Testosterone is hugely important for muscle and bone strength, sex drive, and energy levels. While both men and women produce this hormone, men typically produce it in larger amounts – and tend to notice more when their levels start to drop. Testosterone production naturally starts to decrease around age 30 for most men, and can result in everything from tiredness to erectile dysfunction.
By that point, many men are working hard to keep their testosterone (or “T”) levels high with supplements, diet, and exercise, but there are a few things you might be doing to unintentionally hinder your efforts. Here are five things to avoid that might be causing you to accidentally lower your testosterone levels.
#1 Long Distance Running
A solid cardio program can help you stay fit and even increase testosterone levels to a point, but once you start getting into long-distance running – like marathon training, for instance – you may actually be decreasing your testosterone with your workouts. A study by the University of British Columbia found that male runners who pounded over 40 miles of pavement per week had distinctly lower T levels than their short-distance running counterparts.
#2 Excessive Alcohol Consumption
The bar might be a great place to meet a date, but more than a few drinks isn’t going to do great things for your testosterone level. As your liver processes alcohol, it produces compounds that inhibit the release of testosterone, reducing its overall level in your body and preventing you from doing things like building muscle mass. While even one or two drinks will cause a minor, temporary dip in your T levels, this is a bigger worry for individuals who drink heavily multiple times per week.
#3 Low-Fat Diets
We’re not telling you to go shovel in a burger and fries to up your T levels, but a super-low-fat, high-fiber diet isn’t the best idea for boosting them, either. Researchers at UCLA found that men who greatly reduced their fat intake and upped their fiber intake from their baseline diet had a 12% drop in their testosterone levels. Just make sure the fats you keep in your diet are healthy ones, rather than trans or saturated fats.
#4 Not Enough Sleep
Whether you’re partying, working late, or catching some 2am reruns, not sleeping enough is going to do unfortunate things to your T levels. Because your body produces most of its testosterone while you sleep, interrupting that cycle with insufficient or poor quality sleep can result in 20% to 30% less testosterone floating around your bloodstream than if you’d gotten enough shut-eye.
#5 Replacing Meat with Soy
Totally cutting meat out of your diet and replacing it with soy is a common health decision these days, but it may end up lowering your testosterone levels over time. A combination of the plant estrogens in soy and the lack of complete proteins from meat have been correlated with a 10% dip in testosterone levels after 4 weeks of a change in diet.
Have you noticed any other lifestyle or diet choices that have led to you feeling sluggish, low in sex drive, or unable to lose weight or build muscle? Let us know in the comments section.