In a modern world with fast food joints on every corner, gyms that are filled with treadmills and a lack of good free weights – many men are starting to feel the effects of age and low testosterone.
You might feel tired more frequently, perhaps you even have mood swings. Your doctor told you to eat better and exercise but that didn’t really help.
Trouble is, you might be experiencing low testosterone levels – after all, at about the age of 30-35, your test levels will start to gradually decrease.
You can exercise more often, eat better foods and even supplement with herbal remedies but at the end of the day, none of his may make a true difference in your health. This is why it can be very important for you to be able to recognize if and when you have low test levels.
Before we get into the best ways to tell if you have low testosterone, it is important that you understand what testosterone is.
What is Testosterone?
Put simply, testosterone is the thing that makes you a man. At a young age, it is the hormone that helps you to start growing much quicker (along with growth hormone) and to a certain extent, testosterone is the substance that starts to put hair on your chest, deepens your voice and allows for greater muscle growth and sexual performance.
In terms of a scientific reference, testosterone is technically a steroid hormone that is responsible for developing male sexual characteristics.
This is one of the main reason it is usually produced in the testes – although it can also be created in the ovaries (female sex organs) and adrenal cortex (part of the brain).
Why is Testosterone Important
With that definition in mind, you are likely starting to get a grasp of why testosterone is important – especially in a man. With low levels can come low energy, low muscle mass and a higher rate of fat development – not to mention the effects on your sexual organs.
Here are three reasons why testosterone is important
1. It is Important for Energy
It is very common for those that have the lower testosterone to have less energy. You may feel tired, sluggish – no matter the number of coffees you have been drinking.
2. It Fuels Libido
This is probably the most important reason why testosterone is important. With low levels will come low libido and lower sex drive – and it doesn’t stop there. Some men have reported that along with not being as sexually stimulated – even with male enhancement pills they won’t see a benefit.
3. Test Is Tied to Fat
Without getting into the science of how testosterone is tied to fat we can say quite conclusively that those that have lower testosterone levels generally have more adipose tissue (fat).
Do You Have Low Testosterone Levels?
With all of this information in mind, you might be starting to ask yourself if you have low testosterone levels.
Here is a simple checklist you can use to determine if test levels have started to decrease.
- Mood swings are very regular
- Your sex drive is much lower than before
- You have trouble with erections
- You frequently feel fatigued
- It is very difficult to put on muscle mass
- You have a high level of body fat
- You fracture or injure bones very easily
If you ticked off most of these boxes it could be time for a home testosterone test or to go and see your doctor. At the end of the day, they are one of the only people who can administer a true blood test to see where your free-testosterone levels are at.
Causes of Low Testosterone
Before you take a trip to your doctor you should try to pick up on as much information about this issue as possible. Here are some of the common causes of low testosterone.
Above many other reasons, a limitation of exercise and movement is one of the biggest causes of low testosterone. Our human bodies were built to move – sitting in a chair all day will cause you nothing but sickness.
Inflammation is the name of the game here. Foods that create an inflammation in the arteries or throughout the internal organs can have a negative effect on your bodies ability to naturally produce testosterone.
This one goes hand in hand with diet, but having an excess amount of body fat is not good for your health or your natural testosterone levels.
Lack of Essential Nutrients
Many nutrients including zinc and magnesium have some of the largest effects on testosterone levels. Zinc, in particular, has a massive effect on the stimulation of testosterone in the testes – when levels are low (from diet) you may experience a decline in free-testosterone levels.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is essential for all human life. Without sleep, your body will be way off its natural rhythm, and this includes your ability to produce testosterone during REM cycles of sleep.
This is a scientific term for an illness that occurs when the sexual organs are no longer producing a specific sexual hormone – like testosterone. This can happen as a result of an injury or many other reasons.
How to Boost Low Testosterone Levels Naturally?
With all this information about the causes of low testosterone and if you are a man who has lower testosterone it can be very important to understand the best ways to naturally elevate it.
Let’s delve into some of the best-proven methods for better test levels.
Exercise With Resistance
Resistance exercise is somewhat overlooked by many people – but the truth is, resistance training can actually have a strong effect on the amount of testosterone your body produces.
Eat More Carbohydrates
This may sound counterintuitive to everything mainstream media has been telling you recently but the truth is, carbohydrate intake will have a much larger role on testosterone levels than fat.
You see, carbohydrates have an effect on cortisol levels – this is your stress hormone. Research has shown that when cortisol levels are low, testosterone is high. This is why I personally never recommend a low-carb diet – it massively increases cortisol and rarely raises testosterone.
I’m not saying go out and grab a bundle of donuts, but I am saying have some good whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables every day – it’s good for you!
Eat Plenty of Cruciferous Vegetables
Vegetables that classify as cruciferous generally contain a compound know as indole-3-carbinol – which has been shown in many clinical settings to have a positive effect on testosterone levels.
Try to Stay Lean
We touched on this earlier – but generally, the leaner you are the more testosterone your body will produce. Men will do best to keep their body fat around 15%, while women should try to keep it below 25%.
Make Sure You Are Getting ALL Your Micronutrients
Although macronutrients are important, for the most part, micronutrients will have the largest direct impact on testosterone levels. For example, zinc has been shown to stimulate testosterone in the testes. Low levels could limit your production and put a damper on your gains.
How Supplements Can Help Increase Testosterone
Beyond the effects of your diet and physical activity there does seem to be some supplements that have a positive impact on testosterone levels – let’s take a look at some of the best and worst.
Although this is largely included in many test-booster supplements the science just is not complete enough to show that it actually elevates T-levels. With that said, there have been many accounts of men experiencing more sexual arousal, which may indicate that this plant is, in fact, a natural aphrodisiac.
This is the combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin b6 and although this is my personal favorite for enhancing strength it may not have the most conclusive science to back it up.
You see, this product only really works when zinc and magnesium levels are lower than they should be – in other words, if your diet is in check this may not be completely necessary for you. With that said, most people do not have a complete diet – which is why I generally recommend it.
Although this is a potent amino acid and has been shown to elevate testosterone levels, research shows that it is only a temporary increase.
When I supplement D-aspartic acid I take it right before a workout. I find that it helps me lift heavier but there is no research that has shown long-term improvements in testosterone, only in strength, muscle growth and conditioning.
Many people will be tempted to buy the first test-booster they see online – especially when they hear their friends talking about the crazy supplements they have been taking and how good their life is.
To be honest, most of the time its the lifestyle and work these guys are putting in that shows the results – not necessarily the supplement.
With that said, we do know that a balanced diet and a good exercise program can help to influence better testosterone levels in men.
One thing to note is that a good natural testosterone booster will have no side effects and might be a lot cheaper option in the long run in comparison to a testosterone replacement therapy, that is usually a lengthy process and very expensive.
Eddie Johnson is an ex-bodybuilder, fitness addict, writer, editor and founder of Anabolic Bodies. Also a proud father of two boys and passionate about bodybuilding, nutrition, and the science behind modern-day supplementation.