These days, athletes are constantly looking for the advantage. Unfortunately, some turn to artificial means to increase their performance levels. With Nevada’s recent decision to ban TRT for competitors, I wanted to write a quick article and showcase some of the natural ways we can increase our testosterone levels.
The benefits of normal testosterone levels are:
- may fight depression
- reduced bodyfat
- increase muscle tissue
- strengthen bones
- improves libido
- improved cognitive ability
- increased competitiveness
- and more
That’s a powerful list!
All of the men reading this article want those type of results, right?
1. Eat More Healthy Fats – There is a strong correlation between a diet higher in fats and testosterone production. Eat more raw nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avacados, wild fish and quality organic meats.
2. Eat More Vegetables – Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, which have been shown to decrease estrogen levels naturally. Plus vegetables have high levels of fiber, vitamins, minerals, anitoxidants and phytonutrients that help our bodies stay strong, healthy and balanced. Add brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, and others to your daily intake.
3. Reduce Alcohol Intake – If you’re drinking a few beers every night and/or going out on the weekends for a few, it could be destroying your body’s t levels. A drink now and then is ok, but I know most people go overboard. Save your body and your budget and avoid the drinks. Not only will your waistline thank me, but you’ll probably have less drama in your life and get more done every week. #nohangover
4. Reduce Xenoestrogens – Not the female superhero. Xenoestrogen is a chemical that is found is most plastics and mimics estrogen in the body. This artificially high estrogen will decrease natural testosterone levels. In order to combat this, you should limit your exposure to common plastic products like plastic bags, drinking containers, food containers, and common household products. Use glass or paper products whenever possible.
5. Limit Caffeine – A cup of coffee has been shown to increase our performance during workouts, but these days pre workout drinks, energy drinks, caffeine shots, pills and other stimulants have laid waste to our adrenal glands. Going overboard with these stimulants will leave your body stressed and your mind foggy at best. Stick to a cup before workouts.
6. Control Your Intake of processed starches and sugars – Following a high carbohydrate meal, there is a temporary drop in testosterone levels. While this drop is only temporary, if we consume high carbohydrate meals all day long it will most likely lead to lowered testosterone, insulin spikes, a foggy brain, larger waistline and a myriad of other health issues. In order to combat this, eat your higher carbohydrate meals after your workout. During this time, your body is hungry for those natural sugars and will use them to restore our energy reserves in the liver and muscles. Natural sources such as fruit, root vegetables and organic sprouted grains are good sources of carbohydrates.
7. Workouts Less Than an Hour – After about 45 minutes of exercise, research shows a significant increase in our cortisol levels and a decrease in testosterone. Although most classes or sessions last about an hour, sometimes we get thrown to the wolves and grind for long periods of time. Try and keep your workouts short, intense and efficient.
8. Use High Intensity Training principles – while I do not agree with doing high intensity work for every workout, I do like short doses of high intensity work, like compound lifts, sprints, strongman stuff, sled work, etc. These heavy, intense bursts of effort have been shown to stimulate the production of testosterone. Stick to your plan and vary the intensity and duration of your workouts every week…sparring everyday and smashing yourself in the gym is not the best way to get results.
9. Do NOT Overtrain – Stimulate, don’t annihilate. Going too hard, for too long can destroy your testosterone levels for several days and leave your immune system weak and vulnerable. This really comes down to volume and intensity for each training session. Ever trained too much and get sick? That’s your body’s way of telling you to take some time off. Grinding every week may be a popular meme online, but its one of the quickest ways to crush your performance.
10. Control Stress Levels – We cannot completely avoid stress in our lives, but we can do things to minimize its affect on our body. Stress management techniques like controlling our thoughts, deep breathing techniques, meditation, taking time off, getting involved in a hobby or similar can help us deal and recover from tough weeks. This balance will help us mentally and physically cope with the demands of life and training. Find something that takes your mind somewhere else, makes you laugh and allows you to mentally and physically relax. This restoration is vital for your performance, your recovery between workouts and your mental well being.
11. Get Some Sleep – Studies show that we need about 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. Sleep is our RESET button. Good sleep can help us recover mentally and physically. Hormones are released, our mind resets and we wake up refreshed and prepared to take on a new day. If we stay up late, struggle falling asleep or wake up throughout the night, we miss all of the amazing benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Go to bed before midnight, preferably before 10pm. Kill the TV, telephone and other distractions about an hour before bed. Spend some uninterrupted time with friends or loved ones, read a book or do something that takes your mind off your challenges. If you are really stressed or busy, brain dump on a piece of paper and write down everything that’s on your mind. After writing, fold it up, let it go and you can deal with it the following day.
*A 20 minute nap during the day can also help speed recovery. Get a few in every week, especially after tough training sessions.
Our lives can get pretty busy, stressful and hectic from time to time. As a fighter, maintaining your health is vital to your performance and well being. When done correctly, we can train hard, make progress and maintain our health and vitality. Done poorly, and we can experience mental and physical struggles like decreased testosterone, injury, depression and more. Hopefully, these tips will help you create some more balance in your training schedule and fine tune your program.
PS…give our interview with Mike Mahler, about hormone optimization, a listen on the Fight Camp Podcast