Testosterone plays a huge role in your sexual stamina, energy, and drive. Low levels, however, can cause you to lose muscle mass, bone density, and your sex drive, and to make matters worse, Men’s Health reports new research shows a decline in testosterone levels can also increase your risk of prostate cancer, heart disease, and even death. It’s important that you begin to look at your daily habits, which is where you can start to see patterns and figure out ways to help fix your male hormone shortage. “I never prescribe testosterone alone without talking to men about their lifestyle,” Martin Miner, M.D., told WebMD.
Here are seven ways to help boost your testosterone now.
1. Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can affect a variety of hormones and chemicals in your body, which in turn can have a horrible effect on your testosterone. A study shows there is a direct correlation in sleeping habits and testosterone levels in which the increase of your T levels occurs while you sleep. Aim to make sleep a priority by aiming for seven to eight hours a night, even if it means rearranging your schedule and dropping your late-night TV habit (sorry Stephen Colbert lovers, you’re just going to have to record it). Treat your sleep as one of your top priorities if you want to boost your T levels.
2. Keep a healthy weight
As your waist size goes up, your T levels go down. Men’s Health says that merely a four-point increase in your body mass index, which is roughly 30 pounds on a guy who is 5 feet, 10 inches, can accelerate your age-related T decline by 10 years. The best way to bring your testosterone levels back up? Shed the extra weight.
3. Fill up on fat
No, this is not counterproductive to your weight-loss goals. Although trimming the fatty foods from your diet can help you stay lean, eliminating all fat can cause your T levels to nose-dive. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine reveals men who consumed the most fat also had the highest T levels. It’s worth noting this is a very small sampling, but there are some other samples with similar findings. To protect both your heart and, potentially, your T levels, eat foods high in monounsaturated fats, like fish and nuts.
4. Stay active
Testosterone tends to adapt to your body’s needs in accordance with how active you are as a person. If you’re more sedentary and you tend to sit for longer periods than you are active, your brain gets the message that you don’t need as much testosterone to bolster your muscles and bones. When you’re more physically active, your brain sends out the signal that you need more testosterone. In other words, try to be as active as you can, even if it’s walking briskly for 10 to 20 minutes a day. Aim to pump some iron twice a week to really experience the benefits, according to QuickAndDirtyTips.com.
5. Take control of your stress
Stress is the ultimate killer — and not only for your T levels. If you’re under constant stress, your body will churn out a steady stream of the stress hormone cortisol. When this happens, your body will be less able to create testosterone. Everyday Health reports a study published in The Journal of Physiology looked at stress reduction in male guinea pigs. The study found that high levels of stress in female guinea pigs during pregnancy resulted in high cortisol, low testosterone, and an increase in anxiety-like behavior in male offspring. The researchers found that when the guinea pigs were given testosterone replacement therapy, their anxiety behaviors disappeared.
In other words, the study shows the importance of controlling your stress levels and how essential it is to keeping up your testosterone levels. If you’re under a great amount of pressure, it’s going to take some focus and a little concentrated breathing to reduce stress: Try and cut back on long work hours, and spend two hours a day on activities that are not work or exercise related, such as engaging in your favorite hobbies, reading, or listening to music.
6. Step away from the bar
A recent Dutch study found men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol daily for three weeks experienced a 7% decrease in their testosterone levels. In order to boost your T levels, limit your drinking to one or two glasses of beer or wine at happy hour.
7. Forget the supplements
You’ve seen them before: online ads for supplements claiming to boost your testosterone levels. Always proceed with caution before considering taking supplements, advises Men’s Health, and consult with your doctor beforehand about your options.