Testosterone is one of the most important hormones in the body in order to maximize results. Knowing how to maximize its production is essential if you want to change your body and maximize muscle building and fat loss. Men produce almost 50 times the amount that women produce and its the reason why men have a much easier time building muscle and maintain a naturally lower body fat percentage. Steroids also greatly increase the hormone receptors for Testosterone, which is why you can basically not even lift while taking steroids and gain muscle mass.
Adequate Testosterone can also help men lose more belly fat. Testosterone and cortisol oppose each other and excess cortisol stores belly fat. This is why on diets, especially starvation and restrictive diets, drop your testosterone levels to those of the level of an 8 year old girl. In other words, skinny-fat people have a low testosterone level and by increasing levels of this androgen, their skinny-fat bodies will soon become less fat and more muscular simply by increasing testosterone.
Testosterone increases your sexual desire as well. Many people under chronic stress see there testosterone levels tank. This can be from incorrect dieting and also mental stress from life. There is even some research to show that women can smell testosterone on a man, which makes that man more attractive to females, especially compared to a male with high cortisol levels. High stress also negatively impacts mood and motivation. Many people that are depressed have T levels that match their moods.
I’ve seen a lot of conflicting research, but after wading through some of the “nonsense” it actually becomes quite simple to implement.
Quick Note: If you think low fat or low carb or high protein diets are the solution, then you may want to think again. That being said here are some very simple tips on how to increase the Big T:
- Adequate Calories – This is number one for a reason. Certain macro nutrients have been show to increase testosterone (going to call it T from now on), but if your calories are too low it really doesn’t matter. The biggest deficit you want to have when losing fat to keep your T levels on track would be about 15-20% from your total maintenance. Any lower than that and T concentrations will drop.
- Adequate Monounsaturated Fat, Saturated Fat and Cholesterol – T is synthesized from fat and cholesterol, so obviously consuming low amounts of either would cause a significant drop off in T levels. Many low fat diets exclude dietary fat because “Dietary fat is more likely to be stored as fat versus protein or carbs.” Somewhat of a true statement, but I guarantee the people giving this advice have a pretty low T level. The evidence is clear, getting adequate fat from MONOUNSATURATED AND SATURATED FATS increase T levels. Polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oil and processed chips and food actually DECREASE it. So its not just overall fat intake, the type also matters greatly in this instance. Cholesterol is also very underrated for brain health, concentration levels, liver health and retaining vitamins and nutrients. As for amounts, cholesterol intake should be around 1000 mg a day and dietary fat intake should be .35-5 grams per pound of body weight. Whole eggs are incredible sources as well as red meat, cheese, avocado, dairy fat, most nuts, butter and coconut oil.
- Adequate Carbohydrates – Underrated for health by many mainstream authorities, carbs are crucial for maintaining a positive Testosterone: Coritsol ratio. When the body and more importantly the liver gets depleted it senses starvation and puts a halt to reproductive hormones. Carbs are also crucial for lower cortisol levels, as cortisol is the main antagonist to T. Some experts say that sugar decreases T, but I disagree. Sugar in the short term decreases T because insulin clears it out of the blood and deposits T into the muscles and reproductive cells, where it belongs! In other words, its only a short term decrease in T, but has no real impact on long term T levels. Higher amounts of carbs have also been shown to increase free testosterone, due to insulin reducing the amount bound to SHBG. SHBG binds to your total testosterone and renders it useless. The more free testosterone you have the better, so you essentially need carbs to unleash your total testosterone levels. As for the amount I would say at least 120 grams to keep the liver healthy and more if you lift weights. I’ve seen a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein being effective, but as long as carbs are equal to or greater than protein and calories are sufficient it probably doesn’t matter too much.
- Adequate Protein, but Not Excessive Protein– This one is hard for me to admit, because I really like high protein diets and the many advantages they bring. But I think just about everyone consumes too much and doing so negatively impacts T. The research is pretty clear and not many people get benefit from going over .8 grams per pound multiplied by body weight. This is also a MAXIMUM amount meaning you could get away with much less. 120 grams seems to be adequate for maximizing muscle gain and muscle retention on fat loss diets. Research also shows a very positive correlation with increased protein and increased cortisol. The higher the protein intake, the higher the cortisol, especially when protein is replacing T boosting carbs and fat. Although a diet of lean protein and vegetables is pretty potent for fat burning, it sucks big time for T levels and adequate hormone levels.
- Lift Weights and Minimize Cardio – My favorite tip to give to most people. Lifting weights 3-5 times a week maximizes T levels while minimizing cortisol. Going for long runs in excess of 30 minutes can do a lot of damage to natural hormones and mess up the endocrine system. All cardio isnt bad though. Walking on an incline avoids a lot of the negative hormonal responses that running brings. Endurance training also interferes with muscle growth by sending conflicting signals to the muscles. (Note this is more a problem when cardio is excessive, but when creating a diet to maximize T levels, endurance cardio just doesn’t belong any where near it. ;))
- Get Down to a Lean Body Fat, but Not Too Lean – Losing excess fat decreases estrogen and increases T. But this positive benefit occurs at lean body weights between 8%-15% body fat. Going too low in body fat can actually decrease T levels. I think this is more of a problem for people who have to restrict their diet to get down to these levels. If you are naturally lean and have a hard time putting on fat, then your T may be just fine even at 5% body fat. Do NOT crash diet though even if your obese. Follow my first step and set a small deficit to ensure your getting enough macros in to support the Big T while slowly losing fat and setting your hormones straight.
- Liver Health – Restrictive diets, especially ones that restrict certain macros stress the liver out to produce energy. The way to avoid this by always eating a balance diet. Also be sure to include zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamin D which have all been shown to increase T levels.
- Get Some Sleep– Lack of sleep has some really negative side effects and lower T is one of them. When the body never gets in a restful state cortisol gets too high and the body is stressed out. Testosterone requires REM sleep, which only occurs under deep and restful sleep. Try to get around 6-8 hours. Getting too much sleep 10 hours or more can negatively impact T levels.
Keep Points and Sample Diet:
- Make sure to eat a balanced diet with adequate fat, carbs and proteins. Restricting any one macro-nutrient can hurt liver health and negatively impact T production.
- Fat should be around .35-.5 grams per pound of bodyweight from Mono and Saturated Fats. (more than this doesn’t increase T further)
- Cholesterol intake should be roughly 1000 mg a day, maybe even a bit more (whole eggs and meat help greatly with this)
- Carbs should be at least 120 grams, but should optimally be around a 2:1 ratio to protein. (Example 240 carbs to 120 grams of protein)
- Protein should be adequate and included in each meal, but not excessive. 120 grams -160 grams a day is plenty.
- If your overweight get to a lean body fat, but don’t crash diet to get there. A calorie deficit of 15-25% is a sweet spot.
- Optimize the Liver with essential nutrients and a balanced diet.
- Get around 6-10 hours of sleep each night to ensure REM sleep. No more or less than this range.
Sample Balanced Diet:
(This is how I currently eat, feel free to change the foods or number of meals)
Coffee with Half and Half and Splenda (Half and Half and heavy cream is saturated fat from dairy, which can favorably impact T levels)
Meal 1 – 2 scoops of Elite XT protein powder; 1 cup of berries; 1/2 cup of almond milk (to mix protein powder); 1-2 Tbs of Peanut Butter; 1/2 Quest Bar
Meal 2 – 6oz of lean red meat; 2 Deviled Eggs; 2 cups of Broccoli (decreases estrogen); Parmesean cheese; 1 large sweet potato (10-12 oz) or 4-5 slices of white bread (postworkout)
Meal 3 – 1/2 Quest Bar and a large apple
Meal 4 (usually twice the size of a normal meal) – 1-2 cups of white rice, 6-8oz of red meat; 2 cups of Broccoli; 2 whole eggs all mixed into a stirfry (This is a very big and filling meal)
This gets your right around where you want to be. Carb intake is greater than protein intake. Protein is definitely adequate and is included in each meal to initiate protein synthesis, but its not overkill. I also eat smaller meals during the day and a bigger meal at night. This is mainly personal preference, but I found it helps with sleep quality. I also have more time to cook and eat at night, so I eat when I can enjoy more food. Also, the only meal here that is low carb is breakfast. I’ll either have the above meal of two scoops of protein powder with nut butter and berries. Its low carb though, because my energy levels are way better than when I include a starch in the first meal. I literally fall asleep with oatmeal in the morning and after trial and error moving this back meal in the day right after lifting, sets me up way better. Feel free to play around with serving sizes depending on your size.
After researching testosterone, it seems as though the body produces it when your healthy. Many people that are depressed, eating restrictive diets (especially low in fat or carbs), constantly stressed out or doing drugs or alcohol usually have really low T levels. Once these people start returning to healthier habits and improve their mood T levels come back. Consider testosterone as something you earn for being healthy and eating and exercising properly. Once T levels get going, the results are incredible in more ways than one.
Sample Macro Setup:
Lets say your 175lbs and you want to drop fat. Your total maintenance is roughly 2500 calories a day. Ideally you would want to cut about 500 calories a day and hit about 2000 calories. Your macros would ideally be: 240 grams of carbs / 120 grams of protein / 62 grams of fat. Hitting roughly 30 grams of protein per meal is usually optimal and anything over that hasn’t been shown to increase muscle gain or fat loss when other macronutrients are present in the diet.
If your goal was not to lose fat then ideally you would keep the same ratio just eat maintenance at 2500 calories. So 313g of carbs / 156 grams of protein / 69 grams of fat.