What is testosterone and what benefits does this hormone offer?
If your testosterone levels are low then you will struggle to build muscle, and will likely be susceptible to fat gain. Is there a solution?
There are many different ways to boost your testosterone levels naturally including the use of supplements, like those we've compared in our best testosterone boosters article, as well as diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.
To boost your natural testosterone levels I would recommend that you continue reading.
- 1 What is Testosterone?
- 2 What are Hormones?
- 3 Symptoms of Low Testosterone
- 4 Why do Testosterone levels fall?
- 5 What are Normal Testosterone Levels?
- 6 Benefits of Normal Testosterone Levels
- 7 Boosting Testosterone Through Diet
- 8 Exercise Tips to Boost Testosterone
- 9 Lifestyle Changes for Low Testosterone
- 10 Our Final Testosterone Boosting Tip
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a male sex hormone, produced in the testicles and ovaries.
While both sexes produces this hormone, men will tend to have higher testosterone levels than women.
Typically the higher the testosterone levels present in the body, the more “masculine” you will look, sound and function.
Testosterone levels can affect:
- Muscle and bone strength
- Production of red blood cells
- Sex drive
- Production of sperm
- Energy levels and mood
What are Hormones?
Hormones are a chemical that control your bodies cells and organs.
They are crucial for every bodily function, which include:
A simple way to think of how molecules work is to call them “messenger molecules”, which are sent around your body giving your cells and organs instructions on what to do.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
If your testosterone levels are not as high as they should be you may encounter the following issues:
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sperm count
- Sleep problems
- Loss of muscle and strength
- Fat gain
- Brain fog
Why do Testosterone levels fall?
Testosterone levels will hit their peak typically as we hit puberty, unfortunately once we reach the age of 30 our testosterone levels will start to fall.
Research has found that every year your testosterone levels will drop by 1%, but why?
Lets look at some of the potential reasons why testosterone falls after 30.
1. Environmental Pollutants
There are loads of pollutants in the environment that can affect your testosterone levels including heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine, pesticides, dioxins and other dangerous chemicals.
These can all cause havoc in your endocrine system (where testosterone is produced), and are almost impossible to avoid.
2. Our Diets
Nowadays our diet is full of junk food that contains high amounts of sugars and chemicals that can negatively affect your endocrine system.
3. A Lack of Nutrients
Our rubbish diets have lead to us becoming nutrient deficient.
If you are lacking in certain vitamins and nutrients you will struggle to produce testosterone adequately.
Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc are all required. With vitamin D deficiencies caused by spending more time indoors out of the sunlight.
What are Normal Testosterone Levels?
Before we can talk about normal testosterone levels you need to understand that you could potentially still suffer from the issues associated with low testosterone even if your levels are normal.
This is because not all testosterone present in your body is available for use.
Most of the testosterone you produce will become bound to two proteins (albumin and globulin), and once bound they will not be of much benefit to you.
There is a blood test available that can help find out what your normal and free testosterone levels are. The normal range of testosterone in men is as follows (A nanogram is a billionth of a gram, and a decilitre is one-tenth of a litre):
- 270 to 1,070 ng/dL total testosterone, with an average of about 679 ng/dL
- 9 to 30 ng/dL free testosterone (2 to 3% of total testosterone levels is normal)
And in women:
- 15 to 70 ng/dL total testosterone
- 1 to 5 picograms/dL free testosterone (again, 2 to 3% of total T is normal)
As you can see there is a wide range in averages, but there is also one other factor you need to understand before you conclude that you are suffering from low testosterone levels, and that is your age.
For men under 40, 400 ng/dL or under will likely suffer from the effects of low testosterone, while those between the ages of 40-90 may not encounter any issue unless their testosterone falls below 300 ng/dL.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2017 also looked at normal testosterone levels in more detail.
Benefits of Normal Testosterone Levels
You are on this website probably for one of two reasons, possible both, to build muscle and burn fat. And testosterone can help you achieve both of these goals.
In a study undertaken at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, subjects who were given testosterone injections gained significant amounts of muscle while losing fat, without exercise.
Staggeringly, when comparing two of the groups, one group of men were injected 600 ng/dL with the other injected 300 ng/dL, there was a 36% difference in fat percentages.
Those injected with the higher dose had the lower percentage of body fat.
Another study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology has proven that normal testosterone levels can increase muscle mass by increasing protein synthesis.
Boosting Testosterone Through Diet
To boost your testosterone levels naturally the first thing you need to look at is your diet.
1. Add Some Saturated Fats
You have probably heard time and time again how saturated fat is bad for your health, in particular your heart health, which is true.
But, saturated fat has some benefit. For example it is needed for testosterone formation.
As long as you keep your saturated fat intake between 15-25% of your daily fat intake, and your overall fat intake less than 30% of your overall calorie intake the you should not encounter any issues.
2. Avoid Low Fat Diets
Fat is not bad for you and should be consumed regularly.
While trans fats are best avoided, good fats, like those found in avocado’s, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and oils are recommended for testosterone production.
3. Cut Back on Sugar
Junk food full of sugar is going to cause an almost immediate drop in your testosterone levels so cut them out.
4. Avoid Soy
Soy has been shown to promote the production of oestrogen. If you want your testosterone levels to soar it is best to avoid soy when choosing your protein powder.
5. Cut Back on Alcohol
Beer is made from hops, which can form oestrogen that can suppress testosterone production.
Many beers are also full of excessive calories, which wont help you to become leaner and ripped.
6. Add Nuts to Your Diet
Certain nuts (those with shells), such as almonds, hazelnuts and pecans are great for boosting natural testosterone levels so should be added to your diet.
They are full of healthy fats that can help improve blood flow to your muscle tissue, which allows you to workout much harder, and therefore increasing testosterone production.
Nut butter is also a good option, but opt for natural nut butter as it contains less sugar.
7. Eat Some Steak
Has it been suggested to you that steak is bad for your health? Well, you have been misinformed as lean cuts are great for muscle building.
When choosing your steak opt for grass fed rather than the grain fed variety, as this is a much healthier option.
The grass fed variety contains CLA, omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 and carnitine that can all help boost natural testosterone levels.
To boost your testosterone even further sauté some onions alongside your steak.
8. Eat Some Oysters
Oysters are full of zinc, which is an important nutrient needed for testosterone production.
If you workout often then you are losing zinc through sweat, so it is important that you consume foods that contain this nutrient.
Other zinc-rich foods include:
- Whole grains
9. Season Food With Garlic
A healthy way to season your food would be through the use of fresh garlic.
It can help improve heart health and can boost testosterone levels too.
For best results let the garlic ‘sit’ for a few minutes after peeling and chopping.
10. Eat More Oranges
Another important nutrient required for testosterone production is vitamin C, which can be found in abundance in oranges.
Vitamin C is also important for a stronger immune system too.
11. Swap Coffee for Herbal Tea
Too much coffee in your diet can cause an over-production of cortisol, which we have discussed a few times already.
Herbal tea is a good option as it can aid your sleep, unlike coffee that can hinder your sleep.
12. Snack on Celery with Peanut Butter
We have talked about the benefits of peanut butter, but celery has its testosterone boosting benefits too.
Celery contains 2 powerful androgens, androstenone and androstenol that can naturally elevate your testosterone levels.
13. Eat Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that offers various benefits including:
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Combat depression
- Improved memory
- Improved heart health
- Lower blood pressure
These fatty acids can also increase natural testosterone levels in men as it can cause an increase in the production of luteinising hormone.
14. Add Fresh Berries to your Cereal
Berries contain compounds that can reduce the amount of oestrogen your body produces.
Reducing oestrogen can help increase testosterone production.
15. Don’t Eat Too Much Canned Tuna
We have discussed the benefits of salmon, but tuna is best avoided if you want to boost testosterone.
This is because tuna contains high doses of mercury that can reduce your overall testosterone levels.
16. Watch How Much Fibre You Consume
Often people are told to increase their fibre intake when attempting to lose weight.
This is because an increase in fibre can help to regulate blood sugar and combat diabetes.
The problem is that too much fibre in your diet can reduce your overall testosterone levels. It is recommended that you stick to around 30 grams of fibre daily to be safe.
17. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats, which are found in deep fried, processed and frozen foods should be avoided if you are looking to boost your testosterone levels.
To check that it is present you should take a little time reading the packaging. Avoid those foods that list ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’.
18. Cut Back on the Number of Meals
How many meals are you eating each day? If it is more than 3 square meals daily then you should try to cut back.
It has been shown that if you eat too often then your testosterone levels can be affected.
19. Choose Organic
The chemicals found in foods can reduce testosterone levels, so whenever possible opt for organic produce.
Organic foods can also reduce your risk of developing cancer too.
20. Drizzle Olive Oil on Salad
Instead of choosing a salad dressing full of chemicals, opt for olive oil instead.
It can help your body to absorb cholesterol, which can aid in the production of testosterone.
21. Treat Yourself to Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains various antioxidants and biochemical compounds that help to boost your testosterone, while also providing numerous vitamins and minerals to your body.
You should choose to consume the chocolate in its raw form, and should choose the variety with the highest possible percentage of cocoa.
22. Add Quality Salt to Your Diet
It was once thought that all salt was bad as it could increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, there are such a thing a healthy salts, such as sea slats and himalayan crystal that are beneficial instead. These salts are unprocessed so are the most natural.
23. Eat a Grapefruit
Grapefruits and other citrus fruits can help to reduce overall oestrogen levels.
24. Watch Your Intake of Milk
Milk contains various vitamins and nutrients that are good for testosterone production, however any benefit you can gain from these is lost when you realise that milk contains other less valuable hormones too.
For example, full fat milk contains oestrogen and progesterone that can suppress GnRH secretion in the brain, resulting in lower testosterone secretion.
25. Eat These Testosterone Boosting Foods
We have mentioned a few different foods in the article already, but here is a more thorough list of foods you should eat to boost testosterone production:
|Fats & Oils||Meat & Protein||Fruits & Vegetables||Nuts & Snacks||Spices & Other|
|Extra virgin olive oil||Steak||Potatoes||Macadamia nuts||Parsley|
|Virgin argan oil||Beef gelatine||Avocados||Brazil nuts||Ginger|
|Grass-fed butter||Eggs||Pomegranates||Raisins||Real salt|
|Extra virgin coconut oil||Grass-fed beef jerky||Onions||Raw cacao nibs||White button mushrooms|
|Avocado oil||Minced meat||Garlic||Dark berries||Baking soda|
26. Don’t Eat The Following Foods
The following foods have been shown to reduce testosterone:
- Flaxseed products
- High-PUFA Vegetable Oils
- Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint…
- Soy Products
- Green tea
- High-PUFA nuts
27. Drink Plenty of Water
Are you drinking enough water? If your urine is not clear then chances are you need to up your intake.
Dehydration can increase cortisol production and hinder the production of hormones such as testosterone.
Exercise Tips to Boost Testosterone
Exercise can also help boost low testosterone.
1. Start Lifting Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy weights can increase the amount of hormones produced by your body, including testosterone.
It makes sense that when weight training that you try to incorporate as many different muscles into each exercise, not only to make the most of your time, but also to help increase the amount of testosterone produced.
Focus on compound exercises such as:
- Bench press
2. Shorter Workouts
How long do you tend to spend at the gym? If it is longer than 45 minutes then chances are you are not working out as intensely as you should.
Workouts longer than 45 minutes long have been shown to cause an increase in cortisol, which we have discussed already.
Shorter but more intense workouts are better for testosterone production.
3. Avoid Overtraining
Believe it or not but overtraining is not a myth, so if you are not taking one day off a week from training you should start now.
Of course training is necessary for muscular growth, but during your rest periods is when the muscle really grows.
Training without rest will again mess with your hormones, including your testosterone levels, which will affect your overall gains.
4. Workout with a Friend
If you workout alone then you may not be able to push yourself as hard as you possible could.
Not only can a workout buddy help encourage you work that little bit harder, but they can also “spot you”, allowing you to reach new PR’s.
Lifestyle Changes for Low Testosterone
Simple, everyday changes can have a big impact on your testosterone levels.
1. Reduce Stress
These days our lives are more stressful than ever, with work and family commitments it can be hard to find time to relax.
However, if you want to experience the benefits of testosterone then you need to take steps to reduce your stress.
Stress can cause your body to produce more cortisol, which is a stress hormone that will replace testosterone in your body.
Less stress = More gains
One method you could use to reduce stress would be meditation, but there are plenty of other options available too.
2. Lose Belly Fat
One possible reason for belly fat is that your body is producing too much oestrogen, a female hormone.
There are oestrogen blockers available that can help.
Losing belly fat can be achieved by lowering your overall calorie intake, and eating a moderate fat, moderate carb and high protein diet, coupled with regular intense exercise.
3. Get Some Sleep
Your sleep patterns dictate your overall health, as this is when your body repairs itself.
If you aim to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night you will find that your testosterone levels will be higher than those who only get 5 or 6.
4. Quit Smoking
With all the research around about the dangers of smoking it surprises me when I see people light up.
But Cancer is just one issue. Smoking can also impact your natural testosterone levels.
If you want to quit, which you should, there are patches, or gum you could try. Hypnosis is another method that has shown promising results too.
5. Check Your Thyroid
As you get older it is worth checking to see if your thyroid is working as it should.
If you are suffering from hypothyroidism your thyroid will not be producing enough hormones to keep your body and metabolism working as it should, which could have a negative impact on testosterone production.
Your doctor can test that your thyroid is working properly, and can then prescribe medication if it is not.
6. Get Some Sunshine
Chances are that if you have an office job that keeps you indoors most of the week that you are not getting enough sunshine.
This can leave you deficient in vitamin D, which is used by the body to promote stronger bones and to produce testosterone.
One option is to try and get a little more sunshine, or you could take a supplement.
7. Take a ZMA supplement
ZMA stands for zinc, magnesium and vitamin b6, which can help aid your sleep patterns, as well as increasing testosterone production.
8. Have Regular Sex
Men who have regular sex have been found to have more free testosterone than those who do not.
9. Supplement with Resveratrol
Resveratrol is found naturally in grapes, but you are unlikely to see much benefit from eating this fruit as you need to consume large quantities.
This is why using a resveratrol supplement is a better option.
10. Don’t Be a Vegetarian
Many vegetarian diets are full of soy and fibre, which are not good for testosterone production.
To maintain optimal testosterone production meat is needed.
11. Avoid Plastic Containers
Plastic containers often contain phthalates that have been shown to increase oestrogen levels in the body, opt for glass containers instead.
12. Know the Side Effects of Prescription Drugs
There are certain prescription drugs that can reduce testosterone production as a side effect, here are some of them:
- Corticosteroids and opiate-based painkillers.
- Some beta-blockers and tranquillisers
- A type-2 diabetes drug called Sylfonylurea
- A blood pressure drug called Spironolactone
- Acid reducers such as; Tagamet and Cidemetidine etc
- Hair-loss drugs such as Finasteride and Dutasteride
- Statins and other drugs that interfere with cholesterol synthesis
- Some anti-fungal drugs, such as the commonly used Ketoconazole
- Many SSRIs (anti-depressants)
13. Look at Your Posture
In a study undertaken at Harvard University it was shown that testosterone production increases when subjects were asked to perform ‘high-power poses’.
These poses included taking up more space, standing tall and hands on hips.
14. Look After Your Testicles
Most of your bodies testosterone is produced by your testicles so it makes sense that you should look after them.
One thing you must do is to try and keep your testicles cooler than the rest of your body. There is a reason why they hang outside of your body after-all.
I would suggest sleeping naked, wearing loose underwear and taking frequent cold showers too as these can all improve testosterone production.
15. Supplement with Forskolin
Forskolin is well-known for increasing cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) levels within the body.
cAMP is a messenger that transports biological signals between cells and hormones. So increasing it can lead to an increase in testosterone.
16. Use Creatine
Studies have shown that athletes who have supplemented with creatine had higher testosterone levels than those who had not.
Creatine can increase cellular ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels, which can help increase the supply of energy to your cells. In essence allowing you to perform better.
17. Take a Probiotic
Gut health is linked to testosterone production so it makes sense to take a probiotic to increase the amount of good bacteria present in your gut.
Our Final Testosterone Boosting Tip
Of course there are hundreds of supplements that claim to help boost testosterone levels, many work as claimed but there are others that are best avoided.
Luckily for you we have done the hard part and compared some of the best testosterone boosters currently available.