According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, testosterone levels in American men have been declining by 1.3 percent annually since 1987.
Also: This decline is occurring independent of age.
In other words: The average man today has about 26% lower T than the average man from just 20 years ago (1.3 x 20 =26).
That’s a huge dip.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of How to Reach Optimal Testosterone Levels as a Man
… and what we can do about it, take a look at the following infographic…
I created this infographic to explain the big picture of low testosterone.
As you can see:
The cause of low T in modern society can largely be narrowed down to lifestyle factors. So it makes sense that optimizing these factors will have the opposite effect, i.e. an increase in testosterone levels naturally.
However, rather than making the lifestyle changes to allow their bodies to produce higher levels of testosterone, more and more men these days are seeking out the “quick-fix” in the form of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT is like addressing the symptoms (low T) while completely ignoring the root cause (an unhealthy lifestyle).
Look, the thing is that, as a man, optimal testosterone levels and optimal health go hand-in-hand. If you’re able to naturally maintain T-levels above a particular range, it’s a signal that your body is lean and muscular, that you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals through your diet, and that your mind is functioning near peak potential.
In this article I will focus on the final part of the infographic:
How to achieve optimal testosterone levels naturally by setting these 4 Priorities
Let’s dive in…
Priority #1 – Lose Your Gut
Body fat produces an enzyme called aromatase.
Aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen (the female sex hormone).
By lowering your body fat, you decrease the activity of aromatase and allow more testosterone to remain unconverted. This is why leaner men have consistently been shown to produce higher levels of testosterone.
If you’re currently over 15% body fat, then getting in the range of 12-15% body fat is the #1 thing you can do to positively impact your natural testosterone production.
How To Lose Weight
Regardless of whether we talk about low-carb, Paleo, Atkins, ketogenic, or any other diet under the sun, they all induce weight-loss by the same means:
By putting you in a calorie deficit.
Consuming fewer calories than you burn is the fundamental law of weight loss; there are no two ways about it. By staying in a calorie deficit, university professor Mark Haub was able to shed 27 pounds in 2 months eating nothing but twinkies, doritos, and oreos.
Alright, so how many calories should you consume to lose weight?
Well, there are a number of formulas you can use, but each of them will still merely provide you with an estimate. This is why I like to keep things simple:
To calculate your calorie goal, multiply your bodyweight by 12.
For example, I weigh 185 lbs, so 2220 calories per day. That’s roughly how many calories I need to lose that sweet spot of 1 lb per week.
This estimate provides a good enough starting point. The key, however, lies in keeping track of your progress and adjusting your calories along the way.
Notice how, above, I’ve used the term “weight-loss” and not “fat-loss”. In order to ensure that the weight you lose comes in the form of fat and not muscle, you will have to focus on other factors like food choices, maintaining/gaining strength in the gym, sleep, etc. We’ll get into some of them coming up.
Priority #2 – Correct Your Micronutrient Deficiencies
Research has shown that large portions of the American population have deficiencies in many key vitamins and minerals.
Depending on the extent of your current deficiencies, topping up your vitamin and mineral levels can have a pretty dramatic impact on your natural T production.
How To Achieve Micronutrient Balance
Simply include more whole, unprocessed, and natural foods in your diet. Foods like leafy vegetables, grass-fed meats, whole eggs, avocadoes and fatty fish are great additions to any diet.
Also, according to the study cited above, approximately 74% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. That’s almost 3 in every 4 people! Studies have shown a direct correlation between vitamin D levels and T-levels in men. A simple way to top up your vitamin D is by spending more time outdoors.
Another easy way to achieve micronutrient balance is simply to supplement with a quality multivitamin supplement.
Priority #3 – Pump Some Iron
Given that testosterone is the primary hormonal driver of muscle growth, it makes sense that the more muscle you have on your body, the higher your testosterone levels will be.
The best way to build muscle?
Lift heavy weights.
How To Train For The Optimal Testosterone Response
There’s a tendency in the fitness space to make stuff more complicated than it needs to be. With regards to training for the optimal testosterone response, it can be narrowed down to one simple sentence:
Get stronger in a medium rep range on the big compound movements.
Your workouts should primarily consist of exercises like the bench press, overhead press, deadlift, squat, barbell rows, pull-ups and others of the sort.
The essence of getting stronger and building more muscle lies in the concept of progressive overload.
Your muscles will only grow if introduced to a stimulus that is beyond what they’re currently used to. So your focus should be on keeping track of the amount of weight you lift and getting stronger over time.
On a side note, building muscle is also one of the best ways to burn calories. The more muscle you have on your body the more energy it requires to maintain them.
Priority #4 – Aim for 7-9 hours of high quality sleep every single night
Given the sleep deprivation trends as of recent, it seems like many of us consider sleep a luxury rather than a priority. But the fact is that there is no aspect of your physical, emotional, and mental health that is not affected by the quality of your sleep.
The first aspect to look towards is sleep quantity. The general recommendation is to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But what’s just as important as sleep quantity is sleep quality.
How to improve your sleep quality
Do you know the #1 reason Americans give as to why they can’t get to sleep at night?
We all have stresses in our life, but the key lies in learning how to deal with them. Meditation is a proven way to conquer anxiety and make you feel more relaxed.
An easy way to get started with meditation is simply to set a timer on your phone for 6 minutes, sit in a relaxed position, close your eyes and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Obviously, your inner chatter pop up, but the real benefit of meditation lies in bringing your attention back to the anchor, i.e. your breath. Each time you get distracted, observe it, and bring your attention back to your breath. It’s like building a muscle. The more you bring your attention back, the better you will get at it. Just 5 minutes of meditation before bed can put you in the right state of mind to instantly fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. Also check out this beginner’s guide.
Another thing that’s disrupting your sleep quality is your smartphone. All the screens you stare at past dark (TV, laptop, ipad, etc.) emit a blue light that messes with your hormones; it makes your body think that it’s still daytime. So a good rule is to simply avoid looking at any screens 1.5-2 hours before the time you intend on going to bed.
The final factor to look towards is your room’s environment. Essentially, you should make sure that it’s dark, mellow, and cool.
By dark I mean that it should be pitch-black. Invest in black-out curtains or an eye mask.
By mellow I mean that your bedroom should be associated with a relaxed and mellow energy, i.e. your bed should not be used for any activity other than sex or sleeping.
By cool I mean that your room temperature should be between 60-67 F. Researchers have found this to be the ideal sleeping temperature. If the temperature is outside of this range, it could play a role in disrupting your sleep quality.
There you have it…
By optimizing these 4 factors you’ll have an immediate positive impact on your testosterone levels and, in turn, on your mind, body, and life as well.
Author Bio: Mo Saleem
Mo Saleem is an independent men’s health researcher who provides men with the evidence-based action steps to help them achieve what they’re truly capable of. Check out tripleyourt.com to learn more about Mo and his work.