The 10 testosterone commandments

Do you want to boost your testosterone? Discover the diet and lifestyle do's and don'ts that can help you achieve optimum testosterone levels.

Research suggests that men’s testosterone levels have dropped by at least 20% in the last 20 years [1]. 

So, we thought we’d delve deep and let you in on our top ten tips to boost testosterone in the form of the ten commandments - put together with the help of some field experts - Dr Robert Stevens (from The Men’s Health Clinic) and Nathan Briggs (who runs a testosterone blog).  

Our ten testosterone commandments 

1. Thou shalt engage in regular physical activity

Exercise and movement are essential for a long and healthy life. Hunting, farming, and manual labour have kept us moving in the past, and it is only more recently that we have stopped dead in our tracks in terms of physical activity - driving everywhere and slouching over computers all day.  

From hoovering to running a marathon, all types of exercise can help boost testosterone levels [2,3,4], with the added value of helping to build muscle, improve heart health, and maintain joint mobility.  

Physical activity can also help shed any excess fat you may have, which can also help to boost your testosterone [5]. 

Exercise may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Though some evidence shows regular weight training can help boost testosterone levels [6], any type of exercise is better than none at all.  

If you lead a very sedentary lifestyle and feel overwhelmed by the thought of introducing physical activity, we’ve put together some tips on how to move more without going to the gym, to help you get started.  

2. Thou shalt eat a diet rich in healthy fats, protein, and carbs 

Eating a balanced diet made up largely of whole and natural foods, including all the main macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein), can contribute to healthy testosterone levels [7]. Alongside a diet high in macronutrients, you need to ensure you are eating a variety of foods that contain all the vitamins and minerals you may need, such as fruits and vegetables – this is vital in supporting testosterone production.  

In the same respect, doing the opposite and not eating enough or extreme dieting, can harm your testosterone levels, sometimes causing them to drop [5,8,9]. 

We asked Nathan Briggs if there were any other foods you should eliminate when trying to improve your testosterone levels and he said: “Reducing or eliminating soy and soy products from your diet and avoiding highly processed foods (pastries, crisps, ready meals) can help to boost testosterone levels”. 

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3. Thou shalt minimise stress

Chronic and persistent stress can cause high cortisol levels, which can cause testosterone levels to drop [10,11]. It can also cause you to make poor food choices, leading to weight gain and excess body fat (which can also negatively affect testosterone levels) [12].  

Managing stress and optimising mood can improve levels of naturally produced testosterone and allow the body and mind to thrive. 

Meditation and time management are both powerful tools to manage stress and mood, and you can read about more tools in our blog: ten top ways to de-stress.  

4. Thou shalt have good quality sleep

It isn’t always about the amount of sleep you have but more about the quality. Having plenty of broken sleep is more detrimental to your health than having less, better quality of sleep.  

Sleep is important for regulating several bodily functions, including hormone production. And getting less than 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night can cause testosterone levels to drop [13,14]. 

Poor sleep not only affects hormones, but can also cause you to; crave sugar, eat unhealthier foods, and leave you more fatigued and without motivation. One of the most common causes of poor sleep is blue light. Blue light emits from electronics such as TVs and smartphones. Making sure you have ways to relax and calm down before bed that don’t evolve blue light can mean a better night’s sleep and improved testosterone production.  

You can read more tips on how to get a better night’s sleep and how sleep can affect your health in our blog: sleep – the best medicine?

5. Thou shalt say no to alcohol and other drugs

Androgenic anabolic steroids, alcohol, and smoking can all harm your testosterone production.  

Anabolic steroids are often illegally used in bodybuilding and can cause excessive testosterone levels, resulting in a hormone imbalance. If levels become too high, the testes may shut down the production of testosterone - which in some cases can be permanent (even after discontinuing these drugs). 

In some cases, you may need to say yes to prescribed drugs. However, several prescription drugs used to treat infections, ulcers, heart failure, and high blood pressure may decrease your testosterone levels [15]. If you are experiencing unwanted symptoms and think low testosterone levels are the cause, speak to your doctor to see if there is an alternative. Never stop taking any necessary and prescribed medication without consulting your doctor first.  

6. Thou shalt consider approved supplements

There seems to be a supplement for everything nowadays. And many supplements on the market claim to boost testosterone levels – most of them being herbal remedies that claim to improve libido and confidence yet do very little to testosterone levels.  

However, recent research suggests that supplementing with zinc and magnesium may contribute to optimal testosterone levels, especially if you already have a vitamin and mineral deficiency.  

If you supplement zinc and magnesium when deficient, it can help to restore testosterone levels. And if you aren’t deficient, taking these supplements won’t increase your testosterone levels to above normal.  

As with any medication and supplement, please speak to a qualified professional before taking something new.  

7. Thou shalt soak up all the vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital hormone used in testosterone production. Studies have shown that men who supplement with vitamin D have increased testosterone levels compared to men who don’t supplement.  

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The NHS recommends that during autumn and winter, you should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D. In the spring and summer, you shouldn’t need to take a supplement as you should get enough vitamin D from the sunlight.  

8. Thou shalt remember more isn’t always best

With the continued misunderstanding of what optimal testosterone levels means, men can become obsessed with chasing high levels of testosterone, often resulting in side effects from having too much testosterone in the body.  

It is important to remember that an individual’s optimal level of testosterone can be different to your own, and the trick is not to overdo it when trying to increase testosterone levels. Making simple lifestyle changes and ensuring you are healthy, and fit should be enough to keep your testosterone levels optimal.  

9. Thou shalt remember that you grow when you rest

The Men’s Health Clinic see many men become frustrated with their progress because they are eating healthy balanced diets and are committed to an exercise routine but aren’t seeing the results they want. 

However, Dr Robert Stevens believes that: “In order to really grow, you must rest your body. Exercise is a catabolic process, not anabolic. Whilst exercise causes a spike in testosterone, you need to be in a state of rest for it to exert its effects. It’s all about balance”. 

10. Thou shalt honour thy doctor

It comes as no surprise that men do not welcome the thought of visiting the doctor when feeling unwell. A study of 1,000 men found that three-quarters will avoid going to the doctor when showing signs of an illness as they don’t have the time or don’t think it is important [16]. 

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, and they persist after implementing diet and lifestyle changes, it is important to seek advice from your doctor.  

You can also take a simple finger-prick blood test from the comfort of your own home with our Testosterone Blood Test.  

When interviewing Nathan Briggs on the importance of testing your testosterone levels, he said: “If your testosterone levels get too low and you leave your low levels till too late in life, you will likely need to opt for testosterone replacement therapy to fix this, this can be extremely difficult to get on the NHS”. 

If your testosterone levels are low, and simple diet and lifestyle changes do not help to return testosterone levels to normal, this is where The Men’s Health Clinic can help. Dr Stevens and his team aim to guide and support men back to health through Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). 

Dr Robert Stevens gave us his take on TRT: “TRT is a medical therapy used to restore male androgen levels to within normal physiological parameters for long-term physical and psychological health.” 

You can check out The Men's Health Clinic for more information. 


References 

  1. Lokeshwar, S.D. et al. (2021) “Decline in serum testosterone levels among adolescent and young adult men in the USA,” European Urology Focus, 7(4), pp. 886–889. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2020.02.006. 
  2. Craig, B., Brown, R. and Everhart, J. (1989). Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 49(2), pp.159-169. 
  3. Ari, Z., Kutlu, N., Uyanik, B., Taneli, F., Buyukyazi, G. and Tavli, T. (2004). Serum testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1 levels, mental reaction time, and maximal aerobic exercise in sedentary and lo... - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204068 [Accessed 21 Nov. 2019]. 
  4. Vaamonde, D., Da Silva-Grigoletto, M., García-Manso, J., Barrera, N. and Vaamonde-Lemos, R. (2012). Physically active men show better semen parameters and hormone values than sedentary men. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112(9), pp.3267-3273. 
  5. The Endocrine Society (2012). Overweight men can boost low testosterone levels by losing weight. [online] Medicalxpress.com. Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-06-overweight-men-boost-testosterone-weight.html [Accessed 21 Nov. 2019]. 
  6. Kraemer WJ, e. (1998). The effects of short-term resistance training on endocrine function in men and women. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9660159 [Accessed 21 Nov. 2019]. 
  7. Bishop, D., Meikle, A., Slattery, M., Stringham, J., Ford, M., West, D., Borecki, I. and Rao, D. (1988). The effect of nutritional factors on sex hormone levels in male twins. Genetic Epidemiology, 5(1), pp.43-59. 
  8. Rossow, L., Fukuda, D., Fahs, C., Loenneke, J. and Stout, J. (2013). Natural Bodybuilding Competition Preparation and Recovery: A 12-Month Case Study. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 8(5), pp.582-592. 
  9. Trexler, E., Smith-Ryan, A. and Norton, L. (2014). Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), p.7. 
  10. Hloogeveen, A. and Zonderland, M. (1996). Relationships Between Testosterone, Cortisol and Performance in Professional Cyclists. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 17(06), pp.423-428.
  11. MacKelvie, K., Taunton, J., Mckay, H. and Khan, K. (2000). Bone mineral density and serum testosterone in chronically trained, high mileage 40-55 year old male runners. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724199/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2019]. 
  12. Torres, S. and Nowson, C. (2007). Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Nutrition, 23(11-12), pp.887-894. 
  13. Leproult, R. (2011). Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA, 305(21), p.2173. 
  14. Penev, P. (2007). Association Between Sleep and Morning Testosterone Levels In Older Men. Sleep, 30(4), pp.427-432. 
  15. ISSM (2019). Can prescription medications affect testosterone levels? | ISSM. [online] ISSM. Available at: https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/can-prescription-medications-affect-testosterone-levels/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2019]. 
  16. Hall, A. (2018). Three quarters of men 'don't visit doctor when showing signs of illness'. [online] Available at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/almost-third-men-avoid-visiting-12715536 [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].

 

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