Hormones are powerful that if not in the right balance can cause all sorts of issues – depression, low sex drive, poor muscle tone, weak bones… the list is endless.
Testosterone affects so many things that every male should seek for higher testosterone levels. Unfortunately a lot of men have less than ideal levels & do not know what they are missing out on. So what should you do if you are low in testosterone or simply want to boost your levels naturally…
To Increase Your Testosterone Naturally, We have split into 3 sections – The first are your MUST DO -before taking supplements and spending your money. Then its SHOULD DO which if you need more gains then you should do these.Next, the ‘COULD DO’.which can find bit silly but can see some benefits.
Things You MUST DO To Increase Testosterone Naturally:
Research shows that skipping sleep can drastically lower testosterone in healthy guys. After one week of less than ideal sleep duration testosterone levels decreased by 10-15%.
Do not bother spending your hard earned cash on supplements if you are not sleeping a solid 8+ hours in a 24 hour window (i.e. 7+ hours at night, plus an hour nap is one option).
Eat More Fat
Yes you read this correct, eat more fat. If you are still on the low fat wagon you are doing it all wrong, that wagon crashed and burned long ago.
But do not eat just any fat, Polyunsaturated fatty acids for instance can do more harm than good, in order to boost your testosterone naturally you should eat more Saturated fat – yes butter, bacon, egg yolks, beef fat are all sources of saturated fat.
Cholesterol (which is found in saturated fat), is one of the most essential building blocks of testosterone. Cells convert cholesterol to free testosterone. In fact, testosterone cells are made from cholesterol.
The Ideal Breakfast for Improving Your Testosterone Levels….
Research shows that a diet with less than 40% of total energy as fat (and mainly from animal sources – saturated fat) lead to a decrease in T levels (13). 40%. Look at that number again. A lot of common Bodybuilder diets out there recommend 20% fat for your total calories.
If you have been trying to avoid fat (i.e. you are having egg white omelets, you drink low fat milk, you always choose the leanest cuts of meat) you are probably also eating around 20% fat.
And remember, saturated fats work best (along with monounsaturated fats – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to Lower testosterone levels (14 & 15).So eat more fat, but make sure it is the right kind of fat
Lift Heavy Weight
Here we refer to talking heavy, intense weights that you can only perform 2-8 repetitions of. And the more muscle you use the better.
Studies show that the good old squat made the body produce more growth hormone & testosterone than a machine working similar muscles – So think Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Chins, Presses etc.
It should be noted that the best way to lift heavy is to ensure you have adequate recovery between sets.Minimium of 90sec, and 3-5minutes are recommended if you are really pushing yourself. In fact, studies have shown that longer rest peroids (2min+) are better for increasing Testosterone.
Please note that short rests however, have been shown to have a positive effect on growth hormone release. If you do not like waiting 3 minutes between sets, you can do some mobility work, or work another body part (ie, squat heavy, wait 90sec, bench heavy, wait 90sec squat etc).
So go on now, go lift some weights, heavy weights. And remember, those high rep ‘feel the burn’ type sessions don’t count.
Get Some Sun (and/or supplement with Vitamin D)
Vitamin D, which is actually a steroid hormone, not a vitamin, is essential for the development and quality of sperm. Also, Vitamin D increases testosterone levels. Research shows that men who supplemented with Vitamin D had significant increases in testosterone levels after one year.
You should also know that a lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D. In the USA & many other western regions in the world, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The best way to increase your D levels is sun exposure. You only need 20-30 minutes of exposure to a large amount of skin (i.e., take your shirt off and go for a walk during the day).
Obviously if your skin is not conditioned to this exposure use common sense and start slow (it is important to build up a tolerance, start with 10minutes a day and slowly work up to 20-30 minutes)
If sun exposure is not practical (you live in a cold climate, it is winter, or your work restricts your outdoor hours), then consider a safe tanning bed. Or as a last resort supplement with Vitamin D3.
If you are unsure what your Vitamin D levels are…having a 25(OH)D test is recommended.
When you are under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, over training etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone, which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view
Today’s society is a high stress place, chronic stress and adrenal fatigue is commonplace. There is no point trying to increase your testosterone levels if you are burning the candles at both ends, over training, overworked and in a state of frenzy.
The research shows that even should you increase your testosterone levels (which would be tough to do in the setting mentioned) you body is going to block the positive effects anyway.
So work on minimizing stress in your life. Plus, high stress levels are highly correlated with fat gain.
Minimise Radiation & nnEMF Exposure
Have you heard the story about the World War 2 Radar Technicians? The story goes that these soldiers, prior to a night out drinking in town, would spend a few minutes standing in front of the on-base radar tower. Why? Because they knew this would temporarily leave them infertile. Perfect for a young soldier about to go out partying.
The science backs up the soldier’s self discovery, in fact, exposure to radiation (whether it’s from an army radar or the cell phone in your pocket, or the wifi router in your house) has been shown to lower sperm quality, fertility and testosterone. This is true not only for military personnel but all males living in a modern world.
A quick review of the literature uncovers these peer reviewed papers:
This paper concluded: “A correlation exists between mobile phone radiation exposure, DNA-fragmentation level and decreased sperm motility.”
Another study concluded: “Use of cell phones decrease the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability, and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones.”
But this is an article on testosterone not sperm quality, so what does the latest science say in regards to EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency or Field) exposure and testosterone? Well it’s not good. Here a few studies:
This 2016 study concluded – “Workers exposed to high magnetic fields in a power plant had reduced levels of testosterone and this could affect their reproductive function, said researchers.”
Another paper looked at EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation – another name for EMF) exposure and male testosterone levels. The findings are EMR exposure decreased levels of testosterone. A drop significant enough to increase the likelihood of developing testicular and prostate cancers.
And if you are still not convinced about the dangers of the cell phone in your pocket, then we have listed a few more studies for you to look into:
The Rat study concluded:
Prolonged exposure to 50 Hz EMF has an adverse effect on male fertility. In addition, low frequency EMF significantly reduced sperm motility and testosterone levels.
A Hamster (that’s a new one!) study found:
In conclusion, long-term exposure to cellular phones EMF may affect the reproductive hormonal balance and impair endocrine homeostasis and it may cause peripheral effects.
And one final study (97) found that:
Exposure to mobile phone radiation for 60 minutes/day for the total period of 3 months significantly decrease the serum testosterone level in Wistar Albino rats compared to their matched control.
How long are you exposed to non-native Electromagnetic Radiation in your day? It does not take much to lower your testosterone levels. So if you are serious about boosting your testosterone levels naturally, avoid putting your cellphone in your pocket. Turn it onto airplane mode at least.
Bonus MUST DO Tip: Shine Red Light On Your Balls!
Seriously. Red light exposure on testicles has been shown to boost testosterone levels.
Red light therapy can increase steroid hormones such as testosterone by directly stimulating the energy production in organs associated therewith. An example would be testosterone production in the testicles.
Red light can penetrate deeply into the body, thereby increasing energy production in specific organs. When the correct dose of red light therapy is applied to the testicles, it might actually increase testosterone levels up to threefold.
Things You SHOULD DO To Increase Testosterone Naturally:
Minimize Estrogen #1: Avoid Plastic
Estrogen is important in men, but too high of a level has all sorts of negative consequences – ranging from heart attacks to prostate cancer. The balance between testosterone and estrogen (or estradiol) is critical for a man. If the ratio is out and estrogen starts to dominate you run into all sorts of issues – such as breast cell growth, prostate enlargement and of course lower testosterone.
In fact you could say that the balance between estrogen and testosterone is more important than your actual testosterone level. Estrogen competes for the same receptors as testosterone. For these reasons we are going to look at ways to reduce estrogen levels.
We start with plastic. A lot of plastic contains bisphenol A (BPA); BPA is a weak synthetic estrogen. Like many other chemicals used in making plastics, BPA is a hormone disruptor and can block or mimic hormones and how they act in the body (34). If you think you are safe with BPA plastic, think again. Research shows that BPA free plastic has similar estrogen-like effects on the body.
So, Avoid plastic. Simple. However if you have to use plastic, make sure you do not heat it (plastic should not go into a dishwasher or microwave!). And be careful of canned foods, often there is a BPA based resin in the can, so be sure to source BPA free cans.
Minimize Estrogen #2: What Are You Putting On Your Skin?
Along with avoiding plastic, you should also watch what you put on your skin. Your skin is an organ – it absorbs things straight into the blood (that is how the Hormone Replacement gels and cream get into your body) Treat your skin like a second mouth. If you would not eat it you will not put it on your skin. Simple.
Sunscreens are a big one. They often contain chemicals that are estrogenic – which disrupt the endocrine system. Remember, Most of the guys want to minimize estrogen. Chemicals such as octyl-methoxycinnamate are found in most sunscreens. Homosalate – which is a UVB blocker, is also commonly used and linked to hormone disruption.
We know it is important to get some sun for testosterone production, Hence, we simply avoid sunscreen use when outside and if it gets too intense, we will cover up or find shade.
In fact, we require all of them to get outside for 20minutes a day 5 days a week.
Minimize Estrogen #3: Avoid Parabens
This ties in closely with the above point, but we want to focus on parabens in particular. Parabens are widely used preservatives used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. They can be found in toothpastes, tanning products, lubricants, shaving gels, shampoos, and moisturizers amongst other things. Some foods also contain parabens.
Parabens are still under debate in the literature, but there is evidence to show that the body absorbs the stuff and it does not necessarily all get excreted in the urine. It is also well known to disrupt the body’s endocrine system and have estrogen like effects. If you are looking to maximize your Testosterone – throw away parabens.
Stop Doing Steady State Cardio
You know the type, the 40mins at 120bpm heart rate sweat sessions. Or maybe it is the 10km run you a re doing 3 times a week. Sure you will be feeling blissful with all those endorphins, but it is not helping with your testosterone levels.
One study compared testosterone levels of weightlifters, a control group, and road cyclists (all the same age). Of the three, the weightlifters had the highest T levels, while the endurance riders had the lowest. It is well established in the literature that chronic endurance training suppresses testosterone levels in men.
Sprint – Fast
Sprinting has been shown numerous times that it has positive effects on testosterone levels. One 2011 study looked at weightlifters who performed 4x35m sprints twice a week. In contrast to the control group (who continued lifting but did not sprint), it was found that “After the 4-week training program, total testosterone and the total testosterone/cortisol ratio increased significantly in the (sprinters) EXP group”.
Another study had healthy athletes perform 4x 250m sprints with a 3minute rest. The group that performed the sprints had “significant increases in testosterone” (ref 85)
Sprint! Run, Cycle, Jump, Skip, Push – Do it at Maximum Intensity for Short Bursts
Why is this the case? Why do the marathon runners have such lower Test levels than the sprinters? A lot of it is to do with cortisol. We know how cortisol levels have a massive impact on testosterone. Well the downside of long steady state cardio is higher cortisol – you are stressing the body for a long time.
Whereas the sprinters (with adequate rest) are only performing brief (yet very intensive) spikes in cortisol, and allowing the body plenty of time to recover. If you do start undertaking a sprint interval program, be careful not to overdo it.
Start small. 1 or 2 sessions per week is more than enough to reap the rewards. You must ensure you allow the body plenty of time to recover from the intense workout.
Minimize Soy Intake
Soy is everywhere. So many foods contain soy or soy derivatives. Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that have similar affects to estrogen in the body. A lot of people consume soy unaware of its hidden dangers.
There have been numerous animal studies showing soy consumption in early life and its negative affect on testicular size, lower testosterone, and decreased testicular expression of steroid hormone receptors. Though it should be noted that there are some inconsistencies across studies.
There are studies that show Soy consumption in humans leads to lower sperm count, but unfortunately they did not look at testosterone levels in the study. This particular study compared the estrogen production of men drinking soy protein to those drinking whey. After two weeks they found the estradiol levels were equal, however soy drinkers had LOWER Testosterone levels and HIGHER cortisol levels (both bad).
And we have an n=1 study where a 19 year old boy consumed large dose of soy for a year. He lost his libido and had ED problems along with lower Testosterone levels (which returned to normal after a year of ditching the soy intake). Though it needs to be remembered this had a study size of one!
The final two studies looked directly at soy vs testosterone levels. The first looked at introducing consumption of soya flour on testosterone levels. They found that those who ate the Soy flour lowered their T levels during the study. And the second study looked at the consumption of soy protein isolates (powder) in healthy men. They found that testosterone levels decreased upon consumption of soy powder.
In summary it’s important to know that this topic is still hotly debated, and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the data. We do know that soy contains phytoestrogens and does seem to have a lot of affects on the body, including some studies that show decreased Testosterone levels. For that reason (and the fact that it tastes like ass) avoid it, and Its recommend you also avoid it (in particular soy isolates!) if you are seeking higher testosterone.
Consume Plenty Of Zinc
Zinc stops/slows the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and assists in testosterone production. Studies have shown supplementing with zinc increases Testosterone levels, and restricting zinc intake drastically lowers T levels.
Carbs: Minimize insulin spikes. Do not go too low carb & Work in regular re-feeds if on a low carb diet.
Carbs play a big part in determining your Testosterone levels. Let us start with what to avoid. First, research shows that a large serving of sugar (75g of glucose), decreased Testosterone levels by as much as 25%.We know this is a pretty extreme dosage, but you may want to avoid massive servings of sugar! Also, men who have Metabolic syndrome have lower Testosterone levels. Metabolic syndrome is often brought about by chronic high blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance.
High insulin levels over long periods of time (i.e., frequent intakes of sugar throughout the day on an ongoing basis with poor insulin sensitivity) hamper sex hormone synthesis, leading to lower sex hormones as we age. Yes, our hormone levels naturally decrease with age, but the chronic insulin levels likely exacerbate this effect.
When a lot of insulin is present in the blood, sex hormones (which are meant to be transported through the blood by blood proteins called globulin) remain bound, or stuck, to the globulin instead of being dropped off at their target (i.e., brain, adrenal glands and sex organs).
Yes carbs are important for healthy Testosterone levels (more on this soon), but don’t over do it.
Side Bar: Confusing Carbs?
Insulin causes lower Testosterone levels, so go easy on the carbs and eat more protein right? Well you need to be careful with protein consumption – Excess protein without fat can also cause insulin spikes. So go easy on that chicken breast with a side of egg white omelets washed down with a protein shake. From an insulin point of view you may as well drink a can of soda with some aminos acid! So what should you do? Eat more fat.
Now that we know chronic insulin spikes lead to lower Testosterone production, There are a few studies out there showing that long term low carb or ketogenic dieting leads to higher cortisol levels (especially with subjects who are training), and decreased testosterone levels (28 & 29). We have used low carb diets in the past with successful results, however the key is to use cyclical carb re-feeds. If you are going to go on a low carb diet for whatever reason, be sure to work in a large carb reefed once a week.
Finally, if you think finding the right balance between fat and carbs is all to consuming and that you will just eat plenty of protein instead, be careful. Studies have shown that high protein diets can in fact be detrimental to testosterone levels.
So this is an interesting one. We have always been led to believe that alcohol had a massive (negative) impact on testosterone levels. Well after digging through the studies we found that this is not necessarily 100% true.
One study looking at alcohol consumption found that increasing alcohol consumption led to a higher level of free & total testosterone compared to a non-drinking control group. Drinking did however lower SHBG testosterone levels, though this type of testosterone is bound to a protein meaning our bodies cannot use it to build muscle or increase our mood.
The same study showed that drinking did, however, lower semen count and quality. And we want to remind you – this is an article on improving testosterone levels, not general health as there are a lot of studies that show drinking leads to an assortment of health issues. This acute spike in Testosterone could be due to the effect alcohol has on libido, and also the energy influx in the liver..
Binge drinking on the other hand does impact Testosterone levels – especially on a short term basis. Two studies show that large acute quantities of alcohol consumption in a short period led to decreases in Testosterone levels by a whooping 20-23% after 24hours! Note however this is drinking to extreme excess! Likewise, chronic alcohol abuse is known to reduce testosterone more notably, as seen in alcoholics.
Another concern is the higher levels of estrogen associated with alcohol consumption. There are not a lot of studies on this, but this one particular study did show an increase in estrogen levels when looking at drinkers vs non-drinkers.
Also, it is important to note that one side effect from drinking alcohol is zinc depletion. We know low zinc levels can lower Testosterone levels. So if you are drinking, maybe take some zinc or eat some oysters…
Something else to note if you like your beer, this study showed that 2-3 beers per day was shown to lower Testosterone levels by nearly 7% in a 3 week period. However the point here is the fact that they drunk beer. Hops are widely known to contain potent estrogenic substances.
High estrogen levels in men are linked to man boobs and lower Testosterone levels. Also, hops are classified as an anaphradesiacel herb – it lessens sexual desire!
In order to boost your testosterone levels, when it comes to alcohol Its recommended:
- Avoid drinking beer – especially on a regular basis (even if it is only 2 or 3 drinks)
- Do Not binge drink
- Do not stress about having a few drinks now and then as you may get a brief small spike in libido along with a great time! (However, ensure you still get adequate sleep, you don’t make any silly dietary choices, and maybe supplement with some zinc).
Beer – Avoid if you want to maximize your Testosterone Levels
Ditch The Grains
We have touched on carb intake previously, now we want to go into what types of carbs you should and shouldn’t be eating to maximize Testosterone levels. The things you should avoid on a regular basis are:
- Grains in general (wheat, corn, barley, brown rice)
Lets touch on these individually. Gluten has been shown to increase prolactin levels in male mice. Increased prolactin levels in males leads to all sorts of horrible things: Man Boobs, High inflammation, and most importantly, higher prolactin levels have been shown to be testosterone lowering and lead to shrinking of the testicle.
There are also studies which show that higher Prolactin is not always associated with lower Testosterone levels, but we think there is enough evidence for me to avoid gluten for other health reasons alone. If it helps with my Testosterone levels then great.
Unsprouted grains have been shown to increase inflammation in the body. However it should noted that often these studies take place in sick people (coeliac disease, obese, or have gut issues). And some studies show that grain consumption in healthy people does not lead to inflammation. This makes sense.
However we take the following approach – first there are a few studies showing there may be negative sides to eating grains, especially modern wheat. So as someone who wants peak performance we avoid them. If we do eat grains,we will soak, sprout, or ferment them first. This helps reduce anti-nutrients and improve absorption.
So what carbs do I recommend?
- Sweet potato
- White Potato
- White rice (not brown rice)
- Pure glucose powder (non GMO)
- Raw milk
Ensure Adequate Magnesium Intake
A lot of people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium helps with sleep & energy production. Magnesium can help with testosterone production, especially in those who are deficient. There are quite a lot of studies showing magnesium use and greater testosterone levels. And magnesium is relatively inexpensive.
If you are not already taking creatine for its physical or cognitive performance enhancing affects (and you should be!) then you could look at taking it for its Testosterone boosting affects. Studies have shown that 5 grams a day of Creatine monohydrate can boost testosterone and decrease cortisol levels in men.
This supplement is so widely researched (and is well proven to be beneficial in multiple areas) that it cannot be ignored no matter your goal. Plus it is dirt cheap these days.
Aggressive Strength by Mike Mahler (Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster EC-estrogen Control Combo)
There was an experiment made with the Agressive Strength Test booster and Estrogen control herbs over a 12 week peroid. According to the before and after DUTCH Hormone tests, the testosterone increased by 26% after taking these herbs,
Things You COULD DO To Increase Testosterone Naturally:
So if you are intent on maximizing your testosterone levels, and/or you have applied all of the above and you are still not satisfied with your results (which would be surprising) then you could try the below.We should point out that some of these tips may not have the scientific evidence to back them up like the previous points, but It can assure you that either you have or do use them (and have positive results), or a client has used them with pleasing results, or finally it is such a new conception that there is not enough evidence to prove it one way or another.
Stand Up Straight
Researchers found that the simple act ‘expressing power through open, expansive postures’ (i.e. standing up straight and proud) can increase Testosterone and decrease cortisol, along with improving feelings of power and tolerance for risk.
Air Out Your Balls
Studies show that if your testicles become too hot, sperm production and testosterone production all decrease. So avoid wearing tight fitting briefs. Sleep naked. Have cold showers. Remember, there’s a reason your balls are hanging outside your body!
It has been shown that overweight males have lower testosterone levels.
The reason why this is in the ‘Could Do’ section, is because it is still unclear if these people have low testosterone because they are fat, or if they are fat because they have low testosterone.
One thing is clear and that is if you lose body fat, chances are your testosterone will increase. So if you are heavily overweight, before you start worrying about what supplement to take to help your libido, just start working on losing a few kgs.
If you work on a few things we have outlined above (like improving sleep, eating more fat, drinking less, training hard etc.) you will most likely start to improve your body composition anyway.
DAA is an amino acid regulator of testosterone synthesis. A few studies show short term gains in testosterone and others have shown great gains in testosterone levels for infertile men.
If you do take DAA Its recommended to cycling it (i.e. 5 days on, 2 off, over 4 weeks then 4 weeks off). And taking it with an aromatase inhibitor (which ensures the aspartic acid does not get converted to estrogen). Especially as more studies are coming out showing the increase in testosterone is limited to a week or two before it drops back to normal levels.
Its recommended 1-1.5g of Myomin or 2x I-3-C with 3g (1t) of Aspartic Acid daily following a cycle approach.
Forskolin is an extract from the roots of the plant Coleus Foskohlii. Forskolin increases cellular levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which in turn should increase hormone activity (cAMP acts as a messenger between hormones and the body’s cells).
Some studies have shown that 250mg increases testosterone by 33% (ref 71) – however the test subjects were obese men. There have also been a few in-vitro studies that have showed positive results with forskolin increasing Testosterone.
It’s hard to say from the science if this herb actually works, but Its found a bit of a ‘kick’ when we cycle this herb. Like all herbs, Its recommended a cyclic approach to using them. Either 1 day on, 1 off, or 5 days on, 2 off. Its recommended 1 cap of Paradise Herb Forskolii twice a day (morning & night)
Studies have shown this to be effective at increasing Testosterone in animals. Two studies have been done on humans that shown positive results.
One study showed Mucuna Pruriens (MP) increased testosterone in healthy males by 27%. The other studies were on infertile males so it is still too little data to conclude that MP works for healthy men.
MP increases dopamine, which in turn drives down prolactin, this is the theory behind why MP leads to higher testosterone. It should be noted that Mucuna Pruriens contains L-DOPA, which is a dopamine precurosor and is used to treat parkinsons disease.
For this reason we recommend doing your own research on this supplement before taking it. 5g of ground up dried powder is what was used in the studies. we recommend taking 1-2 capsules of the concentrated form from Paradise Herbs. Alternatively, the Aggressive Strength Test Booster also has MP in its formula so you may prefer to use that blend instead.