In my last article, I delved into testosterone replacement therapy and the surrounding controversy regarding the practice and procedures of prescribing TRT. Many of us are currently competitive athletes and this issue is one that we are inevitably going to have to confront, whether it’s in regards to our own health and aging, or due to facing down teammates or opponents with a questionable prescription.
But putting moral and ethical thoughts to the side for a moment, today I want to concentrate on testosterone deficiency itself. As an acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, I’ve treated a number of people for the symptoms of low testosterone – fatigue, low libido, depression, weight gain, and insomnia. If you came to me as a patient, I would use acupuncture and herbs, and prescribe natural ways to boost your T and keep your training at its peak.
But before I did any of that I would tell you first what not to do:
1. Don’t buy stupid stuff.
Don’t buy or take any supplement with EXTREME, XXX, or any ridiculous play on the word steroids. I know, the guy in the picture is huge and the product says that it’s actually banned in some countries. Amazing. It’s most likely filled with enough caffeine and other stimulants to make you feel great during your workout, once you get over your shaky hands and grinding teeth, but will wear you out over time and keep you awake at night. If I could get all of the money back I spent on supplements with tough sounding names in my twenties, I’d be writing this from my own private island. Save your money; buy vegetables.
2. Don’t skip sleep.
I’m sleep challenged, so I feel your pain if you’re in the same boat. Sleep is glaringly important for all health markers, but for some of us it’s just tough to come by. A quick Google search will load you up with studies showing the benefits of sleep for testosterone and the detriment of lack of sleep as well. One such study stated, “Men who slept less than 4 hours in a 24-hour period had about 60 percent less total testosterone and 55 percent less bioavailable testosterone than men who slept longer than 8 hours.” Although four hours versus eight hours is a big difference, skipping sleep is bound to affect you in a number of negative ways, especially in testosterone production.
3. Don’t eat sugar.
One of my favorite teachers in acupuncture school stopped our whole class when the subject of sugar came up and he proudly exclaimed, “I’d rather my kid get hooked on heroin than on sugar.” He was obviously joking but making a strong point. Sugar is the devil. Per Liver Doctor, “Research presented at The Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting in Washington D.C found that sugar ingestion can cause a man’s testosterone level to drop by up to 25 percent.” Sounds like one more reason to ditch sugar for good.
Once I told you to stop doing those three things, here are four more things I would tell you. These are four things that you can do to naturally boost your testosterone levels:
1. Add a little horny goat weed to your life.
Yin yang huo or horny goat weed is a great herb used by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for boosting testosterone in both men and women. The herb comes in a leaf form and makes an easy morning tea. Often prescribed for low libido on it’s own, the other benefits of yin yang huo include increasing memory, combating frequent urination, helping numbness and tingling in the limbs, and regulating menstruation. 3 to 9 grams in a tea is all it takes.
2. Get some sunlight.
Vitamin D is a great natural booster of testosterone, but most people need more than they’re getting. Having some in your multivitamin is most likely not sufficient for a training athlete. Supplementing to get your intake of vitamin D up to 800-1000 mgs per day has been shown to increase testosterone and overall strength markers. Plus, it’s an excuse to spend some time with Mother Nature. With your shirt off.
3. Pick up heavy shit.
Lifting weights is a regular part of most of our lives, but if it’s not and you feel that your testosterone levels are low, then give it a go. Properly performed heavy squats and deadlifts have been shown to raise testosterone levels in both men and women. Follow that with throwing down a post-workout steak while watching Rocky IV and you’re bound to see your testosterone levels go through the roof.
4. Work on your body language.
Based on this TEDTalk, you might want to assess and adjust your body language, as it can have an impact on both your testosterone and cortisol levels.
Whether testosterone supplements, natural or otherwise, are right for you is still going to be a very personal decision. If you’re a competing athlete then even more thought should go into the equation. For many people, feeling their best is their number one goal and a worthy one at that. Give the above advice a try and if you still feel like you’re not where you should be, reach out to a professional who specializes in endocrinology and testosterone replacement.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.