As soon as you reach your late 20s, your testosterone starts to drop…
Why is this so important?
Testosterone is the primary hormone that fuels your “manliness”. Without it, you’ll struggle to build muscle, please women in bed, and have the energy to dominate your career.
Now here’s the thing: aside from getting prescribed testosterone by a doctor, there are no “magic” pills out there. Nearly every over-the-counter supplement that claims to boost testosterone is pure BS.
The good news is that there are a handful of proven ways to naturally enhance your testosterone levels. In this article, I’m going to give you the top 6…
#1: Get Plenty of High Quality Sleep
How many hours do you sleep on most nights?
On a daily basis, the majority of your testosterone is released while you’re sleeping. This means your body will naturally release less testosterone if you sleep less.
In fact, many studies have shown that sleep restriction has a HUGE impact on testosterone levels. A recent study measured a 10-15% drop in daytime testosterone levels in healthy young men who underwent one week of sleeping only 5 hours per night.
That’s a significant drop!
And many other studies have confirmed the same thing: your total sleep time is a strong predictor of your testosterone levels.
Now, there’s no magic number here, but I recommend getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night if you want to ensure that your testosterone levels don’t take a hit.
If you struggle to sleep well, here are a few things that have helped me:
- Make sure your room is cool (use AC or leave a window cracked)
- Use a fan to drown out any noise that might wake you up
- Darken your room as much as possible (blackout blinds can help)
- Don’t have caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime
- Avoid stressful or exciting activities for 2 hours before bedtime
If you want to optimize your testosterone levels, getting enough sleep every single night should be the first task on your to-do list.
#2: Lower Your Body Fat Percentage
There are many negative side effects to being overweight: fatigue, joint pain, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke – the list goes on.
Not to mention, you look like shit.
Recent studies also confirm that higher levels of body fat are associated with lower levels of testosterone. Not only that, but similar trends can be seen with other key hormones. For example, higher levels of body fat are also associated with decreased insulin sensitivity.
Why does this matter?
Both testosterone and insulin sensitivity play key roles in muscle protein synthesis (the basic process by which your body builds muscle). This means that your body will struggle to build muscle when you’re at a high body fat percentage (versus when you’re lean).
Now, testosterone also affects your sex drive and overall energy levels, so those things are also going to suffer when you’re on the chubbier side.
If you’re overweight, I’m sure you’ve already read hundreds of articles on how to lose weight. And I don’t want to add to the confusion. So my main advice to you is this: focus on the basics! Make sure you eat less food, and make sure you lift weights. Everything else is optional.
But wait, how lean do I need to get?
There’s no magic number here, but I believe most guys should aim to reach 12-15% body fat (here’s what that looks like). This will optimize your testosterone levels and make you look great naked, without having to starve yourself trying to get way too lean.
Getting lean will have a huge impact on your overall quality of life. Make this a priority.
#3: Eat Enough Fats and Carbs
Everybody recognizes the importance of protein when it comes to fitness and building muscle, but carbs and fats often get miscategorized as “unhealthy”.
The truth is that both carbs and fats play a large role in providing your body with energy and regulating your hormone levels.
Let’s start with fats…
First, let’s make one thing clear: fats don’t make you fat. You gain weight when – and only when – you eat more calories than you burn. It doesn’t matter if the calories come from fats, carbs, or protein.
In fact, fats are needed by your body to synthesize and transport various hormones (including testosterone) throughout your body.
One study compared two groups of healthy men. One group ate a low fat diet (about 20% of total calories) and the other group ate a high fat diet (about 40% of total calories). After a 10 week period, the testosterone levels of the high fat group were about 15% higher than the low fat group.
Ok, what about carbs?
From Paleo to Slow Carb, a lot of popular diets preach carb-restriction. And people often lose 5-10 pounds within a week or 2 of starting these diets!
But hold up!
The reason for this initial drop in weight is because carbs get stored in your body as glycogen. And glycogen is 3-4 parts water. When you restrict your carb intake, your glycogen stores get emptied, and you lose a bunch of water weight as a result.
In other words, you didn’t lose any “real” weight (aka fat), just a bunch of water weight.
Plus, you lost all of your glycogen stores in the process. This will deplete your energy, make you weaker in the gym, and cripple your ability to build muscle.
Not to mention, restricting carbs also decreases your testosterone levels.
A recent study performed on two groups of athletes confirms this fact. One group ate a high carb diet (60% of total calories) and the other ate a low carb diet (30% of total carbs). After three days of intense training, the high carb group had a significantly higher (+43%) ratio of testosterone to cortisol.
These studies prove you need to include significant amounts of both fats and carbs in your diet if you want to maximize testosterone levels.
#4: Optimize How You Deal with Stress
We all have stress. It’s an inevitable part of life.
The difference is that some of us let it consume us, and others know how to manage it.
If you let it consume you, and you constantly feel stressed out and anxious, it will cripple your testosterone levels.
You see, studies show that your body’s natural response to stress is to release more of the hormone cortisol. Studies also show that elevated levels of cortisol result in suppressed levels of testosterone.
Basically: when you get stressed out, your testosterone levels decrease.
Now, if you’re able to deal with the stress and move past it, this temporary decrease in testosterone will not have a lasting impact on your body. However, if you’re always stressed out, then your testosterone levels will constantly be lowered, and this will impair your ability to build muscle, your sex drive, and your energy levels.
Everyone has different ways to deal with stress, but here’s my “secret” method:
- Recognize that you’re feeling stressed
- Accept the fact that you’re feeling stressed out, and tell yourself that it’s ok
- Now relax your shoulders down and draw back your shoulder blades
- Finally, focus on breathing deep breaths into your belly (count 10 inhalations/exhalations)
By mastering your ability to cope with stress, you will further optimize your resting testosterone levels.
Read More: How to Build Confidence Through Meditation
#5: Supplement Zinc and Vitamin D
In the video above I break down my top 5 overall bodybuilding supplements.
There are a lot of supplements out there, but only a few have been proven to boost testosterone.
First comes zinc…
Zinc deficiency is very common these days. It can lead to diarrhea and hair thinning. And it can also affect testosterone levels…
One study measured testosterone levels in two groups of athletes: one group supplemented with zinc, one did not. After four weeks, the non-zinc group experienced a “significant inhibition” of testosterone levels, while the zinc group maintained healthy levels.
In other words, zinc helps you avoid a potential drop in testosterone due to intense exercise. If you’re someone who trains hard, this can’t be ignored.
Next up is vitamin D…
Vitamin D is a micronutrient that your body synthesizes when you’re exposed to the sun. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get very much sun exposure. So vitamin D deficiency is actually quite common (in men and women).
Vitamin D has many roles, from supporting the strength of your bones and teeth to the health of your immune system. But it also has an impact on testosterone…
One study measured the effects of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in healthy men, over the course of one year. After the year was up, the men who supplemented vitamin D experienced a rise in testosterone levels (versus the men who did not).
This proves vitamin D supplementation can lead to long-term increases in testosterone.
Because of these facts, I recommend buying a solid multivitamin that contains sufficient amounts of both zinc and vitamin D.
#6: Lift Weights (and Limit Cardio)
This one probably isn’t a big surprise. In fact, I’m guessing you’re reading this article because you want to optimize your gains in the gym.
But listen up! Because you may learn something new.
First of all, let’s talk about cardio…
You probably include some cardio in your gym routine. And that’s ok. But it’s EXTREMELY important not to overdo it.
One study examined the testosterone levels among a group of men. At the start of the trial, none of the men were doing cardio. However, over the course of the next six months, the men began to run (working up to about 30 miles per week). The result? Their testosterone levels “decreased significantly”.
In other words, too much endurance training cripples testosterone levels.
For this reason, I recommend just 1 day of moderate intensity cardio per week if you’re trying to bulk up. And just 2 days per week if you’re trying to lose weight.
What about lifting weights?
Obviously lifting weights is the primary method we use to build muscle and improve our bodies. But what type of weight-lifting will have the biggest impact on testosterone levels?
Studies show that “Protocols high in volume, moderate to high in intensity, using short rest intervals and stressing a large muscle mass, tend to produce the greatest acute hormonal elevations.”
However, it’s important to note that testosterone levels are only raised for a short period (15-30 minutes) following your workout.
This is why it’s crucial to remember that lifting weight is the tool you use to craft your body and take advantage of your elevated testosterone levels, not something you should do for the sake of raising testosterone levels.
When it comes to building muscle, the most important thing you can do is follow a weightlifting routine that slowly increases the weights you’re using. Check out the link below for more info on that.
How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
There you have it.
Let’s quickly review everything you should do to naturally optimize your testosterone levels:
- Sleep 8 hours per night
- Get lean (12-15% body fat)
- Eat a balance of carbs, fats, and protein
- Learn to deal with stress when it arises
- Take a multivitamin that contains zinc and vitamin D
- Don’t do too much cardio
- Follow a proven weightlifting routine
Now, these are not the only ways to boost testosterone, but they are the most effective. If you follow these steps, you’ll ensure your testosterone levels are as high as they can be!