All too often, we look to supplements or oral medications to solve our nutritional or hormonal deficiencies, but this approach is not always effective. Fortunately, even hormonal issues such as low testosterone can often be resolved by building some new, healthier habits.
Why are Testosterone Levels Important?
Men’s levels of testosterone, a steroid hormone, tend to decline an average of 1% per year after the age of 30. While testosterone also plays an important role in women’s health, this article focuses on natural methods men can use to impact their testosterone levels.
Low levels of testosterone has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including low libido, changes in sexual function, reduced fertility, fatigue, sleep disturbances, difficulty in weight loss or maintaining body composition, decrease in muscle mass, brain fog and emotional fluctuations. Lower testosterone may also eventually lead to longer-term issues such as osteoporosis (low bone density) and cardiovascular concerns. A variety of factors are believed to impact testosterone levels, in addition to age, including obstructive sleep apnea, medication side effects, thyroid issues, excessive drug and alcohol use, and depression.
A growing body of research offers insight into how testosterone levels can be boosted through lifestyle-related behaviors. However, be sure to discuss any health concerns, which may or may not be related to testosterone levels, with your physician or healthcare provider.
How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
- Exercise and lift weights. In general, exercise offers numerous health benefits that can help prevent lifestyle-related illnesses and diseases. For example, resistance training has been shown to be one of the best ways to increase testosterone. You need to stick with a weight or resistance-training program for at least six weeks before seeing any potential changes. Additionally, some research has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may increase testosterone more than steady-state endurance exercise.
- Optimize your sleep. Getting ample sleep is one of the most underrated things you can do to optimize your overall health. The ideal number of hours of sleep varies for each person, but seven to nine hours of sleep a night is recommended for most people. Optimal sleep can help reduce stress and cortisol levels and increase one’s overall sense of well-being. Studies have shown that sleeping only five hours a night can decrease testosterone levels by 15%; conversely, for every extra hour of sleep you get, testosterone levels may increase by an average of 15%.
- Reduce and manage stress. The stress hormone cortisol tends to increase when chronic stress is high. When cortisol levels are fluctuating due to stress, testosterone levels, in turn, can lower. Stress and elevated cortisol have also been linked to an increase in body fat, which is shown to decrease testosterone levels.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates and fat. Prolonged dieting may contribute to low testosterone levels, according to some research. Additionally, a balanced diet that includes adequate protein, carbohydrate and fat is essential for maximizing the benefits of an exercise program.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Low testosterone is often seen in men with overweight or obesity. Getting any extra weight off may encourage a higher testosterone level. By following the steps above, such as exercising and eating a balanced diet, a healthy weight can be more easily maintained.