As we age, we tend to see dips in testosterone.
This isn’t ideal as testosterone is a key hormone in keeping both men AND women at optimal health with high energy, supple skin, good muscle mass and the ability to build it, strong sex drive, and the ability to cope with stress (a big one for the times we are currently in).
So, how do we keep our testosterone levels at their peak as we age?
Drop excess body fat, especially the stuff around the belly. You can better bet that if you are sporting a “beer belly” or just seem to carry your fat in your midsection that your testosterone is lower than it should be. In men, this belly fat actually secretes hormones (aromatase) that help to convert the testosterone you do make into estrogen. Those low “T” and higher estrogen levels help the body continue to easily gain more fat that sticks primarily to your belly, chest, and throat area. For men, dropping this fat will allow for the most significant improvements in your testosterone levels than all of the other following suggestions.Move, but watch how you do it. The body doesn’t like chronic cardio. By this I mean long stints on the bike, endurance runs by the river, or tedious bouts on the elliptical or rowing machine. This drags on the body, just like it does on the joints, and the body responds with a drop in testosterone among other things. What the body loves hormonally, is “explosive” resistance training and some high-intensity interval training. A few days a week, lift something heavy, not so heavy that you’ll injure yourself, but heavy enough that it overloads your muscles a bit. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to work the bigger muscles groups (think legs) and body parts that carry a high density of androgen receptor sites (shoulders and chest). Dead lifts (avoid if you have low back pain) and squats are some of the best testosterone producing movements out there.
The days when you aren’t lifting, do some HIIT. Though HIIT might not sound appealing, the great thing about it is that the sessions are short and sweet. Let’s use the stationary bike as an example. Warm up for 5 minutes, increase resistance or speed for 45 seconds so that you are breathing hard, then rest easy for 90 seconds. Repeat this “on/off” cycle about 10 to 12 times if you can and cool down. The entire HIIT session should only take about 20 to 25 minutes. And as always, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Make sure you aren’t deficient in vitamins and minerals. Eat a whole-foods, nutrient-dense diet, don’t skimp on dietary fats, and get plenty of vitamin D by spending time in the sun. You might also consider supplementing with boron, iodine, selenium, magnesium, and a B vitamin complex. If you do supplement, ask your doctor before taking any new supplements.Manage your stress and cultivate meaningful relationships. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. High stress and lack of companionship decrease testosterone. Think self-care practices such as prayer/intention setting, time in nature, meditation, journaling or practicing gratitude – a combination would be best! Building connection through relationships definitely takes effort but it’s worth it and your body will thank you.Prioritize sleep. This is a big one! The majority of daily testosterone secretions occur during sleep. Poor sleep (because of restlessness, not enough hours or sleep apnea, for instance) is associated with reduced testosterone in both men and women. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one week of short sleep (5 hours per night) reduces testosterone production by 10% to 15%.There you have it! Five steps to start taking your health (and your hormones) into your own hands. Make the decision to take control of your body and say “NO” to low energy, poor mood, and suboptimal living.
Ashley Lucas holds a Ph.D. in sports nutrition and chronic disease and is a licensed, registered dietitian. She is the founder and owner of Ph.D. Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering in-office and at-home/virtual weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. To contact her, visit www.myphdweightloss.com or call 764-4133.