Most of us associate testosterone with all the things that make us masculine. It affects the size of our muscles, sex drive, and even how dense our beards are! It’s a vital hormone that makes us who we are, but levels can vary massively between different people. If your body isn’t producing as much as it should, then you’ll soon start to see the warning signs, but where do you go from there? How can you increase your testosterone without resorting to dodgy pills from that guy at the gym? In this article, we look at 5 ways to naturally boost your T-levels and maintain those alpha-male looks.
How can I tell if my testosterone levels are low?
It can be tricky to tell if your testosterone levels are low, particularly when they first start to drop. However, there are some classic symptoms that point to this issue, so if you’re experiencing some of the following then your hormones may be the cause…
- Low muscle mass – either struggling to build muscle or an overall decrease in volume
- More body fat – especially around the chest (also known as ‘man boobs’)
- Hair loss – particularly facial or body hair
- Tiredness – lack of energy or extreme fatigue
- Low sex drive – just not feeling up for sex like you used to
- Erection difficulties – having trouble with either getting or maintaining one
- Changes in mood – feeling irritable, depressed, or struggling to concentrate
You don’t have to believe a lucky guess anymore. There are easy and safe ways to test your testosterone levels at home.
The best way to know for sure is to have a blood test – this will tell you categorically if you have low testosterone levels. If changes in mood are getting to you, particularly feelings of depression, then it’s worth getting advice from a qualified medical professional rather than trying to deal with it alone.
How to increase your testosterone levels naturally
There are some practical steps you can take to address your testosterone levels naturally. Here are 5 of the easiest and most effective:
1. Train on an empty stomach
Not many people realize this, but exercising on an empty stomach can skyrocket your testosterone levels. When the body doesn’t have food, it’s unsure when it will get its next influx of energy. It doesn’t know that you’re planning to eat a meal right after, so it thinks it may be at risk of starving. One of the coping mechanisms that it’s developed over the generations is to pump out high levels of testosterone and growth hormone. This is designed to ensure that your body makes the most of the mass it already has, but can also be used to your advantage. By doing this every time you train, you’ll generate a healthy boost of testosterone naturally.
The most effective way to do this is to workout first thing in the morning. By doing it early, you’ll be well-rested and completely fasted from sleeping overnight. This means that you’ll have high energy levels and an empty stomach – a combination that produces the best training results. Be sure to drink some water first and then get on with your usual workout.
If you start to feel hungry, then just push through it – the feeling will subside once you’ve been exercising for a while. In most cases, hunger is more like a habit than an actual physical need. It’s just appearing because your body is used to eating at a certain time of day, not because it really needs the food. The hormones that produce these feelings of hunger tend to spike in the morning but will soon subside once your body starts moving. Unless you have exceptionally low levels of body fat, you’re unlikely to pass out from delaying that one meal!
For people who prefer to train in the evenings or can’t fit it in first thing, this approach can still work. You’ll just need to ensure that you don’t eat anything (not even a snack) in the 3-4 hours before working out. This should mean that your stomach is empty enough for testosterone production to be kick-started.
2. Increase your healthy fat intake
Fat has been demonized for years, but doctors now agree that it’s essential for our health. Gone are the ideas that simply eating fat causes you to become physically fat – the body doesn’t operate that way! There are far more complex processes at work when we digest and absorb food, one of which is its relationship with hormones. Without sufficient intake of healthy fats, you risk compromising how hormones (and in particular testosterone) are released throughout the body.
The simplest step you can take is to increase the amount of healthy fats that you eat. This means focusing on things like oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon), avocados, and free-range eggs. Try adding nuts and seeds (like hemp, chia, almonds, and walnuts) to your salads and cereal, or snacking on them between meals. Testosterone boosting foods like these will ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs to create and release the hormone so that your T-levels are given a nice uplift.
3. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep can completely mess with your hormones but it’s something that many of us overlook. If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, have a changeable sleep schedule, or wake up at regular intervals, then you aren’t getting the rest you need to function optimally. If you want to increase your testosterone levels quickly, then it’s essential to prioritize sleep and head to bed at a decent hour.
Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night – this is pure sleep, not hours in bed. So, if it takes you a while to nod off then you’ll need to plan for this in your sleep schedule and get into bed a little earlier. Ensure that your room is quiet and dark so that nothing disturbs the quality of your sleep.
If you’re accidentally woken in the night by noises or lights, then it completely disrupts your sleep cycle. This means that your hormones won’t be released on cue like they should be and can further contribute to low testosterone. Getting to bed early on a regular basis will help to rebalance your T-levels while improving your energy and focus too.
4. Go heavy with the weights
If you want to give your testosterone levels a boost, then lifting heavier weights is the way forward. The higher the weight you train with, the more stress you put on the body. In the gym environment, this stress is great because it stimulates your systems, which causes them to increase testosterone production. By pushing yourself that little bit more, you can super-boost your T-levels quickly and easily.
One really effective training technique is to focus on compound movements. You’re probably familiar with them already, but for those that aren’t – they’re the exercises that recruit more than one muscle. For example, a bicep curl just works the bicep, but a pull-up works the bicep, deltoids, trapezius, and core muscles too. This makes it a much more efficient exercise since you’re hitting four muscle groups instead of just one.
Try incorporating squats, lunges, bench presses, dips, deadlifts, and military presses into your workouts. And don’t sacrifice quality when you’re lifting heavier weights as this will reduce the results. Focus on correct form and technique so that you get the most out of every movement.
5. Increase the intensity of your workouts
Lifting heavier weights isn’t the only way to push your body harder. You can also increase the intensity of your workouts to create the same stimulus effect on your testosterone levels. This means moving faster and taking shorter breaks between exercises so that you don’t have as much recovery time. A high-intensity approach will keep your heart rate elevated for longer, give your metabolism a boost, and ensure that the body feels sufficiently stressed to increase T-levels.
Sprint intervals are a fantastic way to achieve this high-intensity effect. Warm up for 5-10 minutes beforehand and then go all-out on 30-second sprints. Rest for 30-60 seconds between each one and then repeat 10-12 times. Remember to run at maximum speed so that you’re truly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Then do a 5-minute cooldown afterwards to flush out any lactic acid and keep your muscles injury-free. You can combine this with training on an empty stomach to produce an even greater effect.
Naturally increasing your Testosterone levels – summary
If you think that your testosterone levels may be low, these 5 tips can help you to take control. They’ll aid you to increase your hormone production quickly and naturally so that your low T-level symptoms begin to disappear.
Training on an empty stomach, lifting heavier weights, and increasing your workout intensity will all help to boost your T-levels immediately. By increasing the amount of healthy fats you eat and improving the quantity and quality of your sleep, your body will be able to produce more of this essential hormone naturally.
It might take a while for these practices to become habits, but the results are well worth it. Finally getting the muscular physique you want or that bushy beard you’ve always secretly dreamed of can transform how you look and feel about yourself. You may be surprised by what you can achieve in a short amount of time by making these small changes.