There are a lot of factors which go into rising and falling testosterone. Age, diet and basic everyday lifestyle choices we oftentimes don’t even consider.
The following 8 habits are common mistakes often made without much thought into how it affects our testosterone levels.
By making a few simple lifestyle changes, it’s possible to see your total and free testosterone count take a massive jump within just a couple weeks.
1. Consuming Vegetable Oils and Testosterone
Vegetable oils (including oils from grains) are devastating to healthy testosterone levels.
Extremely high in Polyunsaturated Fatty-Acids (PUFA), the extraction methods use a variety of processing techniques from various chemicals, deodorizing and even bleaching. This strips behind virtually all of the nutrients and leave behind sulfates.
PUFA in particular has been directly linked with lower T levels. (1)
I recommend you use either cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil in particular has been shown to have great T boosting properties.
It makes sense since Testosterone is produced from fat and EVOO is one of the healthiest sources of fat on the plant.
Stay away from any other kind of vegetable oil, including:
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
2. Lack of Quality Sleep and Testosterone
When you sleep, your brain sends Testosterone boosting signals elevating your T levels then gradually decrease throughout the day. In most men it results in a midday energy crash. (2)
You have probably noticed this effect as you are more likely to wake up with “morning wood” than pop a random chubby in the middle of the day.
If you want to maximize your T levels, you have to get quality sleep!
In a clinical study of healthy men, is was proven just one week without quality sleep caused every single man in the study to see a massive reduction in testosterone. The decrease was at least 10% and as high as 15%. (3)
The about the same amount of reduction as aging 10 – 15 years. In other words, if you are 30 years old, a lack of quality sleep could cause your T levels to dip so low, it’s as if you are suddenly 45. If you are 45, it’s like you are all of a sudden 60!
To make the matter even worse, since your testosterone decreases throughout the day, if you are already starting behind the eight ball because of a lack of sleep, the midday crash is just going to hit you that much harder.
If you want to have enough in the tank at the end of a hard day to play with the kids or spend some quality time with the wife, get your sleep.
3. Stress and Testosterone
Stress is one of the biggest detriments to your testosterone. It takes a toll on your overall health, immune system, affects sleep (see above), and increases cortisol.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and when it increases, T levels plummet. (4)
It’s effect can be nearly instant too. Meaning as soon as you feel a spike in stress, you could be pumping out cortisol at a rapid rate.
Feeling moderately stressed here and there? You could be jacking up your T levels here and there throughout the day taking a huge toll on your overall health and ability to be at, and stay at your best.
In fact, long term stress can even take a bigger toll on your body as elevated levels of cortisol send you into a continuous state of “fight or flight”.
As your body struggles to cope with the stress, testosterone production loses it’s biochemical priority and your levels can stay in a state of reduced capacity.
You have to help your body take control over stress, even if it’s just moderate. And as a man, you do have moderate stress in your life.
It’s much easier to take a natural, herbal supplement which helps your body deal with stress than it is to eliminate all stress in your life.
4. Alcohol and Testosterone
Alcohol intake can seriously interfere with your testosterone as it directly affects multiple processes crucial for T production.
That means you may be stopping production before it even starts!
Having a drink or two will not likely do enough to your T levels to be concerned over.
But as your body metabolizes alcohol, it uses a coenzyme known as NAD+ which is directly involved and essential to the production of testosterone.
If your body is using NAD+ to metabolize alcohol, it can’t use it to produce T. So as you can see, the more you drink, the lower your testosterone is going to dip.
Unless you are a professional athlete or training for a big event, have a beer or cocktail once in awhile shouldn’t have a significant effect on you.
But if you want to keep your T levels maximized, keep it to a minimum.
5. Refined Carbohydrates, Sugar and Testosterone
Most people don’t realize the body processes refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and pasta the same way as processed sugar. It’s all glucose to your body.
Your body reacts to glucose by releasing insulin which can drag your testosterone down for several hours.
Over time, if you are consuming too many refined carbs or sugars your body can become insulin resistant which is associated with pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetics typically have much lower levels of testosterone than healthy males.
How big of an impact can sugar have?
Your testosterone could decrease by as much as 25% just by consuming a single sugary drink. And according to a study published by Clinical Endocrinology which involved 66 men, this decrease could last for upwards of 2 hours! (5)
25% is a lot isn’t it?
Yes, it’s huge. A 25% dip in testosterone could put you in the hypogonadal range which means it could qualify you for hormone replacement therapy!
Are all carbs bad?
Absolutely not! Carbohydrates are crucial to healthy T levels. Several studies have even shown higher carbohydrate diets lead to lower cortisol levels and significantly increased T levels. (6)
Higher carb diets may also lead to bigger strength gains, better protein synthesis and quicker recovery times which should all help increase your T as well. (7)
The key is to eat non-refined carbs which are high in fiber and do not cause a big spike in insulin such as whole wheat, beans, brown rice and lentils.
Keep processed, refined carbs and sugars to a minimum to maximize your testosterone.
Personally, I love chickpeas for the tase, protein, vitamin and mineral content all key to T production.
Chickpeas make a great pasta noodle (which is both wheat and gluten free) and most grocery stores sell it in the pasta aisle now.
You can also make humus which absolutely delicious with vegetables in a wrap.
6. Tap Water and Testosterone
Water is of course crucial to just about every biological process in the human body, including testosterone production.
More than likely, you already know about the health benefits of staying hydrated and make it a point to get a sufficient amount of H2O.
However your T levels may be taking a hit because of the quality of the water you drink!
Tap water is notoriously riddled with chemicals and metals. And the more of an effort to “sanitize” your water, your local water department takes the more chemicals you may actually be getting.
In 2009 a study was undertaken from the Environmental Working group and they found a ridiculous 316 chemicals in tap water around the country.
202 of the 316 are not even regulated and many of them which supposedly are, did not pass acceptable levels. (8)
If you want to see what’s in your tap water, head over to https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
What about bottled water?
Some bottled water companies have been exposed for using nothing but tap water so we aren’t off to a good start. Even worse is that companies producing bottled water are not required by law to disclose the contaminant level of their products.
And than of course their is the plastic which often contains dangerous chemicals like BPA and phthalates which can leach into the water you are drinking.
Pick up a TDS meter like this one from Amazon to check your current water source for harmful chemicals.
Even if you use a water filter I recommend checking it as some of the biggest name brands on the market have been shown to help improve taste but do very little actual chemical and heavy metal removal.
7. Body Fat and Testosterone
As you are well aware, carrying excess body fat comes with an incredible amount of risks. But did you know it can drastically reduce Testosterone?
Fat contains an adrenal enzyme called “aromatase” which converts estrone and androstenedione to estrogen.
The more overweight you are, the more of your testosterone is being transformed into estrogen!
In addition to that, testosterone can be stored and locked away in fat tissues because it is a fat-soluble hormone. This can lead to a pretty significant decrease in free testosterone levels.
If you want to maximize your T levels, you need to stay within a health BMI (Body Mass Index).
A note of encouragement here is the closer you bring your BMI to within health levels, the more free testosterone create as it’s released from the fat into your body to do it’s job.
T of course plays a crucial role in metabolism and as you release more of it, it will help you in turn burn more fat. That is called a win win!
8. Meat, Milk, Butter and Testosterone
Providing several essential building-blocks for testosterone production, animal products if eaten correctly can help to keep your T levels humming along. But if you chose the wrong meat, milk, butter or cheese, you may be doing more harm than good.
Trying to eat more organic foods has become a big deal over the last decade. The fact you are reading this blog means you care about your health and is likely a step you are already taking.
After all, nobody wants to eat vegetables and fruits riddled with pesticides if they can avoid it. However, most people don’t even think about the amount of pesticides in the animal products they are consuming!
There is no oversight or regulation on the amount of pesticides which can be sprayed onto the grains meant for animals.
Those pesticides could be absorbed into the fat of the animals you are consuming. Take a look at this quote from Dr. Donley, Senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, former cancer researcher at Oregon Health and Sciences University.
“For glyphosate, the most commonly used pesticide in the world, residues allowed in animal feed can be more than 100 times that allowed on grains consumed directly by humans, and the amount of glyphosate allowed in red meat is more than 20 times that for most plant crops.”
Just a little bit scary to think about what this could be doing to your body!
Let’s not also forget that animals raised in factory farms often have unnatural levels of hormones themselves, especially estrogen. (9)
Try to buy organic animal products and whenever possible look for grass fed and/or pastured. This will help you to get the benefits while at the same time greatly decrease any risk associated with eating meat and dairy.
- Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Bush JA, Incledon T, Boetes M. – Link
- The association of testosterone, sleep, and sexual function in men and women. Andersen ML, Alvarenga TF, Mazaro-Costa R, Hachul HC, Tufik S. – Link
- Sleep loss dramatically lowers testosterone in healthy young men. University of Chicago Medical Center – Link
- Relationships between testosterone, cortisol and performance in professional cyclists. Hoogeveen AR, Zonderland ML. – Link
- Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism. Caronia LM, Dwyer AA, Hayden D, Amati F, Pitteloud N, Hayes FJ. – Link
- Influence of dietary carbohydrate intake on the free testosterone: cortisol ratio responses to short-term intensive exercise training. Lane AR, Duke JW, Hackney AC. – Link
- Dietary Carbohydrate and Protein Manipulation and Exercise Recovery in Novice Weight-Lifters. Lyonel Benjamin, Peter Blanpied, Linda Lamont. – Link
- U.S. Drinking Water Widely Contaminated EPA finds 202 unregulated chemicals in 45 states By Taryn Luntz. – Link
- Estrogen in Animal Products By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM. – Link