Testosterone -- the unofficial king of the male sex hormones!
As a scientist and sleep expert, I’m naturally curious about the role of hormone balancing as it relates to good health and even better sleep.
Lately, I’ve been curious about testosterone’s effects on men’s sleep quality. I know that lower testosterone levels have been linked to an increase in body fat. I also know that a good night’s sleep can actually help you manage your weight -- studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can decrease insulin sensitivity by as much as 33%. This highlights the importance of a good night’s sleep to maintain blood sugar levels, shed excess fat, and reduce the risk of metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
Therefore, since we know that a healthy testosterone level is important for weight loss and quality sleep, I wanted to research foods that boost testosterone levels naturally, increase lean muscle mass, and of course, help you sleep better!
The Role of Testosterone + Sleep
Struggling to sleep? Sorry, guys, that can plummet your t-levels. So before we dive into the testosterone food list, let’s look at how testosterone helps you sleep.
Did you know that testosterone levels rise during sleep and decrease during waking hours?
Research on sleep disorders and testosterone in men has shown that testosterone is at its highest levels during REM sleep. REM sleep is the deep restorative sleep that occurs mostly late in the nightly sleep cycle.
The study found that plasma testosterone levels peak during sleep and that “various disorders of sleep -- including abnormalities of sleep quality, duration, circadian rhythm disruption, and sleep-disordered breathing -- may result in a reduction in testosterone levels.”
Sleep Apnea Affects Testosterone Levels
Unfortunately, there's also quite a big connection to testosterone and sleep apnea as well.
Men who don’t get enough quality sleep because of obstructive sleep apnea tend to have low-T levels. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and prioritizing sleep have all been shown to minimize sleep apnea severity.
Men struggling with both sleep apnea and low testosterone were also found to more likely be "associated with altered pituitary-gonadal function and sexual dysfunction, manifested primarily as erectile dysfunction and decreased libido," according to The World Journal of Men's Health.
Foods That Boost Testosterone Levels
Now it’s time to share foods that boost testosterone, and this list works for men and women equally. Women can also suffer from low testosterone, and this hormonal imbalance can result in diminished libido, exhaustion, and a loss of muscle mass, among other things.
In the past on this blog I’ve mentioned food for better sleep. Some are naturally high in tryptophan (i.e., turkey, pineapples, salmon, nuts and seeds, seaweed, turnip, sunflower seeds) while others are high in Vitamin C to boost your immune system (i.e., oranges, red peppers, kale, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, green peppers).
Here's an updated list of foods for better sleep and foods that boost testosterone -- and it has something for everyone, including carnivores, pescatarians, and vegans.
Fatty fish, and fish oils, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (vegetarians can try omega-3 supplements). One study on the effect of fish oil on dogs showed that fish oil can increase semen quality and serum testosterone levels by improving fatty acid profiles. If you’re not keen on tuna, try other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including Atlantic mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
Most people have heard about the link between eating oysters and a healthier libido but have you ever wondered why? It’s the zinc within the oysters that’s the real superstar since studies have shown a link between zinc deficiency and erectile dysfunction. Oysters, which are also high in omega-3s, selenium, and vitamin B12, positively affect male reproduction. In a rat study analyzing the effect of shell supplementation on the regulation of male reproduction, the zinc-rich oyster shells led to an increase in serum testosterone concentrations.
While egg whites are praised for protein, most of the nutrients in an egg are actually in the yolk. Eggs are rich in phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and all of the essential trace elements, including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc, with egg yolk being the major contributor to iron and zinc supply. A study in the journal Nutrients showed that egg yolks can help men struggling with low testosterone levels. The study found that “the presence of such minerals and micronutrients in egg is quite interesting as a deficiency in some of these (Zn, Mg, and Se) has been associated with depression and fatigue and development of pathological diseases.”
According to the journal Biomolecules, fresh ginger supplementation enhances testosterone production in males. And like other foods on this list, ginger is very high in zinc (sensing a theme yet?) as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, genistein, and tannin, plus manganese, copper, and selenium.
Garlic is a superfood for a reason: it contains a compound called diallyl disulfide, which works as an antiviral and antibacterial supplement, lowers cholesterol, and according to the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, eating garlic boosts serum testosterone levels.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Not only are greens healthy for anyone’s diet, but they’re also rich in magnesium, a mineral that may increase your testosterone levels. According to the journal Biological Trace Element Research, when comparing athletes to non-active individuals, magnesium increased testosterone levels in both groups, but the increases were much higher in those who exercised regularly.
Pomegranates are delicious, high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and can also increase testosterone levels by 24% when eaten consistently for two weeks, according to one study.
How to Burn Fat While Sleeping
Now it’s time for even better news! Not only do you have an idea of new foods to add to your shopping list, but there’s also an easy way to burn off some of the calories as well. Wait, does sleeping really burn calories?
Science says it does!
The key to unlocking the deepest sleep lies in temperature regulation -- this is the same advice for guys who either can’t sleep or guys who sleep hot every night. When you use one of our temperature-regulated cooling mattress pads, water is pumped through the pad, letting you adjust the temperature to choose what works for you.
Deep sleep also stimulates a natural boost in human growth hormone (HGH). Indeed, a whopping 70% of HGH release occurs during deep sleep. That means that increasing deep sleep equals more HGH, and more HGH equals greater muscle gains. Thus, more deep sleep equals stronger muscles.
The natural growth hormone boost is significant. Plus, when the body is well-rested, it’s able to replenish glycogen stores, reduce inflammation, boost motor skill development and, of course, maintain testosterone levels. If you’re looking to burn calories efficiently and boost testosterone naturally, look no further than better sleep and building a routine that works for you.