If you frequent the main-stream fitness publications and blogs you might think we have an epidemic of “mandropause” slowly making us become a nation of men with low testosterone.
Now to be frank, there is a lot of hyperbole in those articles and the real truth is that low testosterone levels probably aren’t as prolific as the media makes it sound.
Now, that doesn’t mean we should sweep the issue under the rug because even if 1% of the U.S. male population has low testosterone (the actual % is likely much higher), that would mean 1.5 million men need help!
That means there are a lot of men who suffer from low testosterone and their lives would be greatly improved by propping those numbers up a bit.
Sure, you can take a needle to the glute or rub some cream on it but there are some super simple ways that we can help those testosterone levels without dropping our drawers or dropping buckets of cash on funky creams.
Eat The Right Kinds Of Food
Dieting sucks. You don’t get to eat your favorite foods, your performance in the gyms blows, and your libido goes to crap. Seriously, during periods of severe calorie restriction or “ hard cutting” you can kiss your testosterone levels goodbye.
Think I am kidding?
One study showed a 50% reduction in testosterone levels after only 8 days of a really low-calorie diet1. Another study showed that rapid weight loss, like those seen during cuts to make competition weight drastically effect testosterone2.
The phenomena of dieting lowering testosterone is one of the most repeatable and robust effects there is in the nutrition science literature.
Aside from research studies, ask any body-builder, figured competitor, or fighter what happens to their sex drive when they are cutting down super hard. My guess, 90% of them would tell you that their sex drive dropped to levels lower than your bank account in college. I would bet that most of that was a result of the lower testosterone levels.
So here is the moral to this part of the story. It you have low testosterone and you are dieting, stop dieting and eat some food! If you need to lose some fat, make the calorie deficit smaller and just train a bit harder.
Get your Zinc
Turns out eating like a rabbit might actually help keep your testosterone levels at a high enough level to keep you at your “Alpha Male” status. I’m not joking, eat your kale, or at least take some ZMA. Why? Because zinc is actually going to help you keep your manliness.
It turns out that zinc deficiency can lead to lower testosterone levels in men3. Weird huh? A little mineral makes a difference in your testosterone levels.
This wasn’t some weird fluke study either, this is a fairly well documented phenomena and has been found in several studies4. In many of these studies fixing the zinc deficiency through supplementation nearly doubled their testosterone levels.
So if you want to make sure you are optimizing your testosterone levels don’t let the zinc levels get too low. If you are a hard training athlete taking ZMA is something you really should consider.
Get Some Sun and Optimize that Vitamin D
Yeah, I know. The whole vitamin D story is soooooo overplayed. I mean shoot, for like a decade everyone thought vitamin D was going to cure cancer, ebola, and everything else that plagues mankind. Now that was all nonsense.
You know what isn’t nonsense? Having really low vitamin D levels is probably not going to help you keep your testosterone levels high. Several studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D correlate with low testosterone5,6.
There is also data showing some “causation”. A 12-month, double-blind, randomized control trial in 54 men demonstrated that the group receiving about 3,000 IU a day increased their total testosterone, bioactive testosterone, and free testosterone levels7. So, if you want to keep your testosterone levels propped up don’t let your vitamin D take a plunge.
Now we don’t need to get real fancy and complicated in our vitamin D recommendations just go shirtless and get some sun in the summer and take some vitamin D in the winter to keep your levels normal.
This might seem like a no brainer but women are a super helpful way to “naturally” boost your testosterone. Seriously, go hang out with women, especially attractive ones.
You might think that it requires some sort of sexual encounter or watching an adult film, interestingly it doesn’t (Sex is definitely a robust testosterone booster but it isn’t required). In fact, just being around women and talking to women can have an effect on your testosterone.
In one study, researchers were able to show that just speaking with an attractive woman for 5 minutes can increase your testosterone levels up to 30%7. Now here is the real kicker, it doesn’t even matter if she isn’t in to you or not.
Your homework: Go find your local super model (or that smoking hot chick at the gym you train at) and just chat with her for 5 minutes to boost your testosterone. Also, ask her out on a date. You don’t have anything to lose and everything, including your testosterone levels to gain.
No one wants low testosterone, nothing good usually comes of it. While you can go the hormone replacement therapy route that often becomes a life-long endeavor and can sometimes be an unnecessary first step. There are some well-known alternative approaches to try before you go with the needle, cream, or pill route.
The first thing you should do is quit trying to cut so hard so often. Time and time again the research has shown that rapid weight loss crushes your testosterone. If you want to get lean take the more sane approach and invest in some sweat equity and give yourself a longer time window.
Eat some kale! Ok, not really but you definitely should fix your zinc and vitamin D deficiencies. Take some ZMA and get some sun, but you might need to take a vitamin D if you live in a place where the sun never shines.
Women are the cure to all maladies. Surround yourself with women because science has shown that attractive women boost your testosterone and will probably also just make you more “chipper” in general.
- Effects of dietary protein content on IGF-I, testosterone, and body composition during 8 days of severe energy deficit and arduous physical activity
- Rapid Weight Loss Decreases Serum Testosterone
- Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults.
- Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count.
- Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men.
- Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men.
- Rapid endocrine responses of young men to social interactions with young women.