Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Let’s talk about T…
It is estimated that 39% of men over the age of 45 have low testosterone. Testosterone is a main male sex hormone, but it is responsible for much more than libido. Both men and women need adequate levels of testosterone to ensure:
Optimal brain health
Labcorp, a common blood testing company, recently changed their reference range for male testosterone levels. Previously, labcorp considered a normal range of testosterone for adult men to be between 348 and 1197 ng/dL, this value was based on “a population of lean adult males”. However, in 2017 they lowered the bottom of that range from 348, to 264 ng/dL and the higher end of normal is now 916 ng/dL. This new reference range is based on “healthy, non-obese males 19-39 years old” (1). This means that overweight men but not obese men were likely included in this cohort which lead to the reduction of what is considered a normal testosterone level. It is known that excess abdominal fat leads to lower testosterone levels, and by changing these reference values, conventional medicine is now considering overweight individuals as the norm.
Let’s pause for a second. This is mind blowing, and this is the exact reason that you need to take control of your own health. As our society gets sicker (and now 1 in two people have a chronic disease) we must rethink how we interpret labs and that “normal” may really not be normal, just average for a sick population.
Low testosterone is associated with:
So if you go to your doctor and ask for your testosterone checked, what will they say? Most doctors won’t test your testosterone levels unless you have symptoms of low testosterone, but now that we know how low the standards are for conventional lab reference ranges, your labs might come back “normal”, but may not be “optimal”.
What is Optimal?
At Modrn we aim to get our male clients to a level that is health promoting, and this may differ depending on the stage of life and goals. Testosterone levels should IDEALLY be >600 ng/dL for men and >60 ng/dL for women.
How can we increase testosterone naturally?
1. Strength training: performing weighted exercises with proper form can increase testosterone levels acutely after exercise. How to get the best bang for your buck?
Volume is essential- The metabolic demand that you place on yourself matters!!! Doing 1 set of 6 reps is not enough volume. Studies have shown that higher volume workout sessions (3-6 sets) improve testosterone increases (2).
Intensity- The intensity of the exercise needs to be high enough to induce an increase in testosterone levels. One study showed that 3 sets of 6 repetitions at 100% of 6 repetition maximum but not at 70–76% of 6 repetition maximum caused a significant increase in testosterone levels post-exercise
*6 repetition maximum means that it was the most weight that could be lifted without failing on the 6th repetition (a 7th repetition could not be completed at that weight)
Type of exercise- The type of exercise matters too! Bicep curls alone do not cause increases in testosterone levels. The release of testosterone is dependent on the amount of muscle mass used… so squats, deadlifts and other exercises that use large muscle mass groups are your best bet (3).
2. The herb Eurycoma longifolia Jack, also known as Tongkat ali was shown in a small study to increase testosterone levels (4). Clinically, I have never seen an herb increase testosterone levels though to be transparent so this is typically not my go-to.
3. Zinc is a key nutrient that is needed for testosterone production. BUT zinc will only help to increase your testosterone levels if your levels are currently low. So TEST don’t GUESS
Bulletproof has a great zinc supplement that has the right ratio of zinc to copper.
4. Sleep!!! The majority of testosterone is produced at night, thus making sure you are getting enough quality sleep is essential.
5. Avoid alcohol- Alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in men… cue “man boobs”.... No thanks
Want to see what your testosterone level is? Schedule a complimentary phone consult with one of our doctors today!
Labcorp, Testosterone Reference Interval Changes, 2017, https://www.labcorp.com/assets/11476
Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, et al. Androgen receptor content following heavy resistance exercise in men. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005 Jan; 93 (1): 35-42
Kraemer WJ, Fry AC, Warren BJ, et al. Acute hormonal responses in elite junior weightlifters. Int J Sports Med 1992 Feb; 13 (2): 103-9
Tambi, M. I. B. M., M. K. Imran, and R. R. Henkel. "Standardised water‐soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late‐onset hypogonadism?." Andrologia 44 (2012): 226-230.