Increase Testosterone Naturally: 9 Science-Based Fixes
Are you worried your testosterone levels are too low?
You may be dealing with a serious health issue! Poor hormone production has a huge impact on all areas of life. Your main male sex hormone affects many bodily functions. Not just those responsible for your physical condition, but cognitive capabilities and motivation as well.
Common Signs Associated with Lower Testosterone Levels:
- lower motivation and depression
- anxiety and mood swings
- low energy levels and lethargy
- low or no sex drive
- decreased muscle growth
- fat gain and female pattern fat storage
- enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)
- increased risk of prostate cancer
Blood Work: Healthy Reference Ranges for Men
What does it mean to have low testosterone? Here are the normal ranges for healthy men:
*Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a testosterone derivative.
Some people have a naturally high upper limit they can achieve.
Note: Small increases over the reference ranges won’t have a notable impact. You have to be 100x over the norm for any crazy changes to occur. This requires the use of androgenic anabolic steroids. Far from a safe or sustainable approach. Not to mention all the side effects.
Let’s go over the most effective ways to boost testosterone naturally.
#1 Which Superfoods Boost Testosterone?
Hormones that are derived from cholesterol are classified as steroid hormones. Testosterone is one such example. This is why consuming adequate dietary fat is very important .
Saturated fat, in particular, is required for sex hormone production. This type of fat helps raise cholesterol levels. Removing all saturated fat from the diet is a very bad idea.
Fat requirements are actually not very high. Eating more than what’s required for hormone production and general health doesn’t yield extra benefits. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Consume at least 0.25g of fat per 1lb of body weight
- e.g. a 200lbs individual needs at least 50g of fat a day
- Make sure at least ¼ or ⅓ of your fat intake is from saturated fat
- e.g. a 200lbs individual needs at least 15g a day
Fat consumption is not a problem for most people. The western diet is very high in saturated fat. Maybe even too high. No need to worry about getting adequate dietary fat. Just beware of diets that require you to omit all fat from your meals.
There are no superfoods that have unique testosterone boosting qualities. Most fatty foods that contain some saturated fat will do the job. Examples include:
More great food tips in our article “The Perfect Grocery List for Ripped Abs“
Natural Testosterone Boosters
Apart from fat, there are a few other nutrients important for testosterone production.
#2 How Much Vitamin D You Need?
Adequate Vitamin D levels are crucial for optimal bone strength, strong immune system, minimizing depression, proper neuromuscular functioning, and testosterone production. This vitamin can be synthesized by the skin after sun exposure (UVB radiation).
Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the western world. Paradoxically it’s one of the easiest problems to fix. About 30-40 mins of midday sun exposure while wearing a T-shirt should be enough.
However, skin tone and how much of the body is exposed will greatly influence the amount of time needed . People with darker skin require more time. But exposing more skin surface speeds up the process. Lastly, keep in mind UV radiation varies based on how clear the sky is.
When daily sun exposure is not an option, vitamin D supplementation may be needed. Not all forms of vitamin D are bioavailable. Vitamin D2, for example, is not particularly useful. Opt for vitamin D3. This is the most potent commercially available form of the nutrient.
Vitamin D3 recommendations:
- 2,500 – 5,000 UI /day
#3 How Much Zinc You Need?
Zinc is important for proper immune functioning and wound healing. But it’s also involved in protein synthesis and testosterone production. That’s why active individuals, especially those lifting weights, have increased zinc demands.
Zinc recommendations (men):
- sedentary – 15mg/day
- athletes – 20mg/day
You can get plenty of zinc from the diet. Here a few great options
Zinc Content [mg]
|Dark chicken meat||
#4 How Much Magnesium You Need?
Insufficient magnesium intake can result in insulin resistance, depression, bone loss, impaired muscle gains, poor sleep, and low testosterone.
Intensive training can increase magnesium demands . Mostly because it’s needed for muscle growth and recovery . But also some magnesium is lost due to excessive sweating.
Magnesium recommendations (men):
- sedentary – 400mg/day
- athletes – 500mg/day
Most magnesium supplements contain magnesium oxide. That form of the mineral is not bioavailable. Your body can’t use it. Look for magnesium citrate, lactate, gluconate, chloride, or aspartate.
|Magnesium Content [mg]|
|Leafy greens||1 cup||150|
|Beans||½ cup cooked||
½ cup cooked
#5 What’s the Effect of Body Fat on T-Levels?
Body fat plays a huge role in maintaining good amounts of testosterone. Overweight individuals often have less of the male sex hormone. This is mostly because they have higher levels of aromatase.
That’s an enzyme produced by fat tissue. The more fat you carry, the more aromatase you produce. The enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen . The process of converting androgenic (male) hormones into estrogens (female) is called aromatization.
The more fat you gain the less testosterone you have. Having too much estrogen is not great for men either. That can lead to a female-like pattern of body fat distribution. Breast enlargement is also not uncommon. And there’s an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Losing weight can have a great positive effect on your testosterone levels. It may take time to get lean, but every pound lost counts. Obese individuals, in particular, may experience rapid initial results.
- For weight loss tips check out “What's the Fastest Way to Reach 10% Body Fat?“
Being too lean is also not recommended. When your body fat is too low (about 8% and below) testosterone may start tanking. But this usually applies to contest prep (natural) bodybuilders.
#6 Are Exercise and Working Out Overrated?
Your body adapts very well to your lifestyle. If you’re fairly active it makes sense to ramp up testosterone production. But if you lie on the couch all day, you don’t need high levels of the male sex hormone.
Engaging in sports is a good way to optimize testosterone production . Lifting weights is especially demanding. Testosterone is involved in muscle building and making bones stronger. That’s why heavy gym sessions are your best tool for boosting T levels.
As with everything else, doing too much will result in diminishing returns. Don’t overtrain yourself. Get plenty of rest and allow the body to recover properly.
#7 How Bad Is Missing a Few Hours of Sleep?
Sleep is the most effective way for the body to recover and repair itself. Reducing it will make you age faster. That will also affect your physical and cognitive performance. Needless to say, the body’s recovery mechanisms include testosterone production.
Poor sleep has also a negative effect on body composition. But improving it may help with muscle gaining . Check the body fat and training sections to see why this is important.
Sleep Recommendations for Optimal T Levels
Sleep requirements range anywhere from 6 hrs to 9hrs. This is determined by the daily physical and mental demands. Very few people can thrive on 6 hrs of sleep. In that group, we have the elderly or disabled. Mostly due to their low physical activity levels.
The vast majority need an average of 8 hrs. The more you challenge your body and mind, the more sleep is needed. Reducing sleep time even by 2 hrs can be detrimental for recovery. Poor recovery means you’ll produce less testosterone.
#8 What’s the Connection Between Stress and Testosterone?
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, directly antagonizes testosterone. Elevated cortisol leads to low T levels. Both hormones are important for proper functioning. But when cortisol is chronically elevated testosterone starts tanking.
This may happen because of chronic stress. Overtraining, under recovery, and poor sleep all have a negative impact . Poor diet and high body fat percentage can also increase cortisol levels.
Lowering stress is easier said than done. But if you want to maximize your testosterone you need to find time to rest and unwind. Here a few things you can try:
- no work past a certain time of the day (e.g 6 pm)
- dedicate at least 2 hours a day for “fun”
- take one whole day off every 2 weeks
- explore different types of meditation
- take walks in the park or nature once a week
- restrict internet use to specific hours
- have date nights with your significant other once a week
- visit your family once a month (or if possible once a week)
- sleep at least 7.5 hrs every night
- (if overweight) lose weight
- (if sedentary) explore training and sports
#9 Alcohol: Should You Go Cold Turkey?
Alcohol abuse will definitely lower your testosterone . But the dose makes the poison. A couple of occasional drinks won’t affect your T levels. Bigger individuals may be able to handle an extra drink or two.
However, once you start getting tipsy this is when testosterone starts getting affected. The more you drink the worse it gets.
Note that alcohol has an acute (short-term) effect. One night of heavy drinking will likely lower your male sex hormone levels for about a day. But then things go back to normal. However, binge drinking can be problematic.
If you’re prone to heavy drinking your testosterone will be greatly affected. But if you rarely go for more than 1-2 drinks a time, there’s not much to worry about.
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Resources and References
 Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men
 Determination of vitamin D in relation to body mass index and race in a defined population of black and white women.
 Micronutrients (magnesium, zinc, and copper): are mineral supplements needed for athletes?
 The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men
 The importance of oestrogens in males
 Increased physical activity has a greater effect than reduced energy intake on lifestyle modification-induced increases in testosterone
 Reduced fat mass and increased lean mass in response to 1 year of melatonin treatment in postmenopausal women: A randomized placebo-controlled trial.
 Sleep quality but not sleep quantity effects on cortisol responses to acute psychosocial stress
 Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, testosterone, and estradiol levels in middle-aged men and postmenopausal women: a diet-controlled intervention study.