How To Increase Testosterone Naturally: Complete Guide
When you think of testosterone, do you think of manliness? Testosterone is a natural hormone that can be found in both men and women. You probably know that testosterone is partially responsible for muscle building and sex drive. However, it also helps prevent hair loss and keeps your mood stable.
About one-third of men ages 60 and older have low testosterone.
Some symptoms of low testosterone are:
- Low bone mass
- Low muscle mass
- Increased fat mass
- Low energy
- Problems with memory, thinking and analyzing (source)
- Reduced sexual function
- Increased risk of falls and hip fractures
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer's disease
Men with higher testosterone may live longer than those with lower levels of the hormone. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Medicine explained that declining testosterone levels can cause some signs of aging (source). Researchers found that low testosterone in older men was linked to an increased risk of death.
That seems a little frightening, but you don’t have to worry if you’re younger than 60, right? Well, your testosterone begins to decline after you hit 30 (source). You lose about one percent every year. This could make you slowly lose your sex drive and gain extra pounds.
A Men’s Journal article explains that today’s man has less testosterone than men in the past. In fact, testosterone levels in men have dropped more than 20 percent in the past 20 years (source).
The obesity epidemic may be partly to blame. In addition, a 2011 Northwestern University study found that testosterone levels in men drop after they become fathers (source). Environmental toxins may raise estrogen levels in men, therefore reducing testosterone levels.
Does all of this testosterone decline mean that you need testosterone replacement therapy? Not necessarily. The practice is controversial. Are you meant to defy the natural decline that happens with age? When you’re 80, should you be the buffest grandpa on the beach?
- Blood clots
- Sleep apnea
- Male breast enlargement
Men undergoing chemical TRT should avoid contact with women and children for several hours before applying a testosterone gel. The gel could cause hair growth and premature puberty in these individuals .
A responsible doctor might suggest lifestyle changes before recommending TRT. TRT is relatively new, and researchers aren’t sure what all of the long-term side effects and risks may be.
Using natural measures to optimize your testosterone levels can help you feel better as you age. These natural testosterone enhancers aren’t going to turn you into a ripped hunk overnight. However, they will gradually improve your health and wellness as you work them into your lifestyle over the long term.
Diet For Increasing T Levels
What you eat plays a huge role in your testosterone production. Some foods, like flaxseed, licorice, mint, high-PUFA vegetable oils, trans fats, alcohol and soy can lower your testosterone levels (source). We’ll discuss some of these below in the section about what to avoid for optimal testosterone production.
Certain foods can also enhance your testosterone production. The vitamins and minerals in some foods help raise your own testosterone levels. Others balance out your intake of certain macronutrients, like healthy fats, that contribute to healthy amounts of testosterone in the body.
You might want to put down the Gatorade and reach for pomegranate juice during your next workout. Researchers have found that men who drink pomegranate juice have higher testosterone levels (source).
Participants in the study drank pomegranate juice every day for two weeks. Their salivary testosterone levels increased by almost 25 percent.
The polyphenols in pomegranate help lower cortisol, a stress hormone (source). Research has proven that increasing blood cortisol levels will lead to diminished testosterone levels (source). Certain types of exercise can increase cortisol levels and lower testosterone, as can mismanaged stress in daily life. Chugging pomegranate juice can deliver benefits even when you can’t catch a moment to calm down.
You may think of eating veggies as a good habit for boosting your overall wellness. However, did you know that eating cruciferous vegetables can help your reproductive health?
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They contain diindolylmethane, or DIM, a chemical that combats estrogens in the body.
DIM binds to extra estrogen and removes it from the system. Too much estrogen can lead to a low libido, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, bone deterioration, cognitive decline and prostate problems (source). If a man has high estrogen levels and low free testosterone, these issues are exacerbated.
However, too little estrogen can be problematic too. Low estrogen has been linked with cardiovascular disease.
Eating cruciferous vegetables can help your body balance out the ratio of testosterone to estrogen. Instead of adding hormones to your system, you can simply optimize them by eating enough of these types of vegetables.
Foods That Contain Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that is essential for many functions in the body, including the creation of cells, immune immunity and digestion. People with low levels of zinc may also have low testosterone levels. Although scientists are not sure what causes this correlation, they think that the mineral may help keep testosterone-producing testicular cells healthy.
Zinc is naturally available in some foods. Other foods, like many cereals, may be fortified with zinc. It can also be taken as a supplement.
Some foods that are high in zinc are(source):
- Oysters – One oyster contains a whopping 7.3 milligrams of zinc. That’s more than half of the recommended daily value. Some other types of shellfish are also high in zinc. One cup of blue crab contains 5.4 milligrams. Shrimp are not high in zinc.
- Beef – Four ounces of grass-fed ground beef contain 5.2 milligrams of zinc.
- Chicken – Four ounces of chicken thigh meat contains 2.8 milligrams of zinc.
- Beans – One cup of black beans contains 1.9 milligrams of zinc.
- Cashews – One ounce contains 1.6 milligrams of zinc.
Your body uses zinc more efficiently when it comes from an animal source (source). However, eating plenty of grains, legumes and vegetables can help ensure that you get enough in your diet.
Eating more fat can help you boost your testosterone levels. For many decades, health gurus and doctors said that dietary fat leads to heart problems. Researchers are now finding evidence that contradicts that theory.
As your testosterone declines with age, you begin to hold onto fat. Your metabolism slows down, and you may have trouble developing muscle (source).
Eating more monounsaturated and saturated fats can increase your testosterone levels. A 1997 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that men who ate more fat had higher resting testosterone levels. A 2005 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who went from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet lowered their testosterone levels (source).
Does this mean that you should eat fatty junk food, ice cream and cake? The type of fat that can help lower cholesterol is high-quality monounsaturated or saturated fat. This includes:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Egg yolks
- Peanut butter
- Red meat
Aren’t you supposed to avoid cholesterol to benefit your heart health, especially as you get older? Research into the link between cholesterol and heart health is beginning to find that it may be more beneficial than you think (source).
Cholesterol is necessary for cell generation. It also helps produce sex hormones, including testosterone.
The cholesterol that you eat doesn’t usually increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood (source). One of the largest studies of dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease was initiated by Ancel Keys in 1958. This Seven Countries Studies found no link between serum cholesterol levels and the amount of cholesterol or saturated fat that subjects ate (source).
That doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and gorge on fried food, however. Deep fried foods may develop toxic byproducts that harm your health (source).
The Leydig cells in the testes are responsible for making much of a man’s testosterone . They derive what they need from the cholesterol found in the blood to create testosterone.
If you don’t have enough cholesterol floating around in your blood, your Leydig cells will create their own cholesterol (source). This process enables them to create testosterone, but it also suppresses the actions of the Leydig cells. Over time, this will inhibit their ability to produce the hormone.
Although eating cholesterol-rich foods may not increase the amount of cholesterol in your diet, researchers have found that eating certain types of fatty acids can. The lauric acid found in coconut oil can drastically increase your HDL, or good cholesterol (source).
Eating saturated fats instead of carbohydrates has also been found to increase HDL levels in the blood (source). Therefore, the focus may not be so much on eating more eggs but on replacing sugars and carbs in the diets with healthy fats.
Many bodybuilders drink coffee. The caffeine can give you energy, boost metabolism and detoxify the body. Researchers have also found that coffee can increase testosterone levels.
In a 2012 study, healthy men who drank five 6-ounce cups of coffee throughout the day had increased testosterone levels (source). They also exhibited lower estradiol levels.
The estrogen-testosterone relationship is interdependent. Often, men with low testosterone have elevated estrogen and vice versa (source). Therefore, eating estrogen-blocking foods can suppress estrogen production and allow testosterone to flourish.
Some scientists have found that men who eat animal protein have higher levels of testosterone (source). This includes lean meat, fish, eggs and milk. Eating too much soy-based protein could increase your estrogen levels.
Different sources of protein contain different arrangements of amino acids. Animal proteins like milk, eggs and meat are thought of as complete proteins. They contain all of the essential amino acids.
People who don’t get enough protein have lower levels of testosterone than people who do. However, the optimal amount of protein that your body really needs for muscle building is .8 grams per pound of lean body weight (source).
Upping your protein consumption too much could lower your testosterone levels (source). Eating more than 30 percent protein might make it difficult to consume enough fat to support testosterone production. If you’re trying to boost your protein consumption, you might want to balance it out with healthy fats so that you don’t see a decline in your testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting can also help you increase testosterone levels. Intermittent fasting involves avoiding any calories for fewer than 24 hours. Some people choose to fast after an early dinner until mid-morning the next day. Others will fast for 24 hours once or twice a week.
During an intermittent fast, your body can’t draw energy from the sugars and insulin that normally fuel it, especially when you eat plenty of carbohydrates. However, it still needs energy to operate. It begins to burn body fat in order to keep you going.
The more body fat you have, the more your body will convert testosterone into estrogen. Estrogen further lowers testosterone and causes you to hold onto more fat. It’s a vicious cycle.
Lowering body fat can reduce estrogen production and increase testosterone production. A body fat ratio of six to eight percent is ideal for optimal testosterone levels.
Whenever you eat, regardless of the nutrients you take in, your testosterone levels drop (source). One study found that healthy men who temporarily avoid taking in calories can increase testosterone levels by 180 percent (source).
You can get many minerals from foods, but if you’re deficient, you can boost your intake of certain nutrients with supplements.
Zinc is one supplement that has been found to boost testosterone only if you don’t get enough through the diet. If you already get enough zinc in your diet, taking a zinc-containing supplement might not do anything for your testosterone levels (source).
Maca root has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries. It actually comes from the root of a plant that’s part of the broccoli family. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain phytochemicals that block estrogen production.
However, maca has not been found to change the levels of testosterone in the blood (source). Scientists theorize that instead, it may affect the way the body is able to use available testosterone.
What researchers have determined is that maca root supplementation can boost libido and sperm count. While it doesn’t directly increase testosterone levels in the blood, it can lead you to have more sex. We discuss the relationship between sex and testosterone later in this article.
Although maca is technically a food, not a supplement, it doesn’t taste very good. It is traditionally grown in Peru, and it’s difficult to find as a cooking ingredient in the U.S. It is easy to find as a powder or a capsule, however.
If you can’t get enough protein from actual foods, you can supplement with animal protein to boost your testosterone. Whey or egg hydrolysate supplements can help you take in enough testosterone-boosting protein.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body synthesizes when you’re exposed to sunlight (source). However, many people don’t go outside enough to produce sufficient levels of vitamin D. When they do, the sunscreen that they wear can prevent your body from absorbing the UV light that allows it to create the vitamin.
Vitamin D is often thought of as a hormone (source). Although the vitamin itself is not a hormone, it metabolizes into calcitriol, which is a hormone that binds to more than 2,700 sites on the human genome. Researchers are only recently beginning to learn about the comprehensive effects of vitamin D deficiency.
An Austrian study published in 2010 found that men could increase their testosterone levels by supplementing with vitamin D (source). One of the issues uncovered in the study was that perhaps a vitamin D deficiency in western cultures has resulted in the decline of testosterone in the general public.
The researchers also found that the amount of vitamin D included in many multivitamins may not be sufficient for boosting testosterone. It may be more effective to take supplements that contain between 400 and 1,000 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamin A can increase your testosterone levels. Although this vitamin is more often associated with eye health, brain health and immunity, it helps optimize your anabolic hormones.
Vitamin A also helps your body use protein. When the protein that you eat can be properly used by the body, it can help you build muscle more efficiently, which supports healthy testosterone levels.
In one study, adolescent boys with delayed puberty were found to have low vitamin A levels. Supplementation with vitamin A worked similarly to supplementation with testosterone in bringing on signs of puberty (source). Administering vitamin A was just as effective as administering anabolic steroids to promote lean body mass.
Experiments on rodents have found that vitamin A crosses the blood-testis barrier. It is stored in the testes and transformed into usable retinoic acid as needed. Rodents with more vitamin A in the testes secrete more testosterone (source).
Rats that do not get vitamin A experience an increase in estrogen. Eventually, the accessory sex organs deteriorate (source).
The research is not restricted to animal studies. One study that looked at the food consumption of male twins discovered a link between vitamin A consumption and testosterone (source).
Plant-based vitamin A, like the carotenoids found in carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes, are less bioavailable than animal-based vitamin A. They must be eaten with fats to convert to usable vitamin A in the body.
Supplementing regularly with foods that are high in vitamin A or cod liver oil can have similar effects as testosterone therapy. Butter, dairy products and eggs are high in vitamin A. So is animal liver. These foods also contain zinc and healthy fats, which support healthy testosterone.
A diet that’s too high in protein can deplete your vitamin A levels. Getting the proper levels of vitamin A with adequate protein intake will optimize the way the protein is used by the body and will help you achieve optimal testosterone levels.
Too much vitamin A can be toxic. Natural forms of vitamin A can be tolerated at much higher levels than synthetic vitamin A before they become toxic, however (source). Also, people who get enough vitamin D tend to be able to safely consume more vitamin A.
Vitamin E is important for the endocrine system. One study found that vitamin E deficiency doesn’t lower plasma testosterone. However, supplementing with vitamin E can increase plasma testosterone levels (source).
Saw palmetto is a type of palm tree that is common in the southeastern U.S. The berries produced by the tree were historically eaten by Native Americans to treat prostate problems. The berries were also used as a remedy for infertility (source).
Now, you can buy supplements that contain concentrated saw palmetto berries. The Mayo Clinic reports that saw palmetto is a popular alternative therapy for enlarged prostate (source). It has been also used as a treatment for low sperm count and low libido.
The reason saw palmetto works as a treatment for enlarged prostate lies in its ability to stop the breakdown of testosterone. As testosterone deteriorates, it turns into dihydrotestosterone.
This conversion causes enlargement of the prostate. By allowing your body to retain more testosterone, saw palmetto prevents the prostate from growing as rapidly as it might otherwise.
However, some argue that dihydrotestosterone is a more potent version of testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is responsible for the growth of facial hair, the building of muscles and sexual function. In fact, one study found that men who took saw palmetto as a supplement experienced a decrease in libido (source).
However, others say that saw palmetto increases the production of testosterone, it can enhance libido and even promote hair growth.
One study looked at the effects of taking saw palmetto with astaxanthin, a strong marine-based antioxidant (source). The study was conducted by the manufacturer and did not include a control group.
Researchers found that high doses of the medication seemed to stop the conversion of testosterone into estradiol. However, the effects may have been due to the fact that the drug contained zinc, a known aromatase inhibitor (source). Aromatase inhibitors prevent testosterone from being transformed into estradiol.
While it’s true that saw palmetto can help men retain testosterone, it comes at the expense of the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Further research must be conducted to determine the effectiveness of saw palmetto in supporting healthy testosterone levels in men who don’t have an enlarged prostate.
Boron can help the body create more free testosterone and less estrogen (source). After taking 10 milligrams of boron for a week, participants experienced increases in free plasma testosterone and decreases in estrogen (source). However, dihydrotestosterone and cortisol levels were elevated. More studies need to be done for conclusive evidence that taking boron can help boost testosterone.
Testofen is a supplement marketed for increasing testosterone levels. It contains fenugreek extract.
One study found that men who took 600 milligrams of Testofen per day for six weeks experienced increased libido and arousal (source). Participants did not experience side effects, like the sleep interruptions or mood disruption that can be caused by testosterone replacement therapy. Researchers hypothesized that Testofen may help to support healthy testosterone levels.
As you get older, your hormone levels are disrupted. In fact, the decline of testosterone and IGF-1, another anabolic hormone, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and mortality in the elderly (source). Magnesium consumption increases the bioavailability of testosterone.
D-aspartic acid is an amino acid that helps create testosterone. Athletes may use it to temporarily raise testosterone levels. It has also been used to treat infertility (source).
This supplement can help the brain release hormones that support testosterone production. The amino acid can also build up in the testes, leading to a slight increase in testosterone levels.
Studies have found that d-aspartic acid may be most effective at increasing testosterone levels in infertile men. In one study, infertile men who took 2.66 grams of the supplement every day for 90 days experienced a 30 to 60 percent elevation in serum testosterone levels (source).
However, another study that involved men who performed heavy resistance training while taking 3 grams of d-aspartic acid for 28 days found no change in testosterone levels (source). Other studies have had similar results.
If you have problems with infertility, this may be an effective supplement. It has not been reported to cause significant side effects.
The most common side effect is acne. This may be a result of the shift in hormones caused by the supplement. It may also cause chronic headaches.
If you have healthy testosterone levels, it’s unclear whether ginger will elevate them. However, ginger has other beneficial effects on health and sex hormones (source).
Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a molecule that is pervasive in broccoli, kale and cauliflower. Its most significant effects are on the metabolism of estrogen (source).
It is an aromatase inhibitor and therefore prohibits the transformation of testosterone into estrogen. It also turns more powerful types of estrogen into less potent forms. If you take too much DIM at once, however, it can cause a surge in estrogen.
Creatine supplementation can elevate the levels of dihydrotestosterone in the blood. Some people recommend cycling creatine in a loading phase followed by a maintenance phase (source).
During the loading phase, you might take 5 grams of creatine three times a day for a week. After seven days, you could take 5 grams once a day for the next two weeks.
In a 2009 study, participants who supplemented with creatine in this manner experienced a 56 percent increase in dihydrotestosterone initially. Levels remained at 40 percent above baseline during the maintenance stage.
Ashwagandha may be the most well-researched herbal supplement for targeting testosterone. The root and fruit of the ashwagandha plant are used medicinally (source).
It is an adaptogen, an herb that helps the body react to stress. It’s nontoxic, and it benefits the entire body. It has been used for centuries to treat people with libido problems (source).
In one study, participants experienced a 15-percent increase in serum testosterone. They also lost more body fat than participants who took a placebo (source). We’ve already discussed how losing fat and creating more lean muscle can reduce estrogen levels and thereby increase testosterone production.
Taking ashwagandha does not result in serious side effects. In fact, it can lower your stress levels, which can also boost testosterone.
Although you may equate testosterone with lots of energy and fervor, one way to make sure that you produce enough of it is to get enough sleep. Your testosterone levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day.
However, University of Chicago researchers have discovered that the more you sleep, the higher your testosterone levels are in the morning (source). The quality and quantity of sleep tends to worsen as you get older.
Testosterone levels decline as you age too. Therefore, high-quality sleep becomes even more important with every birthday.
How much sleep should you get? It depends on the person.
One study found that if you limit your sleep to only five hours a night, your testosterone could decrease by 15 percent (source). Another study found that people who slept only four hours a night were close to having a testosterone deficiency (source).
Based on these findings, you should probably aim to get more than five hours of sleep per night. Some researchers have found that healthy men who only slept for six hours had 60 percent lower levels of testosterone than men who slept for eight hours (source). This may mean that every extra hour of sleep can deliver 15 percent more testosterone.
A long night in bed doesn’t do you any good if you’re tossing and turning. The quality of sleep is important too.
Some tips for improving your sleep are:
- Keeping the room pitch black – You’d be surprised how much light an LED can produce when you’re trying to sleep. Keep the laptop with the flashing light out of your room, and use blackout curtains if necessary to keep out the light of the moon.
- Turn off your Wi-Fi – One study found that electromagnetic radiation can interrupt your sleep (source).
- Exercise regularly – Getting moderate exercise for 30 to 40 minutes three or four days a week has been found to help people with sleeping problems get better rest (source).
- Turn off the screens – The blue light from electronics weakens your body’s ability to produce melatonin, a natural chemical that regulates your circadian rhythm.
Testosterone Boosting Workouts
Exercise increases your testosterone levels in a number of ways. Lean body mass improves your body’s ability to produce testosterone. You don’t have to lose weight, but it will help if you lose body fat (source).
You can lose fat through diet, but exercise helps too. A 2016 study found that losing weight by exercising is more effective for increasing testosterone than losing weight through diet (source).
Any type of exercise is beneficial. However, using weights can help accelerate muscle growth. In general, more lean muscle equals more testosterone (source).
Testosterone goes up immediately following a weight training session (source). You may notice that you have more energy and desire for sex after you work out. That might be your testosterone at work.
One way to maximize the testosterone-boosting effects of weight training is to train four to five times a week. Attempt to keep your workouts shorter than an hour.
Use weights that are heavy enough to make you max out at a maximum of eight repetitions, and try to keep rest time between sets at a minimum. The more total exercise you do, the longer your testosterone levels will remain elevated after you’re done working out (source).
Forced-repetition training, during which you perform the most repetitions you can with a heavy weight followed by several more assisted repetitions can give you the largest increases (source). This may be a better option for more advanced athletes.
If you can activate more muscles at once, you’ll get a bigger surge in testosterone (source). Therefore, using free weights to perform movements that work large muscle groups can be better for increasing testosterone.
For example, barbell squats may be more effective than leg presses performed on a machine (source). Even though the movements are similar, the free weight exercises result in a more significant hormonal response.
Cardiovascular exercise can get your heart rate and respiration going. This is great for heart and lung health. However, long, intense bouts of cardio can interfere with your ability to gain muscle.
Thirty minutes of walking or moderate jogging four times a week can provide enough cardio to keep you lean and maintain healthy testosterone levels. HIIT training, during which you perform short bouts of high intensity exercise, can provide adequate cardiovascular exercise without overdoing it.
Other Ways To Increase Testosterone
Have More Sex
You might have heard that boxers don’t have sex before a fight in order to enhance feelings of aggression. Abstaining from sex might make them irritable, but it doesn’t help their testosterone levels.
In one study, scientists measured saliva testosterone levels in men at a sex club (source). Any kind of arousal resulted in an increase in testosterone.
However, the men who actually participated in intercourse saw a 72 percent increase in testosterone levels. Those who watched others get kinky experienced an 11 percent increase.
Although the researchers expected older men to have less of a testosterone hike, that wasn’t the case. This finding may suggest that sex can be an ideal way for elderly men to boost their testosterone levels.
This is promising for men who have a voyeuristic streak or take advantage of external sources of arousal when they aren’t involved in a sexual relationship. However, masturbation may not be the answer.
Scientists have found that avoiding masturbation for a week can increase your testosterone levels by 145 percent (source). After seven days, your testosterone levels peak.
Having an orgasm after a period of abstinence doesn’t affect your testosterone levels (source). It’s the abstention from orgasm that causes the testosterone levels to go up.
Stress can be characterized as emotional exhaustion, mental fatigue and physical tiredness. Over the long term, high stress can chronically elevate your cortisol levels (source).
Cortisol helps to regulate your fight or flight hormones. When you’re under stress, it’s most important to send blood to your extremities so that you can either run from the source of stress or combat it.
As cortisol levels rise, testosterone levels diminish (source). Imagine if you were a historic man living in a cave. If a predator were to attack, behaviors connected to testosterone, like the instincts to exert your power or reproduce, would need to be suppressed in order to mobilize yourself.
Cortisol shuts down bodily systems that are not necessary for immediate survival. These include your reproductive and digestive systems. Ideally, as the stressful situation dies down, so do your cortisol levels.
However, our modern society keeps the cortisol somewhat raised in many of us. Your job, your kids and even technology deliver somewhat constant stress. If you don’t have effective ways of managing that stress, you might end up with elevated cortisol all the time.
In an emergency situation, testosterone’s effects are essentially blocked (source). A University of Texas study looked at cortisol and testosterone levels in men who had just competed against each other. After the competition, the men who lost were asked if they wanted to compete again.
All of the participants who lost but had high testosterone compared with cortisol levels wanted to try again. Those with high cortisol and low testosterone decided not to go for a rematch. This suggests that if cortisol is elevated over time, it will chronically suppress the role of testosterone in the body.
Some experts say that stress doesn’t lower testosterone and reducing stress won’t increase it (source). Even if that’s true, managing stress can help with symptoms of low testosterone.
In fact, some symptoms of high stress and low testosterone are similar:
- Lowered libido
- Low energy
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of interest
If you’re stressed, you might exhibit signs of low testosterone even if that’s not usually a problem. However, chronic stress can lead to low testosterone, causing the symptoms to worsen. As you reduce stress, these symptoms typically get better.
Some symptoms of stress, like the accumulation of belly fat, can further exacerbate testosterone problems (source). The situation becomes cyclical.
The more abdominal fat you have, the more estrogen you produce. The more estrogen you produce, the more fat your body retains. You can combat the problem from any angle (source).
Playing a competitive sport can increase your testosterone levels. One study found that men experienced a 30-percent boost in testosterone after playing competitive soccer (source).
Levels stayed high even an hour after the match was over. Offensive players saw a higher surge than those who played defense.
If you don’t like playing competitively, you may be able to intensify your testosterone levels by watching sports. Watching a team that you’re rooting for win a competition can boost testosterone by 28 percent (source).
However, if your team loses, you might see levels drop by the same amount. That explains why your wife leaves the room when you’re watching sports no matter what the outcome.
Things To Avoid
Xenoestrogens, chemicals that disrupt our bodies’ natural hormone levels, are found in skincare products, industrial products, plastics, food dyes, preservatives, building supplies, pesticides and detergents (source). These man-made chemicals mimic the actions of estrogens.
Xenoestrogens can activate more receptors than natural estrogen would. Therefore, they make the effects of estrogen that’s already in your system more profound (source).
We know that estrogen can cause your body to hold onto extra fat, which lowers testosterone levels. Xenoextrogens can become stored in fat cells. This can lead to decreased sex drive, lower sperm count, weight gain and even increased cancer risk.
Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic estrogen. Soy contains phytoestrogens. If you eat soy products in moderation, it probably won’t significantly affect your testosterone. However, if you consume soy protein with every meal, your testosterone levels could decrease.
Alcohol And Drug Use
Alcohol and drugs, even if they’re prescription medications, can lower testosterone levels. Some blood pressure medications can cause sexual dysfunction by reducing testosterone (source). Statins, which are often prescribed for high cholesterol, partially work by lowering testosterone (source).
Have you ever noticed that although alcohol diminishes your inhibitions, it messes with your libido? When you overindulge in alcohol, your testosterone diminishes. At the peak level of intoxication, your testosterone is lowest. It remains depressed even as you sober up (source).
One study did find that testosterone levels in the brain may increase in some individuals. This could explain why some people become overly aggressive when they’re drunk (source). However, this study was conducted on rats, not humans.
Food fuels you. However, there are many foods that don’t provide efficient energy. When you eat, your body secretes insulin to help your body use the food for all of its processes.
However, high insulin levels can lower testosterone (source). Diabetic men have been found to have lower levels of androgenic hormones than healthy men. Testosterone levels appear to be related to blood glucose levels.
In healthy people who eat a balanced diet, the body should react by sending out insulin to metabolize glucose that’s released into the bloodstream (source). If you’re properly sensitive to insulin, your body will pick up the signal and use the glucose for energy.
Your blood sugar levels will diminish quickly. If you eat an imbalanced diet that’s rich in carbohydrates and sugars, your body begins to become resistant to insulin. It doesn’t respond adequately to the insulin signal, and it doesn’t take up the glucose to use as energy.
Therefore, more sugar remains in your bloodstream. Your body responds by continuing to secrete insulin, and your blood insulin levels stay elevated. This can ultimately lead to type 2 diabetes.
This is another “chicken-or-the-egg” scenario. People with insulin resistance have been found to have low testosterone. However, low testosterone can also increase your risk of developing insulin resistance (source).
Increasing your testosterone levels can lower your risk of developing diabetes. However, making lifestyle changes that lower your risk of diabetes can keep your testosterone levels steady.
Testosterone – The Complicated Truth
If you’re a man who is older than 30, you’ve probably perked up when you’ve heard about low testosterone. Supplements and testosterone therapies are marketed on just about every fitness site geared toward men.
The jury is still out on what testosterone levels are really too low. In addition, if reduced testosterone is a natural side effect of aging, should we really mess with it?
Many people have problems with their testosterone levels because of their lifestyle. They don’t manage their stress. They don’t exercise enough. They may eat imbalanced proportions of fats, carbs and proteins. They don’t eat enough vegetables.
Especially if you don’t get proper nutrition through your diet, you may need to supplement nutrients that you’re missing. Supplementation can be helpful to get hormone levels in balance even if you do eat healthfully.
If you suspect that you have low testosterone or you just want to maintain healthy levels, you can shift your focus toward a healthier lifestyle. In this way, you’re more likely to balance out your testosterone without the side effects of chemical testosterone therapy.