How to Increase Testosterone

Luckily, there are are many natural ways to increase testosterone in addition to improving your entire metabolic profile. The great thing about building testosterone using these techniques is that they all will positively impact your health, strength, confidence, and emotional well-being!

Let’s first define our goal. The goal is to increase our testosterone naturally by addressing causes of low testosterone that we can control and engaging in activities that tell our bodies to produce more testosterone.  Then if your levels are still low you can explore treatment options of low testosterone treatment with your physician. It may be useful to use a home testosterone test to establish a baseline level before you implement these changes so you can see how much you improved your testosterone!

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1. Lose fat, don’t just be fixated on “weight loss.”

Considering  almost 70% of American adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese this is a good place to start. The average American man weighed about 195 pounds in 2006 up from 181 pounds in 1994  and the average American adult is 23 pounds heavier than their ideal body weight.

Guys, both you and and I have probably said to ourselves recently that we  stand to “lose a few pounds” but the information I’m going to share with you should really get you pumped up to lose that extra fat.This isn’t about a diet or losing weight to hit some abstract weight number. Excess body fat literally destroys testosterone and subsequently our manhood. This is why obese men are referred to as “soft.” In a study published in the journal “Clinical Endocrinology” looking at testosterone levels in 25 obese young men, the impact of extra body fat on testosterone levels was clearly shown. Even though all study participants were under 20 years old (and their testosterone should have been at its highest), their testosterone levels were already between 40 to 50 percent below normal for their age.

Fat tissue (also known as adipose tissue) produces an enzyme called aromatase that finds testosterone and converts it to estrogen (the lady hormone)! Every extra pound of fat you have is not only reducing your testosterone but also increasing your estrogen. This is why obese men have such low testosterone and have trouble adding any muscle mass. Additionally, even moderate weight loss (think 5-10% of your current body weight) improves blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar control. By improving these measures you can in turn eat more food with cholesterol (see #4 below) which can help increase your testosterone even more.

Zeus

Zeus didn’t have to worry about fat destroying his testosterone, but us mortal guys that work at desks do!

This is the most important thing I can tell you. The best way to naturally increase your testosterone is to lose fat, this should be a top priority. Why would you waste time trying to increase your testosterone in other ways if most of it is being turned into estrogen due to excess fat? This is why morbidly obese man can’t seem to put on muscle or get in shape no matter how hard they work out, their fat is preventing them from having the means to produce the muscle they need.

The best way to reduce body fat is through moderate caloric restriction to reduce your body weight at 1-2 pounds per week. In about less than 3 months, you can reduce most of your excess fat and see a major increase in your testosterone. While you will be using weight to track your progress, it is also important to measure your body fat so you can see how much of that evil, estrogen producing body fat you are losing. You can buy tools such as calipers or body fat monitors to help you measure your progress. 

What about cardio to burn off fat?

While not discouraging you from doing cardio, the most efficient use of your time to increase your testosterone is to focus on your weight loss efforts and allocate your exercise time to strength training.  One hour of jogging burns about 400 calories, given that this is about the same amount of calories as a candy bar and can of soda, it may be more efficient to look for opportunities in your diet to cut out useless calories. After improving your diet, the best approach to burning fat is to do 20 minutes, yes only 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). 

2. Make sleep a priority

Get your rest, you'll increase your testosterone!

Get your rest, you’ll increase your testosterone!

I know we all are busy and never seem to get enough sleep. Well, did you know that testosterone is only produced at night while you are asleep? And testosterone production peaks during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase when you are dreaming?

Most people don’t prioritize sleep at all. Think about your testosterone next time you are going to skip sleep to do something else. If you are working hard at your strength training program, you certainly should be tired and want to get extra sleep!

3. Build muscle by strength training

If you want to increase testosterone, nothing beats strength training. It does two very important things to increase testosterone.

First of all, working out hard sends signals telling your body it needs to adapt to difficult external conditions and what it needs in order to adapt to those conditions is more muscle. In order to add muscle, your body will increase testosterone production.

Secondly, by increasing muscle you will increase your basal metabolic rate, this is the amount of calories you burn in a day in a resting state which will help with fat loss. There seems to be confusion about the impact on increasing muscles impact on your metabolic rate, but based on the authoritative Tufts and University of Maryland studies, we can expect that a pretty easy 3 month strength training program can add about 3 pounds of lean muscle which would be expected to increase your metabolic rate by about 7%. Pretty good bang for the buck.

I think the best approach to strength training  to increase testosterone is progressive calisthenics. These are body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats, pull-ups, bridges and leg raises. I believe these exercises send the strongest signals to your body to produce testosterone because the motions are more natural and engage your whole body vs. using most weight lifting and machines that only isolate one muscle or muscle group at a time.

In conclusion, strength training directly tells the body to increase testosterone because it needs more muscle and that new muscle increases the number of calories your burn in a day making it easier to lose testosterone killing body fat.

4. Eat foods containing cholesterol

Eating foods containing cholesterol such as eggs can help to increase your testosterone

Eating foods containing cholesterol such as eggs can help to increase your testosterone

Everyone tells us that fat and cholesterol in particular is bad but cholesterol is the precursor to testosterone. Testosterone is “built” from dietary cholesterol as well as cholesterol produced by the liver. Obviously, if you have high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease you need to approach this intelligently. But if you are making progress reducing your body fat, body weight and strength training, adding more cholesterol to your diet will further enhance your testosterone raising efforts by giving your body the materials it needs to increase testosterone levels.

5. Reduce alcohol and drug consumption

Oh great, now you have to give up  drinking too!? Not completely, but reducing  alcohol and drug consumption is very important to increasing your testosterone levels. Both alcohol and drugs are metabolized in the liver and can also damage the liver. Your liver converts excess estrogen into compounds that can be removed from the body. If you are making your liver work overtime to process alcohol or drugs it will have a reduced ability to help clear excess estrogen from your body. As a stark example, severe alcoholics that have developed cirrhosis of the liver (irreversible scarring of the liver so its stops working correctly) develop breast tissue and their testicles shrink. You don’t want this to happen to you.

Not being this guy will definitely increase your testosterone levels

Not being this guy will definitely increase your testosterone levels

Additionally, alcohol contains useless calories that lead to estrogen producing fat and negatively impacts your ability to go into REM sleep both topics we’ve discussed above as important to increasing your testosterone.

Have a couple drinks with your friends but if you are drinking a lot on weekends or every night, cutting down will have a big positive impact on increasing your testosterone (and improving your life). You might even find that you enjoy the occasional drink even more once you’ve cut down and are enjoying the benefits of increased testosterone.

6. Improve your posture

The ancients walked around in power poses all the time, even without hands Apollo still has a dominant poise

The ancients walked around in power poses all the time, even without hands Apollo still has a dominant poise

Remember the lesson we talked in #3 about how your body responds to signals to produce more testosterone? Well, your posture is a powerful signal that you may not be focusing on as much as you should. You may have heard advice that smiling even if you aren’t feeling particularly happy can make you actually feel better. This is true because your body does react to the signals you send it. 

Knowing this, if you have a submissive or defeated posture, why would your body expend energy producing testosterone, the hormone that drives dominant behavior?

Harvard researcher, Professor Amy Cuddy, showed that spending two minutes in a “Power Pose” increased testosterone and decreased cortisol (the stress hormone). The “Power Pose” is simply standing (or sitting) tall with your chin up, arms and legs wide and uncrossed. Just doing this has a profound impact on your hormone levels and in her study Professor Cuddy showed a 20% increase in testosterone after just 2 minutes in the “Power Pose.” If you walk around with rounded shoulders or cross your arms and legs throughout the day, take 2 minutes and raise your testosterone!

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