One of the biggest fears in men is having low testosterone, especially as you get older. And it makes sense… Testosterone is known as the primary male hormone, or androgen, since it gives us our main masculine characteristics. That includes:
- Sperm production
- Muscle mass and strength
- Hair growth
- As well as mood, energy, and focus
How to Know If You Have Low TIt’s easy to assume you have low T because you have low energy, struggle to make progress in the gym, or you’re not getting morning wood. So before you claim you have low testosterone, I first want to tell you what’s considered low T. 270 to 1070 ng/dL of total testosterone is considered normal. You can get this checked with your doctor. But total testosterone doesn’t tell the entire story. Most of your testosterone is bound to albumin and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), basically rendering the testosterone unusable. What’s a better indicator of testosterone levels is your free testosterone. 9 to 30 ng/dL of free testosterone is considered normal. That means if you are on the lower end or even below either of the ranges I gave you, then you need to take action to prevent all the harmful effects of low T. However, one man’s 800 is another man’s 400. What I mean by that is symptoms matter. Maybe you were extremely high, around the 1192 ng/dl range when you were younger, and now you’re at 600, which is still considered healthy and even high, but not for you. So, symptoms matter often as much as the number. Now, let’s get into the reasons why you have low testosterone...
Reason #1: AgeI wanted to get this one out of the way. Most guys want to immediately blame their age for low T. So the question is, does age actually matter? According to studies like this one published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, a man’s testosterone declines by about 1% every year after the age of 30 <1>. So it’s only natural that you lose a bit of your mojo as you get older. But you can’t control the fact that our T levels naturally decline with age. So let’s talk about the reasons men have low T that we can actually control.
Reason #2: Lack of SleepBefore you immediately say that you can’t sleep much because you don’t have time or you’re busy, let me first explain how a lack of sleep affects you and how you can maximize the sleep you do get. (read: Sleep and Testosterone) Research is very clear: If you don’t sleep enough, you’re lowering your testosterone levels. Research published in JAMA found that men who slept only 5 hours per night experienced a decrease of 10-15% in their testosterone levels <2>. The editor of this study even stated how you can partly predict a man’s morning testosterone levels by how much sleep he gets. A 2011 study stated how low quality sleep not only reduces testosterone but also leads to sexual dysfunction. So if libido or performing in the bedroom is an issue, sleep is a must <3>. If that wasn’t bad enough, short sleep duration has been shown to lead to poor body composition. Basically, you’ll have less muscle mass and more fat. And if you don’t sleep enough, your hunger hormones skyrocket so that you’ll consume far more food and pack on belly fat that knocks years off your life <4>. Now, that you’re convinced how improper sleep destroys your testosterone, physique and strength, energy, performance, and overall vitality, let me tell you how you can help yourself. Obviously it’s a challenge to get the 7-9 hours per night that the CDC recommends <5>. While that’s a great recommendation, what’s just as important or arguably even more important is your sleep quality. You want deep sleep. Here are 5 quick hacks that guarantee deeper sleep:
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Improve your sleep environment by setting a cool temperature, sleeping in a pitch black room, and sleeping on a comfortable mattress
- Get more bright light during the day
- Eliminate harmful blue light like from your phone, laptop, and TV within 2 hours before bed
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol within 6 hours of sleeping
Reason #3: DietIt should be no surprise that your diet affects your T levels. There are both foods that lower testosterone as well as foods you need to keep testosterone at healthy levels. First, let’s discuss foods that lower T.
Foods That Lower TSoy has been demonized for being estrogenic and lowering testosterone for good reason. Soy comes from the soybean in East Asia and has found widespread usage, especially for vegans in foods like tofu, meat alternatives, and plant protein powders. Soy gets a lot of hate because it contains 2 phytoestrogens that are isoflavones called daidzen and genistein. They bind to your estrogen receptors to have estrogen-like effects on your body. Obviously, that’s enough to turn most men away from soy. In a 2007 study, men’s testosterone levels were decreased by 19% by consuming soy protein powder. When they stopped using soy, their testosterone levels went back up within 2 weeks <6>. While there is some conflicting evidence that low amounts of soy don’t make much of a difference, you definitely want to limit or completely avoid soy. Other foods to avoid include licorice root, vegetable oil, and even mint. Yes, mint can soothe your stomach and make your breath smell fresh. But peppermint and spearmint in particular have been shown to directly lower testosterone. A 2010 study published in Phytotherapy Research found that consuming spearmint tea for 30 days significantly reduced testosterone levels <7>. While these are some foods to avoid, there are also things you need in your diet. If you don’t get enough of the following, your testosterone levels will tank.
Foods You Need For Healthy T-LevelsFor a long time, fat was demonized because it supposedly made you fatter. We now know this is 100% false. What makes you fatter is consuming more calories than your body burns. But having enough of the right kind of fat actually raises testosterone levels. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a high fat diet to boost testosterone by 13% <8>. To be specific, monounsaturated and saturated fats have the greatest benefit to your testosterone. You can get these fat sources from eggs, meat, macadamia nuts, and avocados to name a few sources. On the other hand, it’s best to limit polyunsaturated fat like those found in vegetable oils because they have been shown to reduce testosterone <9>. The one type of fat to completely eliminate is trans fat that’s found in highly processed, packaged foods like frozen pizza and ready-to-eat dinners. With that being said, you’ll probably only find them in trace amounts because it’s illegal to keep significant amounts in your food due to the dangerous disease-causing effects besides lowering testosterone <10>. In terms of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for your diet, a couple major ones include zinc and vitamin D. If you are deficient in zinc, your testosterone levels plummet. But those who supplement with zinc, even elite wrestlers doing high-intensity training, can boost their testosterone and help recovery too <11,12>. Research finds that since many men don’t synthesize vitamin D in their bodies due to a lack of sunlight or darker skin, their T levels drop. But when they supplement with vitamin D, this reverses the effect and raises their testosterone back up <13>. To sum it up, if you don’t want to unnecessarily lower your T levels, make sure you have a balanced diet with all the nutrients you need to keep your T sky-high, without including food options that hurt your T-levels.
Reason #4: EstrogensThere are estrogens all around us that zap us of our testosterone and have feminine-like or even dangerous effects on us. These can include packaged meat, inorganic produce, deodorant, air fresheners, and even plastic. Plastic is the main one I want to talk about because it includes bisphenol-A, or BPA. 90% of men who go to fertility clinics have been shown to have BPA in their urine. In other words, BPA is likely linked to fertility issues in men. Besides plastics, it’s used to coat old pipes and can leach into our food and water sources. So why is BPA such an issue for men? Well, BPA is known as an endocrine disruptor. A 2008 study from Japan showed that BPA mimics the effects of estrogen which leads to lower libido, fertility, and testosterone in men <14>. The estrogenic effects directly affect our testes so to limit secretion of male steroid hormones and less testosterone in our semen <15>. These dangerous effects, including the effects on pregnant women, have led Canada to declare BPA as a toxic substance and ban it from baby bottles. But the USA has not been as strict with limitations. One reason could be that there have been studies showing BPA doesn’t have significant effects in low doses. But a comprehensive 2005 review showed that those studies were mostly biased due to the source funding the research. In reality, even low doses can affect your health and testosterone <16>. That’s why I avoid plastics like plastic water bottles and opt for glass instead.
Reason #5: Being OverweightDespite all the free info out there, the world keeps getting heavier and heavier. Obesity levels are at an all-time high. And with that excess fat, or adipose tissue, testosterone levels plummet. Studies show overweight and obese men have lower testosterone levels <17>. Now we know the higher testosterone, the more strength and muscle mass you’ll build. But research also shows that the leaner body fat percentages (without being completely shredded of course), correlates with higher testosterone levels. And when testosterone levels were cut in half from 600 to 300 ng/dL, fat mass actually rose by a whopping 36% <18>. If you’re wondering why, one reason could be that adipose tissue, or fat cells, contain something called aromatase. This is an enzyme in your body that actually converts testosterone to estrogen! Think about it like this. You could have all this T flowing through your veins, but aromatase basically betrays your manhood and turns it into estrogen. If it isn’t clear yet, if you don’t want low testosterone, you need to be at a healthy body fat percentage. This will be anywhere from 10 to 15% body fat.
Reason #6: StressTo put it simply, the more stressed you are, the less testosterone you will have. This stress can come in a few different forms. First, let me explain why stress is so harmful to your T-levels. A stress hormone called cortisol is basically the enemy of testosterone. Research shows that cortisol and testosterone are inversely correlated. That means when cortisol is raised, testosterone will reduce as a result. Basically, cortisol will literally lower your testosterone levels <19>. The stress that increases cortisol can come in a few ways: Like we mentioned, a lack of sleep raises cortisol so that your T is directly affected. Believe it or not, training too hard for too long also raises cortisol. That’s why a proper program has enough training volume, but not so much that you can’t recover. Rather than doing 50-set workouts with each set to failure and without enough rest or calories, you need to prioritize recovery. This excess training may be even worse in the form of cardio. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying cardio is bad for you. Some cardio is important for your health, energy, and can even help testosterone if you include a couple sprint sessions per week <20>. But when you do multiple, prolonged sessions of running, studies show that your testosterone will plummet. It’s not too surprising considering just how stressful large amounts of cardio are. In fact, doing extreme amounts have even shown to increase risk of disease and death <21>. But the take-home is that tons of cardio can have detrimental effects. It’s best to include moderate resistance training which directly raises testosterone and include only a few sessions of cardio to keep the cortisol at bay.
Reason #7: AlcoholMost men will hate to admit it, but any alcohol above 2 or 3 drinks is going to likely negatively impact your life. A study had people drink 30-40 grams of alcohol per day, which can be found in 2 or 3 beers, for example. Their testosterone dropped by 6.8% when doing this for 3 weeks. That’s something but nothing too crazy <22>. What about when we increase the amount of alcohol they drink? Research found that 1.5 g of ethanol per kg of body weight dropped testosterone levels by 23%. And their cortisol levels increased by 36% <23>. Considering that alcohol has been found to possibly have protective benefits at 1 or 2 drinks per day but harmful effects at higher doses, the more you drink above a couple drinks, the more it will harm your T levels. Beer specifically has hops that have been found to be especially estrogenic. So if you do decide to drink, keep it on the lower side and avoid beer if possible.
ConclusionFollowing this advice will help you avoid low testosterone levels. But if you want to increase your T even more, check out Man Boost. Man Boost is my industry-leading formula to lower estrogen, raise testosterone, and aid in brain function. It contains no fillers or proprietary blends that so many companies use to hide what’s actually in the supplement. Man Boost contains 4 of the most powerful testosterone-boosting and estrogen-blocking ingredients:
- Zinc picolinate which has been found to raise testosterone and even reduce estrogen activity by 57%
- Resveratrol which increases the amount of the protein sTAR to increase conversion of cholesterol to testosterone in your testes and has been shown to boost T-levels by 51%
- IC-3, a rare molecule that causes you to flush estrogen through the liver
- Boron which has been shown to increase free testosterone by 28%, decrease free estrogen by 39%, and reduce vitality-killing inflammation