When we talk about mindset, on one level we are discussing thoughts/actions/feelings that can’t readily be quantified. You cannot “measure” mindset with any kind of quantitative instrument.
On another level however, all of these things take place within the brain, and the brain is a physical construct of cells, synapses, and hormones. And these can readily be measured, and acted upon.
As a man, your testosterone levels affect far more than just your muscle and strength levels. Testosterone is not just a “sex” hormone; since them time you are conceived as a man, testosterone influences and directs your fetal, childhood, and adolescent development.
As a man, testosterone directly affects the function of the brain. Your brain tissue has androgen receptors, and when testosterone binds to them, this affects your cognitive function. These cognitive functions include
-complex and logical thinking-
-Mental focus and mental clarity-
-Risk taking and competitive behavior-
-Improved Mood (higher testosterone men report more positive outlooks and mental attitudes than low testosterone men)
-Sex drive, confidence, and libido
-Spatial awareness and spatial coordination-Why are women so bad with directions typically? No testosterone levels (or very little). The parts of the brain that are responsible for spatial awareness and coordination are much more developed in men than women. When test levels drop, so too does spatial awareness. This is partly why older men can experience worsening balance and coordination as they age
When testosterone is low, and a man is suboptimal or hypogonadal (basically mean little to no testosterone production at all), the following behaviors are reported
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
-Increased brain fog-
-lack of mental focus and reasoning-
-passivity and lack of competitive drive-
-Pessimistic attitude towards life, depression
-increased irritability and lack of emotional control
-Sex drive, confidence, and libido
-Decline in athleticism, strength, coordination
Speaking from professional experience, men with suboptimal testosterone levels can frequently experience depression, and it can be misdiagnosed as such. Being prescribed psychiatric drugs then exacerbates the problem further, as many of these drugs further kill libido and energy.
The operative point to all this: Testosterone affects mental state. If want to change your mindset, creating and sustaining healthy testosterone levels is part of that.
What are Healthy Testosterone Levels?
This question gets asked a lot. To understand this in context, there is not “set” number. If you ask “what should my testosterone levels be”, I’ll tell you that they should be healthy for YOU. Everyone is different.
That said, there are THREE main tests you need to taken
1. Total testosterone-this test essentially shows how much testosterone is floating around in your blood
The “Healthy Range” is between
2. Free Testosterone-This is testosterone that is not bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. This number is MUCH lower. This is testosterone in your body that “biologically active”, and helps you to build muscle.
The “Healthy Range” is between
9 – 30 ng/dl
3. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin- This is a molecule that binds to sex hormones, and it render them “inactive”. You could have “normal” test levels, but is SHBG is high, and free test is low, and estrogen is elevated (estradiol), you are essentially living with low testosterone
Low testosterone is a CLINICAL diagnosis. It is not a “number”. Your testosterone levels may be 400, but if you feel high energy and strong, free test is healthy, and overall quality life is good, your test levels are probably fine.
I am not a doctor, and this article is for informational purposes only. All I can advise is that if you suspect your testosterone levels are low, you need to have appropriate bloodwork done. (If this is a subject that enough people are interested in, I can cover all the ways that you can have done)
How to Naturally Boost Testosterone
To preface, you could do all of these suggested strategies, but they are not going to raise your testosterone to supraphysiological levels. There are elevating your production of testosterone through diet, training and lifestyle. And if you are truly hypogonadal, you will need TRT, as no amount of lifestyle change is likely to fix the situation.
1. Sleep deep every night
Roll your eyes all you want, but a lack of sleep has clinically proven over and over again to suppress testosterone levels. The number of health issues that arise from a lack of sleep is endless; being underslept raises cortisol and will make you age and die faster.
Getting sleep should not be hard, yet modern society has turned into a monumental task. Blue light fro computers and smartphone screens screws up our natural circadian rhythm, we rarely sleep in total dark, and we use our phones as alarms. Put the phone down and get off the computer before sleeping, go to bed at the same time every night, make sure you sleep in a truly dark room. Use an alarm clock to wake yourself up, not your phone. It is time to avail yourself of virtual living and allocate more time to deep sleep so you can improve real world living.
Try reading for an hour before bedtime to unwind and get into a relaxed state. Magnesium before bedtime is also a natural muscle relaxant that not only supports deep sleep, but increases testosterone levels as well.
2. Resistance train with compound exercises, with low to high reps
Progressive resistance training raises test levels. Having more lean body mass (muscle tissue) raises testosterone levels. Muscle mass is best built with moderate to high reps, but all rep ranges can be used to prompt muscular growth.
Training should focus upon the foundational exercises that engage multiple joints and muscles: overhead press, chins-ups and pull-ups, chest presses and rows, squats and deadlifts, dips and lunges. Apply the 80/20 principle to selecting exercises. Of these thousands you could perform, about 20% will prompt 80% of the muscle growth you get. Compound movements are what you should focus upon.
Perform these movements in the 5-15 rep range for 2-5 sets each. For isolation movements, these can be a smaller part of your program, they can be done for 2-5 sets, and higher reps of 10-20. Train the entire body over the course of a week. Start with 3 days if you are a novice, and work up to 4-6 days over time. 4 days is the “sweet spot” for most people.
3. Increase healthy fat intake
Testosterone is synthesized from cholesterol, and you NEED cholesterol for testosterone production. Your joints, connective tissue, and muscle also use fatty acids for lubrication, cellular repair and structure, and as an energy source. You need fat as part of your diet.
Of your total calorie intake, at least 30% should come from healthy fat sources. 30% is not a hard and fast rule, this number could 40 or even 50%. Depending on your ethnicity and current state of health, you metabolism is individually unique. Metabolism varies across the spectrum of ethnicities, and even then, there are still individual differences.
Your fat intake should come from animal protein consumption; red meat, poultry, fish, eggs. After that, you want to consume healthy oils; coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and uncommon oils like walnut or avocado oil. Nuts can be a very healthy source of fat as well.
Avoid partially hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils. These do nothing beneficial for your health at all.
4. Cut down sugar consumption
Sugar isn’t cocaine, but consuming a high amount in your diet is not healthy either. High sugar intake causes big releases of insulin, sometimes called an insulin spike. This makes sugar a great quick energy source, but it also creates the crash effect as well. Having constant rise and falls in blood sugar increase leptin levels (the hunger hormone) which then makes you want to eat more. Sugar obviously tastes good, and it is to develop cravings for it.
Excess sugar/calorie intake then prompts the body to store dietary fat intake. The higher your bodyfat goes, the more testosterone drops, and the more testosterone converts to estrogen. Higher bodyfat also causes release of cortisol, the stress hormone. This drives down testosterone production as well.
Being overweight then is not just physical, but it hormonally emasculates you. Take control of your sweet tooth.
5. Address Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies
None of these things by themselves are going to dramatically raise testosterone. Together though, they definitely have the potential to raise your natural levels. I consider these “health supplements” that can fill a missing piece in your nutrition. If you know you eat lousy, and are trying to change, supplementing can be a way to improve health while you your daily nutrition
Optimal intake is as follows (and all of these are very cheap to purchase) :
Vitamin D3: 2500-5000iu (taken with a meal that contains fat)
Vitamin A: 5000iu
Zinc: 30-50mg (zinc citrate, zinc aspartate)
B Vitamins 1-2 B-100 tabs
Magnesium 300-400mg (magnesium citrate, magnesium aspartate magnesium oil)
If I had to narrow that down to two, I’d suggest Vitamin D3, and ZMA (and mix of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B). Vitamin D3 can be had with food, while ZMA can be taken before bed and improves sleep quality and quantity.
6. Cut back on your drinking
Alcohol and testosterone do not mix. Alcohol increase the conversion of testosterone in estrogen, the technical term for this being aromatization. This effect happens very quickly as well, a few drinks can quickly tan test levels, which combined with the effects of alcohol on the brain, it might make sense why mood changes can be do dramatic when drinking. If you are doing to drink, hard alcohols are actually preferable over beer. Dark beer with hops contain a lot of estrogen compounds, which you then get an unfortunate combo effect of cutting down test levels plus raising estrogen levels at the same time.
Alcohol also has the effect of slowing metabolism, and if you combine with excessive eating, alcohol promotes fat storage in the gut area.
Operative point, if you want increase your natural test levels, drinking sparingly.
Healthy Testosterone starts NOW
Your Health is your greatest asset. “Waiting” to improve is foolish. 5 years ago was yesterday. 2017 is upon us, and getting your testosterone levels health, your body healthy, and your mindset healthy is how you set yourself up for a phenomenal year.
If you want direction on this, join my email list.
I send out 3 emails daily on all things to improve your health. And I always reply and answers to your questions.
And my final question for you,
What would you like to see more of on Health in 2017?