Whether you’re a man or woman, 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.
Testosterone is crucial for good health and happiness and low levels in both men and women are one reason why many people have trouble losing body fat, putting on muscle, and just feeling as jazzed as they’d like to about life.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to improve balance of testosterone and the other fat burning hormones for a better looking physique and peak health. There’s no need to take testosterone or other drugs.
The tips provided in this article are all completely doable by the average person and they can help you rise above your peers in ways you’d never have guessed.
#1: Optimize Diet: Avoid sugar & processed foods in favor of a higher fat & protein, whole foods diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
What you eat plays a tremendous role in influencing testosterone (T) and other fat burning hormones for the following reasons:
• Anytime 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. For example, when men with normal insulin health drank a sugary beverage, their T levels plummeted and remained clinically low for 2 hours.
• Testosterone and related fat burning hormones are made out of cholesterol, which comes from dietary fats. Therefore, eating a variety of beneficial fats can improve balance of T and related body composition hormones, whereas low-fat diets are notorious for reducing T.
• Although refined carbs are a no-no when you want to boost testosterone, a decent carbohydrate intake from vegetables, fruits, and other lower glycemic foods that allow you to maintain steady, lower blood sugar levels can raise testosterone, while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. For example, high-protein diets that completely lack veggies, fruits, and other carbs can lead to reduced T.
• Higher protein diets from an array of meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans can support hormone balance because they help optimize blood sugar and insulin levels. Plus, meat eaters tend to get more healthy fats that supply the building blocks for producing T and related hormones.
Specific foods to include in your diet that have been found to elevate T include Brazil nuts, oysters and other high-zinc foods, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and the green leafy veggies like spinach and chard because they are high in magnesium.
#2: Get Key Nutrients: Optimize vitamin D, magnesium & zinc levels.
Besides cholesterol there are a number of minerals and other nutrients necessary for the body to produce testosterone and other key fat burning hormones. Vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc are three that have been found to make a big difference in raising T levels. Check it out:
Vitamin D: A recent study found that when men with low testosterone supplemented with 3,332 IUs of vitamin D daily for a year, they experienced an impressive 20 percent increase in testosterone. In addition, we know that vitamin D must be present for the androgen glands to release testosterone and it’s needed to prevent the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen.
Zinc: Zinc is a powerful mineral for the human body that enables the production of testosterone and other growth hormones such as insulin-like growth factor-1. Studies show that low zinc levels in both men and women lead to altered hormone balance because zinc is needed to avoid aromatization of T.
Low zinc is also associated with increased cancer risk (prostate for men and breast for women) because zinc supports healthy cellular function.
Magnesium: Low magnesium correlates with higher body fat levels in both men and women, which is likely due to the fact that magnesium is necessary for the body to initiate testosterone production from the Leydig cells.
Whether you decide to supplement with these nutrients or obtain them through food and sun (for vitamin D), be sure to monitor your levels by getting a red blood cell test for zinc and magnesium and a regular blood test for vitamin D (ask your doctor to do this as part of your physical).
#3: Work Out: Lift heavy and do sprints.
Certain types of exercise are tremendously effective at raising testosterone and other fat burning hormones. The first thing you want to do to improve hormone balance and body composition is start a heavy strength training program.
A huge number of studies show that the best type of exercise for elevating T is to use the classic multi-joint lifts that require the largest muscle groups: Squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, lunges, and step-ups. Use heavy weights above 80 percent of your 1 RM (that means you should be training in rep ranges of 8 reps or less). Heavier weights require longer rest periods, so shoot for 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets.
Of course, shorter rest periods can be useful for peak growth hormone (GH) release (also a key fat burning hormone), which is why optimal body composition is generally best achieved by periodizing workouts so you get the ultimate benefit of both T and GH.
Sprints and certain forms of high-intensity training will also improve testosterone release. We know from a number of studies (and from the amazing physiques of sprinters) that sprinting is one of the most effective ways to get lean and shredded fast. You have a whole boatload of sprint protocols to choose from:
Try the brutal 35-second sprints with 10 seconds rest that was found to elevate T in college wrestlers. Or do a decreasing distance protocol of 400 meters (followed by 4 minutes rest), 300 meters (3 minutes rest), 200 meters (2 minutes rest), and 100 meters, which raised T and GH in elite handball players.
#4: Optimize Recovery: Use bright light and meditation for better recovery/sleep.
A lot of times, people, especially guys, have tunnel vision on jacking up testosterone and don’t realize that the true key to athletic success and a killer physique is balance between T and all your metabolic hormones. That’s where recovery comes in and we’ve got two new, research-supported ways you can increase your body composition hormones: Bright light and meditation.
Scientists found that when young healthy men were woken at 5 am and then exposed to bright early morning light for an hour, they had an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH), which is used by the body to produce testosterone. The men exposed to bright light had LH levels that were 69.5 percent higher than a control group that was exposed to a “sham” dim light.
After light exposure, the men reported they were “feeling good” more often than before they got the extra rays, and other studies have shown that bright light in the morning can boost cognition and exercise performance.
On the flip side, be sure to avoid bright light from lamps and computer screens at night because both alter melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. Continued exposure to bright light at night will reduce T and other metabolic hormones.
The second trick for a speedy recovery and improved T is meditation. People who meditate regularly have higher testosterone and lower cortisol (the stress hormone that degrades muscle tissue and counters many of the benefits of T). In addition, when people who meditate experience extreme stress, they have a more robust hormone release so as to better respond to the threat.
Combine your mediation and bright light exposure in the morning by sitting and breathing deeply outside for 5 or 10 minutes every morning. Or get a blue light box for the winter and meditate in front of it.
#5: Avoid Xenoestrognens: Stay away from estrogen mimicking personal care products like they are the plague.
You’ve surely heard about chemicals from plastic like BPA, which will mimic estrogen in the body and increase body fat levels. Unfortunately, these chemicals, called xenoestrogens, are everywhere—they’re in cosmetics, cleaning products (both for your house and your body, such as shampoo), candles and fragrances (yes, even perfume), and pesticides from produce.
When they enter the body, xenoestrogens mimic the action of the hormone estrogen, which impacts the balance of all your body composition hormones including testosterone.
You might wonder, well, women need estrogen, so is BPA exposure okay for them? The answer is a big fat NO.
First, too much estrogen is dangerous for women’s health and body composition. Second, you want your hormones to be naturally produced by your body for peak health, athleticism and leanness. This is the reason you want to avoid taking T, GH, or other hormones unless it’s an absolute medical imperative.
Here are a few super simple ways to limit your chemical estrogen exposure:
• Use natural cleaning and personal care products. Opt for plant-based cleaners and check labels. Use natural shampoo, conditioner, and avoid anything that has the word “paraben” in it, as in “methylparaben.”
• Avoid scented candles and air fresheners. Some may contain essential oils and are safe, but beware of the word “fragrance” because it may refer to hormone-altering chemicals.
• Avoid plastic containers for food and water. Use glass and get a stainless steel water bottle.
• Eat organic as much as possible to avoid ingesting estrogenic pesticides and growth hormones.