Can You Boost Testosterone Naturally?
When it comes to building muscle, the only hormone people care about is testosterone. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It works wonders in promoting muscle growth, burning fat, and a has a host of other benefits such as improving libido. It's not just males who should care about testosterone, females have it and need it too.
Testosterone's well-known role in promoting muscle growth and fat loss leads it to be a focus for gym-goers. There are anabolic steroids that increase testosterone to ''supraphysiological levels''. These are levels which far exceed what can be found or maximised in the body naturally. Anabolic steroids aren't going to be discussed here any further. Here we will look at whether testosterone can be boosted through natural means. Here, natural will mean without the assistance of exogenous hormones like anabolic steroids. I clarify this as sometimes the term ''natural'' can be confusing.
Natural Testosterone - A Quick Primer
Firstly, we will do a quick refresher on testosterone, and it's production. Testosterone is produced primarily in the testes in men and ovaries in women. Small amounts are produced by the adrenal glands too. As previously mentioned, people who lift weights and go to the gym care about testosterone because it promotes muscle growth and fat loss.
For men, testosterone peaks around the early 20s and starts declining around 30 and then things just keep going downhill from there. There are healthy ranges of natural testosterone for men and women. Individuals also vary in natural levels, with some people naturally falling to the higher end of the natural range and some naturally falling to the lower end.
Issues arise when peoples natural levels start to fall below average. Some of the symptoms of low testosterone are but not limited to:
- Low libido.
- Decreased energy and strength.
Many factors can contribute to low testosterone levels such as lack of sleep, stress, weight gain, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
Maximising Natural Testosterone - Lifestyle
When people look to maximise their natural testosterone levels, their first port of call is usually the supplement store. What if I told you there are plenty of free natural testosterone boosters that are more effective?
Improving your lifestyle is the most accessible way of improving your levels. Before you head on down to the supplement store, you should look at making the following lifestyle changes:
Get More Sleep
As covered in a previous post here: How Important Is Sleep For Muscle Growth, Fat Loss and Recovery? we covered how important sleep was for basically everything health-related you can think of. Lack of sleep has been shown to lower testosterone. Skimping on sleep can also lead to weight gain, which in turn can lead to lower testosterone levels. So sleep more to boost test. And as far as I know, sleep is free. Try and get 8-9 hours of sleep opportunity per night.
Workout Hard, But Don't Over Do It
Given this is written on Gym Meals direct, I will go ahead assume that most here are acquainted with working out. Lifting weights boosts testosterone. However, overdoing it can actually lower your testosterone levels — especially things like prolonged endurance training (think endurance runners).
Losing excess body fat can increase testosterone levels too. This doesn't apply if you are already a healthy weight and have decent body fat levels. However, if you are carrying a bit extra, shedding some body fat can increase natural testosterone levels substantially. Even a 5% loss in body weight can produce a boost in testosterone.
Supplements (probably not the ones you think)
When you think 'testosterone boosting supplements', you probably think of that section of supplement stores laden with products that have labels that sound like steroids. Supplements that have been shown to boost testosterone are far less appealing; however, they may actually work. You have probably heard of them many times.
Ther are a few vitamins and minerals people are quite commonly deficient in. Supplementing these can bring you back up to normal levels and as a result create a nice little spike in testosterone levels. These supplements are:
When you exercise you sweat. Zinc is lost through sweat, so if you sweat heaps then you are probably deficient in zinc. If you train hard enough, this is perhaps relative to you.
A deficiency in Zinc has been associated with lowering testosterone production. Zinc has a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 14mg/day for men and 8mg/day for the women over 19 years of age.
In an ideal world, you get all your vitamin D from the sun. But unfortunately, the modern world doesn't accommodate this. A lot of us work inside all day and get very minimal sun exposure, especially in winter. It is estimated that one in four Australians are deficient in vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for testosterone production and given that such a high percentage of us are deficient, supplementing it may be one of the quickest ways to boost natural production.
The RDI for vitamin D is often criticised for being too low. A dose somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 is recommended to meet the needs of most of the population.
As mentioned, people vary in their natural testosterone levels. To maximise your natural levels, as obvious as it sounds, ensure you are getting enough sleep, exercise regularly and keep the midline in check.
As for supplements, despite what the guy or gal in the supplement store might lead you to believe, few have been shown to boost natural testosterone levels. While it may seem boring, topping up your levels of vitamin D, magnesium and zinc through supplementation is the most effective way to boosting your natural testosterone levels.