Why do some men develop depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms such as mood swings and irritability as they age? The media calls it 'male menopause’, but is it a real thing or just an excuse for grumpy old men?
We did our research, and it seems that early onset of 'male menopause' is mainly lifestyle induced.
The fact is that testosterone production in men declines by 1-3% per year from the age of 30-40, resulting in the condition known as andropause later in life. It shouldn't be happening in your 40s or 50s though.
If you're in your 40s or 50s and suffering from male menopause, it's most likely due to several testosterone-killing lifestyle factors, including lack of sleep, increased stress (work, finance, kids, marriage, etc), alcohol, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins and medications. Even your wife being pregnant drives your testosterone down for the duration of the pregnancy!
But it's not an excuse for a dad bod and a grumpy mood. You can boost your testosterone levels naturally and keep them at a healthy range until you are very old.
How to Boost Testosterone Naturally
Top 5 things to avoid (testosterone slayers)
No matter what testosterone boosting supplements you take, unless you eliminate or at least reduce the main testosterone slayers, you will end up with low testosterone.
A study measuring men's testosterone levels before and after consumption of alcohol found that testosterone levels had dropped by 25 per cent at the most intoxicated state. When blood alcohol levels were the highest, testosterone was at its lowest.
To make things worse, there was a 35 per cent decrease in muscle insulin-like growth factor-I (GF-I), the primary hormone responsible for developing lean muscle mass. And it does not stop here, unfortunately. Alcohol has also been shown to cause a quicker aromatisation of androgens into oestrogens, which explains why heavy male drinkers often get gynecomastia (man boobs) over time.
Furthermore, alcohol is high in sugar and empty calories. It also inhibits fat burning capacity by up to 73%, robs the body of calcium (crucial for muscle function), and reduces protein synthesis. The perfect scenario for a 'dad bod'.
If that wasn't bad enough, drinking can also reduce sperm quality. One study showed drinking red wine 1-3 times per week has an impact on sperm neck abnormalities.
Excessive sugar consumption lowers testosterone, especially if you overindulge on sugary treats regularly. A study published in the Clinical Endocrinology Journal in 2013 found that sugar ingestion could cause a man's testosterone level to drop by as much as 25%. That's why men who are overweight, have diabetes or have insulin resistance are prone to testosterone deficiency, and this population is rapidly rising in the Western world.
A diet high in sugar also reduces your body's ability to produce enough Growth Hormone, the so-called fountain of youth. Low testosterone and low growth hormone combo is a double recipe for disaster when it comes to male health, physique and physical and mental performance.
3. Ultra Processed Foods
Besides containing sugar, ultra processed foods are often laden with highly inflammatory vegetable oils and other inflammation-promoting additives. Nothing functions appropriately when your body is inflamed on a cellular level, including hormone production.
Avoid high-sugar foods, ultra processed foods, and artificial sweeteners not just to keep your testosterone at its best possible levels but also to stay lean and keep your gut healthy, your immune system and tendons strong, and your skin wrinkle-free.
When it comes to diet, the main reason my clients go wrong is their snacks which are usually ultra processed. It's why we created our Chief products, they're whole foods that are full of the good stuff (i.e. nutrients) and free from all the nasty crap.
Several studies found a negative relationship between stress hormones and testosterone. Generally, chronic stress, both psychological and physical (i.e. overtraining), can reduce testosterone due to the effects on the brain. This is something to consider before trying any hormonal treatments. Try removing or reducing stress triggers and learn to manage your stress via simple tools such as planning (including an adequate training program), time management, meditation and relaxation, to name a few.
Generic household cleaning products, skincare, sunscreen, hair care, hair dye, air fresheners and plastics all contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that drive our oestrogen up and testosterone down. Research on the topic indicates that endocrine disruptors also contribute to the risk of cancer, developmental problems, diabetes, and possibly obesity and metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, endocrine disruptors can contribute to infertility and fertility issues.
Top 5 Testosterone Boosting Strategies
1. Eat animal products (like beef and seafood)
Foods like beef, oysters and fish give you zinc for testosterone and sperm quality. They're also full of goodness for your brain, skin and sexual function.
Zinc is one of the critical minerals of male and female fertility and testosterone production. Testosterone, the 'male sex hormone’, is needed for a healthy sex drive, good sperm, motivation and stamina, and lean muscle mass building. Zinc is also a key factor in skin health and anti-aging. It plays a role in collagen synthesis, protects skin cells against oxidative stress and prevents UV-induced damage. Zinc also stimulates collagen synthesis, which helps to improve sperm quality.
Good quality, grass-fed beef (like you'll find in our beef range) and seafood is also high in good fats, aka Omega 3 fatty acids, necessary for a healthy brain and glowing skin. A wide array of science research indicated Omega 3 benefits include reduced inflammation, improved sexual function and more efficient hormone production.
Pomegranate is high in antioxidants and polyphenols (Polyphenols are potent antioxidants). In this role, they prevent or reverse damage in the cells caused by ageing, environment, and lifestyle. Results of a study from 2012 indicate that pomegranate may boost testosterone levels in men and women.
Other foods high in antioxidants and polyphenols include green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, berries (this is why we add a small amount of cranberries to our beef bars), nuts (like found in our collagen bars), raw cacao, olive oil, coffee.
Modern research indicates that this root may improve fertility in men.
According to research findings, taking a daily ginger supplement for three months increased testosterone levels by 17.7% in a group of 75 adult male participants with fertility issues. The study results suggested that ginger may also improve sperm health in other ways.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to keep testosterone levels at a healthy range, but it's type and dose dependent. Strength training increases testosterone, and training with free weights is more effective than training with machines in this regard. High-volume, metabolically demanding resistance training sessions with free weights lasting less than 60 minutes seem to be the most efficient in acutely increasing testosterone.
On the other side, training at a high intensity for longer than 60 minutes and prolonged endurance training such as marathons and triathlon reduces testosterone levels.
If you don't have time to get to the gym, try Micro Workouts!
Lack of good quality sleep reduces testosterone and growth hormone levels, especially in men. Furthermore, disruptions in circadian rhythm, including starting at a screen till late at night and sleeping in past sunrise, also lead to hormonal imbalances.
To optimise your testosterone and growth hormone release, you should:
- sleep at least 7 hours in a completely dark room
- avoid screens, food, alcohol and stimulants three hours before bedtime
- go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day
- get outside at sunrise and sunset without sunglasses and sunscreen
If you are not only trying to prevent male menopause but also want to increase your sperm quality and motility, these are some additional strategies to implement:
- Switch off wi-fi at night and have a phone on in-flight mode (using a cell phone more than ten years decreased the percentage of motile sperm cells)
- Painkillers, especially opioids (Endone), lower testosterone and decrease the quantity and quality of sperm. Ditch them.
- Sauna or overheating reduces sperm count and quality. But the sauna is super healthy for everything else and does not reduce your testosterone. Just don't do saunas when trying to conceive.
- Keep your boys cool. Cooler testes have a stronger effect on DNA processes that result in higher sperm volume, quality, and motility (movement).
- Wearing tight underwear reduces sperm quality. Wear boxer shorts.