As men age, our natural testosterone levels decrease. For most guys, it's unavoidable.
This can lead to a wide variety of effects, chief among them (and perhaps the reason you're here) a reduced sex drive or libido and even erectile dysfunction in some cases.
While prescription medications specifically for ED can treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction effectively, treatments for low testosterone are harder to come by. The most effective at increasing testosterone are prescription only, and they're not without side effects.
The good news is there are plenty of natural ways to increase your testosterone levels, increase testosterone production, and restore your sex drive, performance, body composition, and more. Here's how.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone for men and acts as an anabolic steroid. Testosterone dictates several physical features in men, particularly during puberty.
The development of various sexual organs like the prostate and testicles are influenced by testosterone during puberty, as well as during fetal formation. Our balance of testosterone is what makes men, men!
While testosterone has the most significant impact during puberty, it still plays a vitally important role in several physiological functions in the body after puberty is completed.
Along with various sexual functions like the production of sperm and dictating sex drive, testosterone also helps to maintain muscle and bone mass, affects the growth of body hair, the distribution of fat, and even the production of red blood cells.
The production of testosterone reaches its natural peak in men sometime during your late 20s or early 30s. After reaching this peak, production and testosterone levels typically drop between one and two percent each year.
Testosterone is created and primarily stored in the testicles, but the pituitary gland and hypothalamus are responsible for controlling testosterone's production. Issues relating to these three factors can result in hypogonadism, a condition where the body fails to produce and maintain optimal levels of testosterone.
Some of the side effects of having low levels of testosterone include:
- Brittle bones
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of body hair
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low energy levels
- Low self esteem
- Low semen levels
- Mood swings
- Reduced sex drive
- Trouble sleeping at night
- Weight gain
8 Ways To Boost Testosterone Levels
As you get older, the chances that you'll experience low testosterone begin to increase dramatically. In fact, nearly 40 percent of men 45 years or older are affected by low testosterone according to some estimates.
Fortunately, a few lifestyle changes can offset this decrease in testosterone production that comes with age.
Some of the most effective ways to boost testosterone levels without medication include:
Eating a Healthier Diet
One of the easiest ways to significantly change your body is with dietary changes. It can’t be overstated just how important your diet is to your overall health. The next time that you're at the grocery store, remember, “you are what you eat.”
Consuming considerable amounts of bread, pastries, and desserts can make you more likely to experience low testosterone levels, and you may be at an increased risk for developing hypogonadism.
By cutting back on highly processed and high glycemic foods like white breads, you can help reduce the odds of hypogonadism and other health complications in the long run. For best results, you should also start including more of these foods in your diet:
- Seafood such as tuna, oysters, shellfish, salmon, mackerel
- Dairy that includes low-fat milk and fewer saturated fats
- Lean proteins like chicken, pork, and beans, generally with less red meat
- Nuts like peanuts, almonds, and cashews for snacking
- Vegetables, both raw and cooked
- Fresh fruits
- Whole grains
Exercise can be a great way to boost your health and performance. As you probably know, exercise is a great way to prevent or reduce the risk of developing serious medical conditions and chronic illnesses, but exercise can also boost the production of testosterone.
Exercise is generally beneficial for you, but weight lifting in particular seems to have the largest impact on testosterone levels.
In one study, for example, a group of 20 male college students were followed to measure the impact of weight lifting on testosterone. Over the course of four weeks, the participants underwent a strength training program where they worked out three days a week. By collecting urine samples throughout the duration of the study, researchers discovered that by the end of the study the men had significantly higher levels of epitesteorone, androsterone, and etiocholanolone.
Get Enough Sleep At Night
When it comes to testosterone levels, sleep can be just as important as diet or exercise. Both the amount and quality of sleep you get will influence overall levels of testosterone.
You should be getting at least seven to nine hours a sleep each night to maintain optimal testosterone levels.
If you're unable to get enough sleep at night, or rarely experience deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, this could be due to the common sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea. This sleeping disorder occurs when your breathing is repeatedly interrupted, waking you throughout the night even if you don't realize it, and it's associated with frequent and heavy snoring. Sleep apnea commonly affects those who are overweight or obese, another common cause of low testosterone.
If you're known to snore and are still tired even after being asleep overnight, it could be sleep apnea. The loss of REM sleep, loss of deep sleep, increased awakenings, and low sleep efficiency can all contribute to lower levels of testosterone.
Cut Back on Alcohol Consumption
While having a few drinks won’t result in significant changes to testosterone levels, drinking excessively and frequently might.
Alcohol can have a severe negative impact on the various glands and hormones that are associated with the male reproductive organs and processes. Heavy consumption of alcohol may result in a condition called testicular atrophy, which can not only lower the production testosterone but cause infertility, impotence, and even shrink the testicles.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol even converts testosterone into estrogen, which can increase your risk of prostate cancer.
Chronic alcohol abuse is a contributing factor in all kinds of medical conditions, including ED.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Experiencing high levels of stress for a long period of time can be meaningfully damaging to your health. When you're stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This stress hormone acts as a sort of alarm system for the body, triggering a “fight or flight” response in most of your organs. In this state, your body will focus primarily on essential functions only.
Functions such as the production of testosterone, which is not essential to survival, can be severely reduced and lower your T levels during periods of chronic stress. These two hormones have a balanced relationship, in that the higher your levels of cortisol, the lower your testosterone levels may be.
The Right Vitamin Supplements
A deficiency in the essential vitamin D is commonly associated with low levels of testosterone.
One study involved a group of 54 men either receiving 3,330 international units of vitamin D or a placebo over the course of a year. When the trial ended, the men that were given the vitamin D had significantly higher levels of bioactive testosterone, free testosterone, and total levels of testosterone.
Another supplement to consider is zinc. A deficiency in this mineral has a direct association with low testosterone levels. One study looked at the role of zinc in 37 men experiencing infertility for five years or longer.
Once zinc levels were restored to normal via oral administration of supplements, testosterone was increased along with sperm count. Within two months of treatment, there were nine reported pregnancies. The group that didn’t have a deficiency seemed to be largely unaffected by the supplements.
Fixing a zinc or vitamin D deficiency may impact testosterone meaningfully.
Lose Some Weight
Being overweight or obese can have a negative impact on several sexual functions, including the production of testosterone. One study looking into the testosterone levels of 25 lean teenagers and 25 obese teenagers found that those considered obese had between 40 and 50 percent lower concentrations of testosterone.
Two of the items on this list, getting more exercise and eating a healthier diet, should help you lose weight. Doing all three can substantially increase overall levels of testosterone.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
This medical treatment is available as an injection, topical gel, or patch and will replace the missing testosterone in your body directly, just as the name implies. Depending on dosage and administration method, some treatments may last for a few months, while others last only a few hours.
Testosterone replacement therapy is commonly used in older men and is typically a long-term treatment. While this method can be an effective way to boost testosterone, consider trying these natural options first. If they don’t seem to be having any effect, ask your doctor if testosterone replacement therapy is right for you.
The best way to increase testosterone production is to eat healthier, get some more exercise, kick bad habits like alcohol and smoking, and lose weight.
If you're experiencing erectile dysfunction or a reduction in sex drive, it could be a sign of lower testosterone. It could also be related to chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, or your physical health in general. The good news is that any of these lifestyle changes can help to boost testosterone levels naturally, while also improving your general wellbeing. You'll feel fitter and feel better with regular exercise and a quality diet, and booting bad habits to the curb never hurt anyone.
If you want immediate relief, prescription ED meds work for the majority of guys who try them, and they've been used by millions of men over the last twenty years to effectively combat the symptoms of ED. And now you can do it all online, even the doctor's visit, with affordable meds like generic Viagra delivered to your door if approved.