David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.
Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally
Testosterone is a vital hormone that has many beneficial effects on the body. For instance, testosterone builds muscle. So, the more testosterone you have, the more muscle you are likely to have, and the easier you will find it to build even more muscle. Testosterone also burns fat, strengthens bones, improves libido, helps protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes, makes you more confident and assertive, gives you more energy, and helps you live longer too.
But, as testosterone levels start to decline after about age 30 (and low levels are becoming increasingly common in younger men these days too), it could be well worth taking some steps to increase yours. So, in this article, I’ll outline the top 12 ways you can increase your testosterone levels naturally.
1. Lose Excess Fat
Fat cells produce an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone to estrogen (female hormones). And having extra estrogen in your system triggers your body to slow its production of testosterone. The less testosterone you make, the more body fat you accumulate, which in turn produces more aromatase. It’s a vicious circle that needs to be halted; so take steps to lose excess fat if you want to optimize your testosterone levels.
2. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, and turnip contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol which can positively affect estrogen metabolism in men, reducing the amount of “bad” estrogen. And this, in turn, helps maintain optimal testosterone levels. So, aim to have at least one or two servings of cruciferous vegetables every day.
3. Eat More Fat
Low-fat diets are synonymous with low testosterone levels. So make sure you eat enough healthy fat if you want to keep your levels high. The type of fat is important though. Both saturated fats (from meat, eggs, and dairy) and monounsaturated fats (from avocados, olive oil, and nuts) have a positive effect on testosterone levels. But limit your consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (as most people get too much of this anyway). And obviously, you should not be eating any trans fat at all.
4. Eat Enough Carbohydrates
Very low carbohydrate diets also decrease testosterone levels, so make sure you eat a reasonable amount of these too. Some of the best sources include oats, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and quinoa.
5. Eat Sufficient Calories
Low-calorie diets reduce testosterone levels too. So, if you are dieting to lose fat, only reduce your calorie intake by a moderate amount. Take diet breaks occasionally as well. That way you’ll be able to maintain your testosterone levels while bringing your body fat down to the level you want.
6. Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting weights increases testosterone production and lifting heavy weights increases it more. The best exercises are those which involve the most muscle tissue, and those that are done explosively. So think exercises like squats, deadlifts, weighted chin-ups/pull-ups, weighted dips, power cleans and weighted box jumps.
The increase in testosterone from training only lasts a few hours, however, so it won’t by itself make much difference to your actual muscle gains, but it is still an important part of the overall picture.
7. Do Sprints
Sprints are also explosive movements that involve a large amount of muscle tissue, so these are also great for increasing testosterone production. Avoid long duration steady state cardio, however, as this will have the opposite effect.
8. Don't Overtrain
While it is important to train hard, and with sufficient volume, it’s equally important that you don’t overdo it if you want to get the best results. So that means don’t train to failure very often, don’t have excessively long workouts and take a few days off from training once in a while. Training too much, or excessively hard, will exhaust the central nervous system and increase cortisol output, and high cortisol levels inhibit testosterone production.
9. Take Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin D
People who work out regularly are often deficient in zinc and magnesium as these vital minerals are lost in sweat. And virtually everyone who lives in a temperate climate (or doesn’t get outdoors much) is deficient in vitamin D. As these nutrients are essential to the production of testosterone, a lack of them can cause your levels to drop significantly.
So, try supplementing with 150–350mg of magnesium (preferably as magnesium aspartate, citrate, lactate or chloride), 20–40mg of zinc (if you don’t sweat a lot stick to the lower end of this range) and 1000–4000 IU of vitamin D3 per day to bring your testosterone back up to an optimal level.
10. Take Natural Testosterone Boosters
Apart from the nutrients mentioned above, there are a few herbs and botanicals that can boost testosterone levels too. Of these, fenugreek is undoubtedly the best, but ashwagandha and tongkat ali may also have a moderate effect. Tribulus, maca, and ginseng, however, will do little or nothing to increase testosterone, but they may confer other worthwhile benefits.
And if you are looking for a testosterone boosting supplement that contains pretty much everything you need to optimize your own natural production, the best one that I have found is Evlution Nutrition EVL Test. This contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals in sufficient (but not excessive) quantities, together with a good amount of fenugreek (standardised seed extract containing at least 60% saponins) and several other worthwhile ingredients.
Take four tablets about half an hour before bedtime, preferably on an empty stomach, and you should notice much improved sleep quality, as well as faster recovery from your workouts and improved performance in the gym. After you've been taking it for 12 weeks, take a four week break before beginning another cycle.
11. Chill Out
Chronic stress causes you to produce high levels of cortisol. And as I mentioned above, excess cortisol reduces testosterone production. Stress has many other negative effects too, so try to adopt a more relaxed approach to life and do activities that help reduce stress such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, playing games or just watching a good film.
12. Get Sufficient Sleep
Lack of sleep also causes testosterone levels to drop, and the drop becomes more pronounced over time. So always aim to get 7–9 hours of sleep per night, and if you do miss out on some sleep, try to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
13. Bonus: Have Sex More Often
Sexual arousal increases testosterone production. So, if you have sex more often (around 3–4 times per week is probably ideal), your levels will be higher.
So, these are the most effective ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally. It’s important to realize, however, that any one of them by itself will not make much difference; but if you incorporate most (or all) of them into your normal routine, you should see a substantial increase within a few short months.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
David (author) from Birmingham, UK on November 14, 2019:
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on November 14, 2019:
Lovely article from articulate Huber.