Testosterone is often a word we hear when referring to aggression, bodybuilding, or in other masculine type characteristics – extra body hair, deeper voice, etc.
My ‘early day’s research’ on ways to get a bigger physique, led me to learning about testosterone being a ‘good thing’, which could increase my strength and muscle size.
While this is partly true, there is much more to this essential hormone than first meets the eye.
And if you are a woman reading this, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need testosterone – just less of it.
- 1 What Is Testosterone?
- 2 Why Do We Need Testosterone?
- 3 Symptoms and Effects of Low T-Levels
- 4 Testosterone Self Test Kit
- 5 How to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
- 6 Further Reading
- 7 Conclusion
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone, secreted by the testicles in a man and the ovaries in a woman.
It is also produced in lesser amounts, (approx 5%) by the adrenal gland – situated just above the liver.
Men produce up to ten times more testosterone than women, although women are much more sensitive to its effects.
Like any hormone, testosterone is simply a chemical messenger that sends out signals to various cells in the body, altering their structure and the way they behave.
Why Do We Need Testosterone?
Testosterone is responsible for a number of essential bodily functions and needs, including:
- Maintaining our reproductive system
- Controlling our sexual desire
- Maintaining our sexual function
- Maintain and stimulate bone density and hair growth
- Increase strength and muscle mass (muscle hypertrophy)
These masculine characteristics largely explain why men need much more testosterone than women, although both sexes need it for healthy physical and sexual development.
From the minute we are conceived, testosterone plays a part in our development.
It determines our gender and is the catalyst that takes us from pre-puberty, puberty and into adulthood.
During our puberty years, testosterone is secreted into the body in a rather sporadic fashion.
The brain is trying to establish the ideal level of testosterone it thinks our body needs.
This is what leads to those teenage years of emotional highs and lows, increased facial and body hair, new odors and the odd unexpected appearance of an erect organ! (they were the days!)
As we grow into adulthood our bodies eventually establish an optimum level of desired testosterone.
It has a numerical range (known as T-levels) and most of us have ‘normal’ levels.
When testosterone drops below the normal range, the brain sends signals to the testes or ovaries to produce more, and likewise to produce less when we have reached our normal levels.
Symptoms and Effects of Low T-Levels
As we get older, from around 30 years+, testosterone levels will naturally fall, and a decrease in our sex drive may result.
However, it doesn’t mean we can’t live a sexually and physically active life, just as long as our testosterone levels remain normal for our age.
Below normal levels of testosterone can occur at any age and can be attributed to factors other than aging, including stress, injury, or medical conditions.
Symptoms of low testosterone levels include:
- Excessive tiredness and weakness
- Loss of body hair
- Feeling depressed
- Excess body fat
- Reduced bone strength and muscle mass
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Unable to maintain an erection
- Poor sleep
Many of these symptoms may just mean you need to improve your diet, exercise more, and get more sleep at night. Or they could be a result of low testosterone levels.
A simple blood test and examination from your doctor will establish if you do have low T-levels.
As research continues, it seems that low testosterone levels may contribute to a lot more medical conditions than was previously believed.
Untreated, it may lead to a number of conditions including heart disease, diabetes, decreased bone density (osteoporosis), and fertility problems.
Testosterone Self Test Kit
You can now order home kits that test your levels of testosterone.
If you are suffering from some of the symptoms of low testosterone, then a self test kit might be a good idea.
If the results do come back as having low testosterone levels, then at least you know that’s the reason, and can start to take steps to rectify it.
You should still seek your doctors advice, and I’m sure they would test your levels again.
How to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
For longevity, an active sex life, to build muscles and maintain strong bones, we need to maintain normal levels of testosterone.
Low T-levels can be diagnosed and treated by artificially adding testosterone into the body.
This can be done in the form of injections, gels, supplements and patches.
The good news is that it often has an immediate effect, especially for men with low libido and/or sexual function.
However there are downsides to testosterone supplements that can produce unpleasant side-effects, such as oily, spotty skin, enlarged breasts in men, and possible accelerated prostrate growth.
Like any hormone, we can manipulate our lifestyle to increase the amount of testosterone our bodies produce.
Sure it takes more work than a visit to the doctor and a course of injections (or whatever), but a natural approach is far safer, and will benefit many other areas of your life.
If you’re happy to take a supplement, there are plenty of companies that offer natural testosterone boosting ingredients.
Although I’ve not tried any of these myself, the most popular product on Amazon is: Superior Labs Test Worx Testosterone Booster Supplement.
It has over 5000+ positive reviews, and seems to have the desired effect for the majority of those taking it.
Testosterone is responsible for repairing and building muscle fibers that are broken down by resistance training.
The more muscle you have, the more testosterone you will produce.
It makes sense therefore, that weight training will help produce more testosterone.
For maximum production you need to exert your body, which means performing fewer repetitions – 5 to 10 range, and lift heavier weights.
But that’s not all. Medical findings are pretty much unified in identifying exercises that involve multiple muscle groups i.e. compound exercises, as the most efficient way to produce more testosterone and build muscle mass.
These findings go to underline the evidence that the most effective way to train in order to build muscle is to perform multi-joint moves, such as bench-press, dead-lifts, squats and pull-ups.
Increased testosterone is a natural result of this type of training.
Avoid Spikes in Your Blood Sugar Levels
It is important to avoid foods that prevent a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Research has shown that testosterone levels in a group of pre-diabetic and diabetic men decreased by as much as 25% after consuming 75 grams of pure glucose.
This is a significant drop in testosterone levels and is especially noteworthy when carbohydrates (particularly simple carbs) such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal etc. are so quickly converted into glucose after consumption.
Increase Your Levels of Vitamin D
This vital vitamin also helps increase bone density and muscle strength.
Regular exposure to sunshine can boost T-levels by as much as 69% according to a media report.
Can’t get enough sunshine where you live? I here ya!
Try taking a good Vitamin D supplement.
I take one every few days in the winter to top me up.
Short Intensive Workouts
Sprints or very short intensive workouts which could include swimming, the rowing machine, cross trainer etc. have been shown to increase testosterone levels much more effectively than long, cardio sessions.
The lactic acid that is produced with high intensity workouts sends signals to your brain to produce more testosterone.
The same response is not needed for long sustained exercise.
So keep it short and intense for max T-levels.
Avoid Getting Stressed
Nothing erodes testosterone levels like stress. Not only that, stress leads to a number of other health problems – physical and mental.
When you’re stressed your body releases the ‘fight or flight’ hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is testosterone’s arch enemy, and an increase of cortisol results in a decrease of testosterone.
This is often why stressed people may also suffer from reduced libido.
You can help prevent or reduce cortisol levels in your body by:
- Getting more and better quality sleep. Eight hours a night is optimal, but at least try for seven.
- Avoid excessive cardio sessions which as well as causing physical damage, may affect testosterone levels.
- Finding time to relax and unwind whether it be just sitting and reading a book now and again, or going for a walk in the park, will help you lower cortisol levels.
- Consuming extra vitamin C and chewing gum have also been linked to lower cortisol levels.
Want more information? Check out: The Definitive Testosterone Replacement Therapy MANual: How to Optimize Your Testosterone for Lifelong Health and Happiness
It has some excellent reviews and looks at the role testosterone plays in the body, in much more detail.
There’ no denying the importance of our understated hormone ‘testosterone’ for our health and fitness as we age.
Here’s a re-cap on how to maintain optimum levels:
- Be smart in the gym and with your workouts – less is more!
- Eat less processed food, carbs and sugar
- Eat more natural foods and get plenty of vitamin D
- Take care of your mental and emotional well-being
Follow these guidelines and the chances are you won’t suffer from the symptoms associated with low testosterone.
Not only that, you’ll benefit from a fitter, leaner physique, a healthier lifestyle and be a more relaxed, calmer person.
Please drop any comments or questions below,