That headline is a tad dramatic, but I needed to get your attention. Why? Because over the past few weeks of talking to guys on the phone trying to figure out their next steps in natural testosterone optimization, these three mistakes have come up again and again. In this article, I will give you the scientifically proven action steps to fix them fast.
Mistake #1 – Thinking That Traditional Cardio Is The Best Way to Lose Fat
Michael Shelly is an endurance athlete who regularly competes in long-distance marathons. Judging by his body composition, he’s not exactly a high-testosterone man. Why is this the case? Well, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that men who regularly ran long distances (> 64 km or 40 miles per week) had significantly lower testosterone levels compared to the non-athletic control group.
Let that sink in for a moment: men who ran long distances had lower testosterone levels than a couch potato.
Long-distance running puts stress on the body in the form of elevated cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol leads to a decrease in testosterone. How much of a decrease? Well, in this Brazilian study, researchers analyzed blood samples from 20 men before and after a 42.2 km (26.2 mile) race. After the race, the men’s cortisol levels doubled and testosterone levels were halved (673 to 303 ng/dL).
Does this mean that you should ditch cardio altogether? Traditional, steady-state cardio, yes. But high intensity cardio can be great. This is Harry:
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey is an English sprinter and his physique is lean, muscular, and strong—all signs of high testosterone. Did he build all that muscle by sprinting alone? Of course not. Sprinters lift weights. That being said, high-intensity sprinting has been shown to induce short-term spikes in testosterone.
The takeaway? Ditch the traditional, steady state cardio. Instead, go for short-bouts of high intensity cardio like sprinting, high-intensity interval training, jiu-jitsu, or any other martial art.
Mistake #2 – Being Chronically Sleep Deprived
You already know that sleep is important, but are you actually making it a priority? Probably not. Chances are that you regularly watch TV in bed and scroll through email and social media past dark. But here’s something that might make you reconsider:
In this study, men who slept for 4-hours had half the amount of testosterone the next morning compared to men who slept for 8-hours.
You might say:
But Mo, I get 8+ hours of sleep every single night and I still wake up feeling groggy and tired.Loading...
Well, the reason for this is because sleep quality is just as important (if not more important) as sleep quantity. According to leading sleep researcher Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary:
Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market – it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest.
And as Shawn Stevenson writes in his book Sleep Smarter:
It’s been shown that human beings get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. This is what I call “Money Time.” You get the most rejuvenating effects during this period, and any sleep that you get in addition is a bonus. This is based on the seemingly lost realization that we humans are a part of nature, and when the lights go out on the planet, that’s a cue from the universe that it’s time for us to turn down too.
Research done by the phone companies themselves reveals that the more time you spend on your phone before you sleep, the longer it takes for you to enter into a state of deep sleep, and the less time you spend in that state as well. I’ve written a 3,500+ word guide on how to optimize sleep (which you can check out here), but if there’s one thing you take action on after reading this article, make it this:
Keep a 30 minute gap between the last time you stare at a screen and the time you intend on going to bed. Just this one thing will radically enhance the quality of your sleep and increase the surge of testosterone you experience during the night.
Mistake #3- Having a Micronutrient Deficiency
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals your body requires in trace amounts to sustain optimal function. Of particular importance to testosterone are vitamin D and magnesium. As it turns out, these two micronutrients are the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies in western developed countries with an estimated 74% of Americans being deficient in vitamin D and 43% being deficient in magnesium.
The bad news is that it’s impossible for you to have optimal testosterone levels while having sub-optimal levels of vitamin D and magnesium. The good news is that optimizing your intake of them is perhaps the easiest way to bring your testosterone level back up closer to where it should be.
Your skin synthesizes vitamin D upon exposure to the sun, but most of us don’t spend enough time outdoors. Dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and kale provide a great source of magnesium, but most of us don’t eat them.
What to do? Opt for a quality multivitamin supplement. I emphasize the word “quality” because most of the popular ones are junk. Consider the fact that 52% of Americans take a daily multivitamin, yet large portions of the population are deficient in vitamins A (35%), C (31%), D (74%), and E (67%) as well as calcium (39%) and magnesium (46%).
Before buying a multivitamin supplement, read the label to ensure that it provides adequate amounts of the key vitamins and minerals.
Look man, increasing your testosterone levels and reclaiming your masculinity involves nothing more than making simple changes in your diet and lifestyle. You already know most of the stuff I wrote about in this article. Why, then, do you continue to make decisions that are against your best interest?
Having asked myself this question in the past, the answer came down to identity. Consciously, I knew my life wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Subconsciously, though, I was sabotaging myself from taking right action. That changed when I realized the fundamental truth that beliefs follow behaviour. Once I started doing the things that I knew needed to get done, regardless of whether I felt like it or not, everything changed.
Your identity is nothing but your evaluation of the actions you’ve taken. Start taking right action and notice your inner alpha start to emerge.
Questions about natural testosterone optimization? Let’s chat.