Testosterone is an androgen sex hormone fundamental for male health. It not only helps to shape a male’s physique, but it also contributes to hair growth, sexual drive, muscle mass, strength, and even sperm production, to the name the least. Unfortunately, a problem that men are likely to face with age is a drop in testosterone production. In fact, on average, every year after 40 years of age, a 1 percent drop in said levels will be experienced. Some men manage to keep their levels consistently high throughout the year, but obviously, this is not a generalizable statement.
In recent times, the supplement industry has witnessed a hike in testosterone boosters. The downside to these is that they aren’t always completely natural. As a result, side effects might unravel themselves.
With that in mind, we decided to find alternative approaches to increasing testosterone levels. Luckily, we’ve narrowed down the list to 36 options that men can consider, and the best part is that they all consist of slight tweaks to one’s daily lifestyle choices. Without further ado, here are our top 40 ways to boost testosterones levels naturally:
1. Exercise Part 1: Resistance Training
Resistance training is a type of training that involves building muscles by introducing some form of resistance. Resistance can be imposed on the muscles using just our body weight or equipment such as dumbbells and exercise machines. A 1999 study that looked at the effects of heavy-resistance training on both younger (30 years old) and older (62 years old) men over the course of 10 weeks reported positive results across both groups.
Specifically, higher total and free testosterone and insulin-like growth factor were reported in younger men than in older men. Nonetheless, older men experienced a significant increase in total testosterone as a result of exercise stress. What was interesting to observe was that their overall stress levels dropped as well .
A more recent but smaller study with a similar goal conducted over a span of 12 months found that “aging manifested in attenuated testosterone production capacity.” In addition, resistance training reduced urinary excretion of testosterone in the older group. That said, there was no difference between the two groups when it came to the effect of testosterone metabolism on training adaptations .
2. Exercise Part 2: Weightlifting
If the idea of resistance training isn’t appealing to those with pre-determined training goals, weightlifting is another viable option. While resistance training develops muscles by introducing restrictions, weightlifting is self-explanatory: the heavier the weights lifted, the more enhanced one’s physique becomes.
Concerning what science and/or experts have to say, Piedmont urologist Richard Jadick, D.O., was referenced in a piece where the expert noted that exercise could stimulate testosterone levels in two ways.
First, when men take part in muscle-building and achieve development, their testosterone levels are highly likely to rise. Second, a direct effect of weightlifting is weight loss. Before diving into weight loss as a factor, Richard Jadick, D.O., highlighted that larger muscle groups such as the chest, back, arms, abdominals, and legs should be targeted first. Below is a suggestion made in their own words:
“Perform two sets of three to five reps at 95 percent of your maximum effort, targeting larger muscle groups. But don’t ignore smaller muscle groups, like the biceps, calves, and shoulders. Strengthening your entire body helps prevent injury and speeds up your metabolism. ”
3. Taking Steps Toward Weight loss
Earlier, we mentioned that weight loss could help increase testosterone levels. It turns out that many studies have since looked at this relationship and have proven so. For instance, one study with 891 prediabetic, middle-aged men (with an average age of 54) wanted to see the effect that weight loss had on the subjects’ testosterone levels. Split into one of three groups: lifestyle modification, metformin, and inactive placebo pills, the results showed that “low testosterone [was] common in overweight men with prediabetes.”
The group that was subjected to lifestyle modification (i.e., exercising 150 minutes a week, eating less fat and fewer calories) ended up with a decrease in the prevalence of low testosterone levels from 20% to 11% after one year. One of the researchers behind this study, Frances Hayes, MD, stressed that “losing weight not only reduces the risk of prediabetic men progressing to diabetes but also appears to increase their body’s production of testosterone. ”
4. Increasing Protein Intake
Protein is a macronutrient that individuals need to satisfy regularly. For men in need of a testosterone boost, it is usually recommended to further increase their respective intakes. This recommendation appears to stem from the fact that protein is needed for muscle-building processes. According to one source, it was argued that protein plays a fundamental role in hypertrophy, growth, and repair.
A study was also referenced here, where the effect of whey protein on testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and cortisol in men was investigated. Particularly, resistance-trained men in their 20’s were considered for this study, and in the end, the group that consumed soy protein witnessed a decrease in post-workout testosterone levels compared to the whey protein group. In addition, the whey protein group’s cortisol levels dropped compared to the soy protein and carbohydrates-only groups .
5. Giving Intermittent Fasting a Go
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet that involves alternating between periods of consumption and periods of fasting. Some of the most dominating benefits that follow from this eating pattern include positive changes to cell functions and hormones, weight and fat losses, reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and bodily inflammation, improved heart health, a cognitive boost, and increased lifespan among others .
One study that subjected 34 resistance-trained men to either a time-restricted/IF diet or a normal diet found that the results favored the Intermittent fasting group. Specifically, after 8 weeks, fat mass significantly decreased in the IF group compared to the normal diet group, while factors such as fat-free mass, muscle area, and maximal strength were similar between the two .
6. Means of Increasing Good Cholesterol Levels
Good cholesterol, or commonly known as HDL cholesterol, is needed to remove bad fat from the bloodstream. When this process is halted, bad fat ends up in the liver and may lead to heart-related diseases. According to Richard Lee, MD, there is some evidence suggesting that as testosterone levels rise, bad cholesterol levels drop. Normally, when bad cholesterol falls, the good types increase. In considering the latter, the expert did state that:
“Much more research is needed before we can explain the links between testosterone, cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. ”
7. Attaining the Required Hours of Sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough, and in today’s society, so many people are constantly on the move. Several studies have since shown a strong relationship between sleep and testosterone levels. One such example is a study that tested whether testosterone is driven by a circadian-independent sleep effect.
Seven healthy young men were considered for this study and were subjected to three conditions: sleep (between 2300-0700h), night sleep (between 2300-0700h), and day sleep (0700-1500h). This led the researchers to conclude that testosterone levels increased during sleep, while a significant drop was reported when awake. That said, circadian effects were deemed marginal across all groups . Note that the sample size is fairly small; hence more research will be needed to confirm strong statements.
8. Embracing Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats often found in olives-, nuts- and avocado-based oils. As this is being written, the scientific community has shown that the consumption of monounsaturated fats can be beneficial for weight loss, healthy heart function, reducing the risk of cancer and inflammation, and improving insulin sensitivity .
One source highlighted that following diets high in monounsaturated fats can lead to reduced bad cholesterol, which typically implies higher levels of good cholesterol. Moreover, men who ate more monounsaturated fats are said to have increased testosterone levels. At the time of writing, the exact way through which such a relationship holds has not to be identified, but it is a common trend .
9. Drinking Full-Fat Milk for Better Sleep
Earlier, we mentioned that sleep is essential for testosterone boosting. Obviously, reaching the required hours of sleep is not an easy task for all. However, one natural way to induce sleep is by drinking warm full-fat or whole milk. The reason for this has to do with the fact that milk contains tryptophan and melatonin.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that produces serotonin and melatonin hormones, both of which aid in easing anxiety levels and promoting sleep. While many people still stand by this approach, it might not be helpful for everyone. As per one source, there currently isn’t any evidence suggesting that a single glass of milk contains an adequate source of tryptophan to induce sleep. This is sure to be a problem for people dealing with insomnia .
10. Fulfilling Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin D is a vitamin that the body produces when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The supplementation versions are available, which makes sense seeing that certain locations are deprived of sunlight. Having said that, one study that evaluated the effect of vitamin D on testosterone levels in men found a significant improvement. In particular, the vitamin D group found evidence for increased testosterone levels, whereas the placebo group saw no significant changes. At the time, the researchers noted that randomized controlled trials are required to further confirm results .
11. Adding Diindolylmethane-Rich Vegetables
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a natural substance produced when the body breaks down cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and arugula, among others. While research on DIM is quite minimal, it is believed to help balance estrogen levels. As per the reportings of one source, DIM is trusted to prevent an enzyme called aromatase. When prevented, testosterone levels are stopped from becoming estrogen, a hormone that is predominantly found in women’s bodies .
12. Increasing Natural Minerals’ Intake
Two minerals that men might want to consider including in their diets are zinc and magnesium. Starting with zinc, more so of a nutrient than a mineral, is trusted to help strengthen the immune system and boost metabolic function. While the body does create this component, it needs to be supplemented with food sources. On the other hand, we have magnesium, a mineral that oversees numerous enzymic reactions/processes across the body. Without it, individuals are at risk of developing heart diseases, diabetes and may introduce the body to increased levels of inflammation.
What’s interesting about the duo is that they are rarely studied on their own. For instance, one study looked at the combined effects of zinc supplementation and weight training on testosterone levels in sedentary versus active men. Over a span of six weeks, pairing zinc with weight training led to an increase in testosterone levels .
Another example is that of a 2000 study referenced by WebMD. At the time, the researchers looked at the effects of taking a zinc-magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6 (ZMA) supplement on testosterone levels of football players twice a week for 7 weeks. The team reported a significant increase in the players’ testosterone and growth hormone. It was further highlighted that the latter hormones are essential for muscle buildings, which is yet another factor that contributes to increased testosterone levels.
One thing to note when it comes to the ZMA study is that the main researcher has yet to reveal the exact dose ratio of the three minerals. This has prevented many others from verifying whether the reported results can be replicated .
13. Having Sex
This is definitely an interesting suggestion, especially considering the fact that lower testosterone levels typically deflate one’s sexual desire. Nonetheless, a study that was interested in the effect of sexual activity on testosterone levels did find significant results. After collecting salivary testosterone in men watching versus actually participating in sexual activity at a U.S.-based sex club, the researchers indicated that testosterone levels increased by 36%, with a significant hike in men who actually took part in said activity.
14. Means of Reducing Stress Levels
Stress can be harmful to one’s health, as it has the strength to disrupt equilibrium among hormones, increase inflammation and trigger poor immune function, to name the least. Based on existing findings, it is believed that cortisol, our stress hormone, plays a fundamental role in blocking testosterone’s overall influence. The principal researcher, Robert Josephs, professor of psychology at The University of Texas, shared the following:
“It makes good adaptive sense that testosterone’s behavioral influence during an emergency situation gets blocked because engaging in behaviors that are encouraged by testosterone, such as mating, competition, and aggression, during an imminent survival situation can be fatal. ”
15. Don’t Skip on the Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates remain one the most frowned upon macronutrients. The only thing that individuals tend to associate it with is excess fat storage. Sure, when consumed in excess, the remainder will get stored; however, when consumed appropriately and refraining from bad carbohydrates, it is so beneficial. An older study that looked at testosterone concentrations in seven normal men found increased levels after they were given high carbohydrate diets. In addition, cortisol levels supposedly dropped during the high carbohydrate diet as opposed to when men were subjected to a high protein diet .
Another study that explicitly looked at the effect of dietary carbohydrates on the ratio of free testosterone to cortisol with short-term, micro-cycle exercise training concluded that a high diet of carbohydrates is needed to increase the ratio .
16. Reviewing Prescribed Drugs/Medications
The importance of going over the side effects of all prescribed medications cannot be stressed enough, as this could be the small tweak that certain men will have to make. While medications provide a possible solution to whatever health condition one might be facing, they often leave people in a position to compromise something else.
In terms of medications that might directly affect testosterone, some of the most common types include Cimetidine, Spironolactone, and Ketoconazole. The list doesn’t stop there, seeing that antidepressants, opioids, and chemotherapy drugs can also have a negative impact. The next best course of action, if any of these drugs are ingested, is to consult a health practitioner and see whether alternative solutions exist to overcome such a side effect.
17. Adding Fenugreek to Meals
Fenugreek is an annual plant that has been long used for its medicinal properties. In fact, individuals are likely to have seen it in powders, tonics, teas, and certain cuisines. Regarding the effect that ingesting fenugreek has on testosterone levels, one source reported on the findings of an 8-week study in 49 athletic men who were given 500mg daily. The researchers found that testosterone levels increased slightly, with most the improvement in their strength and overall body fat.
A similar study was replicated, but this time with 50 men who were asked to take 500mg of fenugreek combined with protodioscin for 12 weeks. The result was a significant improvement in testosterone levels. Specifically, levels surged in 90% of participants by a whopping 46% .
18. Eating Avocados
Avocados are considered a great way to increase testosterone levels because they contain a rich source of healthy fats, potassium, and vitamins. Speaking of its nutrient-dense nature, this ties in with our suggestion for increasing minerals intake because avocados house vitamin E and zinc. Besides scientific evidence suggesting that they can, in fact, increase testosterone levels, other sources suggest that avocado-rich nutrients are ideal for boosting sexual drive, fertility, and sperm quality .
19. Straying Away from the Sweets
Sugar is normally recommended in moderation, as many of the fruits and vegetables we eat carry natural sources of sugar. It turns out that when it is taken in excess, testosterone levels are likely to drop. Researchers from The Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that 75g of sugar intake causes a 25 percent drop in testosterone levels for up to two hours after ingesting it. To be more precise, the study included randomly selected men between the ages of 19 and 74 who all underwent a 75g glucose tolerance blood test. 57 percent of the men had normal glucose tolerance, while 30 percent had an impaired tolerance, and 13 percent were newly diagnosed diabetics .
20. Eating Macadamia Nuts
For those of you wondering why macadamia nuts might have made the cut. Earlier, we discussed the positive effects that monounsaturated fats could have on testosterone levels. Well, macadamia nuts contain a rich source of said fats and are significantly lower in polyunsaturated fats. The latter is known to reduce testosterone levels, which men would not want .
21. Increasing Ginger Intake
Ginger is a flowering plant whose root is used as a spice and a medicine in Ayurvedic practices. A systematic review that evaluated the relationship between ginger and testosterone concluded that ginger is helpful in the presence of oxidative stress. In the latter case, ginger can overcome it and, as a result, can increase the production of luteinizing hormone, the good cholesterol in the testes, and antioxidant enzymes. At the same time, ginger might go as far as normalizing blood glucose and blood flow, among other desirable benefits. Having said that, this relationship has yet to be studied on human subjects .
22. Achieving Muscle Building Goals
This is a point that we introduced at the beginning of the piece but decided it should be re-emphasized. The idea here is not that muscle-building gives rise to testosterone levels but that the two are often related. The testicles actually produce testosterone, and the reason for encouraging muscle building is because testosterone is what repairs and rebuilds them. Generally speaking, increasing intensity of training allows testicles to stimulate testosterone levels, which are said to boost muscle building.
23. Improving Gut Health
Gut health can be thought of as the heart of the body, seeing that even the slightest thing that goes wrong can create a domino effect. As per one source that looked at the science behind gut health and testosterone levels, it was argued that this was more common among obese men. The reason for this rests in the fact that obesity is linked with increased inflammation, which in turn affects the gut flora. When good bacteria are removed from the gut, intestinal walls are likely to become permeable, allowing bad bacteria to leak into the body. In this case, considering a gut-friendly diet is strongly recommended to prevent inflammation and cyclical patterns in testosterone production .
24. Exercise Part 3: HIIT Training
The next beneficial exercise regime one might want to consider is HIIT (high-intensity interval training) training. This form of training combines alternating periods of low-intensity and high-intensity workouts. One study that investigated whether a 6-week program of low-volume HIIT would improve peak power output (i.e., the greatest output of work over a given timeframe) in men and whether changes to peak power output is associated with hormone perturbations reported significant evidence. Primarily, they found that this carefully timed HIIT program was able to increase both peak power output and free testosterone in the body .
25. Exercise Part 4: Boxing/Martial Arts
Unlike the other types of exercises mentioned in this guide, mixed martial arts do not appear to be linked to increased testosterone levels. The reason for including this sport is to inform everyone that testosterone levels are likely to fluctuate, increasing before a fight and decreasing afterward. One evident cause for such a fluctuation stems from the impact that MMA has on stress levels. Among all the listed sports, this one is trusted to give rise to physical and psychological stresses. Other factors, including confidence and preparedness, could make a difference in cortisol and testosterone levels .
26. Stop Coming Up with Excuses
Okay, fine, this is not so much a “natural method to boosting testosterone,” however, excuses are the number one cause for demotivation, which will prevent individuals from seeking solutions for testosterone production. While it is true that testosterone levels are likely to drop with age, this does not mean that they cannot be recovered; look at all of the suggestions that we were able to gather so far! If everyone, regardless of age, made appropriate lifestyle and dieting choices and sought help from experts in the field, the efforts are highly likely to be rewarded in the long term.
27. Stray Away from Soy Products
Soy-based products should be avoided, as they are believed to cause testosterone levels to drop significantly. Food items such as edamame, tofu, and soy milk contain a rich source of phytoestrogens. This is a problem for men because phytoestrogens are nothing else but plant-based estrogens, and as we may all know by now, estrogen is a female sex hormone. When estrogen is found in the body, it might be strong enough to alter available testosterone. In fact, a study with 35 men who all consumed soy products for 54 days ended up watching their testosterone levels plummet .
28. A Big No to Junk Food
Junk food acts in the same way as sugar; anything in excess can negatively impact testosterone levels. For instance, when a lot of fast food is consumed, it may increase obesity in the long run. With obesity comes inflammation and an overall disruption within the body and its enzymic and hormonal productions.
After some research, we discovered a study conducted by Flinders University and UniSA researchers on this matter. Precisely, the team found that a high fat intake (i.e., unhealthy fats) led to a decrease in serum testosterone levels by approximately 25% within the first hour of consumption. To our surprise, testosterone levels remained low for up to four hours! The one thing to note here is that the study subjects were all obese men; therefore, these results cannot be generalized to all men .
29. Eating Strawberries
Strawberries are usually recommended because of their high vitamin C content, which has been tied to a boost to libido. Moreover, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant against ROS (i.e., reactive oxygen species), and the latter is known to cause damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA . An animal-based model that involved the administration of vitamin C over the course of 52 days found that the vitamin did have a significant effect on increasing testosterone levels and sperm quality in rats .
30. Increasing Coffee Intake to Respected Levels
Coffee is a great way to get energy levels up but were you aware that it can do the same for testosterone levels. One study with the aim of assessing the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on sex hormone levels. By the 4-week mark, among men, caffeinated coffee was found to have increased total testosterone and decreased total and free estradiol . It is important to underline here that these results were based on a small sample size, making it difficult to generalize results.
31. Be Open to Eating Oysters
If you’ve heard of the saying that oysters can get the mood going, it is trusted to hold a lot of truth. In fact, oysters are recognized as aphrodisiacs (i.e., increasing sexual desire, activity, and pleasure) because of their rich source of zinc and vitamin D. Again, these two nutrients have been discussed earlier in this piece. They have both been linked to increasing testosterone levels. That’s not all; this seafood is liked for its omega-3 fatty acids, which also promote positive production .
32. Understanding the Effect of Ashwagandha on Testosterone
An evergreen shrub native to India, Middle East, and certain African regions, ashwagandha’s roots and berries are used for medicinal purposes. Generally speaking, this herb acts as an adaptogen, i.e., helping the body respond better to stress. In a 16-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, ashwagandha extract was given to overweight men aged 40 to 70. In the end, the group subjected to ashwagandha witnessed a 14.7% greater increase in testosterone compared to the group that was given a placebo .
33. Eating Coconut
Coconut carries an abundant source of healthy fats (i.e., MCTs), which might explain why it can help to increase testosterone levels, not to forget its equal sources of electrolytes, vitamins, sugars, proteins, antioxidants, cytokinins, and dietary fiber, among others. An animal-based model that investigated the effect of coconut water on testosterone, among other sex hormones, found that testosterone levels did, in fact, increase .
34. Choosing Dark Chocolate Over All
For those who still want to include some form of sweets and prefer chocolates, dark chocolate is ideal. The arguments made concerning this revolve around dark chocolate’s nutrient-dense profile. Mainly, it contains zinc, magnesium, iron, and manganese, most of which have a positive relationship with testosterone levels. Bear in mind that these benefits are only associated with unprocessed chocolates, not the processed kinds. In other words, the more processed the chocolate bar, the lower the nutrients available .
35. Replacing All Oils with Olive Oil
Another ingredient that should not be taken lightly is olive oil. Like macadamia nuts, olive oil contains a healthy source of monounsaturated fats that can help those looking to increase testosterone levels . As for the type of olive oil that is most beneficial, extra-virgin olive oil is supposedly the way to go because it gives rise to luteinizing hormone, which is known to boost cells within testes responsible for testosterone production .
36. Exercise Part 5: Be Consistent and Precise in Execution
38. Prime Male
The last and final piece of advice that we can give to men struggling to increase testosterone levels is to do everything consistently and precisely. If you plan to go with one of the listed exercise options, be sure to follow it to the smallest of details. This means considering factors including volume (i.e., reps and weight), muscle groups (with emphasis placed on the larger groups), intensity, and many others discussed throughout this guide.
Ultimately, a key takeaway that this guide aims to shed light on is the mere fact that no one suggestion works on its own to trigger testosterone levels. We encourage a mixture of the suggestions for desirable results, as many of them are directly linked to one another. For instance, why not give resistance training a go while also re-adjusting the protein-to-carbohydrates ratio and increasing monounsaturated fats intake? Many of the studies that we reported on considered multiple factors that might work together to stimulate testosterone levels. So, for this reason, we encourage the same!
Another important factor that everyone should reflect upon is physical activity. As seen in the natural methods above, many of the testosterone-boosting processes require intense workouts. Hence, this is not something that can be escaped.
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