*This is a guest post by Chad Howse founder of The Man Diet.
Oddly enough, muscle, in part, is what helped give testosterone a bad name. It’s been vilified as a rage-inducing, heart-hurting, pimple-producing hormone that only abusers and bodybuilders use to become physically super-human. That, however, is all one big lie about a hormone that does MORE than help you build muscle. It helps you burn fat, and reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, and even depression.
Here’s what is truly scary: Testosterone is on the decline. As our diets change and we become fatter and weaker we’re also becoming less manly and less muscular. Your testosterone levels are likely diminishing at a rate of around 1% per year, making you less of a man, and possibly leading to erectile difficulties and an inability to build muscle and burn fat like you’d expect to, or want to.
The silver lining is that your testosterone levels are largely under your control. In this article we’ll cover real, safe, and natural ways to increase your T levels to that optimal range where your body is performing more efficiently, and you’re actually able to see some real benefits from your workouts.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that our bodies produce naturally when we convert cholesterol in our testes. Testosterone is primarily involved in tissue repair, but also with insulin health, your body’s ability to burn fat, as well as all of the benefits previously discussed.
Why do guys abuse testosterone?
Testosterone works. It really does help you build a lot of muscle. But you have two choices. You can either take it as a drug, something that will stop your body from producing optimal levels on its own, or you can simply use the tips within this article to get your body producing high, optimal T levels so that you can start seeing some real results in the gym.
I prefer the healthy, natural methods in this article simply because they’re long lasting. But hey, whatever floats your boat. Keep reading regardless. Tip number five may be the most shocking.
So, if testosterone comes from cholesterol that would mean that eating more fats would help us naturally increase our testosterone levels, while also lowering our risk of heart disease and cancer? Yes. And I know that this may go against everything you’ve been told thus far, but especially if you’re a man, everything you’ve been told thus far is a lie.
More about diet later.
For now, use these five ultra easy and safe techniques to help give your testosterone levels a boost.
1. Consume more vitamin D3.
So there are a couple kinds of testosterone. There’s ‘Free T’, and there’s testosterone that’s bound to a protein molecule. Most scientists believe that it’s only Free T that really matters, as it’s the only form of the hormone that can repair tissue. Vitamin D3 is one of the best things you can possibly take to create more Free T in your body.
D3 has been shown to ‘free’ protein-bound testosterone from the protein molecule, essentially releasing it to do what it was made to do. The problem is that we don’t get nearly enough D3 from the sun, or from our diets. So start supplementing.
Consume as much as 8,000 IU’s a day (4K in the morning and 4K either after your workout or before bed). Don’t listen to the labels on the bottle – going over the allotted amount won’t hurt you. You have to take A LOT to do any damage. In the winter months, when the sun isn’t out as much, it becomes especially important to have more D3 in your rotation. You can start with 3K/day and see how that goes.
2. Get better quality sleep.
One of the ways to measure testosterone is in relation to your cortisol levels. Cortisol opposes testosterone. If your T levels are high, your cortisol levels are low, and if your cortisol levels are high, your T levels are low.
One of the major contributing factors to high cortisol levels is a lack of sleep. Rather than going into how sleep is this wonderfully beneficial thing for you (something that you probably already know and can look up on your own), I’ll give you three tips to help you get better sleep.
a) Routine. This is the be-all and end-all for sleep. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, you’re going to have awesome sleeps. Therein lies one question: Which is more important? Partying, or your physique, health, and T levels?
b) Take a cold shower before you go to bed. Not only will this help raise your T levels, but you’ll get a better sleep as a result as well.
c) Shut all screens off three hours before bed. Get out of the habit of watching TV late at night or working late at night, and just get your work done earlier. Having that bright screen glaring off your eyeballs is a great way to lose sleep.
3. Strength train.
Strength training is super important for increasing testosterone levels. Following an effective exercise routine then, becomes all the more important, especially when you consider that body fat also opposes testosterone and helps increase your estrogen levels (NO guy wants high estrogen levels).
Side Note: The LONG practiced protocol of “bulking” to gain muscle actually lowers your testosterone levels as your body fat levels increase. Thus, bulking doesn’t actually help you build more muscle faster, just more bulk faster. If you want to build REAL, DENSE, LEAN MUSCLE, you have to keep your body fat levels low. And this doesn’t have anything to do with training (well, not really), but everything to do with diet – read #5.
4. Stop drinking beer.
I love booze, me-self. I love beer, whiskey and vino, but each of them hurts your testosterone levels. Beer is by far the most estrogenic form of alcohol. Red wine is the best for you with whiskey not too far behind. Beer, however, not only dehydrates you and is filled with tons of empty, useless calories, but increases your estrogen levels, making you store more fat and drop your T levels even further.
It’s a long, nasty cycle. Does this mean no more beer, ever? No. Weigh your options, drink in moderation and don’t binge-drink, especially after a workout. Your recovery time after your workouts are chopped by 75% if you binge-drink after a workout, and the real damage to T levels occurs after binge-drinking as well.
So moderation and a diminished frequency (a couple of times per week, max), and you’re all good.
5. Start Eating Like a Man!
Let’s think about diets for a second.
Who buys the VAST majority of diet products/books/pills, whatever?
Women. By far. It’s not even close.
As such, who do you think the media and the creators of these products focus more of their time on, along with the researchers who are – and have to be – fueled by the market that spends the most money?
The thing is, men and women can thrive on different diets. Women, for example, don’t supplement with zinc, but zinc is an essential supplement for men because it blocks aromatase, a precursor to estrogen, ultimately dropping our estrogen levels. Women also don’t tend to eat as much red meat or dietary fat, not because they aren’t good for them (they are), but because salads and quinoa appeal more to women from a marketing standpoint.
Thus, with all the diets being aimed at women, and with our food pyramid being completely upside down, men are left COMPLETELY in the dark about what we should eat and NEED to eat to create optimal levels of testosterone in our bodies, so that we can be healthy and muscular.
That’s the problem: Your Diet is Made for a Woman.
If you want to start looking and performing like a man, you have to start eating like one.
Chad Howse is a the creator of The Man Diet and teaches men all over the world how to eat like a man. This is critically important because if you are not eating correctly then you’ll be wasting your time in your workouts. Chad proclaims that the missing link in most diets is food that helps increase testosterone. Testosterone is an essential component to building muscle.