You’re not gaining muscle mass as easily as you should be. You’re often pretty moody and low energy. Maybe you’ve even secretly Google’d how to get rid of man boobs. Don’t freak out - you’re not alone.

These are all signs of low testosterone in a man, and while declining T levels are just a normal part of aging, you could also be speeding up the process without realizing it. Generally, testosterone levels drop by about 1% each year after the age of 30, so if you’re relatively young and feel like you’ve got low test levels, the reason could be certain lifestyle choices. (We’d recommend getting a blood test to check your T levels and rule out other causes of your symptoms first.) 

Don’t let all your hard work in the gym and with your diet go to waste by damaging your testosterone levels unknowingly - and there are lots of ways!

What factors affect testosterone levels?


1. Long term opioid usage


Looks like there might be some truth to the “No pain, no gain” saying - certain painkillers actually can make it harder to make those gains. Although more research is needed, there is a considerable amount of evidence connecting hypogonadism (the medical term for when the body’s sex glands produce little or no hormones) with long-term opioid usage. Common legal opioids include prescription painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine and morphine. 

    2. Lack of sleep

    Enjoy staying up late watching your favourite bodybuilding channels or scrolling through TikTok? You might want to rethink that habit. Multiple studies show that insufficient sleep reduces testosterone levels, amongst other health consequences like a lack of workout recovery and growth hormone production. One study in particular showed that testosterone levels in young healthy men dropped by 10-15% after just one week of sleep deprivation, in which participants only slept 5 hours per night. That’s the equivalent of aging 10 to 15 years!
    If your sleep isn’t the greatest, our ZM8 supplement can help. It contains clinical doses of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 shown to support natural testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 production - all of which are released more when you sleep. Plus, magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, making it easier to doze off.

    3. Dairy products

    The only way to get milk from a cow is when it’s pregnant - no surprise there. But considering high volume farming practices require the milking of cows very late into pregnancy, on top of using hormones in some farming practices, estrogen levels in milk can be quite high. After milk ingestion, “serum estrone (E1) and progesterone concentrations significantly increased, and serum luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and testosterone significantly decreased in men.”
    Don’t freak out too much, though - you’d have to be consuming high amounts of dairy on a regular basis for the estrogen to really have a pronounced effect. Also, skim milk and low-fat dairy options tend to be safer bets, because of the removal of fat-soluble sex steroid hormones.

    4. Plastic

    Despite the efforts to make the planet a bit greener, plastics are everywhere and nearly impossible to avoid. Phthalates (also called plasticizers) are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable, but are strongly associated with a significant decrease in testosterone levels in both males and females in various age groups. While you can’t hide in your house all day long, the best you can do is try to reduce plastic use, whether it’s cutlery, food packaging, water bottles, drinking straws or regular household items.

    5. Steroids

    Despite the ability to drastically speed up recovery so you can get more & more jacked, steroids will actually drop your T levels in the long run. Evidence shows that former anabolic-androgenic steroid users have significantly lower serum testosterone levels than other weightlifters, even after abstaining for months or years. Is the risk worth the reward?

    6. Obesity

    An excess of body fat can result in lower testosterone levels in a multitude of ways, like the conversion of testosterone into estrogen by fat cells. Obesity can also suppress the luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are released by the pituitary gland and stimulate testosterone production. The more weight you gain, the more pronounced these effects become.

    Thankfully, low T levels are reversible once the excess body fat is lost and more muscle is built - and if you’re an avid gym-goer, you’ve already got a head start. Just make sure you’re also eating enough protein in your diet. If you struggle to consistently get high protein foods, we’ve got plenty of protein powders like ISO SURGE to make that easier!

    7. Smoking & Alcohol

    If the general negative health effects of smoking and drinking can’t convince you to quit (or at least cut back), then maybe their effects on testosterone might change your mind. Although initial studies that looked at the link between smoking and T levels found no issues, they were short-term. However, longer term studies show that smokers’ T levels decline much faster than non-smokers, and those who smoked more had even greater declines. Smoking also lowers sperm quality and reduces fertility.

    Alcohol use has similar repercussions. The male reproductive system consists of the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary gland (which both regulate hormones), and the testes. Alcohol can interfere with all of their functions, from reduced testosterone levels and slowed sperm maturation, to decreased production of LH and FSH. 

    8. Hair Growth Medications


    Who would’ve thought that a product intended to make you look “manlier” can also be the demise of your T levels? It’s not all hair growth solutions, though - just the ones that contain finasteride. This ingredient can block the metabolism of progesterone and testosterone, and as a result, patients who had previously used finasteride had decreased levels of these hormones. 

      9. Certain Fats


      We’d never suggest cutting out an entire macronutrient group, but we would recommend being a bit picker about which fats you do have. Studies show that men who consume more Omega 6 fatty acids and trans fats (as a percentage of their total daily calories) have lower free and total testosterone levels, and lower sperm count, compared to men who don’t eat as much of those fats. 

        What should I do if I think I have low testosterone?

        If you’ve got signs of low testosterone levels, get a blood test to be certain and rule out other causes. From there, you can reduce the lifestyle factors that kill your testosterone to the best of your ability. There’s also nothing wrong with seeking medical help and testosterone replacement therapy if your T levels are really low - the results are typically guaranteed. 
        For natural testosterone support, you can use a booster like our TEST caps. In a double-blind placebo controlled study, the patented main ingredient Testosurge® (fenugreek seed extract) caused a 313% increase in total testosterone, a 220% increase in bioavailable testosterone, and 120% increase in free testosterone in just ten hours! Just make sure you are also staying on top of your diet, training intensity and good sleeping habits as well.

        While you may not be able to stop the inevitable aging process on T levels, you can certainly prevent it from nose diving completely. More strength gains, muscle mass, libido and energy can be attained, so long as you’re willing to put in the work!



        Long-term opioid usage and declining testosterone - Birthi, Pravardhan et al. “Hypogonadism associated with long-term opioid therapy: A systematic review.” Journal of opioid management vol. 11,3 (2015): 255-78. doi:10.5055/jom.2015.0274

        Examples of Opioids - https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/prevention/index.html 

        Poor Sleep #2 - Leproult, Rachel, and Eve Van Cauter. “Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men.” JAMA vol. 305,21 (2011): 2173-4. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.710

        Poor Sleep - https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/news/sleep-loss-lowers-testosterone-in-healthy-young-men (aging 10-15 years)

        Dairy - Maruyama, Kazumi et al. “Exposure to exogenous estrogen through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows.” Pediatrics international : official journal of the Japan Pediatric Society vol. 52,1 (2010): 33-8. doi:10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02890.x

        Dairy 2 (skim milk notes) - file:///C:/Users/jculver/Downloads/1479-683X-EJE-18-0591.pdf 

        Plastics - Meeker, John D, and Kelly K Ferguson. “Urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with decreased serum testosterone in men, women, and children from NHANES 2011-2012.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 99,11 (2014): 4346-52. doi:10.1210/jc.2014-2555

        Phthalates sources - https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html#:~:text=Phthalates%20are%20in%20hundreds%20of,garden%20hoses%2C%20and%20medical%20tubing.

        Steroids resulting in hypogonadism - Kanayama, Gen et al. “Prolonged hypogonadism in males following withdrawal from anabolic-androgenic steroids: an under-recognized problem.” Addiction (Abingdon, England) vol. 110,5 (2015): 823-31. doi:10.1111/add.12850

        Steroids 2 - Rasmussen, Jon Jarløv et al. “Former Abusers of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids Exhibit Decreased Testosterone Levels and Hypogonadal Symptoms Years after Cessation: A Case-Control Study.” PloS one vol. 11,8 e0161208. 17 Aug. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161208

        Obesity, type 2 Diabetes - https://www.medpagetoday.com/resource-centers/hypogonadism/acquired-causes-secondary-hypogonadism-adult-male-/1105

        Young men - obesity, diabetes, steroids, drugs - Cohen, Jordan et al. “Low Testosterone in Adolescents & Young Adults.” Frontiers in endocrinology vol. 10 916. 10 Jan. 2020, doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00916

        Smoking - William H. James, Smoking, sperm quality and testosterone level, Human Reproduction, Volume 17, Issue 12, December 2002, Pages 3275–3276, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/17.12.3275

        AlcoholEmanuele, M A, and N V Emanuele. “Alcohol's effects on male reproduction.” Alcohol health and research world vol. 22,3 (1998): 195-201.

        Finasteride (hair cream) - Caruso, Donatella et al. “Patients treated for male pattern hair with finasteride show, after discontinuation of the drug, altered levels of neuroactive steroids in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma.” The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology vol. 146 (2015): 74-9. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.03.012

        Omega 6 & Trans Fats - MInguez-Alarcón, Lidia et al. “Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men.” Asian journal of andrology vol. 19,2 (2017): 184-190. doi:10.4103/1008-682X.190323

        Testosurge - Poole et al. (2009). Effects of TESTOSURGE Supplementation on Strength, Body Composition and Hormonal Profiles during an 8-Week Resistance Training Program. JISSN. 6(Suppl1): P12

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        Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. It is not intended to: substitute for and/or provide informed medical advice; act as diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention, or care for any disease and/or condition. You should not: rely solely on this information, and/or; use this information to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent and/or care for any disease and/or health problems.