Whether you’re a man or woman, testosterone is one of the most potent hormones for health and body composition. Having it in balance with the other body composition hormones, such as cortisol and insulin, is vital for physical fitness and wellness.
This tip will cover the basics for balancinc testosterone (T) for optimal body composition and health. First, you want to make sure you aren’t deficient in any of the following nutrients: Vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc.
It appears that vitamin D inhibits aromatization in which T is turned into estrogen. For example, one study had men take 3,332 IUs for a year and found blood levels and T were significantly improved at the end of the trial.
Magnesium is another extremely common deficiency that is linked to low T due to this mineral’s role in enhancing vitamin D activity, improving sleep, and aiding insulin health.
Surveys suggest that daily magnesium intake from food has dropped by at least a third since 1900 from about 500 mg/day to 175 mg/day due to changes in soil quantity and food refining. Fortunately, if you eat a healthy diet with plenty of green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds you’re likely to have a higher magnesium intake. If you supplement with magnesium, choose a form that is easily used by the body such as magnesium glycinate.
Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone because zinc is involved in preventing the aromatization of T to estrogen. Zinc is also a potent antioxidant, protecting the organs for optimal function. Solve low zinc by doing a zinc taste test, or better yet, get a red blood cell zinc test the next time you get a physical because the regular serum blood readings don’t reflect trace mineral levels in the body.
After solving nutrient deficiencies, you try focusing on decreasing stress because stress and anxiety will lead to high levels of cortisol, testosterone’s primary nemesis. Once you have a basic handle on stress in your life, make sure you aren’t sleep deprived (this is repeatedly linked to low T, high cortisol, and poor insulin health), and focus on recovery after intense exercise.
Your final tool to improve T levels is a high-protein, higher fat, whole foods diet with a meal frequency that allows you to avoid hunger. Anytime your blood sugar is elevated, T will be temporarily reduced, which means that if you experience repeated elevations in blood sugar throughout the day, your T levels will become depressed.
For example, one study found that men who had normal insulin health had a 25 percent decrease in T after ingesting a drink containing sugar. T remained low for 2 hours, and nearly 80 percent of the men had their T drop to levels that would be considered clinical testosterone deficiency.
Fat intake is also important because the cholesterol it contains provides the building blocks for testosterone production in the body. Lastly, identify a meal frequency that allows you to avoid food cravings and extreme hunger, because both are associated with elevations in cortisol and perceived stress.
Take away the understanding that supporting T is not hard, but simple errors have a devastating effect. Focus on the key nutrient deficiencies, a healthy diet, sleep, avoiding endocrine disruptors, and blood sugar regulation and you will experience rapid progress in terms of health and body composition.
Caronia, L., Dwyer, A., et al. Abrupt Decrease in Serum Testosterone After an Oral Glucose Load in Men. Clinical Endocrinology. July 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Maggio, M., Ceda, G., Lauretani, F., Cattabiani, C., Avantaggiato, E., Morganti, S., et al. Magnesium and Anabolic Hormones in Older Men. International Journal of Andrology. 15 June 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Prasad, A., Mantzoros, C., et al. Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults. Nutrition. 1996. 12(5), 344-348.
Menéndez, E., Valdés, S., Botas, P., Delgado, E., Abello, N. Glucose Tolerance and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Men. Endocrinology and Nutrition. 2011. 58(1), 3-8.
Lee, D, Tajar, A., et al. Association of Hypogonadism with Vitamin D Status: The European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology. January 2012. 166, 75-85.