When you reach 30, your testosterone levels will naturally start decreasing. It’s the reason your hairline recedes, your belly grows, and your muscles become less firm. Though 30 is a relatively young age, it’s the time men start noticing the signs of aging, similar to when women begin to develop faint wrinkles and gain weight.
If you’re still in your 20s but feel like you’re already losing testosterone, it likely has something to do with your lifestyle. In CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Survey, it was found that 22.6% of young men (aged 20–39.9 years old) have total testosterone (TT) deficiency. Factors such as obesity, diabetes, opioid use, and hormone problems are the major causes, according to research.
That said, see if your suspected TT deficiency (a.k.a. Low T) might’ve been caused by the lifestyle factors listed below:
1. High Cholesterol Diet
High cholesterol is among the top causes of TT deficiency or low T in young men. Bad cholesterol, scientifically known as LDL cholesterol, is the culprit of low T.
In most cases, high cholesterol doesn’t show any symptoms. Many people don’t realize that they have high cholesterol levels until they suffer a stroke or heart attack. Hence, routine cholesterol screening is crucial. If you’re in your 20s, you should start having it done.
Eating too many foods loaded with cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fat increases your risk of having high cholesterol. An inactive lifestyle and smoking also do the same. If not any of those, it’s probably a genetic issue. If your parents have high cholesterol, chances are you’d have it too.
Diabetes and hypothyroidism contribute to high cholesterol as well. So if you suffer either of those, start reducing your cholesterol intake to mitigate your low T.
2. Not Exercising
If you sit all day because of your job or hobbies, workouts aren’t likely a part of your daily routine. As such, you’d have a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary or inactive lifestyle causes obesity and high blood pressure, both of which cause low T.
Excessive alcohol and/or salt intake also cause high blood pressure in young men. In secondary hypertension, the cause may be kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, illegal drugs such as cocaine, or alcohol. So try to squeeze in a workout in your daily routine to sweat off the bad food in your system.
3. Taking too Much Anabolic Steroids
Some athletes take anabolic steroids to enhance their performance. After all, anabolic steroids increase muscle mass and decrease fat. But excessive intake of it, or misuse, can have adverse effects.
Young men with body image issues or body dysmorphic disorder may misuse anabolic steroids. But despite its effects, steroids don’t actually make you fit and healthy. Instead, it can be addictive, causing you to become drug-dependent.
And of course, drug-dependency will affect your testosterone. It would also reduce your sperm count, cause infertility, shrink your testicles, cause erectile dysfunction, thin out your hair, and increase your risk for prostate cancer.
Natural Ways to Increase Your Testosterone
Fortunately, low T in young men can be treated. Aside from abandoning the habits listed above, practice the following as well to increase your testosterone naturally:
1. Lift Weights and Do HIIT Workout
Though cardio makes you sweat a lot, weight lifting is more effective in burning fat. It is also the best type of exercise for increasing testosterone both short-term and long-term.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is necessary for your workout routine, too. Try to exercise four times a week, with two HIIT sessions and two resistance (weight lifting) training sessions.
2. Have a High-protein, Fat, and Carb Diet
Protein aids in fat loss, so include plenty of protein-rich food in your meals. Carbohydrates play a role in increasing testosterone too, optimizing its levels during resistance training. As for fat, cut down saturated and trans fat in your diet, and replace them with healthy fats.
A diet based mainly on whole foods is ideal, as it has the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
Too much stress increases your cortisol, a stress hormone that may push you to overeat and decrease your testosterone in turn. So every time you feel overwhelmed at work or due to other issues, take time to unwind and relax. Exercising, getting good sleep, and laughter are the best de-stressing methods.
4. Try Clinical Solutions
You may take a testosterone booster, such as the herb called ashwagandha. Research suggests that this herb results in a 17% increase in testosterone and a 167% increase in sperm count in infertile men.
In healthy men, ashwagandha has been found to decrease cortisol levels by 25%, and increase testosterone by 15%.
If your low T is caused by more complex factors, consider undergoing testosterone replacement therapy or treatment. This would treat your condition faster and more effectively.
Once your testosterone is at its peak again, continue living healthily, and stay away from temptations that will make you relapse. You should live your 20s feeling like your age, not way older and weaker.