Stress is quite possibly the biggest cause of decreased testosterone levels in an otherwise healthy man and can come from both the mental side, as in a stressful work situation and/or the physical side as in an intense workout that takes a toll on your body and nervous system.
I’m going to show you how to reduce stress and the effects of it, by taking a few unique supplements combined with a couple of simple, yet highly effective lifestyle changes.
Will using these techniques remove all the stress from your life? Absolutely not! But it will go a long way to combat the negative effects stress is wreaking on your testosterone levels, immune system, brain function and all around quality of life.
How Stress Decreases Testosterone
Stress attacks several functions in your body that affect testosterone levels including disrupting sleep.
One of the biggest factors is a nasty little hormone called “cortisol” which is released in gobs as stress levels go up.
Cortisol is actually a crucial hormone for your body as it affects several functions including helping to control blood sugar, metabolism and inflammation. (1)
However, when too much of it is released it has extremely negative repercussions on your body which can include an inclination to overeat junk food, gain weight and severely decreased testosterone levels. (2)
Supplements that Reduce Stress
Ashwagandha, is one of the best herbs on the planet for controlling stress and anxiety. It has been proven again and again in human based scientific case studies to help reduce cortisol levels and increase quality of sleep.
Since a lack of sleep often accompanies high stress and sleep can make any symptoms you are experiencing far worse, this is a huge double benefit. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
How Much Should I Take?
I recommend you take between 400 – 650 mg of a high potency ashwagandha extract like KSM-66 every day.
Read more about the health benefits of ashwagandha.
Ginseng is a powerhouse supplements that has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress, improve overall brain function and promote a positive sense of wellbeing. (8, 9, 10)
It also has a myriad of other health benefits including increasing erection strength.
How Much Should I Take?
I recommend you take between 200 – 300 mg of a high quality panax ginseng daily which is standardized to 20 – 30% ginsenosides.
Read more about the health benefits of ginseng.
You might find it surprising that magnesium is great at helping relieve the symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, in part due to soil degradation and in part to simply needing more of magnesium as we age, it tends to be deficient in the Western diet.
In fact, around 68% of Americans are most likely mildly deficient. (11)
Since magnesium is responsible for over 300 various processes within the human body including reducing cortisol, stress and anxiety this is a mineral you should certainly add to your supplement regimen. (12)
How Much Should I Take?
I recommend you take at least 30 mg of magnesium each day along with a vitamin D supplement as that will increase its bioavailability within your body.
Read more about the health benefits of magnesium.
Longjack, also called Tongkat Ali has been shown in scientific case studies to both lower cortisol and reduce the effects of exercise induced stress. This is great as it may help provide protection on both the mental and physical front. (13)
Another positive benefit for most men is that longjack has been shown to boost testosterone, libido and encourage fat loss too.
How Much Should I Take?
I suggest you supplement with 100 – 150 mg (100:1) extract daily.
Read more about the health benefits of longjack.
Zinc plays an incredibly important role in stress reduction because it has such a crucial role in our brain function. In fact, more zinc is found in our brain (specifically the hippocampus) than anywhere else in our body. (14)
Zinc is so important to brain function that one study actually found the more depressed someone is the lower their zinc levels tend to be! (15)
Unfortunately, deficiency in zinc is very common with estimates coming in that over 2 billion people are running short on this important mineral. (16)
How Much Should I Take?
I recommend you take 10 – 20 mg of zinc each day to keep your mental health running at peak performance.
Read more about the health benefits of zinc.
Unless you are a pretty serious health nut that does crazy things like sprouting rice for the GABA benefits, you have probably never even heard of this nutrient or realize how important it is for managing stress.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a crucial neurotransmitter which helps transmit messages between the brain and the nervous system.
The science behind GABA requires its own article but I want to quickly highlight how crucial it is to reducing stress, depression and anxiety while at the same time improving sleep. (17, 18, 19, 20)
Brown rice contains GABA and when it is sprouted and/or germinated it makes it more bioavailable. Unless you eat a lot of brown rice though, I suggest you supplement with a pure GABA extract.
How Much Should I Take?
There have been reports that overdoing it on GABA can actually increase anxiety which isn’t too surprising as too much of anything has negative side effects.
I recommend to start with a low dose around 100 – 150 mg twice per day and gradually increase it from there to see how your body reacts to it. I would not go over 750 mg per day.
You should also take a magnesium supplement along with your GABA as it is important for the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Lifestyle Habits that Reduce Stress
It’s well documented that meditation reduces stress, calms rattled nerves, improves sleep and helps provide mental clarity and focus. (21, 22, 23)
While scanning the brains of buddhist monks during meditation, scientist have discovered the brain can actually reorganize itself. The neural networks in the brain literally restructure to help provide a feeling of oneness and harmony. (24)
You don’t need to be a buddhist monk with years of practice to reap many of the benefits of meditation though. Just 10 minutes a day of focused breathing is a great start and can really go a long way into transforming your whole day.
Eating healthy to reduce stress is a no-brainer. Not only does a more nutritious diet have a huge impact on your brain function and nervous system but processed foods can take a dramatic toll on those same processes.
Here are a few foods you can focus on getting in your diet to help minimize stress levels
- Pure Dark Chocolate – Increasing “anandamide” or “the bliss molecule”.
- Avocados – Rich in monounsaturated fats (brain food), boron and potassium.
- Spinach – Protects the thymus, spleen and adrenal glands.
Exercise helps to reduce stress by increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins in your brain. Getting at least 20 minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge impact on your mental health. (25, 26)
When I’m really feeling stressed I like to try and combine my exercise with meditation by going for a walk, hike or run while focusing intently on my breathing and the oxygen coursing through my veins.
High Quality Sleep
You probably are already aware that a lack of high quality sleep can be devastating to your stress and anxiety levels. Even being just an hour or two short of what your body normally requires can have very dramatic effects.
Here are a couple of easy to implement techniques to help you get the deep and restful sleep you need.
- Take the supplements and follow the rest of the advice already mentioned in this article.
- Shut down all electronics if possible at least 1 hour before bed.
The artificial bluelight from TV’s, laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices actually screw with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your body’s production of melatonin. (27)
If you need to be on your laptop or phone just before bed, I suggest you look at installing a blue light filter. There are several free ones to choose from in both the Apple and Google Play app store.
DO NOT take a melatonin supplement. While it may help you fall asleep in the short term, with prolonged use can cause your body to stop producing melatonin on its own thereby having the exact opposite effect which can take a long time to recover from.
- Hormone Health Network from the Endocrine Society. What is Cortisol? – Link
- Relationships between testosterone, cortisol and performance in professional cyclists. Hoogeveen AR, Zonderland ML. – Link
- A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Evaluation Of The Anxiolytic Efficacy Ff An Ethanolic Extract Of Withania Somnifera. Chittaranjan Andrade, Anitha Aswath, S.K. Chaturvedi, M. Srinivasa, and R. Raguram – Link
- Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974. Cooley K, Szczurko O, Perri D, Mills EJ, Bernhardt B, Zhou Q, Seely D. – Link
- A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. – Link
- Sleep loss dramatically lowers testosterone in healthy young men. U.o.C.M. – Link
- Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Ahmad MK, Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Islam N, Rajender S, Madhukar D, Shankhwar SN, Ahmad S. – Link
- Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Seungyeop Lee and Dong-Kwon Rhee – Link
- Effects of Panax ginseng on quality of life. Ellis JM, Reddy P. – Link
- G115 improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Reay JL, Scholey AB, Kennedy DO. – Link
- Dietary M and C-reactive protein levels. King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. – Link
- The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress — A Systematic Review Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton, and Louise Dye – Link
- Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. Shawn M Talbott, Julie A Talbott, Annie George and Mike Pugh – Link
- Zinc: an Antidepressant The essential mineral for resiliency. Emily Deans M.D. Evolutionary Psychiatry – Link
- The role of zinc in neurodegenerative inflammatory pathways in depression. Szewczyk B, Kubera M, Nowak G. – Link
- Linus Pauling Institute » Micronutrient Information Center – Link
- Impaired GABA neuronal response to acute benzodiazepine administration in panic disorder. Goddard AW, Mason GF, Appel M, Rothman DL, Gueorguieva R, Behar KL, Krystal JH. – Link
- Molecular targets in the treatment of anxiety. Kent JM, Mathew SJ, Gorman JM. – Link
- Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Thomas Roth, PhD – Link
- CSF GABA in normal subjects and patients with depression, schizophrenia, mania, and anorexia nervosa. Gerner RH, Hare TA. – Link
- Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress. MayoClinic – Link
- Meditation, Stress, and Your Health. WebMD – Link
- Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress.Julie Corliss Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter. – Link
- Brains of Buddhist monks scanned in meditation study By Matt Danzico BBC News, New York – Link
- Physical Activity Reduces Stress – Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Link
- Harvard Health Publishing, – Benefits of exercise – reduces stress, anxiety, and helps fight depression, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch – Link
- How Blue LEDs Affect Sleep By Alina Bradford – Link