When it comes to everything that is male, testosterone is king. The ability to build muscle, burn fat and even have a satisfying sex life are all factors that are affected. Unfortunately testosterone levels start to decline at a steady rate after age 30. Worse, it seems that no matter what your age, men of all ages are experiencing much lower testosterone levels than their fathers, and even lower than there grandfathers. Why? Factors such as stress, lack of exercise, toxins from the environment and excess intake of poor food choices are to blame.
On the bright side, making a few changes to your nutrition can have a significant, positive effect on your testosterone – not to mention your energy levels, your ability to burn fat and build solid muscle. Here are 5 testosterone-boosting foods to add to your nutrition plan.
LEAN RED MEAT
It’s no surprise that lean red meat should be at the top of this list. Lean cuts of meat provide a source of protein, vitamins, minerals and even creatine. But red meat is also loaded with saturated fat. Although you might think all saturated fat is bad, its not. Saturated fat is a source of cholesterol, which is the base molecule that is needed to build testosterone. In the body, cholesterol is converted to testosterone so a balance of both saturated fat and unsaturated fat in the diet is important. It’s also a good idea to select grass-fed, organic meat when possible. These options are free from chemicals and toxins that act like estrogen in the body, and too much estrogen can lower testosterone levels and decrease fat metabolism.
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli or cauliflower should be included in your diet. These veggies are loaded with natural estrogen-fighting compounds called di-indole-methane, or DIM., a compound that binds to excess estrogen and subsequently helps rid it from the body. DIM also blocks the production of the aromatase enzyme, which can reduce testosterone to the useless form DHT. You might not be a veggie fan, but increasing your uptake can go a long way towards increasing your testosterone! Make a raw cabbage slaw to eat alongside a burger, or add some fresh kale to an egg omelet.
Whole eggs are a source of cholesterol, which as just discussed is a precursor to testosterone production. Whole eggs are also a source of vitamin D, which may support testosterone production. In one study where subjects took either 3333 IU of vitamin D or a placebo for a year, those that took the vitamin D had significantly increased free testosterone levels compared to no change in the group that didn’t. Whole eggs also provide a rich source of antioxidants that can aid in recovery and are considered one of the highest quality, whole sources of protein since they provide all of the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth. One whole egg delivers 187 mg of cholesterol and 11% of your daily value of vitamin D.
Fresh tuna is loaded in good fats, including omega-3s, and is a rich source of high-quality protein. A three-ounce serving of tuna provides 25 grams of protein and 3.3 grams of polyunsaturated fat. A diet rich in fat has been shown to support increases in free testosterone levels, as well as reduce abdominal fat in men versus diets that were lower in fat of the same caloric value. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help counteract the catabolic effects of cortisol. When cortisol is high, testosterone production is low. In one study, three weeks of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids blunted cortisol levels caused by the stimulation of stress. Both fresh and canned tuna are good options.
Instead of always reaching for a handful of almonds, try pumpkin seeds instead. Pumpkin seeds are rich in saturated fat, as well as zinc, magnesium and the anabolic amino Leucine. A one-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds provides 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, 19% of your daily value of zinc and 18% of your daily value for magnesium. Zinc is an important co-factor involved in the production of enzymes involved in testosterone production, while magnesium is needed for muscle contraction. Try toasting them in the oven, tossing them on a salad or eating them raw.
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