Testosterone is one of the key hormones found within the human body.
It plays an important role in the maintenance of a healthy libido, is integral to the onset of and development of puberty, and even holds importance in the regular function of the cardiovascular system – and most people are well aware of this – but what people don’t realise, is that testosterone is also essential for the development of new muscle tissue AND reducing the amount of fat stored in the human body.
Having low testosterone levels can make it increasingly difficult to add new muscle mass to our frames, while also negatively impacting our capacity to lose fat – leading to what the internet has coined ‘dad-bod syndrome’…
Fortunately low testosterone is not a death sentence. Through small changes to our diet and exercise regimes, we can improve the body’s ability to make testosterone naturally – improving our ability to build muscle and burn fat!
Now, to state the obvious here, weight trading has the clear potential to build muscle and burn fat – that is a given – but it can also influence the way in which the body produces and secretes hormones.
Heavy weight training has been shown to cause acute increases in blood levels of testosterone, suggesting that lifting weights immediately increases testosterone production. This effect appears to be improved when opting for large, barbell-based, compound movements, using heavier loads lifted for lower reps.
From a more practical standpoint, this means that the bulk of our training should be built around large compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, presses, rows, and split squat variations (effectively any movement that requires work done at more than one joint). Moreover, these movements should be performed using heavy loads and for lower reps (for example 4 sets of 4, or 5 sets of 3).
By organising our training in this manner, we can increase testosterone production immediately after a session significantly.
Now this one may sound a little different, but hear me out for a second. Creatine is unquestionably the most well researched supplement available for purchase today.
The supplementation of creatine has shown extremely strong associations with the improved strength and power, and when used over time, has been shown to lead to increase improvements in muscle strength and muscle size.
This is actually quite well known, and has resulted in the regular supplementation of creatine in health and fitness circles.
But what is less commonly known is that creatine supplementation can improve testosterone levels considerably. Firstly, the supplementation of creatine has shown to cause a small increase in testosterone production. But more importantly, creatine also causes the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
Dihydrotestosterone is a more bio-available form of testosterone, in which it becomes 3-5 times more effective. Subsequently, by supplementing with creatine we can both increase testosterone production AND increase its effectiveness.
Increase Fat Intake
Now, testosterone falls under the category of a Steroidal hormone. Cholesterol is an essential component of all steroidal hormones – which means that if we limit our intake of cholesterol, we can limit the body’s ability to make testosterone (which as we know, can inhibit our ability to build muscle and burn fat).
As a result we should try and increase our fat intake so it makes up at least 20-30% of our daily dietary intake. In this regards, we should prioritise our intake of fats coming from natural sources, ultimately consuming saturated fats (coming from red meat, eggs, and dairy products) and monounsaturated fats (coming from nuts, avocados, and fish).
These fats contain quality sources of cholesterol, and do not have any of the negative health effects associated with the consumption of highly processed polyunsaturated fats (such as vegetable oils).
And a quick note: to those of you think that fat intake is the cause of heart disease, you are wrong. Individuals who consume diets high in naturally occurring fats have been shown to have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
This means that we have no reason to fear butter, fatty meats, and dairy, In fact, we should enjoy them!
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is absolutely essential to allow the recovery of the body’s tissues, and maintaining optimal cognitive and physical function.
Moreover, both the amount of sleep we get, and the quality of that sleep, can also impact our testosterone levels considerably. Limited or poor sleep can cause significant reductions in testosterone secretion and testosterone production. By limiting the amount of sleep we get, or having broken sleep patterns, we can inhibit our capacity to make testosterone, and therefore inhibit our ability to build muscle tissue and lose fat.
As such we should try to get 7-9 hours of completely unbroken sleep each and every night. This can be accomplished by ensuring we maintain a nice cool room temperature (approximately 10-15 degrees below body temperature) throughout the duration of the night, and avoiding artificial light for at least 30 minutes before we try to sleep (this includes phones…).
Furthermore, it has been suggested that every hour of sleep we get before 12am is worth two hours after 12am, so by trying to get to sleep by 10-11pm can also pay dividends.
Testosterone plays an important role in our ability to build muscle tissue and burn fat. As such, increasing our testosterone levels is a sure-fire way to help build a lean and muscular physique.
This can be accomplished by making small yet important exercise, dietary, and lifestyle changes. Firstly, we should prioritising weight training using heavy loads and compound lifts, as these have shown to cause a considerable spike in testosterone levels after training.
We should supplement with creatine and consume more natural dietary fats, as these have both shown to improve testosterone production and secretion, and can even improve the bioavailability of Testosterone, increasing its effectiveness.
Finally, we need to ensure a high level of sleep quality, as poor sleep has been linked to large reductions in testosterone.
But, by ensuring we meet these four criteria we can seriously maximise our testosterone production, increasing our ability to build muscle and burn fat!
Luke Cafferty is a fitness junkie, personal trainer, and blogger. He’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a strong and well-rounded physique. Check out more of his work at StrengthAuthority.com or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
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