Testosterone, commonly referred to as the “male” hormone, is naturally produced in the body from cholesterol in the testes and adrenal glands. Amongst other functions, it renders qualities what we generally associate with males-deep voice, facial and body hair and of course muscles! Females also produce testosterone but in a much smaller quantity. Every athlete seeks to improve their testosterone levels. With good reason too; optimum testosterone level means less body fat, increased lean muscles and increased strength. For this purpose testosterone is also the most abused drug amongst sports persons, particularly strength athletes.
As we age the testosterone level starts to dip and sometimes cause “andropause” or male menopause. Low levels of testosterone are associated with fat gains, depression, erectile dysfunction, chronic fatigue and a host of other problems. Even younger athletes want to keep their testosterone levels optimum and there are some simple yet effective ways to go about it.
- Sleep: Yes, quality sleep is one of the most important criteria for boosting testosterone. Adequate sleep of at least 8 hours is critical if we want to keep our testosterone levels normal or above average. It may seem very innocuous, but lack of sleep can seriously impede your strength and muscle gains.
- Vitamin D3: Adequate levels of Vitamin D3 are important for testosterone production in the human body. Most Indians are suffering from a Vitamin D3 deficiency. Vitamin D3 also known as the sunshine vitamin is produced by the body in the presence of sunlight. The amount of sunlight exposure that, we get, in today’s lifestyle is not adequate for the production of Vitamin D3. The best way to tackle it is we allow sufficient sun exposure, and also supplementing our diet with Vitamin D3 fortified foods. Most milk and dairy products are now fortified with Vitamin D3. The aim should be to get at least 1000 I.U. per day.
- Strength training: Amongst the many benefits of weight training, an important one is production of testosterone. Heavy and intense weight training promotes release of testosterone and growth hormone. However, working on those fancy machines may not be of much use. Compound movements like squats and deadlifts are your best bet. Aim to add that to your workout schedule of you want to increase your natural testosterone levels.
- Sugar: Sugar is the silent killer, and most of you already know that. Sugar also limits testosterone production. So, in order to keep your testosterone levels high, it is imperative to limit sugar intake. Be careful about the “hidden’ sugar that is found in most processed and packaged food, fruit juices and other refined products.
- Fasting: Fasting is an age old practice in our society. Intermittent fasting is the buzzword in modern sports nutrition. It is simply what Indians have been advocating since the last thousands of years. Short fasts are a great way to cleanse your body’s toxins, giving the digestive and other systems time to rejuvenate and reset; at the same time, it has also shown to boost testosterone levels. Short fasts, used smartly can be a great way to rev up your testosterone levels.
- Supplements: There are a lot of supplements available in the market which claims to boost your testosterone levels. Most of them do not work. Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera), Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris) are the most common herbs prescribed in Ayurveda to boost testosterone. Research on them has shown mixed results; adding them to your diet may help. Zinc is an important micronutrient and adequate quantities of it are required to maintain optimum testosterone levels in the body. Some vegetarian/vegan diets may be inadequate in zinc. Increasing intake of nuts like cashews, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and chickpeas may help in fulfilling your daily requirements of zinc.
The Writer Angshuman Dutta, is the founder/CEO of Transformers Fitness Academy. You can follow him on instagram http://www.instagram.com/angshuman.fitness and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/angshuman.fitness
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