Regardless of sex, testosterone is one of the most potent of fat-burning hormones. Having it in balance with the other body composition hormones, such as cortisol and insulin, is vital for physical fitness and wellness. Low levels of testosterone have been correlated with those dreaded bingo wings and man boobs! Read more in the last in a series of articles by health and fitness expert Alexa Towersey that explores your body fat, and what it says about your health and your hormones.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple and natural ways to improve your balance of testosterone and the other fat-burning hormones for a better-looking physique and peak health.
Consume plenty of good fats every day
Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating more fat – specifically saturated fat (from fish, grass-fed meats, avocados, nuts, coconuts, organic dairy) – makes you more of a man. Literally. Saturated fat contains cholesterol, which is a precursor to testosterone.
Lift heavy weights
Strength training builds lean muscle that increases your metabolism and your body’s natural production of testosterone. Use full body, complex, multi-joint movements such as the squat, deadlift, pull-up and bench press. Heavy weights, low reps, and low-moderate rest yield the best results.
Increase the intensity of your workouts
High-intensity intervals and training above your lactate threshold are the best ways to stimulate testosterone and growth hormone production – think maximum-effort sprints and/or lactic-acid circuits of two to three minutes in duration. Go hard or go home!
Ensure that you get good quality sleep
Testosterone and growth hormone are both produced during deep REM sleep. Try to hit the sack before 10pm and get at least seven hours of shuteye.
Control the urge to splurge
Alcohol, nicotine and marijuana all inhibit the production of testosterone. And that’s before looking at what they can do to your actual performance, both in and out of the gym (insert relevant innuendo here). Sorry lads, but the hops in beer is incredibly oestrogenic, and regular consumption of it will certainly bring you in touch with your feminine side.
Manage your stress
When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which effectively blocks the effects of testosterone. Try adding in a weekly yoga or meditation session.
Testosterone is converted to oestrogen primarily in the fat cells (via an enzyme called aromatase), so the truth of the matter is that the fatter you are the more likely you are to possess a rack to rival your girlfriend’s!
Limit consumption of sugar, including fructose
Any time you eat foods high in sugar or refined carbs, blood sugar and insulin spike, which causes testosterone and the body’s ability to use fat for energy to drop.
Optimise vitamin D, magnesium & zinc levels
Besides cholesterol there are a number of minerals and other nutrients necessary for the body to produce testosterone. Vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc are three that have been found to make the biggest difference. Aside from supplementation, specific foods to include in your diet that have been found to elevate testosterone include Brazil nuts, oysters and other high-zinc foods, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and the green leafy veggies like spinach and chard.