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Our bodybuilding doctor Emil Hodzovic shares his top tips on how to boost your testosterone levels naturally.
Testosterone is the quintessential male hormone, responsible for the classical masculine features including increased musculature, facial hair, the deep voice and sexual energy/libido.
From our mid-20s, levels of testosterone can start to decrease in males and a large part of this decline is down to deteriorating lifestyle. As we get older our commitments increase and often our stress levels go up alongside them. This can contribute to worsening diet and we generally have less time for exercise and sleep. Each of these lifestyle factors can have a negative effect on testosterone and what’s more, as one drops off, it makes it more difficult to maintain the others. Like a chair, as you start to remove the legs, it becomes wobblier until it all comes tumbling down.
The way to combat this is to tackle it from the base up, halting and then reversing this tailspin. It takes time to pick up momentum but with these four simple hacks which boost testosterone levels naturally, you can turn these negative changes into an upward spiral, driving you towards a healthier and happier life.
So, what are these potent and secret hacks to boost testosterone?
Exercise and movement of any kind are essential for a long and healthy life and this is how we as humans evolved. Hunting, farming and manual labour have kept us moving in the past and it is only in recent times that we have stopped dead in our tracks in terms of physical activity, driving everywhere and slouched over computers all day. This is devastating for testosterone levels and health in general.
Any exercise boosts testosterone levels in all age groups [1,2,3] and on top of this, physical activity will build muscle, improve cardiovascular health and help to maintain joint mobility. If you are overweight then shedding some excess fat will also help to boost your testosterone . If you are totally sedentary then you may already be caught in the negative spiral and this can be tough to break out of. The key is consistency and just getting started. Commit to doing something 3 times a week, to begin with – even for just 15 minutes. It can be a body weight circuit in your living room or a 15-minute walk around the block. If you are a more advanced trainer then regular weight training is the best way to boost testosterone levels . My advice? Just start today and persevere.
Eating a balanced diet made up largely of whole, single ingredient foods is healthy in itself, but including all of the main macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) can contribute to healthy testosterone levels . Chronic over- or under-eating or extreme dieting can all also be just as bad for your testosterone levels [4,7,8].
As well as the main macronutrients, eating a wide variety of vegetables will ensure that you get sufficient vitamins and minerals to support testosterone production. Vitamin D, in particular, is essential for testosterone production  and as well as food, the main source of vitamin D is sunlight. Supplements can fill gaps in lifestyle and will give a boost to these essential vitamins and minerals - zinc being one that may be essential when it comes to normal levels of testosterone [10,11].
Eating well fuels physical activity and won’t leave you feeling sluggish and lacking in motivation. Eating a big meal or drinking a lot before bed can disrupt sleep so nailing this part of the equation is essential all round. The best place to start with nutrition is to try and get some form of protein and vegetables with each meal. For breakfast, this may be eggs along with some spinach. Lunch can be a tuna or chicken salad and snacks can include beef jerky, protein shakes with cucumber or carrot sticks.
Managing stress, optimising mood and laughing often will all improve levels of naturally produced testosterone and allow the body and mind to thrive. This is easier said than done, but persistent stress and abnormally high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) will cause testosterone levels to bottom out. [12,13] On top of this, high stress can cause us to make poor food choices  which will in turn cause increased body weight which will also negatively affect testosterone levels.
Meditation and time management are both powerful tools to manage stress and mood. Clarifying tasks, limiting the use of email and prioritising to do lists will make workloads more manageable. Meditation is also hugely underutilised, and you can start simply by stopping each day for 3-5 minutes to count breaths. There are many meditation apps available out there to guide you through this. All these techniques can help to calm the mind, gain perspective and reduce the perception of stress.
Adequate sleep is essential for many reasons and prioritising that 8 hours is extremely important for health. Getting less than the required amount of sleep each night will cause testosterone levels to drop [15,16,17] and in the modern age of smartphones and 24-hour accessibility, this isn’t uncommon. As with exercise, diet and mindset, sleep works in synergy and a bad night’s sleep can make you more likely to eat poorly, make it more difficult to cope with stress and make motivation for exercise more difficult.
The easiest and most accessible trick for getting a good night’s sleep in the modern world is simply to leave your smartphone outside of your bedroom at night. Apart from the blue light that the screen emits (even in night mode), you have the mental stimulation of social media and potential stress that a late night email can cause (when you can’t do anything about it).
So, there you have it. 4 simple tips that you can implement today that will kick-start your testosterone production and get you started on that upward spiral towards a healthy and happy life.
It’s worth noting that there are a number of medical conditions that can cause low testosterone levels and although lifestyle interventions can help in many cases, a medical input may be required. If you are suffering symptoms that you are concerned about or that don’t improve with committed lifestyle change then we would recommend seeking medical advice - a Medichecks testosterone check could be the first step in that process.