The link between fitness, testosterone and levels.
People don’t immediately connect physical fitness with testosterone levels, however there is a justified correlation between the two. Low testosterone can be attributed to numerous factors, including inadequate sleep, stress and environmental toxins. However, I will be only be covering the factors which link directly to my line of work as a personal trainer.
Improved male testosterone levels can enhance sperm quality and quantity, increasing libido and preventing erectile dysfunction. You can achieve this through various training methods and tailor-made diets. Exercise programs should include heavy compound lifts. These movements recruit multiple muscle groups at one time creating more micro tears in the muscle fibers than other exercises do. The micro tears are repaired by means of protein synthesis, which requires the release of testosterone. In summary, more micro tears equals more protein synthesis equals more testosterone.
Some recommended compound exercises are the bench press, deadlift, barbell row and overhead press. Non gym members can achieve similar levels of stimulus from bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull ups if they are done in a slow and controlled manner.
Testosterone is converted into estrogen in fat tissue, which means that being overweight lowers testosterone levels. To reduce fat requires you to be in a calorie deficit, meaning your calorie input is less than your calorie output. This can be achieved by decreasing your input (eating less calories), or increasing your output (expending more calories through physical activity). I would advise doing a combination of both.
Eat less – The first method of fat loss involves downloading a calorie counting app and establishing your maintenance calories – the number of calories required to maintain your current weight. Once you have discovered this figure, knock off 10 to 20 percent and you will be in a calorie deficit. This percentage is a personal choice; I suggest avoiding losing more than two pounds a week, as this would exceed what is considered a healthy weight loss rate.
Move more – The second method of fat loss is to move more. I recommend cardio exercises as an optimal means of losing fat, as it tends to burn more calories than resistance training. Circuit training or high intensity interval training (HIIT) would be ideal, although I advise clients to find a method of exercise they enjoy, even if it’s just walking to the shop instead of driving. This ensures sustainability.
Eat Well – Exercise isn’t the only factor in increasing testosterone levels, diet is equally important. A healthy balance of carbs, fats and proteins is crucial. Consuming too little of any of these will negatively affect T levels. It is recommended that we eat wholefoods where possible instead of processed food or ready meals. This will often require cooking from scratch, which can be time consuming. If time is of the essence, I would recommend that you look into meal prep and cooking in bulk. This has helped me massively in the past. Restricting calories too much for too long or overeating both lower T levels. This may clash with physique goals particularly for bodybuilders. For these individuals I would suggest doing a lean bulk for a longer period and cutting in a similar fashion to avoid yo-yo dieting.
Here are some recommended vitamins to add to your diet. It is very hard to get all of these vitamins in adequate proportions, so it is a good idea to take a multivitamin each day to make sure you are covered.
Nutrients that increase testosterone levels and their natural sources
|Vitamin A||Vitamin B||Vitamin C||Vitamin D|
|Sweet Potato||Milk||Kiwi Fruit||Mushrooms|
|Butternut Squash||Oats||Oranges||Fortified Cereal|
|Trout||Dark Chocolate||Dried Fruits|