Crossfit places considerable demands on the body we need to keep your levels high to be supporting those gainz! Low levels can lead to decreased performance (both gym and sexual), man boobs and the skinny fat look. Hands up if you want this…..didn’t think so.
This article is more tailored to the male Crossfitter but still has some applicable advice for the female athlete.
1. THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF OPTIMAL TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Having optimal levels of testosterone (Male: 230-1000 ng/dL ; Female: 28-80 ng/dL) is desirable as it contributes to:
- Muscle growth
- Losing fat
- Immune function
- Sexual health
- Reduction in fatigue
This hormone directly stimulates protein synthesis, as well as causing growth hormone (GH) and insulin like growth factor (IGF) release to increase muscle growth. Creating an ‘anabolic environment’ in the body is essential for increasing strength. It also contributes to decreased fat mass.
2. FACTORS THAT DECREASE TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Keeping testosterone levels high can be challenging.
‘Numerous factors including stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, fat mass, over-training, aging and the environment can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels.’
With the Crossfit athletes that I work with I often see them UNDEREATING. Chronically low calorie intake coupled with Crossfit training is a sure fire way to tank your testosterone levels. Now this isn’t a recommendation to be shoveling excess calories from crappy sources in post workout but eating more of the foods outlined below will help.
Eating the right foods at the right times will also take advantage of high GH and IGF that occur with optimal testosterone levels. So how do we optimise your testosterone levels? First of all….address the issues that will give you the most bang for your buck.
3. HOW TO OPTIMISE TESTOSTERONE LEVELS: SLEEP
We know how important sleep is for overall health, repair and regeneration. Bottom line….get enough quality sleep. I know it can be difficult with life and Netflix getting in the way but you HAVE to nail your sleep schedule.
4. FAT MASS
The more fat you carry, the more aromatase you produce, an enzyme that converts your testosterone into the female hormone estrogen. Dropping excess body fat will contribute to an increase in athletic performance, improve your power to weight ratio alongside creating a better hormonal environment in your body.
5. ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Serious about your health and performance….remove alcohol. Or at least limit it to minimal units per week.
Here are some other areas to focus on that can contribute to testosterone levels.
- Testosterone metabolism is dependent on Zinc – Take a zinc supplement and increase zinc rich foods – pumpkin seeds, Oysters, ginger root, lamb chops, split peas, brazil nuts, spices, fresh herbs, sardines, almonds, walnuts, rye, oats, tuna, anchovies and haddock.
- B Vitamins – These support gene transcription, protein synthesis and energy production – Take a good quality B-Complex – in the active forms. Increase foods such as pulses, meats and seeds.
- Good fats – Some cholesterol is necessary for all hormone production. Eat more avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut products, oily fish. Only need to take a fish oil supplement if the diet is really lacking in these foods.
- Curcumin (turmeric) and other spices help lower inflammation caused by training and the environment – Increase consumption of spices in smoothies/marinades/meals or take a supplement
- Green tea; try drinking 5 cups a day, consider green tea extract supplement
- Use adaptogens and superfoods such as maca, ashwanganda powder and a T booster supplement
- Vitamin D – If you do not get a huge amount of exposure to sunlight or you work inside for the majority of the year take a Vitamin D supplement. Read here as to why Vitamin D is sooooooo important.
If you are serious about optimising your testosterone levels then consider functional medicine testing and a consultation with a qualified nutritionist.