Testosterone Benefits: Why Is Testosterone Important?
Testosterone is quite literally what makes you a man.
Other than its instrumental role in the development of your penis and testes before you were even born, it defines your ability to gain muscle, lose fat, and recover from workouts. Furthermore, it powers your sex drive and makes you attractive to women.
But that’s not all.
Better functioning T levels are the key to unleashing your true masculine potential and living the type of life that you want.
In this post we will dive in to all of the evidence-based benefits that come with having optimal testosterone levels.
It is important to observe the difference between cause and effect.
Higher T levels are associated with a host of health benefits.
But is it testosterone that’s causing the benefits or is it that being healthy gives you higher T?
The answer to this question lies in a positive feedback loop – higher T means you get healthier and as you get healthier, T levels also rise.
One may not necessarily cause the other, but there is definitely a relationship between the two.
Although testosterone may not directly cause all of the life enhancing benefits you read about below, it does eventually lead to them by initiating a positive cascade of events.
Also note, that a lot of the benefits listed below hold a two-way relationship with testosterone.
For example, high testosterone levels may encourage dominant behavior, but elevating your mindset and how you see yourself in the world can have an equally dramatic impact on T.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
The Benefits Of Optimal Testosterone Levels
1. Testosterone Makes Your Mind Sharp
Bigger muscles and more sex are usually the first things that come to mind when we think of testosterone.
But the impact of this hormone is far outreaching than just these two areas.
Testosterone levels are significantly correlated with cognitive ability, especially in older men (1).
The mechanisms by which testosterone affects the brain are not exactly known, but researchers believe that T plays a role in preventing brain tissue decay (4).
This is why men suffering from low levels of T experience brain fog, memory loss, and have difficulty concentrating.
Although the research performed in this area is mostly directed towards elderly men, it is important to develop the habits that support optimal testosterone production RIGHT NOW so that, as a young man, you can maintain them well into old age and extend your vitality and virility.
Bottom line: Maintaining optimal testosterone levels increases mental cognition and allows your mind to function at peak potential.
2. Testosterone Decreases Your Chances of Developing Alzheimer’s
Not only do optimal testosterone levels support optimal brain function, but they also reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Testosterone does not directly influence your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Bottom line: Given the current research, scientists hypothesize that maintaining optimal testosterone levels into old age may help prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s.
3. Testosterone Relieves Depression
Testosterone has a significant positive impact on mood (8).
Researchers from the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at Saint Louis University came to this conclusion after analyzing the data from 16 clinical trials conducted in the area of low testosterone and depression.
In another study (9), researchers looked at 30 men who were diagnosed with depression. After being put on testosterone therapy for 6 months, 19 of the 30 men no longer experienced any symptoms of depression.
To extrapolate the results from these studies, we must consider three significant factors:
- Age. The effects of testosterone on mood were most profound in men under the age of 60. In men older than 60, testosterone's mood enhancing benefits were uncertain.
- Baseline testosterone levels. Testosterone's ability to treat depression and boost mood were most effective in men with low baseline testosterone levels, but not so much in men whose T levels were normal before the start of the experiment.
- Extent of depression. Testosterone worked best in men with minor depression. Although testosterone was also helpful in men with severe depression, the effect was not as strong.
If you’ve been wrestling a bout of depression, low testosterone levels are likely a contributing cause (10).
Bottom line: The mechanisms through which testosterone affects mood are unclear, but it is abundantly clear that low testosterone is a likely cause of depression.
4. Testosterone Speeds Up Fat Loss
The golden rule of weight loss is to consume fewer calories than you burn.
Considering that you are consuming at a calorie deficit, higher testosterone levels could mean the difference between that weight loss coming in the form of fat rather than lean muscle mass (11).
In fact, testosterone levels hold a direct inverse correlation with body fat:
The three mechanisms through which testosterone speeds up fat-loss are by:
Not only does testosterone speed up fat-loss, but the reverse is also true:
Lower body fat leads to higher testosterone.
Body fat produces an enzyme called aromatase.
Aromatase converts testosterone into the female sex hormone, estrogen.
The leaner you are, the more testosterone is left unconverted, and the higher your levels will naturally be.
Taking the steps to naturally increase your testosterone levels can affect this feedback loop positively:
- Higher T = More Fat Loss => Less Body Fat = Even Higher T
Bottom line: The higher your testosterone levels are, the leaner you'll be.
5. Testosterone Increases Muscle Mass
Testosterone is the primary driver of muscle growth (20).
T’s impact on muscle growth is so dramatic, in fact, that one study (21) found subjects to experience a significant amount of lean muscle gains and fat-loss…without even exercising.
Testosterone increases the rate of muscle growth by increasing muscle protein synthesis (22).
With higher levels of serum testosterone, muscles begin to increase protein uptake, recover faster, and are able to grow back bigger and stronger.
This might lead you to believe that increasing testosterone levels will make your body into a muscle-building machine.
Well, not quite.
It is important to note that the studies cited above were administered using exogenous forms of testosterone (e.g. gels, injections, supplements). The subjects who experienced significant muscle gains without exercising were the ones who received the heaviest doses of testosterone, whereby their levels shot up to beyond the upper limits of the physiological normal range.
The extent to which testosterone will impact your muscle building efforts is dependent on the extent of your current deficiency.
Bottom line: If your current T levels are below the normal range, then taking steps to increase them will have a significant impact on your muscle growth. If your current T levels are within the normal range, then increasing them will still have an impact on your muscle gains, but not as significant.
6. Testosterone Strengthens Your Bones
Research has shown improved bone density in men receiving testosterone treatments (23).
Testosterone strengthens your bones by stimulating bone mineralization and counteracting bone resorption (26).
If you want to sustain strong and healthy bones well into old age, then it is important to develop the habits NOW that support optimal testosterone levels for years to come.
Bottom line: If you want to sustain strong and healthy bones well into old age, then it is important to develop the habits NOW that support optimal testosterone levels.
7. Testosterone Strengthens Your Heart
The most prominent function of testosterone is to strengthen the body’s muscles.
The heart is your most important muscle. It pumps blood to the rest of the body and provides other muscles and organs with the oxygen they need to function.
Hemoglobin is the protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen. Testosterone stimulates red blood cell production (27) allowing a more efficient transport of oxygen throughout the body.
A study of 83,000 elderly men with low T levels found that men whose testosterone levels returned to normal had a significantly lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from any cause versus the men whose T levels remained low (28).
To be clear, optimal testosterone levels do not directly strengthen your heart. Rather, it is the health benefits that come from achieving optimal T levels that lead to a stronger cardiovascular system.
Bottom line: To be clear, testosterone does not directly strengthen your heart. Rather, it is the health benefits that come from achieving optimal T levels that lead to a stronger cardiovascular system.
8. Testosterone Increases Libido
A decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction are the most prominent symptoms of low testosterone (29).
On the converse, an increased desire for sex and rock-hard boners are side effects of high T.
It’s not only testosterone that impacts your sex drive, but having sex also impacts your T.
In one study, researchers observed the T levels of 44 men, with an average age of 40, who visited a sex club (30).
26 of these men watched other people having sex, while 18 of them actually involved in the act.
Results revealed that total testosterone levels increased by 72% in the men who had sex, while observers experienced an 11% increase.
72% is a pretty significant increase, but it’s not like their T remained elevated at this level forever. Within a few hours, T levels returned close to the original baseline level.
Still, it is interesting to observe that this short-term spike does occur.
Having low testosterone means that the psychological and physiological desires for sex become diminished. If levels fall lower, it can even diminish your biological capacity to have sex. In other words, you can’t even get a boner, i.e. erectile dysfunction.
Having normal testosterone levels means that your sex drive is, well, normal.
The important thing to note is that increasing testosterone levels above the normal range will not mean that your sex drive will be through the roof. Past a particular point, higher T levels don’t do much for it.
Bottom line: If you have noticed a sharp decline in your interest for sex, low testosterone levels are most likely a cause.
9. Testosterone Drives Your Competitiveness
As men, it is in our nature to be competitive and testosterone is a major driver of this trait.
In one study, researchers measured the T levels of 64 men before and after a rigged one-on-one competition (31). After the competition, participants chose whether or not to compete against the same competitor.
The losers who experienced severe drops in T were less likely to compete than the losers who had less severe drops in T.
In another study, researchers took testosterone and cortisol measurements in six university students across six matches during their varsity season (32).
Each of the players experienced a spike in testosterone before a match, and the players with the highest spikes reported the most positive improvement in mood.
The average testosterone levels for the match winners rose higher than the match losers. Also, winners had higher testosterone levels before their next match compared to losers who had lower testosterone levels.
Bottom line: The research is very clear on this, testosterone levels are a major driving force of competitiveness in men.
10. Testosterone Increases Dominance
Individuals with high T tend to engage in behaviors used to gain/maintain their social status (33).
Now, sometimes this dominant behavior can be expressed aggressively.
For example, prisoners with chronic aggressive behavior have significantly higher testosterone levels compared to prisoners who don’t (34).
In another study, researchers observed how testosterone levels affected social dominance and physical aggression in a population sample of boys followed from age 6 to 13 (35).
They found that the boys perceived as socially dominant by peers had higher levels of testosterone compared to the boys perceived as less socially dominant.
The boys who had a history of physical aggression had lower levels of testosterone at age 13 compared to the boys who had no history of physical aggression. Furthermore, they were also failing in school and unpopular with their peers.
Researchers concluded that testosterone levels are positively correlated with social success rather than with physical aggression.
Physical aggression and anti-social behavior are usually side effects of high testosterone in the face of perceived injustice.
Now, testosterone may drive the expression of dominant behavior, but what’s more important than that is how you see yourself in the world.
Do you see yourself as a leader or a follower?
Do you see yourself as a man with impact or just another cog in the machine?
Testosterone affects behavior just as much as behavior affects testosterone.
He’s the exact same animal, but his role has changed and his hormones have risen to the occasion.
Increase your responsibility, take risks, elevate your role in life, and increased testosterone levels will likely follow.
Bottom line: Testosterone levels and dominant behavior hold a two-way relationship. Men with high testosterone levels tend to engage in behaviors to elevate their power and social status. Men who have an elevated view of their role in life also have higher testosterone levels.
11. Testosterone Can Help You Woo The Ladies
On the African savannah, lions with higher T show dominance in the competition for mates.
Turns out, this is true for human males as well.
Researchers brought 38 pairs of men (76 in total) into a lab and had them compete for the affection of an attractive woman (38).
Results revealed that pre-competition testosterone levels were positively associated with a man’s dominance behaviors as well as how much the woman indicated that she “clicked” with each man.
Researchers concluded that testosterone regulates the behaviors that lead to mating success.
A mentor of mine used to say that:
“Indecisiveness is the failure to be a masculine man.”
Women are attracted to men who are self-assured and know what they want in life.
The easiest way to practice your decisiveness is by making more decisions.
For example, when asked what you want to for dinner, answer definitively:
“An 8 oz Steak, 2 fried eggs, and 2 baked sweet potatoes.”
Don’t answer with:
“Well, uh, I dunno. What do you want?”
The more you practice making decisions, the more decisive you will be. This will allow you to assert your values and become clear in what you want out out of life. As a side effect, women will also become attracted.
Bottom line: Men with higher testosterone levels tend to express the behaviors that women find attractive.
(NOTE: Want a reading on your current testosterone levels? Use the FREE T-Analysis tool and discover how to naturally increase your T-levels based on your current condition. Click here.
12. Testosterone Increases Your Tolerance for Risk-Taking
Men with low levels of power and status are more likely to take risks in order to gain status (38).
Men with high levels of testosterone have an increased willingness to incur financial risk while gambling (39).
MBA students (both men and women) with high levels of testosterone are more likely to pick riskier career paths (40).
And if that wasn’t enough, another study found that a financial trader’s morning level of testosterone accurately predicted his day’s profitability (41). The traders willing to take the most risk were set up with the highest chances of scoring big as well.
Now, of course taking risks always comes with a potential downside. But then again, taking risks is what has allowed human beings to build nations, conquer the world, and land on the moon.
Without risk, there is no progress.
High risk = high reward.
As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold.
If you are unwilling to take risks, you are unwilling to grow as a human being.
Bottom line: Men with higher testosterone levels tend to engage in more risky behavior.
13. Testosterone Induces The ‘Winner-Effect’
The ‘winner-effect’ is a term used in biology to describe how an animal that has previously overcome weaker opponents is more likely to win later bouts against a stronger contender.
Scientists have demonstrated this phenomenon with mice (42).
Right off the bat, a smaller mouse is unable to take on a larger opponent. But if the smaller mouse is allowed to win in previous encounters against smaller opponents, then he experiences a significant increase in testosterone whereby the probability of winning against a larger component is increased, regardless of intrinsic fighting ability.
Turns out this applies to humans as well (43).
When we win in competition, or in some other circumstance in life, our T levels rise, making us more focused, confident, and aggressive when it comes to the next challenge. This then turns into a positive feedback loop, which makes you more likely to win after each challenge.
The potential drawback of this feedback loop is for testosterone levels to surpass the optimal range, whereby your estimate of your abilities become exaggerated. This leads to overconfidence and impaired decision-making.
Many media commentators aspire this 'winner-effect' as the cause of today's financial market crashes.
Bottom line: Winning in competition induces a spike in testosterone, whereby the winner becomes more focused, confident, and aggressive towards the next challenge.
14. Testosterone Can Chisel Your Face
A chiseled face, a square jawline, high cheekbones and facial hair are all traits that define the quintessential ‘masculine face’.
The face is composed of over 30 muscles and testosterone can play a part in tightening up these features. Furthermore, T’s fat burning effects can remove fat from the face and further chisel out your facial muscles.
Now, increasing your testosterone levels will not dramatically change the shape of your face, but it can play a role in chiseling out your features.
Bottom line: A square jawline, high cheekbones, increased facial hair, and chiseled features are all characteristics associated with a man's testosterone levels.
15. Maintaining Optimal Testosterone Can Help You Live A Longer And More Virile Life
Researchers followed up with 794 men, aged 50-91, for 20 years. During that follow up, 538 deaths occurred. The men who had low testosterone levels were 40% more likely to die compared to those with higher levels (50). And this relationship held true independent of factors like age, body fat, lifestyle, blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Now, it is not only about living longer, but also about maintaining strength and vitality well into old age.
This is why it is of critical importance to build and maintain the habits that support optimal testosterone levels.
Bottom line: Testosterone levels are an independent predictor of mortality from all causes.
By now, it should be abundantly clear that, as a man, T levels are a major driving force in your overall quality of life.
Not only does T speed up your fat-loss and muscle building, but it also impacts your mind and how you see your place in this world.
I want to finish off with some commonly held beliefs about testosterone that are just plain wrong.
People continue to hold these beliefs even after research has proven they are not true.
Myth #1: Declining Testosterone Levels Are Primarily A Result of Aging.
It is a commonly held belief that lower testosterone levels are an inevitable part of aging.
New research out of Australia tells us otherwise:
“By itself, age does not cause lower testosterone in healthy men, it’s more likely that lowering of testosterone is a consequence of illnesses men acquire as they get older, like cardiovascular disease and obesity,” says researcher David Handelsman, MD, PhD, director of ANZAC Research Institute at the University of Sydney.
Handelsman and his team looked at 325 men, aged 40-97, who had self-reported excellent health and no symptom complaints. When they looked at the entire sample of 325 men, even with the large age range, T levels did not differ (49).
You can naturally achieve high testosterone levels no matter how old you are.
Handelsman also tells us that older men with low testosterone levels do not need testosterone therapy unless they have diseases of the pituitary or testes.
Myth #2: Only Older Guys Have To Worry About Low Testosterone Levels
On the other side of the coin are young guys.
Sure, when you’re young, your body is functioning close to peak potential and you can get away with a lot of things that older guys just can’t.
The truth is, however, that guys as young as 25 are now suffering from low testosterone levels.
Researchers have found that the average man’s testosterone dropped anywhere from 1.2-1.3% every year from 1987 to 2004. Assuming this trend has continued at the same pace, and not sped up, the average 25 year old in 2017 has about 40% lower T levels than the average 25 year old in 1987 (50).
The real cause of declining T levels has very little to do with age, and has a lot to do with lifestyle factors regarding how you eat, move, and sleep.
Myth #3: Testosterone Causes Anti-Social Behavior
Another myth is that high testosterone levels lead to aggression, bullying, and other antisocial behaviors.
Recall from the study mentioned above that teenage boys with the highest testosterone levels were found to be the most socially adept.
It was, in fact, the boys with low testosterone levels that were prone to express aggressive behavior.
In another study, researchers found that men with higher testosterone levels actually acted more fairly in a bargaining game than men with lower T (51).
The situations in which high testosterone leads to aggressive behavior is in the case with perceived injustice. In the face of a threat or something unfair, a man with high T is prone to act aggressively.
Myth #4: Testosterone Makes You Angry
This is another completely misguided belief that has no research to back it up.
As mentioned above, studies have shown depression to be linked with low levels of testosterone. Depression, in turn, is linked to symptoms of increased irritability and anger.
Men with low testosterone are actually more likely to break out into violent outbursts and anger.
This myth about testosterone causing anger is likely derived from roid rage, i.e. angry meatheads throwing fits.
Taking steroids increases testosterone levels to beyond the physiological normal range for men. This, in turn, shuts off the body's natural testosterone production. It is this low level production of natural testosterone that is likely causing these random outbreaks of anger.
Myth #5: Testosterone Causes Prostate Cancer
In the early 40s the medical community began to ascribe prostate cancer as a cause of high testosterone. This actually came from one medical case where a patient’s prostate cancer regressed after he was castrated.
Since then, multiple studies have found no link between high T and prostate cancer (51).
The big note of caution is that if you already have prostate cancer, then T may have a role in making it worse.
(NOTE: Want a reading on your current testosterone levels? Use the FREE T-Analysis tool and discover how to naturally increase your T-levels based on your current condition. Click here.