In 2007, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed a shocking truth. Testosterone levels in men in the US had plummeted. What they found was that on average the decline was happening at a staggering 1% every year. That doesn’t’ sound like a lot.
But that equates to a 60-year-old man in 2004 having testosterone levels 17% lower than those of a 60-year-old in 1987. It wasn’t only American scientists who found this trend in men. A study of Danish men produced similar findings. That study showed double-digit declines among men born in the 1960s compared to those born in the 1920s.
Your hormones affect everything from muscle growth, to mood, and yes, reproduction. Think of your hormones like super fast texting machines. They operate like messengers that tell your cells and organs how to operate. And low testosterone can lead to a myriad of health issues for men.
Both men and women create testosterone, but men produce about 2x as much. But if T levels dip too low, you can experience issues like:
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Poor sleep
- Muscle loss
- Low sperm count
- Increased belly fat
Types of Testosterone
You have kinds of testosterone floating around your blood:
- sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and
- free testosterone.
Both Albumin and SHBG are protein-bound testosterone. But free testosterone isn’t bound to any proteins. Now, oddly enough, you can have high amounts of testosterone but low amounts of free testosterone. And you can still experience symptoms associated with low T levels.
Your health is your responsibility. And knowing where your testosterone levels hover is part of that responsibility. You can have your doctor test your testosterone levels with a simple blood test.
My suggestion, if you have never had these levels checked, get them checked. Understand where you are now, and if you have low T levels, take action to boost those numbers naturally first. And then continue having those numbers checked every year on your routine physical.
Here’s what you need to know about those numbers: What’s considered a normal range for testosterone is pretty freaking huge. Normal levels of total testosterone in men fall somewhere between 300 and 1000 nanograms per deciliter. And “normal” free testosterone levels fall anywhere between 9 and 30 ng nanograms per deciliter.
Why such a wide range? Well, because genetics can play a role here. Everyone is a little different, even if men all produce testosterone. What’s normal for a 6’8” male won’t be what’s optimal for a shorter 5’5” man. And that makes sense.
But, here’s what is troubling about the idea of a normal range that wide. Even at the bottom range of “normal” many men may be experiencing the horrendous effects of low T. But your doctor will look at those numbers and tell you, “Nah, bro, you’re all good. You’re in the ‘normal range. You’re fine.”
Now look, I’m not a doctor, and I will never pretend to be one. But I also know that a range that wide makes about as much sense as saying that you can drive down the highway from a range of 20mph to 90mph.
Symptoms of low testosterone can kill your quality of life. It’s that simple. And over the last few years, testosterone replacement therapy has been trending upward. I have friends who are on TRT. I have worked with a client who was on TRT. And someday, when I’m much older, I will use it to keep my levels optimal.
There are two great resources I suggest every man read when it comes to testosterone therapy: The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible by Jay Campbell and Testosterone: A Man’s Guide by Nelson Vergel
I’m going to be clear about one thing, first: you don’t need a cream, a gel, or pills to boost your testosterone. The science is clear that those solutions work. But before you ever jump to that, you should always attempt to raise your testosterone levels naturally.
Yes, know where you land in terms of testosterone (get tested, bro). Because it’s beneficial to see if you suffer from low levels of T.
Then, once you have that, focus first on improving the first four things listed below. Improve those areas, and then you can add the other six after it to your daily routine. Then go get yourself retested and see how much your testosterone has improved.
The 4 Best Ways Every Man Can Improve Testosterone Levels
1. Get more sleep
There is no absolutely, positively no better way to improve your testosterone levels (and every other facet of your life) than to get more sleep.
In 2016, the Center for Disease Control found that nearly 35% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Depriving yourself of sleep raises your risk of hypertension and weight gain, weakens your immune system, raises your risk of diabetes, decreases insulin sensitivity, and it may increase inflammation and inflammatory-related issues.
Your body does most of its rebuilding and recovery while you slumber. Sufficient sleep keeps you mentally strong and alert and helps in maintaining good hormone health. Plus, during the deeper parts of sleep, your body releases growth hormones to rebuild your body’s tissues.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults over the age of 26 should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. And though exercise is one of the suggested activities that experts recommend to improve your sleep, there are other things you can do to get more shut-eye.
Just remember the acronym SLEEP.
- Sleep in a cold room
- Leave yourself 30 minutes to of no screen time before bed
- End any caffeine consumption before 3 PM
- Establish a relaxation ritual to wind down your mind before bed
- Pursue the Robbie Farlow rule: the bedroom is for sex and sleep. Keep all electronics — phone, computer, tablets — out of your bedroom. It is a sacred space that should never be breached by attention-demanding electronics.
2. Eat more Cruciferous vegetables
Your grandma was right: eat your goddang (grammy doesn’t curse) vegetables.
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, watercress, horseradish, and brussels sprouts are all high in Indole-3-carbinol. I3C is produced when your body breaks down these vegetables. And it has some amazing anticarcinogenic, (cancer-fighting), antioxidant, and anti-atherogenic (artery-clearing) effects. But I3C also helps your body better metabolize and bind estrogen the way it should be.
Your body converts I3C to diindollyl methane. That in turns works to transform estrogen the way it should be converted in a man’s body, which goes a long way to boosting your free testosterone. This allows your free testosterone to more easily binds to androgen receptors that do all the things you want testosterone to do — build muscle, increase libido, and regulate mood.
3. Lift Weights
The BEST thing anyone (male or female) can do for their health is to add more muscle. I covered numerous studies that have shown those who lift weights live longer and better lives here.
What should you lift, though?
Focus on the basics, exercises that hit more than one muscle at a time — squats, bench pressing, overhead pressing, deadlifts, farmers carries, & rows. Or what those of us who write about fitness call compound lifts.
Compound lifts have been shown to boost testosterone production. So, yes, you can still curl and hit your triceps. But get stronger in the big lifts and spend your time making those your bread and butter.
4.Lose Belly Fat
Excess belly fat can create a vicious cycle that can tank your testosterone levels even more.
Your body fat is home to an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Now, you do need “some” estrogen, just as women need “some” testosterone for optimal health. But too much estrogen triggers your body to slow its production of testosterone.
And testosterone is a natural fat-burning hormone. But guess what? The less testosterone you make, the more likely you are to store excess belly fat. (If you’re not eating less food than you burn or aren’t paying attention to nutrition at all).
So, before you even try and naturally increase your T levels fellas, you gotta lose the stomach fluff.
Here’s something else that’s interesting: not all men with low testosterone are overweight. What? How can that be? Well, we may all have similar chromosomes, but we’re all different physiologically. And the symptoms of low T can vary from man to man.
Men with low testosterone do tend to have one common trait: they have less muscle mass. So even if you’re “not” overweight or obese, you have more fat than you think.
5 Other Things You Can Do to Increase Testosterone Naturally but That are Kind of Meaningless if the First Four Aren’t Done First
5. Get More Sunlight
6. Take Vitamin D
7. Get More Magnesium
- increase blood pressure;
- reduces glucose tolerance, and
- Cause neural excitation.
- Reducing blood pressure
- Acts as a natural sedative
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Aids in muscle recovery from workouts
- Regulates cortisol