Let's face it. We are not as manly as our father and grandfather were. Look around, we are surrounded by weak men. The typical Indian male nowadays has skinny arms and legs with a gut hanging out. Most of them have to lift up their belly to see their manhood and have problems keeping it up. Climbing 20 stairs is considered a task and can't spend even a day with our own thoughts. We have become soft. Shame.
The male sex hormone - testosterone (T) is single handedly responsible for how you look, feel and perform. This newsletter is less about improving your performance in bed and more about improving it on the field. Testosterone does both.
But there are factors that lead to a rapid decline of T in our bodies that might be beyond our control to fix - age, chlorine in swimming pools, stress, processed foods, plastic containers, environment toxins etc. No wonder it gets difficult to maintain muscle mass as you get older.
Men face a 1% decline in T levels every year.
As an athlete who wants to be active for another 20-25 years, I find this to be the biggest challenge to tackle. So I took matters in my own hand and read studies, clinical trials, blogs, medical journals to come up with a simple plan that can increase T levels naturally.
Men above 19 years of age should have a testosterone level of 300 to 1,000 ng/dL.
Ladies, please read to educate the men in your lives or forward this newsletter it to them. They will thank you.
1. Get Lean
Obesity lowers your T levels. A Harvard study showed -
- for men aged 40 and above each one-point increase in BMI was associated with a 2% decrease in testosterone
- four-inch increase in waist size increased a man's odds of having a low testosterone level by 75%. In comparison, 10 years of aging increased the odds by only 36%. (D)
The problem with excess body fat is that it produces an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. Estrogen is the female sex hormone and more of it in a man’s body makes him softer in all regards - softer body, softer emotions, and softer erections. Damn you aromatase!
If you are above 20% body fat, this is the first thing you need to address. Losing excess body fat will be the most significant thing you can do to naturally boost your testosterone. But, how?
2. Right Exercise & Right Intensity
Not all workouts produce the same effect when it comes to changes in the levels of T. Cardio has been shown to reduce T levels and resistance training with weights has shown to increase T.
Even when lifting weights, the type of exercise, weight load, number of reps, time in between reps makes a difference.
Go from bicep curls to deadlifts
Every dude wants big biceps. Infact, till a decade ago most Indian men would completely skip leg day and focus only on upper body. The problem is a) you look funny and unproportionate b) too much focus on single joint exercise.
Research shows that a set of deadlifts, which stimulate everything from your hamstrings, back, quads, abs, arms, traps, and even chest to some extent, will draw out a much greater anabolic response from the body compared to a set of bicep curls, which only stimulate the tiny biceps muscle. (G)
Overall muscular strength leads to higher levels of T and the best way to build muscular strength is to do compound exercises - deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press, push-ups, pull-ups and barbell rows. (H)
Lift heavy + fewer reps > Lift light + more reps
Study findings indicate that both high load and low load training to failure can elicit significant increases in muscle growth however, high load training is superior for maximizing strength adaptations. (F)
Does training legs increase testosterone?
Until recently, I was under the impression that training legs leads to overall increase in T levels. It's not that simple.
a) Legs belong to a large muscle group. This is why lower-body workouts are typically more challenging than other types of training, especially when using heavy weights. Hence, it makes sense that leg training would cause an even more remarkable boost in testosterone production. However, training any other large muscle group or a combination of muscle groups would generate the same result.
b) T levels increase slightly from their baseline with resistance training sessions, the surge is usually very small. The spikes last only a few hours after your workout before returning to baseline.
c) Resistance training indirectly helps with maintaining healthy T levels by keep your body mass and weight in check.
What else should you do?
3. High Quality 8 Hours Of Shut Eye
Researchers have found that as testosterone level drops, the amount of cortisol circulating in the body increases. Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. One of its functions is to increase alertness, which can result in shorter sleep cycles and shallower sleep. (I)
This implies that decrease in testosterone causes insomnia and vice-versa.
From my experience, here are ways to fix your sleep -
a) physical activity in evening
b) go to bed and wake up at the same time daily
c) no phone for an hour before bed / reading instead
d) dark room, a little colder than normal
e) last coffee around 1:00 pm
f) cold shower few hours before bed
All of this goes out of the window when we consume alcohol. If you're like me and don't know when to stop, it can completely ruin the quality of sleep. Studies show that even 1 drink can ruin your sleep, so my Punjabiness kicks in and tells me 'fir ik peg kyon, addhi bottle hi pila do'. I have worked hard to bring those crazy nights down to just the weekend. Not perfect, but way better than before. (J)
Are you ready for a surprise? Read on.
4. Moderate Fat Diet > Low Fat Diet
Cholesterol is the building block of testosterone. What? Yeah, I know what you are thinking. All these years cardiologists have been screaming to lower cholesterol in our body.
They are not wrong. Although cholesterol is needed by the body to produce hormones (testosterone and estrogen) and vitamin D, too much of it can clog the arteries.
Our testicles grab cholesterol floating in the body from the egg and bacon sandwich you had in the morning and convert it into T through a complex method. Keep eating those eggs, boys.
The good guys list > avocados, cheese, fatty fish, whole eggs, nuts, olive oil, dark chocolate, full fat yogurt.
The bad guys list > processed food, fried food, baked goods, soybean oil, canola oil.
Studies indicate that subjects with optimized levels of testosterone had, on average, 15% more vitamin D than those with suboptimal levels of testosterone. (K)
This recent Danish study concluded that there is a direct link in between the concentration of vitamin D in the blood and the body’s production of testosterone. (L)
We get vitamin D through the sun and very few foods (mushroom, fatty fish - sardines, salmon, mackerel). Because vitamin D is difficult to find in foods and prolonged sun exposure carries health risks, experts prescribe supplements of varying doses.
The Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends daily supplement of 400 IU but I would recommend you get your vitamin D levels checked and then consult a doctor for proper dosage.(M)
The Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends daily supplement of 20 mg / day. Again, don't go buy the written word. Get your levels checked, consult a doctor and take proper dosage. (M)
Let's wrap it up!
Get lean by lifting heavy things, eat good fat meals, supplement your D's / Zinc and sleep for 8 hours. This should double your T levels in less than 120 days.