It’s hard to find a better example of a true alpha male in the animal kingdom than the lead male in a pride of lions. A singular male leads a community, is responsible for mating and protection, all the while getting first dibs on food. Sounds like a great life, but it comes with an expiry date. As that alpha male ages, he’s challenged by younger, stronger males in battles that leave the loser wounded and alone – almost like a form of social castration.
The alpha male of a pride of lions is always the strongest, biggest lion in the territory. The alpha male in human circles is dramatically different.
For male humans, brute strength is rarely the only prerequisite – nor is it nearly the most important attribute we can posses. Even if the human alpha male was determined by hand to hand combat, size and strength is of little importance; skill in a martial art would take precidence. Size, strength, and skill in a martial art, rather than serving as a direct attribute of an alpha male, heighten a male’s confidence – with confidence being a much more important factor in being an alpha male amongst humans.
Social stature plays a hefty roll in determining the alpha male of a group, but it isn’t the determining factor. A boss, for example, may be of higher stature economically, yet still get pushed around – physically, verbally, or on an emotional level – by his employees. Rather than stature – physical, social, or economic – assertiveness, strength, passion, ambition, and purpose are much more relevant characteristics that a guy has to have as an alpha male.
The alpha male in human circles, looks others in the eye, he’s unafraid to voice his opinion – often because he’s well-versed in many topics, but also because he’s firmly aware and committed to his values. Wealth doesn’t make you an alpha male, although it can help. Position doesn’t give you the birthrite of being an alpha male, though it may give you a head start. Being the alpha male isn’t merely about possessing one trait, like it is in the animal kingdom; rather, it requires of us balance, both in characte and personality.
I was going to write one all-ecompassing article about how to be an alpha male, but after writing the introduction I see it’s going to need more devotion (i.e. a series). Today we’re going to cover testosterone – but from a different angle. We’re going to look at how men can lower estrogen and cortisol levels, factors that correlate to higher T levels. Then, in a couple days we’ll cover how to naturally raise T levels, continuing with training, attitude, and the rest of the series in following articles.
Testosterone: the Elixer of the Alpha Male
Testosterone is a necessary but declining hormone in the human male. Studies are showing a consistent decline in T levels, not just due to age, but changes in diet, physical activity, and environment. As a society, our men are becoming less and less manly. We have less testosterone – on the whole – than did our fathers, grandfathers, and especially our great-grandfathers. I find it a logical correlation that the assertive, confident male of yesteryear is being replaced by the sobbing weakling or the over-compensating douchebag of today – yes, I speak of extremes.
The low T levels that many of us are experiencing result in low sex drive, a diminished ability to recover and repair tissue (such as muscle), it raises the risk of cancers, and diminishes assertiveness. The correlation between testosterone and agression in males is being disproven. Rather, higher testosterone levels correlate to diminished chances of being depressed. High natural T levels in men has also been shown to improve mood and positivity.
Just like our food – our beef, produce, and poultry – aren’t what they used to be, neither are we. Our food is pumped full of chemicals that directly effect us on a hormonal level. That fact asside, we – men – aren’t the men we used to be. On a hormonal level – forget about social issues, standards, or mood – we’re moving further and further away from the men we are meant to be. It’s an unnatural move, and one we need to stop, immediately.
First Step: Lower Cortisol + Estrogen
The first way we’re going to bring back the alpha male, is to correct this hormonal transformation. The first step of this transformation is to eliminate, or at least diminish, two of testosterone’s greatest enemies: estrogen and cortisol.
They are to testosterone what kryptonite is to Superman, baldness are to Samson, or what daylight is to a vampire. They oppose eachother. The problem is that chemical estrogens are everywhere around us, and cortisol levels are so easily raised – all we have to do is “feel” a certain way. Today, I’ll give you the weapons you need to fight back.
Men need estrogen, but on such small levels that nearly all of us have them naturally. Where the majority of guys run into problems is in having levels that are too high – either because of diet, environment, a lack of exercise, or because they have a lack of testosterone.
What contributes to higher estrogen levels in men?
Foods to Avoid
Soy naturally raises estrogen levels in men and women. The problem with soy, is that it’s in almost everything – from cereals, to sauces, to supplements, soy is an ingredient that we consume all the time, without a clue we’re consuming it. Be aware of what you’re eating, and read the labels. Also, stay away from packed foods (I’ll get into this later), they often contain soy, where they really don’t need to.
Alcohol is estrogenic, especially beer. I’m not one to cut alcohol out of my life, so I don’t expect you to either. Instead, I drink that which will effect me the least most of the time – i.e. red wine. Red wine is one of the few sources of alcohol that’s actually good for you. Where you run into big trouble are those binge nights where 2 glasses of wine turn into shots, beers, and a wicked hang-over. Keep those nights to a minimal for the sake of your balls.
Also, have beer, scotch, or whatever else you crave, but have it in moderation. Rather than having a beer nightly, I’ll have a glass of wine, saving beer for a night out, or a visit to a good pub.
Eat foods that you can either kill, pick, or harvest, and always choose organic. Packed, frozen, canned foods are riddled with chemicals that can raise estrogen levels. Exceptions are there, but are rare – oats, brown rice etc… Stay away from the frozen isle in the grocery store.
Meat Ain’t What it Used to Be
The meat we buy in supermarkets is far from what it used to be. Today the cattle, turkey, chicken, and pork we love so dearly, are filled with chemicals that raise estrogen in men. I’ve long been on the fence with regards to grass fed, organic meat and poultry because of cost, but I am no longer. Buy grass-fed, organic meet. If you have access to it, buy wild game.
Eat Only Organic Produce
Pesticides are testicle-killers. Stay away from them. Organic produce is more expensive, but compensate by buying less. Eat less – 10-15% if you really need to – but at a higher quality. Organic oats, fruits, and vegetables should be the only option.
Know Your Environment
Chemical estrogens surround us (writing this article I realize I’m sitting in a plastic chair at a coffee shop!). They artificially raise estrogen levels in men, but they’re very difficult to eliminate. For one, avoid plastics as much as possible, whether that’s storing your food in plastic tupperware, or drinking from plastic cups. Get rid of them as much as possible.
What to look out for specifically in your shampoo, deodorant, and cleaning supplies: look for BDP,DEP,BzBP,DEHP,DMP in the ingredients, all are chemical estrogens. For deodorant, this typically means using a natural deodorant rather than an antiperspirant.
Since we’re on the topic of killing testosterone by raising estrogen and cortisol levels, I may as well mention heat. Testosterone comes from our testicles. Heat, whether it’s from the shower, hot tub, or underwear that’s too tight, kills sperm and lowers T levels. Cold showers taken in the am and pm is a good remedy, something which I’ll cover in the Testosterone-raising article.
Cortisol vs Testosterone
Cortisol opposes testosterone just like estrogen does. One method of measuring testosterone levels in men is to look at the testosterone to cortisol ratio. A body high in cortisol is lower in testosterone, thus we must lower levels to see elevations in T.
Cortisol is a stress hormone. The more stressed we are in our daily lives, the higher our cortisol levels are. This also creates a toxic environment of testosterone and fat loss or muscle gains.
One way to lower cortisol is to simply put things into perspective. One of the best books written on eliminating stress (more specifically worry) is Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It’s a great book that not only helps you put things into perspective, but gives you tools to focus on what you should be focusing on, and enjoy life through all of its ups and downs, ebs and flows.
Getting sufficient sleep has also been shown to lower cortisol levels. For myself, however, I prefer a 6-7 hour sleeping schedule that allows me to get more work done and spend more time on the things I love to do. For those of us that either have trouble sleeping, or don’t want to get the prescribed 8 hours a night simply because we’d like to spend a bit more time awake, try these two tactics:
1. Set a firm sleeping schedule.
This, more than anything, has allowed me more energy during the day, and has dramatically improved my quality of sleep. Where I once slept in on the weekends, I now wake up at 5 am. Routine is the friend of focus. Having a strict work and sleep routine will allow you a greater capacity to focus, and result in more energy.
If you don’t get your 8 hours at night, take naps. Short, 20-30 minute naps help release growth hormone (gh). GH helps reduce body fat and repair muscle tissue. Short naps also allow me to experience longer, more energetic days.
Expel Estrogen & Cortisol As a Means to Become the Alpha Male
Estrogen and cortisol are the enemy of Testosterone, I can’t hammer that fact home enough. Our environment – what we eat, how we live our lives, even the materials that surround us tend to raise levels of these harmful hormones, especially estrogen. Society – and I’m not talking about some faceless entity, but simply the modes of production, whether it’s plastics and chemical estrogens that are found in many shampoos and skin-care products, or the food we eat – is set up to raise estrogen and cortisol levels in men.
Let this article serve as a bit of a wake-up call, but also a resource. Make these simple changes and get your hormones in check. Next time we’ll talk about actively raising testosterone levels through diet, routine and exercise.
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