to our advantage since if you address the first three effectively, the fourth challenge should literally go away. In the next chapters, I’ll share with you the tips and lifestyle changes I found that will bring your T levels up and improve your overall well-being.
Another T thief is chemical exposure, especially pesticides and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These EDCs, which include substances such as phthalates, Bisphenol-A (BPA), aluminum, mercury, lead, bovine growth hormones, monosodium glutamate, fluoride, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), among others, are found in everyday products ranging from vinyl flooring to personal hygiene products, household cleaning products, food packaging, plastic products, and food. Once in your system, they can interfere with testosterone production, especially with prolonged exposure.
Did you know, for example, that the most widely used drugs to lower cholesterol-statins-can lower testosterone levels, or that exposure to the commonly used pesticide Roundup can do the same?23.4 (Think you’re not being exposed to Roundup? You are if you’re eating soybeans or any soy products, as well as most non-organic fruits and vegetables). Exposure to phthalates has been associated with reproductive problems in men, including the death of mature sperm cells, a decline in testosterone levels, and damage to sperm DNA.5 Serious stuff right!
The chemical connection appears to go deep–genetically deep–and is affecting males at an increasingly younger age and resulting in serious health problems. The incidence of birth defects affecting the testicles and penis, for example, has been rising in the United States, as has the rate of testicular cancer.6 Exposure to BPA in the womb has been associated with cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), the most common congenital birth defect in boys. 7
The list goes on and on. One disturbing feature about these chemical attacks on testosterone and male reproduction is that something called transgenerational epigenetics may be at play. Transgenerational epigenetics is a field of study into the environmental impacts passed along from generation to generation. Numerous animal studies have already shown us that exposure to some toxins can cause epigenetic changes that can be inherited, which means we could be “gifting” our children and future generations with environmental influences that hack away at our testosterone levels.
What Happens When T Levels Decline?
As testosterone levels take a slow nose dive, the accompanying signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe, start out slowly and accelerate, or creep up on you until one day you look in the mirror and don’t recognize who’s looking back. You may experience:
• lack of sex drive
• weight gain
• increasing irritability
• loss of muscle tone
• difficulty focusing and concentrating
• bone loss
• hair loss
• erectile dysfunction
It’s a pretty depressing list for guys. But the testosterone decline doesn’t have to be a one-way street. I decided I was going to take control of these potential life changes as much as possible by making some simple yet powerful lifestyle modifications that massively affected my personal testosterone levels and energy. The end result has been and continues to be extremely satisfying physically, emotionally, and mentally, and my “T• success” has motivated me to share my experiences with you and help you make the changes you need to achieve the same goal.
When you commit to making those modifications (and notice I said “when” and not “if,” because I have confidence you’ll jump at the chance to kick-start your life), you’ll experience life-altering changes. No, they won’t happen overnight, but depending on where your T levels are when you take your first steps and how faithfully you adopt the changes, you can expect to feel some positive results within weeks.
The Two Faces of Testosterone
Just like most things in life, moderation and balance are the key. Too little testosterone has its issues, as do abnormally high levels. The secret is to achieve the balance that works for you.
According to a Pennsylvania State study, men who have slightly above• average testosterone levels are more likely to have lower blood pressure, a more robust sex life and libido, an enhanced sense of well-being, and lower incidence of obesity. Other research9 has shown that those higher T levels also may help protect against memory loss, attention difficulties, and other signs of cognitive decline as men age.
Generally, higher T levels tend to fuel high performance, not only in the bedroom but the boardroom as well. This phenomenon has been documented, as in a study that looked at surgeons!0. The researchers observed that testosterone levels spiked up to 500 percent when these physicians performed complicated surgeries-a response that is similar to how T levels also rise significantly when men first meet a new sexual partner or when they are involved in sports competition.
Yet understanding the true nature of testosterone remains challenging. Too much of a good thing can be damaging, as excessively high T levels have been associated with impaired cognition and road rage. Studies have also shown no clear relationship between elevated levels of testosterone and violent behavior among criminals. Among young boys, being physically aggressive and having problems in school have been linked to low testosterone and higher estrogen (a critical ratio we will explore a little bit later).
At the same time, boys and men who experience social success and display fair behavior have been shown to have T levels on the higher end of the scale. Somewhere in this testosterone jungle there is recent anthropological evidence that T levels took a nose dive about fifty thousand years ago, a drop that coincided with a sudden rise in art, cooperation, and innovations in technology. Go figure!
So what’s the “sweet spot” with testosterone, the level that supports and maintains balanced body and brain function? Most important for our purposes, what do aging men need to know about not only maintaining but enhancing our T levels so we can keep pursuing our dreams and charging forward with vigor and vitality?
What Are “Normal” Levels of Testosterone?
This is an excellent question, and one that requires a multilevel answer. Sorry, but testosterone just isn’t all that simple. For example, testosterone travels throughout your body in three different ways:
• Bonded with another hormone called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This is the most common type of T, making up about 65 percent of your supply.
• Bonded to a protein called albumin. About 35 to 40 percent of your
T falls into this category.
• Traveling solo. Approximately 2 percent of your testosterone is “free” (this is the important stuff).
When you get your testosterone levels tested, you will be handed three numbers:
• Total T, which is all the testosterone that circulates throughout your body, bonded and free.
• Bioavailable T, which includes testosterone bonded to albumin plus free T. The testosterone bonded to albumin is considered bioavailable because it can easily break free of the bond, while the testosterone bonded with SHBG presents more of a challenge.
• Free T, which is the free-traveling testosterone.
What do those numbers mean? Testing laboratories and experts do not completely agree on what is considered to be “normal” and “clinically low” testosterone levels, which is why you’ll notice some overlap in the following figures. However, as a general rule,
• Normal range of total T for men age 19 years and older is 240 to
950 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter (ng/ dL) of blood serum.
• For free T, normal levels range from: 5.05 to 19.8 ng/ dL for men 25 to 29; 4.86 to 19.0 ng/dL for ages 30 to 34; 4.65 to 18.1 ng/dL for ages 35 to 39; 4.46 to 17 .1 ng/ dL for ages 40-44; 4.26 to 16.4
ng/dL for ages 45-49; 4.06 to 15.6 ng/dL for ages 50-54; 3.87 to
14.7 ng/dL for ages 55-59; 3.67 to 13.9 ng/dL for ages 60-64; 3.47 to 13.0 ng/ dL for ages 65-69; and 3.28 to 12.2 ng/ dL for ages 70 to
• For bioavailable T, normal levels range from 83 to 2 5 7 ng/ dL for men 20 to 29; 72 to 235 ng/dL for 30 to 39; 61 to 213 ng/dL for 40 to 49; 50 to 190 ng/dL for 50 to 59; 40 to 168 ng/dL for 60 to 69; and 40 to 168 ng/dL for men 60 to 69. No ranges have been established for men 7O years and older.1
• Clinically low testosterone is less than 220 to 300 ng/ dL.
As you can see, there’s considerable variation in each of these ranges. They are meant as guidelines only, as each man’s individual needs are different. However, let’s get down to basics. The T level you should be most concerned about is the bioavailable figure–free T plus the T bound to albumin. When you boost your bioavailable testosterone, that’s when you should notice a kick in your energy level, libido, and muscle-building potential. I’m going to explain how you can increase your bioavailable testosterone levels, including ways to break free of SHBG, in the next chapters.
Doesn’t Testosterone Increase My Prostate Cancer Risk?
A persistent concern that is still hanging over the heads of many men is whether testosterone can cause prostate cancer. Here’s a news bulletin: it’s not T you should be worrying about-it’s estrogen. Why do I say that? Here’s the story, and it has to do with a paradox: as men age, their T levels decline, yet their chances of developing prostate cancer goes up. This suggests that low T (not high) could be a factor in prostate cancer and that something else-another hormone that often rises in aging men-could be involved as well. That other hormone is estrogen.
Let’s look at T and prostate cancer first. At the American Urological Association Annual Meeting in May 2015, experts presented the results of a meta-analysis indicating that both natural and prescription testosterone do not cause prostate cancer nor increases in the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)12. Although this comprehensive review (which involved 42 studies) is not the final nail in the coffin of T and prostate cancer, it certainly significantly tightens the lid.
As for T’s protective effect against prostate cancer, the jury is still out. However, several reports explain how men who received testosterone therapy after treatment for localized prostate cancer had little or no recurrence of disease. In addition, some men with untreated prostate cancer who took T therapy have not experienced disease progression13. Yet another study found that 98 men with excessively low T who were treated with testosterone therapy after radiation for prostate cancer saw a rise in mean T levels (from 209 ng/Dl to 420 ng/ dL) after treatment without a significant rise in PSA levels.14
Now let’s talk about estrogen and prostate cancer. We have evidence, at least in rats, that T plus E are necessary for prostate cancer to develop. In men, however, the research is still mixed when it comes to the association between estrogen and an increased risk of prostate cancer, however it’s enough to be a serious warning.
Experts agree that a man’s T:E ratio should reflect higher testosterone than estrogen. Because T can be transformed into estrogen with the help of an enzyme called aromatase, you need to take steps to reduce the activity of this enzyme. That means maintaining a healthy weight, dropping excess body fat (since fat promotes production of estrogen), avoiding or limiting alcohol use, keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range, and maybe taking some natural, scientifically proven nutrients and supplements that can help support your normal T levels.
The bottom line is that testosterone doesn’t appear to cause prostate cancer nor have a detrimental effect on men who already have the disease. In fact, it seems that too much estrogen is the real culprit.
CHAPTER 2: HOW TO BOOST YOUR TESTOSTERONE LEVELS SAFELY AND NATURALLY
My priority is to help you raise your testosterone level to a healthy level and to do it safely. Lots of guys assume that the best way to bring up sagging testosterone levels is to take hormone replacement therapy, and the media (along with the hormone therapy drug makers, who make billions from T therapy) certainly promote that idea. However, testosterone hormone therapy isn’t the quick fix-or even the long• term fix-that the vast majority of men need or want. I found that the answer for men 40 and older is conscientious control of lifestyle habits-diet, exercise, natural supplementation, sleep, and stress management. And I came to that conclusion after extensively combing the scientific research over 15 years on the topic and then demonstrating living proof of the results.
In my case, my T levels climbed from 51 7 to 816 in just five years, when their natural inclination was to plummet. I’ve never felt better, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was able to do it without testosterone hormone therapy and so can you.
Will you get the exact same results I did? Of course not! They could even be greater-who knows! But if you follow the advice I outline here, you will experience a change for the better. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with low Tor you have low testosterone, I strongly encourage you to try the natural approach I explain here.
Even if your T levels don’t do an about-face, following the lifestyle changes that worked for me will most likely eliminate most if not all of the symptoms that prompted you to consider testosterone therapy at all. When your sex drive, muscle strength and tone, weight, and other low-T complaints improve when you follow this program, even if your testosterone levels don’t climb, you’re still way ahead of the game. The bottom line is that numbers don’t matter; quality of life, how you feel, and overall health do.
So let’s get started.
The T Audit
This simple 23-question T audit can help you take stock of your testosterone levels. Think back over the last three to seven years as you give a “Yes” or “No” response to each of the following, and then see how you fare at the end. Although this isn’t a scientific survey, your answers will increase your awareness and prepare you for the steps you need to take to improve your T levels and your overall lifestyle.
1. Has a doctor ever diagnosed you as having low T?
2. Has your sex drive declined?
3. Have the quality and frequency of your erection decreased?
4. Have you experienced a noticeable loss of muscle strength and/or mass?
5. Have you gained more than ten pounds in recent years?
6. Have you had difficulty maintaining a stable weight?
7. Has your energy level declined?
8. Have you noticed you need to shave less often?
9. Do you feel less enthused, committed, or engaged by your family, career, and hobbies?
10. If you are trying to conceive, have you and your partner had a difficult time becoming pregnant, or have you been diagnosed with a low sperm count?
11. Do you feel less mentally focused and sharp?
12. Has your mood gotten worse or does it fluctuate a lot?
13. Have you developed diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure?
14. Do you typically sleep less than seven hours per night?
15. Do you often feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed?
16. Do you avoid exercise?
17. Do you consume soy products (e.g., tofu, soymilk, soy protein powders) more than once a week?
18. Do you drink out of plastic bottles that contain BPA or BPS?
19. Do you consume foods that contain environmental toxins and hormones such as nonorganic meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products?
20. Do you use personal care products that contain environmental toxins? (Look for unpronounceable chemical names in shampoos, body lotions, deodorants, and similar items.)
21. Do you avoid social situations, especially those that involve meeting new people?
22. Do you eat a low-fat or low-carb diet?
23. Do you regularly smoke marijuana or take other drugs?
A “yes” response to questions 1 through 13 indicates that your testosterone levels may be declining or have declined already, while a “yes” response to the remaining questions suggests other factors may be contributing to a drop in your T levels.
Three Main Ways to Impact T Levels
I’ve broken down my guide to boosting your testosterone levels into three categories of tips:
• Tips that Work. Each of the actions in this category are essential, so you should include every one of them-no slacking! I’ll help by offering suggestions on how to incorporate them into your lifestyle along the way as well as a “Shopping List” at the end of this eBook.
• Tips That Kinda Work. Although these recommendations are less critical, include them as much as you can. After a while, the suggestions in these first two categories will become like second nature and you ’11 feel better for it.
• Tips on What To Avoid. If you’re doing any of these things now, it’s time to stop. If you’re not doing them now, then you’re ahead of the game.
You may want to quickly skip ahead and read over the tips on what not to do so you can check them off your list or take steps to eliminate them from your life. But don’t hang out there too long-it’s time to get moving on the stuff that works. As extra help, I’ve provided a summary of all the positive tips for boosting T naturally at the end of this chapter.
Tips that Work
Lose The Belly Fat
The presence of belly fat is a haven for the transformation of the testosterone you have into the female hormone, estradiol. (Another male hormone, androstenedione, a precursor of testosterone, also gets converted in the presence of belly fat.) The belly fat/testosterone/ estradiol cycle can be vicious unless you put a stop to it: the more fat you have, the more T gets converted to estradiol and the lower your testosterone levels drop – it’s that simple. At the same time, the higher your estradiol level, the more likely you are to pack on extra fat-in the gut and elsewhere.
The remedy is obvious: get lean, lose the fat, and enjoy higher T levels.
The road to that fat loss can be a challenge; I’m not denying it. It will involve modifications to your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle. However, you don’t need to achieve abs of steel or drop a ton of weight. One study found that obese men who lost just seventeen pounds experienced a 15 percent rise in their testosterone levels. Another study noted that among pre-diabetic men older than 40 who lost weight, the incidence of low T declined by 50 percent.15 Those are big T increases for relatively small weight reductions. Out of all the men that I speak to who are struggling with their T levels, carrying too much weight is by far the #1 culprit.
Notice I didn’t say eliminate stress, because some stress is actually essential. Without stress, your muscles and joints would atrophy and become weak. A healthy amount of stress keeps your mind sharp and engaged and you feel a sense of adventure, purpose, and vitality.
Too much chronic stress, however, can reduce your testosterone levels by pumping out high amount of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn depletes the body of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a critical ingredient for producing testosterone. Therefore: the higher your cortisol levels, the lower your T. To help manage stress, incorporate one or more stress• reducing activities into your daily schedule. As little as 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night for these options can be sufficient:
• Yoga. You can learn enough basics from a professional or online to practice on your own after a few lessons. The deep breathing and postural focus of yoga helps calm your nervous system and reduce cortisol levels.
• Deep breathing. Great to practice several times a day and it’s easy to do. Whenever I’m in a stressful situation I always focus on my breath. Six long deep breaths in and out is a quick remedy for anxiety and tension.
• Progressive relaxation. A great way to release muscle tension
• Visualization. There are lots of guided visualizations available online and on CD.
• Tai chi. This requires time to learn, but well worth the effort.
• Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular approaches and can be learned from videos, CDs, books, and in group sessions. I practice it every day and highly recommend it. “Headspace is a great app that you can get via the App Store.
• Self-hypnosis. This can be learned after one or two sessions with a professional or even on your own.
Other ways to cut the stress in your life-practice liberally!
• Socialize. Being with people you enjoy in a social situation can reduce tension and stress.
• Massages are awesome.
• Laugh more. Yes, laughter is great medicine. Watch your favorite comics, funny movies, or short videos on your computer, phone, or tablet.
• Spend time with pets. Our furry companions have been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress.
• Take a nap. It can reduce cortisol levels.
• Use aromatherapy. Stress-reducing aromas such as lavender, rose, frankincense, and vanilla can be used in your home and work environments.
Exercise Right: Fast, Brief Cardio
Can you name the best exercise for cardiovascular health? Did you say jogging or running? You mean the form of exercise that places up to seven times your body weight with each foot contact on the pavement, the activity that limits your range of motion, causes you to lose fast• twitch muscle mass in your hips and thighs, and also prompts your T levels to actually drop? Is that the kind of exercise you want to do?
No, the best exercise for your T levels is fast, brief cardio, which includes HUT-high-intensity interval training. If you like to run, practice intervals: run full-out for 30 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, then repeat the sequence 7 more times. The whole exercise session takes about 20 minutes, and the majority of the time you are actually resting!
This is just one example of how to do HIIT; you can substitute other cardio for running, such as jumping rope, fast – short burst – cycling, an elliptical machine, or rowing. A quick internet search will reveal numerous HIIT programs that are easy to follow.
Fast, brief HIIT cardio is perfect for several reasons:
(1) you don’t need to exercise for long to get the benefits-20 to 30 minutes and you’re done;
(2) it fits into busy schedules;
(3) it boosts your T and HGH levels; and
(4) it’s usually kinder to your muscles and joints than jogging and long-distance running.
I incorporate HIIT training 3-4 times a week and recommend you do too. (If you want more detail on the specific exercises I do in my training regime there’s lots of photos and descriptions in my book, Your New Prime – I would love to be able to show you all these photos in this eBook, but I’m prevented from doing that by Harper Collins, the publisher of Your New Prime – so sorry about that!).
Long cardio, on the other hand, takes a significant toll on your T levels. Todd Schroeder, PhD, of the University of Southern California, has noted that elite athletes as well as amateurs who train too hard can experience a decline in testosterone as well as a rise in the stress hormone, cortisol, both signs that these men are harming their bodies.16 Consistently elevated cortisol can result in insomnia, accumulated belly fat, low sex drive, a compromised immune system, and a greater risk of heart disease.
A study appearing in the Journal of Endocrinology, for example, evaluated the impact of long cardio (running on a treadmill for 120 minutes five times a week) on testosterone and other hormones. The men experienced a decline in both total and free testosterone and a rise in sex hormone• binding globulin (SHBG) associated with their long-term cardio exercise.17 A rise in SHBG is related to a decline in testosterone because the substance makes less testosterone available to the body’s tissues.
By comparison, consider a study of a group of men who participated in HIIT. The men showed a significant increase in testosterone and an improved testosterone:cortisol ratio when they completed HIIT.18
So the message is: go hard, then go home! Don’t waste hours on the treadmill or those long weekend bike rides. It’s not helping you – and in fact, is doing the exact opposite.
Choose Supplements – Wisely
One of my favorite ways to meet the low T challenge is to take supplements that increase my energy levels and support my natural promotion of T. I’ve conducted countless hours of research to find the most effective and safest supplements for this purpose-and believe me, most of what’s out there is ineffective or downright dangerous. Late-night TV commercials, banner spots on the internet, and magazines are popular territories for ads hawking products that promise to shoot your T levels through the roof, give you stronger erections, and increase the size of your penis. But there are only a handful of naturopathic remedies that are backed by valid scientific evidence and clinical trials, and which I take myself. Here’s what I recommend and take:
Acetyl L-carnitine. Carnitine is available in several forms, but the one we are concerned with is acetyl L-carnitine, an antioxidant that is manufactured in the kidneys and liver. Acetyl L-carnitine converts fat into energy and transports waste materials out of the body’s cells. Although mostly known for its ability to enhance sexual function and improve mood, it also has an effect on testosterone. In a study that compared the use of testosterone against acetyl L-carnitine and propionyl L-carnitine in 120 men, the investigators found that the carnitines were significantly more active than was the testosterone when it came to erectile function scores.19
Arginine. Also referred to as L-arginine, this essential amino acid is transformed into nitric oxide once you’ve ingested it. Greater production of nitric oxide is important for blood flow, heart health, and sexual function.
Avena sativa. You may be familiar with the expression “sow your wild oats.” It’s no coincidence that avena sativa (aka, wild oats) is associated with increasing T levels. An extract from wild oats called avenacosides boosts the release of a luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates the production of testosterone. Supplementation with avena sativa also supports libido and healthy erectile function.
• Two studies by the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality focused on avena sativa. In one, men aged 22 to 64 who were experiencing erectile dysfunction and sexual problems took avena sativa three times a week for six weeks. They reported an improvement in libido, pleasure during sex, and overall erection strength. Another study noted that men who took avena sativa had
a 22 percent increase in genital sensation and a 36 percent increase in the frequency of orgasm. 20
• A team from Smriti College of Pharmaceutical Education conducted a review of herbal remedies for sexual dysfunction and named
avena sativa as an aphrodisiac, and a sex drive enhancer!21
Beet root. Numerous studies have shown that beet root, which is rich in nitrates, is beneficial for individuals with high blood pressure. Beet root also has demonstrated an ability to enhance exercise performance and tolerance, as well as assist in healthy blood flow which is important for erection strength.22,23,24
Beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol found in a wide variety of plants and has a chemical structure similar to cholesterol. However, its health effects are unlike those of cholesterol. In fact, research has shown
|that beta-sitosterol helps prevent the||enzyme||aromatase from|
|transforming testosterone into estradiol||and the||enzyme 5-alpha|
reductase from converting testosterone into estradiol, which in turn works to maximize healthy testosterone levels.25
Citrulline. This amino acid, which is sometimes referred to as L• citrulline, transforms into the amino acid arginine once it is ingested. The arginine, in turn, converts into nitric oxide. Therefore, both citrulline and arginine (see “Arginine”) play an important role in male sexual function and health.
Fenugreek. This cooking herb also has been shown to enhance sex drive, assist in fat burning and muscle building, and may help maintain healthy T levels.26.27 In addition, one small eight-week study appearing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism looked at the effect of 500 mg fenugreek capsules or placebo in men who participated in resistance training. Those who took fenugreek showed an increase in both total and bioavailable testosterone but not in DHT, and they also lost some body fat.
Ginkgo biloba. This ancient herb contains dozens of substances, but two groups in particular-flavonoids and terpenoids-are especially important in promoting blood vessel and heart health. Consequently, ginkgo biloba can be helpful in treating erectile and sexual dysfunction, as has been demonstrated in a number of studies.28,29
Green tea extract. Phytochemical compounds called catechins are among the substances in green tea extract that run interference with a metabolic process (glucuronidation) that causes testosterone to break down. This game-changer thus helps raise the level of testosterone. For example:
• Epigallocatechin is a catechin in green tea extract that inhibits 5- alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts T to DHT. Thus this action of green tea extract helps reduce this transformation and aids in maintaining healthy T levels.30
• A 2012 study reported on how green tea catechins interfere with glucuronidation, which results in an increase in circulating T levels.31
Pygeum africanum. The main benefits of this African herbal remedy is its ability to support sexual function as well as prostate and urinary tract health. Although Pygeum africanum has not been shown to have a direct effect on testosterone, it has demonstrated important benefits on men’s prostate health.32
Resveratrol. This antioxidant, which is found in red grapes, onions, and several other foods, has improved testosterone levels in several experiments. For example, testosterone levels rose by 50 percent in a mouse study in which the animals were given resveratrol.33
Tribulus terrestris. Similar to wild oats, tribulus terrestris contains a substance called protodioscin, which stimulates the release of a luteinizing hormone. This flowering herb also boosts the production of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone that is a precursor of testosterone.
• Tribulus terrestris demonstrated several benefits in a recent review appearing in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. The authors found that the herb was effective in enhancing concentrations of testosterone when it was used along with other supplements, and that it also triggered the release of nitric oxide, a substance that benefits heart health, strength, and athletic performance.34
• An animal study showed that levels of free testosterone rose when the animals were given Tribulus terrestris extract.35
Vitamin D. Low or deficient levels of vitamin D have been associated with low T. A common name for this nutrient-the sunshine vitamin• provides a hint as to why so many people are deficient: insufficient exposure to sunlight, as the body manufactures vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun. Since food sources are not reliable, the only other way to get this nutrient is from supplements. I suggest you have your vitamin D levels checked (a simple blood test is all you need) to determine whether you may need an aggressive supplement approach to reverse a deficiency. What should your numbers look like? Generally, 40 to 80 ng/ dL is considered a healthful range for this vitamin in your blood. My personal vitamin D levels are 67 ng/ dl.
Zinc. Your body can’t make testosterone without adequate amounts of zinc, so the fact that there’s a good chance you’re low in this mineral is important. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that even with supplementation, 20 to 25 percent of older adults had inadequate levels of zinc.36
You can get zinc from foods, including oysters (especially high), lean meat, fish, beans, fortified cereals, and fermented dairy (e.g., yogurt, kefir). When choosing a supplement, at least 15 mg daily is suggested. High doses may cause nausea or interfere with absorption of copper and other essential minerals.
Here’s some evidence why it’s so important to take zinc:
• Even a marginal deficiency in zinc can have a negative effect on a man’s testosterone levels. For example, in a study of 40 normal men (20-80 years), restricting intake of dietary zinc resulted in a significant decline in T concentration in young men after 20 weeks. Zinc supplementation in elderly men who were marginally deficient in zinc resulted in an increase in T levels.37
• Australian experts reported that zinc also protects against heart damage, including coronary artery disease and myocardial injury.38
Sleep More and Better
In case you think slugging energy drinks during the day and staying up half the night are cool, you should know that your testosterone levels are taking a beating because of it. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night are needed to replenish your T. So men who slip by on five hours per night, according to one study, can experience a decline in testosterone of 10 to 15 percent the next day. The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from this drop.
Are you having trouble sleeping long and well? Here are few tips you may not have considered.
• Eliminate all electronic devices from your sleeping area; that means TV (at least turn it offl), 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.39
• 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.
• Try “journaling”. I use the Five Minute Journal first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Journaling helps get the thoughts out of your mind that would otherwise keep you awake. I highly recommend it.
Choose Clean Healthy Foods
Your food choices can have a direct impact on your T levels, so it’s time to clean up the food on your plate. If you’re a guy who feels the need to have a steak and burger every now and then, stick to grass-fed, organically produced meats, since conventionally produced products can harbor hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and dioxins (from the pesticides in animal feed) that can be a downer for T and your reproductive health as well.
Same for dairy products-choose those made from organically raised animals only and stick with limited amounts, since high intake of calcium from dairy is associated with increased prostate cancer risk. Organic dairy foods are also a better source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which have been shown to help boost T levels when combined with strength training.+ Other food sources of BCAAs include lentils, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, peanuts, and sesame seeds.
On the not-so-sweet side is the effect of sugar (glucose) on T levels. A Massachusetts General Hospital study found that ingestion of glucose can result in a 2 5 percent decline in total and free testosterone levels in men.41 Foods high in simple sugars, including desserts, soft drinks, white flour, pasta, and breads, should be avoided or consumed in limited amounts. The same goes for processed foods, most of which contain lots of hidden sugars. If you do continue to eat such foods, have them at the same time as protein (see box, “Does High P Equal High T?) and complex carb foods, such as vegetables, legumes, and seeds. (Also see “Low-Carb Eating” in the section “Tips On What to Avoid.”)
Speaking of complex carbs, your T levels will thrive when you get your carbohydrates from fresh vegetables, so include them at every meal whenever possible. Healthy fats are another must. Coconut and coconut oil, olives and olive oil, grass-fed meats, avocados, and raw nuts are excellent sources of these testosterone-building fats.
This is only a summary of the main eating rules. If you’re interested in more detail you can get eating plans and more information in Your New Prime.
Does High P Equal High T?
You might remember the book, Real Men Don’t Each Quiche, a New York Times best-seller from 1982 that satirized the stereotypical ideas of manhood. Among those ideas is that guys need to eat a ton of meat not only to build muscle and strength but to maintain their T levels as well. I agree that protein is essential for all of these reasons and more, but overdoing it and choosing unclean sources are not the way to go.
Protein provides branched-chain amino acids, which promote testosterone, but I strongly recommend getting your hormone-boosting protein from:
• Sardines (my favorite protein – from a brand called “Vital Choice”).
• Salmon (non-GMO). Again, from “Vital Choice”.
• Legumes (beans), especially kidney beans and chickpeas.
• Chia seeds.
• Peas (including the vegan pea protein powder I mentioned above called “Vega”).
• Organic, hormone free meats (in small amounts once or twice a week). If you have to eat meat try and eat poultry, which has less environmental impact than eating beef or pork.
How much protein do aging men need? Certainly not the measly 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight recommended by the US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) guidelines! As we get older, our need for protein increases as we need it to maintain muscle mass. The following protein needs estimates are based on the assumption that you are physically active and engaged in strength training regularly. (If you’re not, now is the time to begin!)
• Consume the same number of grams of protein as your body weight (i.e., 180 pounds equals 180 grams of protein).
• If you are overweight, subtract the number of extra pounds you are carrying (say, 25 lbs) from your current weight and consume that number of protein grams (i.e., you weigh 205 minus 25 equals 180 lbs and 180 grams).
• Consume clean, hormone free protein at every meal.
• Protein should make up 30 to 40 percent of your total daily calories.
If you eat only one group of veggies, make it cruciferous, whose members include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and radishes, among others. These veggies are special because they contain indole-3-carbinol (13C), a precursor to diindolylmethane (DIM). This unique combination of plant nutrients (phytonutrients) helps manage estradiol levels, which steal away your T. I recommend you include cruciferous vegetables in your meals as much as you can throughout the day. Details of my favorite vegetables are in the “Shopping List” at the end of this eBook.
X Out Xenoestrogens
These nasty chemical compounds are also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and they are very much a part of our everyday lives. Their “mission” is to boost your estradiol and hammer down your T levels. Knowing where you can find xenoestrogens means you can take steps to avoid them as much as possible. None of these chemicals are good, but among the most egregious are phthalates and BPA (Bisphenol-A), which I mention below and have been associated with adverse effects ranging from infertility, erectile dysfunction, to male breast growth, and low T.
Here’s a list of places and products where you can expect to find xenoestrogens and some suggestions on how to reduce your exposure as
• Chemical cleaning products for home and office (look instead for plant-based, chemical-free cleaners and/ or use all-natural products such as lemon oil, borax, vinegar, and salt whenever possible).
• Personal care products, such as shampoo, bar soap, hair spray, hair gel, body lotions, deodorant, toothpaste, and shower gels that contain phthalates and/ or parabens, which have estrogen-like properties. Phthalates can be found on ingredient labels under acronyms such as DEP, DMP, DBP, and DEHP; parabens appear as butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben.
Choose organic/ all-natural products instead. Stick with non• scented bar soap-no antibacterial soaps or body washes, which often contain another EDC known as triclocarban. If you insist on using non-natural deodorants then make sure you spray it on your body in an area that is well ventilated, or walk around while you are spraying it, so you don’t breathe in the fumes. That stuff is poison! Here’s the natural deodorant I use which is great.
• Nonorganic meat and dairy products. Most feedlot cattle in the United States are injected with hormones and a significant percentage of dairy cows are given genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH to boost milk production. If you eat meat and/or dairy products, only choose foods from organically raised animals. Never buy meats or dairy products wrapped in plastic, especially chicken, as it can be a breeding ground for E.coli. Buy fresh cuts and ask that they be wrapped in EPA-free paper.
• Pesticides found on conventionally grown produce. Buy organic when possible and always wash your fruits and vegetables, especially nonorganic ones (see the “Shopping List” for guidelines on purchasing fruits and vegetables).
• Air fresheners, scented candles, laundry soap, shaving cream, cleaning products, and other items that contain fragrances. The word “fragrance” on a label is usually just another way to say phthalates or other EDCs. Vow to go “fragrance-free” or choose
products that use essential oils or other plant-based oils. Ditch your aftershave, use plain non-synthetic bar soap for shaving and washing, and coconut oil for moisturizing.
• Plastic containers for food and beverages. Although many manufacturers have stopped using Bisphenol-A (BPA), the alternative, BPS, also has estrogenic properties. Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel storage containers instead. Do not buy foods packaged in plastic with the numbers 3, 6, or 7 recycling codes (these contains phthalates or BPA); use those with 1, 2, 4, or 5 instead.
• Foods that have been heated in plastic containers. If you do use a microwave for heating, use high-quality glass containers.
• Plastic bags, like those you are given at the grocery store. Choose paper instead or better yet, bring your own cloth bags.
• Prescription drugs that can raise estrogen or lower T, including benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax), some heart drugs (e.g., Lanoxin, Norvasc), H2 blockers (e.g., Tagamet, Zantac), and some antibiotics (e.g., ketoconazole, metronidazole).
• Cash register receipts, about half of which contain BPA. You can tell the clerk you don’t want your receipt, ask that it be placed in the bag, or request an email receipt …just avoid touching receipts as much as possible. Some food stores (like Whole Foods) have recently switched to using citrus based receipts which are non-BPA and safer.
• Insecticides for home and garden. Choose all-natural approaches, including beneficial insects, diatomaceous earth, and other nontoxic methods.
• New cars (the new-car smell is phthalates) as well as the dashboards, steering wheels, and gearshifts in cars. I’m not saying don’t drive or buy a new car, but you may never think the same way about that new car smell again now you know what it is! Also, never buy those “car scents” that hang from your mirror – that smell is
just sucking away your testosterone and manhood as you drive.
• Sexual accessories, including plastic sex toys and lubricants such as K-Y jelly. As an alternative for the latter, try coconut oil, a healthy fat that also tastes great!
To help you through the maze of making all these changes and adjustments I’ve included some suggestions in the “Shopping List” at the end of this eBook.
Estrogenic and Anti-Estrogenic Foods
Estrogenic foods are those that contain substances (phytoestrogens) that mimic estrogen. Although you don’t need to avoid these foods completely, you should significantly limit how much you eat of those highest in phytoestrogens, which are listed here under “Most Estrogenic Foods.”42
On the other hand, some foods are known as anti-estrogenics, which means they help reduce estrogen and thus help boost testosterone. They are listed under “Anti-estrogenic Foods.”
Most Estrogenic Foods:
Bran and bran cereals
Chickpeas Dried apricots Dried dates Flaxseeds Green peas Hummus
Multigrain and flat breads
Prunes Sesame seeds Soybeans
Soy products (e.g., tofu, soybeans, tempeh, soymilk)
Textured vegetable protein
Berries Chia seeds Citrus fruit
Grapes Green tea Leafy greens Mushrooms Olive oil Onions Pomegranates Raw nuts
Humans are social animals, yet men in particular have a tendency to don the alpha male suit, damn the directions, and try to go it alone. Generally, maintaining the “strong, silent” fac;ade isn’t so great for sustaining friendships. Without having at least a few good, close friends with whom you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings, there’s a tendency to slip into loneliness, which raises stress hormones and reduces cognitive and motor function. A recent study concluded that loneliness is twice as bad for you as being obese or as bad as not exercising.43 Imagine what it could do to your T levels!
Forming and maintaining strong social connections is critical for a healthy life. Guys often do best when they engage in structured, repeated, time-bound activities such as a weekly basketball or tennis game, going to the same social or volunteer activity, or working out at the gym. If you have a partner, pairing up with another couple to travel, go out to dinner, or play tennis doubles are other options. Socializing is a powerful stress reliever and also boosts levels of oxytocin, the empathy or “cuddle” hormone, and is associated with greater feelings of connection. Socialize more … and your body will respond in healthy ways.
Body Language Boosts T Levels
It turns out that your body language can actually boost your testosterone levels. According to social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy, men’s testosterone levels can rise an average 20 percent while their cortisol levels can drop an average 25 percent when they get into a power pose. You may be familiar with such stances:
• Leaning back in your chair with your hands behind your head (and perhaps your feet up on the desk)
• Raising both arms high over your head, as if crossing the finish line of a road race
• Assuming the “Superman” posture: chest out, hands on hips, head held high
You also may recognize repressed postures: sitting hunched over your desk, slouching in your chair, hanging back in a crowd. Individuals in each of these categories send a message: feelings of power and confidence in the former, and a sense of powerlessness and stress in the latter. These feelings and postures are reinforced by men’s hormonal status.
Cuddy’s research suggests that you can feel better about yourself while also increasing your T levels-even if you’re faking it. That’s right; when you’re feeling powerless or stressed, strike a Superman pose (you can use a phone booth or men’s room stall if you think you’ll look foolish) and hold it for a minute or two. She claims that even assuming the pose will boost not only your confidence but your T levels as well.44
Tips That Kinda Work
The following suggestions will add a little variety and spice to your life, so be sure to include them when possible. I’ve included them in a separate list to the “Tips that Work” because they don’t have the same level of supporting studies and research.
Hard and Heavy Weight Lifting
Lots of guys ask me about hard, heavy lifting, so here’s the story. Squats, chins, presses, and dead lifts are great for a temporary boost in T levels. You need to focus on the big muscle groups like hips, quads, back, and to a lesser extent, chest. Doing bicep curls for an hour won’t help. Keep your time between sets at 30 to 60 seconds and don’t go over 60 minutes per workout. If you do your workout in the afternoon, you may experience a more significant lift in average T levels throughout the day since testosterone naturally is highest in the morning. Note that that boost from weight lifting is temporary, and experts have not yet determined whether strength training will have a notable effect on long• term testosterone levels. But even a short-term rise contributes to your overall effort to increase your T, and will also make you feel better and stronger.
Add a Few More Supplements
Along with the supplements I mentioned in the “Tips that Work” category, I also take those in the list below. I didn’t include them in the first list because they don’t have the same level of scientific support as the others. Naturally, it’s up to you to decide if you want to include them, so I’ve included a brief description of the benefits to help you make your decision. As I said, I take most of them:
Ashwagandha. A 2015 study of this Ayurvedic herb showed that it has an ability to raise testosterone levels. Fifty-seven young males were randomly assigned to receive either 300 mg ashwagandha root extract twice daily or placebo for eight weeks. All the men participated in resistance training for the duration of the study. Compared with placebo, the men who took ashwagandha had significantly greater increases in muscle strength and testosterone levels and significantly greater decline in body fat.5
Boron. You don’t hear much about this trace mineral, and when you do, it’s usually associated with bone health. However, research has shown us that as little as 10 mg of boron may cause a significant drop in SHBG and estradiol along with an increase in levels of free testosterone.46
Branched-Chain Amino Acids. The branched-chain amino acids are three essential nutrients that the body gets from proteins in meat, dairy, and legumes. They get their name from the fact that their chemical makeup has a branch off the main portion of the amino acid. These amino acids-isoleucine, leucine, and valine-are associated with several benefits, including boosting T levels, increasing or stimulating regeneration of skeletal muscle (and resulting in an increase in lean muscle mass), helping prevent fatigue during intense exercise, and improving exercise performance.47 The best BCAA supplements contain plant-based protein (but not soy!) and no artificial additives. I take the
BCAA supplement made by the company Jarrow.
Magnesium. This mineral plays a role in more than 300 biochemical processes in the body, and you guessed it-it appears boosting testosterone is one of them. Research shows that men who took magnesium supplements ( 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight) boosted both total and free testosterone levels.48 Here’s the one I take.
Saw Palmetto and Astaxanthin. Perhaps you recognize saw palmetto as a popular and effective natural remedy for an enlarged prostate. When you combine this herb with the potent antioxidant astaxanthin, a carotenoid found in microalgae, salmon, yeast, and other sources, the synergy can be quite powerful. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that this combo reduced both estrogen and DHT while also boosting T levels.
Stinging nettle. If you’ve ever suffered with a prostate condition, such as an enlarged prostate, then you may be familiar with stinging nettle. This herb also is a potent home wrecker when it comes to SHBG. That is, it can stop the interaction between SHBG and free testosterone, which results in more free T in the body. An added bonus of nettles is their ability to block aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.
Tongkat ali. The ability of supplements from this Far Eastern tree to boost testosterone levels has been impressive. In one study, older men who took 400 mg daily of tongkat ali extract for five weeks showed a significant rise in both total and free testosterone concentrations. A 2014 report appearing in the journal Andrologia noted that this herb “has been shown to restore serum testosterone levels,” as well as have “significant positive effects on bone health” and antidiabetes benefits along with fighting power against prostate cancer cells.49
All the main supplements I take are listed at the end in the “Shopping List”.
A Cup of Joe
Caffeine, and coffee in particular, has been associated with many health benefits, not least of which is a boost to your athletic performance, reduction in inflammation, and yes, a kick to your T levels. In a study that compared caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee consumption, men who abstained from coffee completely for two weeks and then enjoyed the brew again experienced a rise in their total testosterone and a decline in their concentration of estradiol-but only in the men who drank caffeinated coffee. The benefit only lasted about eight weeks, however, which suggests that cutting out caffeine for a while and then drinking a cup or two whenever you need a boost could be a plan (without the cream and sugar).
Freeze your Balls
You’ll want to curse me out for this suggestion, but believe me, I do it all the time and it works. Taking an ice bath not only promotes recovery after a workout by constricting your blood vessels and sending lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts out of your sore muscles: it also “probably” raises T levels.
You don’t need anything special to try this post-workout technique-just a tub and some ice. Run cold water into the tub, add a few bags of ice (until you have about a two-inch layer of ice in the water), don a pair of shorts (to protect your delicate areas), and submerge your lower body only into the ice bath. Tough it out for five minutes until you gradually work your way up to a full body submersion for 10 minutes. Believe me: you will feel amazing when it’s over!
This tip gets a “kinda works” rating because although keeping your testicles a few degrees lower than your body temperature is optimal for testosterone and sperm production, no one has demonstrated in a study that freezing your balls accomplishes the same thing. However, cooling down your body-and your balls–after a workout helps with overall recovery and certainly wakes you up!
I also do cryotherapy twice a week. Basically this involves getting into a frozen nitrogen-filled chamber that is chilled to between -130 to -160 degrees Celsius. It’s a 3-minute process that reduces your core skin temperature from a normal 29-30 degrees Celsius to 1 degree. Three minutes is the maximum legal time allowed to be exposed to this level of cold and believe me — it’s enough! It costs about $30-$40 a session and I use it more for accelerated healing and recovery from exercise than to boost my T as there are no studies directly on cryotherapy and increased testosterone levels. I do it anyway though as it certainly increases my energy levels, and that’s what matters the most to me.
Having said that, here’s a slightly warmer tip I recommend: sleeping in a cool room, about 65 degrees F, and in the nude. This combination supports a lower scrotum temperature and better T production, as well as promotes better sleep.
Here’s another practice I admit to and really enjoy: intermittent fasting. Every Tuesday and Thursday I refrain from solid food and simply consume water or a sip of green tea here or there. Fasting is a great way to help control weight and put the body and digestive system into a relaxed mode. Intermittent fasting, when combined with a high-intensity workout, boosts T levels by increasing the activity of hormones that make you feel full (e.g., adiponectin, cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-I, insulin, leptin, and melanocortins), all of which are also associated with healthy testosterone actions, increased libido, and prevention of age• related decline in T levels. so That is, the activity of hormones involved with satiety are boosted when you fast intermittently and that activity has an impact on T. Fasting has many other health benefits for life extension, insulin resistance, and increasing HGH (hormone growth hormone).
Perhaps twice a week is more than you can handle, but I recommend trying fasting at least once a week. Here’s some more information on how I fast. You can also do a form of “windowed fasting” like some professional athletes.
Dabble with DHEA
I’m not a huge fan of taking hormones but not all hormone supplements are evil. In fact, there’s one hormone your body makes that is critical for the production of testosterone and other sex hormones and which you might consider taking as a supplement: DHEA.
DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands, along with another hormone, cortisol, aka the stress hormone. As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, stress and cortisol in particular have a negative impact on testosterone levels, and DHEA is one big reason why this is so. Like testosterone, the natural production of DHEA declines as you get older. If you have unmanaged or chronic stress in your life, cortisol levels rise and interfere with already-declining DHEA production, which in turn contributes to low T levels.
Ideally, you will tackle your stress levels head-on and keep your cortisol levels under control. However, if you need some help in this area, you might talk to a knowledgeable healthcare provider about taking bioidentical DHEA in the form of a trans-mucosal cream applied in the rectum or a DHEA supplement. If you decide to use DHEA, it’s critical that you do so under a doctor’s guidance and use it for a short time only. Long-term use of the cream for example can cause your body to stop making its own DHEA and possibly trigger adrenal damage and other adverse health effects.
Occasional Sexual Abstinence
I’m not putting this suggestion into a category because it’s kinda “out there,” yet it can do the job for some guys. In fact, the results of a recent study suggest that abstaining from sexual activity occasionally may raise your T levels. The study in question involved men abstaining from sex for three weeks, and the researchers found that following the break, the men had a higher rise in T levels post ejaculation. This information is good to know because when you have unexpected sexual down time, you can be reassured that it’s not having a negative impact on your manhood.
Tips On What To Avoid
Ok, so I’ve talked about “what works” and what “kinda works”. Now to the bad stuff. If higher testosterone levels and all the benefits that go with it are your goal, then you need to banish the following practices from your routine and lifestyle right now.
Long, Slow Aerobic Exercise
I admire the endurance and dedication of long-distance runners, triathletes, and bicyclists, but when it comes to elevating those testosterone levels, forget about it! Study after study shows that endurance athletes set themselves up for low T, along with other health hazards such as low bone density and erectile dysfunction. Besides, just think of all the time you’ll save once you switch to fast, brief cardio HIIT workouts, as described under “Tips That Work.” If you want healthier T levels, long, slow endurance exercise is not the activity for you.
Did you know that injectable testosterone replacement therapy is given with a fatty solution? That’s because the hormone needs fat to be effective. Fats have gotten a bad rap over the years, but if you stick to healthy fats, such as those you find in cold water fatty fish (omega-3 fatty acids), olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil, and follow a dietary plan that consists of 40 percent fats (predominantly healthy ones) from clean food, then you will enjoy better testosterone levels.
You’re not content watching your T levels drop through the floor, or else you wouldn’t be reading this book. So don’t believe all that low-carb crap. While it’s true some carbs should be avoided like the plague that they are-processed foods laden with high fructose corn syrup, sugary cereals, white breads and pastas, cookies and crackers-healthy high• carb foods such as whole-grain, natural products, vegetables (including the cruciferous ones), legumes, and nuts are entirely different.
Why avoid a low-carb diet? Research has shown that a low-carb diet delivers a triple whammy: it has a detrimental impact on athletic performance, lowers testosterone levels, and raises cortisol. So say no to low-carb and be sure to include a moderate amount of healthy complex carbs in your diet.
Chugging the Soy
Guys working out in the gym or on the road often make protein shakes a part of their routine. If your protein powder is soy based though, get rid of it fast. Experts have finally concluded that soy protein reduces testosterone, increases cortisol, and may even have a not-so-pleasant effect on estradiol as well. Another triple whammy!
Read the label on your protein powder supplement and if it says soy (“anything”), it’s time to switch to a healthy alternative, such as pea protein powder or one of the many vegetable based protein powders (I use Vega Sports Protein Powder).
Also steer clear of tofu and other soy products unless they are fermented (e.g., tempeh, natto, miso, fermented tofu and soymilk, soy sauces). The fermentation process stops the effect of phytic acid, a substance that attaches to certain nutrients, including iron, and inhibits their absorption. Fermentation also promotes production of good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut, which improves digestion and nutrient absorption.
Perhaps most relevant to our discussion is that fermentation “greatly reduces the levels of dangerous isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen in their chemical structure.51
Hitting the Bottle
Hitting the bottle has a way of getting back at you, not only with hangovers but with lower T levels and problems with fertility. Alcohol also promotes weight gain and can damage your liver, the organ that’s responsible for metabolizing testosterone. Therefore, throwing back multiple beers or shots is not such a great idea. I’m not announcing Prohibition here, but the less you drink the better off your T will be.
If beer is your alcohol of choice, you should know that hops can increase estrogen, which in turn lowers T. Overall, an occasional drink is okay, but don’t let alcohol rob you of your T or your life.
Here’s what happens when you drink alcohol:
• The liver registers the incoming booze and starts metabolizing it.
• This action interferes with the production of testosterone because acetylaldehyde, the main breakdown product of alcohol, impacts the Leydig cells, which in turn reduces T production. Chronically high alcohol consumption also increases the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Therefore, men who consistently drink more than in moderation may expect to see a significant decline in T levels.
• If you’re carrying around excess body fat, especially around the middle, you are also probably harboring a higher ratio of estrogen to testosterone. A study of 4,535 men found higher estrogen levels in men who currently drank when compared with men who had never consumed alcohol and lower levels of free T in former drinkers than in never drinkers.52
• To make things worse, alcohol metabolism also disrupts sperm production and contributes to testicular injury.
Let’s return to fat for a moment. Drinking alcohol triggers the liver to burn alcohol instead of fat, calorie for calorie. That means when you throw down that 200-calorie cocktail, your body targets the booze instead of fat. A regular habit of alcohol consumption can thus easily result in higher body fat, which in turn is associated with higher estrogen (and lower T)-see the vicious cycle that emerges? Is it all starting to make sense?
Alcohol consumption attacks more than T levels. In a study of rats fed increasing amounts of alcohol over three months, the authors found that while T levels declined, so did levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein), accompanied by rising levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol.53
No matter how you pour it, alcohol is not good for testosterone levels. If you limit your alcohol consumption to one or a max of two drinks and reserve them for special occasions, your T levels will be better for it. If you do drink alcohol, choices that are the least estrogenic include vodka, rum, white wine, and gin.
Marijuana and Other Drugs
As acceptance of recreational marijuana use increases, a growing number of men may want to pause before they light up if they want to hold onto their T. Marijuana use has been linked to a decline in testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels and a negative impact on fertility.
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.54 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.55
When it comes to fertility, a 2015 study of 1,215 healthy young men revealed 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.56
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
30 Days to Higher Testosterone-Naturally
Now that I’ve loaded you up with the tools you’ll need to boost your testosterone levels naturally, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. No one expects you to implement all of these ideas immediately and simultaneously-that’s a sure plan for failure. What you can do, however, is begin by putting two or three tips into practice on day one and then adding one at a time during the next 30 days until before you know it, you’11 have your entire higher testosterone program in place and running strong.
I suggest you begin with a few tips you personally believe will be the easiest for you to implement so you’ll build up your confidence. Then work up to the tougher ones. Here’s a review of the tools we discussed previously so you can get on the road to higher T beginning today! (Refer back to our discussion of each idea as needed or the “Shopping List” at the end of this eBook.)
✓ Exercise fast, furious, and briefly. The goal here is two-fold • increasing testosterone through the activity of exercise, and reducing weight, which will naturally increase your T levels.
✓ Start lifting weights, focusing on the major muscle groups.
✓ Quit all long, slow, cardio endurance exercise.
✓ Practice stress management techniques-I highly recommend a 10- minute meditation once daily for starters (mornings straight out of bed is best — use the Headspace app if you need help here).
✓ Try and sleep seven solid hours (no more, no less).
✓ Go organic with as many foods as you can afford and eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous ones.
✓ Only eat hormone free meats and poultry.
✓ Avoid exposure to contaminants that affect testosterone and estrogen, including personal health, skincare, and household products.
✓ Only wear natural deodorants.
✓ Never wear after-shave/ cologne.
✓ Socialize more. Get out and don’t be a home-body!
✓ Eliminate all soy products and other estrogenic foods, including soy protein powders, tofu, and soy isolates.
✓ Eliminate alcohol consumption for 30 days (then reduce consumption to a few drinks a week).
✓ Try intermittent fasting (minimum once a week).
✓ Try short periods of sexual abstinence.
✓ Chill out, and embrace the cold-your balls and your body!
✓ Consider using natural supplements like the ones I take (especially vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and EveryDay Male).
✓ Use confident body language.
✓ Drink filtered water from glass or stainless steel containers.
✓ If you partake in marijuana use -stop altogether.
If you can follow these guidelines 60 to 80 percent of the time, you should begin to experience improvements in your energy, libido, mental outlook, and overall health before you know it.
Now for all of you who have been wondering about that “other unnatural way” to raise testosterone levels, this next chapter covers testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) — a program that scares the hell out of me – for all reasons you ’11 read below.
CHAPTER 3: T IS FOR TROUBLE
Until about 1998, most talk about testosterone, testicles, and penises was reserved for locker rooms and bars. Then Viagra (sildenafil) burst onto the scene, a drug that serendipitously hit the market as a treatment for erectile dysfunction after it failed to achieve its original goal-helping cardiovascular health.
As the drug rose in popularity, so did advertisements proclaiming its glory, and a vocabulary once reserved for special places and occasions shed its inhibitions and joined the mainstream. Men 40+ were-and are-the perfect market for Viagra and other ED drugs and as such are a huge economic boost for pharmaceutical companies.
Once drug companies realized the bonanza they had created, the onslaught of promises were released: the little blue pill can improve your sex life, save your marriage, restore your confidence, enhance your manhood, make you a stud. Of course, no pill can do any of that, but hope springs eternal, and despite a decline in sales since its heyday, Viagra and other ED drugs continue to sweep in the profits.
But all good (and not so good) things come to an end, and in anticipation of the 2019 patent expiration for Viagra, big pharma has found its new golden boy: testosterone replacement therapy aka T therapy.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has approved supplemental T solely for treatment of hypogonadism58, doctors have been prescribing it off• label for “low T,” a term used to describe a combination of conditions such as low libido, depression, low energy, weight gain, and mood swings.
Savvy pharma company marketeers have attached catchy labels to this “syndrome,” such as andropause and manopause, suggesting that since we now “have this disease,” we need to treat it. (Similarly, women have been sold on menopause as being a “disease” that needs to be treated with a variety of drugs and hormones.)
In other words, it sounds like T therapy can help us aging jocks get our mojo back right?
The trouble is, testosterone therapy hasn’t been tested or researched thoroughly for this so-called “problem.” At the same time, it has demonstrated a variety of serious side effects, and we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg in this regard. And here’s yet another thing about T therapy: it may be totally ineffective at addressing the issues promoters claim they will cure.
So far, prescription T therapy seems to spell Trouble. And there’s more.
Use of T therapy isn’t new. Since the 1940s, individuals whose occupations require stamina and physical strength, such as soldiers and athletes, have used T in one form or another (e.g., steroids). Steroids are synthetic drugs that mimic the naturally anabolic effects (i.e., protein synthesis, muscle growth) of testosterone.
The beauty of steroids is that they work; they speed up recovery from exercise, which allows you to work harder and longer, and they build muscle mass and strength. Beyond better strength and muscle, steroid users may enjoy a feeling of power and display confidence, vigor, and determination. Hey, we all want these qualities, right?
Most of us aren’t as fast, energetic, or strong as we used to be, and recovering from exercise seems to take longer and longer. Why not take something to fight aging and to regain these youthful traits?
Steroids, of course, have an ugly side. They are frequently abused and such abuse may lead to irreversible health problems, including kidney and liver damage, cardiovascular problems, testicle shrinkage, infertility, breast development, and an increased risk for prostate cancer.
Psychological side effects may include aggression, extreme mood swings, paranoid jealousy, delusions, and impaired judgment. Definitely not a pretty picture.
Enter testosterone replacement therapy or hormonal optimization. These PR terms sound benign, safe, and reassuring. When they come out of the mouths of aging, buff celebrities, they may sound convincing.
In 2013, for example, Charles Staley, a 50+, highly respected fitness coach, wrote an article for the online magazine T Nation, telling his contemporaries that they should “restore optimal testosterone levels.” He stated: “I’m not talking about steroids here, which are expensive, illegal, and potentially dangerous. I’m referring to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which is legal, medically supervised, safe, and a lot easier to do than most guys think.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Staley’s comments helped usher in a new perspective on testosterone therapy. The media and pharma marketing gurus went crazy and pushed testosterone products for low T from every angle. Ads featuring virile guys doing virile things helped increase the number of testosterone prescriptions written in the United States between 2001 and 2011 tenfold, and that didn’t include the online orders.
While millions of men are purchasing these products (under names like Axiron, AndroGel, Fortesta, Testim, Androderm), is testosterone therapy really the cure we are looking for?
HGH-Ts Partner in Crime
Testosterone replacement is not the only product being marketed to aging men. You may be familiar with HGH, or human growth hormone, which is produced naturally by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. Testosterone and HGH share a few traits; that is, levels of both are high when we’re young, decline as we age, and the symptoms associated with low levels of both are highly undesirable.
In the case of very low HGH, those qualities include higher total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, fat accumulation, reduced athletic performance, reduced mental function, and loss of muscle strength, tone, and mass.
Thus, HGH is especially popular among image-conscious individuals, including celebrities who have the bank roll necessary to support this expensive “therapy” (about $750-$1500 per month), which may or may not result in less fat, more energy, improved muscle mass, better exercise performance, and sharper vision.
To even hope to enjoy such benefits, you will need to inject a laboratory-created form of HGH into your body every day. Men who choose illegal sources of HGH risk possible health damage as well as time in the slammer. Pretty risky stuff right!
Speaking of damage, taking too much HGH for too long can end up with some unsavory permanent consequences, such as an attractive Neanderthal appearance, kidney failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems. There’s gotta be a better way to boost HGH … and there is:
• High-intensity interval training (HIIT) stimulates production of HGH. A recent study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that HGH levels were higher immediately after men engaged in HHIT.59
• Resistance/weight training also can raise HGH. A team of experts found that heavy resistance exercise boosted HGH levels in both men and women, and that men showed a more sustained response.60
• Adequate (7-9 hours) uninterrupted sleep is necessary for the healthy release of HGH. Inadequate or disrupted sleep patterns can reduce or even stop the nightly release of this hormone.
• Some amino acids may stimulate secretion of HGH. These include arginine, glutamine, lysine, and ornithine.
• Choline in the form of CDP-choline (which is found naturally in the body) can increase HGH levels. One study showed a fourfold rise in HGH among healthy elderly adults.61
• Protein foods can boost HGH production, including both plant and animal sources. Any animal sources should be organically produced to avoid exposure to hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and pesticides.
Most of the above look familiar right? It’s pretty much the same prescription for increasing your testosterone naturally that I discussed above. So good lifestyle choices can have a double whammy on both T and HGH!
The Skinny on Low T
Back in Chapter 1, I outlined the ranges of total, free, and bioavailable testosterone, and if you recall, the numbers for total serum testosterone for adult men were 240 to 950 ng/ dL (nanograms of testosterone per deciliter). Some sources prefer to round up the figures to 300 to 1,000 ng/ dL. Regardless of which numbers you choose, it’s obvious there’s a wide range when it comes to defining what’s healthy or “normal.”
Actually, there’s a reason for this. Two men of the same age can have T levels that are vastly different–say, 400 ng/ dL and 750 ng/ dL-and both men can be energetic, lean, virile, and successful. By the same token, some men who have T levels in the higher range can feel lousy while others with lower T can feel and look fantastic.
The bottom line is, T numbers alone don’t mean that much. Testosterone levels are highly individualized and unique to each man. That’s because your body works in concert with many other factors when it comes to symptoms you may be experiencing, including genetics, lifestyle, environmental influences, and other hormones such as estrogen, cortisol, and DHT. Hormones balance one another out to keep you on an even keel. If you take testosterone replacement therapy to boost your T levels, you are tackling a so-called problem (low T or low T symptoms) with a broad brush and creating an unbalanced environment by boosting one hormone (T) artificially and causing others to rush in to fix the imbalance.
Testosterone Therapy or Lifestyle Choices?
Pharmaceutical companies and marketing gurus would like you to believe that testosterone replacement therapy will solve all of the symptoms you are attributing to low T. Targeting low testosterone is a convenient scapegoat and a huge profit source for them. In the vast majority of cases, symptoms of low T and even low T itself are a manifestation of physical, emotional, or psychological problems that can be addressed by adjustments in lifestyle over time. The common symptoms pinned on low T have a myriad of causes-causes you can act on without ever taking testosterone. For example:
• Weight gain
✓ Causes: Poor diet, alcohol consumption, poor sleep, exposure to environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyle or job, age-related muscle mass loss, insufficient exercise.
✓ First-line remedies: Smarter food choices, improved sleep
patterns, regular intense exercise (HIIT), limit or eliminate alcohol, modify sedentary lifestyle (e.g., stand-up desk, walk rather than drive, stairs vs elevator).
• Erectile dysfunction
✓ Causes: Stress, relationship problems, smoking, alcohol use, fatigue, poor sleep, abdominal fat, performance anxiety.
✓ First-line remedies: Weight loss, better sleep, better nutrition,
improved communication with partner, stress-management techniques (e.g., deep breathing, yoga, visualization, massage, meditation).
• Low libido
✓ Causes: Poor communication with partner, stress, lack of self-esteem, obesity, stress, depression.
✓ First-line remedies: Counseling, regular exercise, smarter food choices, weight loss, supplementation.
• Irritability, mood swings
✓ Causes: Poor food choices, stress, alcohol, drugs, relationship problems, alcohol consumption, lack of social connection.
✓ First-line remedies: Stress management techniques, counseling, socializing, reevaluating life goals, exercise, eliminating alcohol and drugs.
• Low energy
✓ Causes: Poor food choices, lack of exercise, loss of passion for work and/ or relationships, depression
✓ First-line remedies: reinvestment in life activities that excite you, greater commitment to job, family, and/ or relationships, potential life change, exercise, better nutrition and supplementation.
• Bone loss
✓ Causes: Lack of intense exercise, poor food choices, insufficient exposure to sunlight, poor vitamin D levels
✓ First-line remedies: High-impact exercise, vitamin D supplementation, calcium-rich foods (not calcium supplements).
Okay, I admit that slapping on a testosterone patch or taking some hormone injections may be easier than making lifestyle modifications. But those lifestyle changes are much more likely to address the real reason for low T plus they provide many other health benefits as well.
You also won’t risk throwing your body into a hormone imbalance, wasting your time and money, and exposing yourself to potential serious side effects now and in the future. Instead, you’ll be an individual who has taken charge of his life in a healthful, natural way and who is thriving forward in life
Who Needs Testosterone Therapy?
So you’ve probably guessed I’m definitely not a fan of testosterone replacement therapy. But although I’m no fan, there are legitimate uses for these products. For men who are truly (and I mean truly), measurably hypogonadal-who have extremely low T levels associated with a medical condition and who are living with symptoms that are disrupting their professional lives and relationships-testosterone replacement therapy can help.
Some of the medical conditions that can cause hypogonadism include hemacromatosis, injury to the testicles, cancer therapy (chemotherapy and/ or radiation), pituitary disorders (e.g., tumor, abnormalities), chronic liver or kidney disease, alcoholism (although obviously this is also a lifestyle choice), hormonal disorders, inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histiocytosis), sickle cell anemia, and HIV/AIDS.62
For all men who take testosterone replacement therapy, whether they have a legitimate medical reason or are using it to fight symptoms of aging and avoid making lifestyle changes, there are serious side effects associated with this hormone. Namely:63
• Increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that men taking testosterone replacement had a 30 percent increased risk of death, heart attack, or stroke compared with men not taking the hormone replacement.64 Subsequent to this study, the FDA issued a warning requiring manufacturers of prescription testosterone products “to add information to the labeling about a possible increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking testosterone.65
• Blood clots
• Hair loss
• Fluid retention
• Male breast enlargement
• Stimulation of prostate tissue (possibly resulting in an enlarged prostate, or prostatitis)
• Increase in aggression, irritability, and mood swings
• Decline in sperm count
• Acne or oily skin
• Shrunken testicles
• Worsening of sleep apnea
• Liver toxicity
Another problem with testosterone replacement therapy is that research into long-term effects is virtually nonexistent. You may recall how decades ago women were encouraged to take estrogen replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms, only to discover years later that it significantly increased their risk of stroke, blood clots, and other serious health issues.
Since results of long-term studies of the impact of testosterone replacement therapy are scarce, men who take T are essentially guinea pigs until the results are available. Will it be a repeat of what was found concerning estrogen replacement in women? I think it probably will be.
So if you have a legitimate medical reason for taking testosterone, go for it with your eyes wide open. If, however, you think testosterone replacement is your fountain of youth because the skilled marketeers at the drug companies have told you so, back away and head for the gym and a natural food store, and follow the natural tips and lifestyle changes I outlined above.
Unfortunately, those behind the T drug industry are convincing men everywhere they need to take the hormone. In fact, about one quarter of men who are given the drug never have their testosterone levels tested at all, and it’s uncertain whether the remaining 75 percent have T levels low enough to even consider signing up for therapy. So, who really needs testosterone replacement therapy? Far fewer men than you think: and probably not you.
Still Thinking about Testosterone Therapy?
Taking testosterone replacement therapy presents a clear health risk to your cardiovascular, reproductive, and endocrine systems. Studies have shown that men who take testosterone achieve limited or weak benefits at best regarding sexual function, mood enhancement, strength, and fatigue. Given the significant health risks, such as the finding that 40 percent of men who take testosterone develop a high blood cell count (polycythemia), which thickens the blood and increases the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack, it seems wise to opt for other natural ways to boost those T levels and enjoy the other health advantages that come with the lifestyle modifications I’ve discussed and found to be so effective and rewarding.
Here’s another thing about testosterone replacement. Use of testosterone can actually cause your body’s natural ability to produce T to break down, temporarily or permanently. That means you may need to take testosterone for the rest of your life if your natural manufacturing plant (your testes) closes down. This scenario essentially makes you an addict for T therapy and at a hit to the wallet of about $500-$1500 per month.
T Therapy vs Placebo
Here’s yet one more reason to banish T replacement from your bucket list. In a significant number of cases, placebo is just as effective as taking prescription testosterone. Here are just two examples.
A Columbia University team conducted a randomized, double-blind study involving 30 men who complained of erectile problems and depression. Half of the men were administered testosterone shots and the other half were given a placebo. Result? Men in both groups were just as likely to experience improvements in symptoms.66
And it gets better. A drug company found that while more than 80 percent of men with low T who used a testosterone gel experienced a rise in their T levels, so did 37 percent of men who took a placebo. Clearly T levels are not only highly variable, but they are susceptible to all kinds of subtle influences, including the placebo effect.
I’m not saying taking prescription T won’t have an impact on you; many men see some improvements, along with side effects. However, even the T replacement drug companies admit men need to make lifestyle changes (like those I’ve been talking about) if they want to reap the full benefits • they state it openly in their marketing campaigns.
But I’m Already Taking T!
For guys who are already taking prescription testosterone for whatever reason (or if you have decided to start T), it’s not too late to take steps to protect your long-term health and well-being.
Take control. The T you’re taking may or may not help you with your goals, but one thing is certain: if you follow the advice on nutrition, exercise, stress, supplements, and other lifestyle activities within these pages, you’ll benefit overall. Who knows: with the right supervision (and especially if you lose a lot of belly fat), you may be able to gradually wean yourself off the prescription T-but be sure to discuss this plan with your doctor.
Test your T. Schedule periodic blood testing of your testosterone levels. Make those appointments for before noon, since T levels are naturally highest in the morning. An afternoon reading may give you an artificially low result. If you have a low morning reading, schedule a second, confirmation test that will give you both total and bioavailable results.
Monitor your Testosterone. It’s important to monitor the levels of factors that are directly affected by your T levels, such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and bone mineral density. Many anti-aging clinics don’t offer the amount of monitoring you need, so it’s up to you to take the initiative. Here’s a brief rundown of what you should be monitoring and how often67:
• Digital rectal exam: Soon after starting T, then annually
• PSA: Soon after starting T, then annually
• Testosterone: At 3 to 6 months after starting T, then annually
• Hematocrit: Soon after starting T, then annually
• Bone mass density: Soon after starting T, then once every 1 to 2 years
• Lipids: Soon after starting T, then annually
The goal of T therapy, according to the Endocrine Society, is to raise a man’s hormone levels to the “mid-normal range.” This seems like a wise recommendation, so don’t let the “T-clinic” you go to talk you into attempting higher levels. Your doctor also may suggest monitoring your estradiol levels as well (as prescription T can affect estradiol) and/ or think you should have a full prostate biopsy before starting T replacement. These options should be discussed with your physician.
It’s Up to You
I’ve shared my story about how to raise your testosterone naturally and how to take control of your life as a 40+ man. The rest is up to you. Whatever your position in life, wherever you are in your career, relationships, social circles, or finances, you can control and reinvent your life beginning right now. You don’t need a lot of money or time or resources; mostly you need the desire to succeed and a passion for life. Are you ready for more vitality, vision, and focus? Then lets get going!
All my best in health and life, Craig
I’ve talked pretty much only about testosterone in this book. If you want more out of life you can get it in my best-selling book “Your New Prime:30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40° now available at all bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
Here are just a few of the reviews:
“If you want to live life of passion and excellence as you age, this is your blueprint.” (Tony Robbins, New York Times #1 Best Seller, Entrepreneur,& Peak Performance Strategist)
“Easy to follow and highly informative. Your New Prime is a groundbreaking program for better health for all men as they age.” (Alejandro Junger, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Clean and Clean Eats)
“Craig Cooper offers up great information to men who are looking to maximize their potential at any age. He has a passion for helping men be their best in all facets of life.” (Laird Hamilton, Big Wave Surfer, World• Renowned Waterman and New York Times Bestselling Author of Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, of Course, Surfing)
“The challenges for men that Cooper addresses are real-and his solutions are too. In Your New Prime, he’s not just re-labeling an experience, but offering a new vision of health, and powerful ways to follow it.” (Randall Wallace, Bestselling Author of Living the Braveheart Life and Director, Producer, and Oscar-nominated Screenwriter of Braveheart, Secretariat, and Pearl Harbor)
“Cooper has done a spectacular job putting together concise and easy-to• incorporate information to be your very best at any age. So whether you are figuring out how to get started or continue to get the most out of each year, this is an essential men’s health manual.” (Gabrielle Reece, Creator of HighX Training and Bestselling Author of Big Girl in the Middle and My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper)
“Finally, someone speaking the truth about men’s health. A practical, straightforward guide to what works and what doesn’t. Craig reduces the facts and studies into easy to follow, every day tools, so you can kick ass and have the best life ever-regardless of age. Every man should read this!” (Darin Olien, SuperFood Hunter and author of SuperLife)
“A practical guide to peak performance as you age. Buy this book and get ready to live again!” (Scott Flanders, CEO, Playboy Enterprises)
“Craig Cooper is a remarkable athlete and businessman who has a down• to-earth message for middle-aged men: Don’t succumb to a sedentary existence.” (Lou Schuler, Multi-Award Winning Journalist, Contributing Editor to Men’s Health magazine, and Author of Strong, New Rules of Lifting, and The Lean Muscle Diet)
“Cooper brings his expertise to this how-to book on men’s health after 40 … Gathering from personal and professional experience, he says it’s not about getting ripped abs, it’s about becoming healthy; it’s also recognizing that not all men are the same … Honest, balanced, rewarding … Recommended to men interested in healthy aging” (Library Journal)
Craig’s Shopping List
Organic/grass-fed/free-range should always be the priority when possible and where budget allows.
Where applicable, eat food in its raw state, notjuiced. No commercial fruit juices.
Frozen organic vegetables are okay.
Items marked with an asterisk* below are low on the glycemic index and should be eaten as a priority over other fruits and vegetables.
Meat and Dairy (always organic and hormone free)
Beef (in very moderate amountssee guidelines and look for organic, grass-Jed only)
Butter (organic, pasture-raised-look for a bright yellow color, indicating high omega-3 and carotene)
Chicken ( in moderation-see guidelines-always organic, farm raised)
Eggs ( only pasture-fed/organic and free-range, maximum two servings a week)
Greek yogurt ( organic, in moderation)
Kefir ( non-GMO, and use sparingly, as it is a dairy source)
(use the “Seafood Watch” app to help purchase seafood from sustainable populations)
Sardines (only those in non-EPA cans – from Vital Choice)
New Zealand mussels
Wild Alaskan salmon ( Vital Choice brand offers home delivery)
Canned salmon and tuna (EPA-free cans only)
Vegetables Arugula Avocados
C raig Cooper
Bell peppers* Broccoli* Carrots
Apples* Kiwis Oranges Bananas Lemons Papaya Berries* Limes Peaches* Blueberries Mango Pears* Cherries Olives Pomegranates Grapefruit Mushrooms Watermelon Cauliflower* Onions ( red and white) Wheatgerm Green beans* Parsley Split peas Jalapenos Sprouts White beans Kale Tempeh Oranges
Whole wheat Ezekiel-brand bread Tomatoes ( raw or in bottles, never canned) Lettuce (boston, green leaf, red leaf)* Manuka honey (from New Zealand)
Grains and Cereals
(avoid gluten if intolerant)
Amaranth Barley Brown rice Buckwheat
Beans and Legumes
Garbanzo beans, hummus*
Dark 70-100 percent cacao chocolate ( cacao percentage depending on taste)
Oats and oatmeal
Lentils (green, red, and black)
Dark-chocolate goji berries
Nuts, Seeds, and Oils
Flaxseeds and flaxseed Pistachios
Brazil nuts Cashews* Chia seeds
Red palm oil
Sesame seeds Sunflower seeds Walnuts
Extra-virgin olive oil, Palm kernel oil cold-pressed Turmeric
Nut and seed butters (e.g., almond butter, hemp seed butter)
(in glass jars or frozen, no cans that are not BPA-Free)
Herbs and Spices
Chili peppers Cinnamon Curry powder Garlic
Vega “Sport” Performance Protein Powder
Paradise Herbs “Protein & Greens” Vegan 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 2015, 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 2015 they included avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, man• goes, 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.
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.
• Coconut water
• Organic coffee (freshly ground preferred)
• Organic green tea
• Organic hibiscus tea
• Japanese matcha “ceremonial” green tea powder
• Kombucha probiotic drink
• White tea
• Almond milk
• Rice milk
• Filtered water (if buying in plastic bottles, avoid bottles with the recycling codes 3, 6, or 7).
Here are the main ones I take daily:
Vitamin D3 (5,000 JU)
Omega-3 fatty acids (for heart and brain health).
Prost-Pl Ox (for prostate health)
EveryDay Male (for sexual health)
Men’s Probiotic (for gut health and immunity)
Sleep Aid for Men
Modified citrus pectin
T estosterone Forever
Cordyceps ( mushroom extracts)
All must be labeled “fragrance-free” and contain natural oils. Visit www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 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). Here’s the one I use.
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. Try using coconut oil instead.
Moisturizer and face creams: It’s shocking how many chemicals we smear on our faces every day. Aim for chemical- and fragrance-free products.
Natural 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.
About the Author
Craig Cooper is the author of the bestselling Harper Collins book “Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40. He is the founder of CooperativeHealth and Performance Research Labs and was the cofounder of the telecommunications company Boost Mobile USA. He holds dual honors degrees in law and economics from the University of Sydney and is a regular contributor to The Buffington Post and MindBodyGreen on healthy aging and men’s health. He is Chairman and Founder of The Prostate Cancer Institute and is the men’s health columnist for Personal Liberty magazine and the Easy Health Options group as well as being an Ambassador for the “Movember Foundation -the global foundation that promotes men’s health awareness. He is also on the Advisory Board for Men’s Health magazine for both the Australian and the USA publications. Craig has previously been named one of the “Top Dealmakers in Hollywood”. He lives, works, and trains in Newport Beach, California and is the father of two daughters.
Sources and References
1 Travison TG et al. A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2013
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2 Sartorius Get al. Serum testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estradiol concentrations in older men self-reporting very good health: the healthy man study. Clinical Endocrinology (Oxford) 2012 Nov; 77(5): 755-63; The Endocrine Society news release 2011 Jun 7: Older age does not cause testosterone levels to decline in healthy men.
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