Looking for a natural way to boost your testosterone levels?
Low testosterone levels have an impact in all areas of our lives and has a negative effect on an adult males libido, mood and energy levels.
It can contribute to increased fat mass, erectile dysfunction and muscle wastage. If left untreated, and at its most serious, testosterone deficiency can cause:
- Cognitive impairment
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to boost your testosterone levels naturally and, in this guide, we take a look at the ways you can make changes to your diet, lifestyle and all natural supplements to help boost your T count.
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The first changes you can make are the ones that are wholly under your control and that can have the maximum impact.
Changes made here will not only make dietary changes more effective but will help get you out of a vicious cycle where testosterone is depleted and replaced by the female sex hormone, oestrogen.
Without making the changes listed below, the efficacy of any supplements that you take will be diminished.
Lose that Beer Belly
You don’t have to be a ripped Adonis to boost testosterone levels but you do need to shed those extra pounds to stop your own body from working against you.
Fat contains aromatase, an enzyme that works to convert the hard-earned testosterone that you do produce into oestrogen.
Oestrogen is the main female hormone and the more of this that you have in your body, the less testosterone you will produce; the more oestrogen, the more body fat you will accumulate.
It’s a vicious cycle and one you can’t afford not to break if you want to boost your testosterone levels.
Most men accumulate excess fat around their stomach and scientists have discovered a direct correlation between the girth of your mid-section and testosterone levels. Not only that but men with bulging waistlines are also far more likely to suffer from AD (androgen deficiency); a condition characterised by depression, lethargy, low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
Whether your gut is caused by beer or too many late-night snacks, losing excess fat from your midriff and watching your waistline will play a big role in boosting your testosterone levels naturally.
In the modern world we all have a certain amount of stress to deal with and a little of it does us no harm whatsoever.
In fact, short term stress can help our cognitive development and sharpen our senses. However, too much stress and our bodies become flooded with cortisol; a hormone that primes us for dealing with trauma and pressure. Cortisol lowers testosterone in the body and increases the retention of body fat whilst actively breaking down lean muscle mass.
Dealing with your stress can help increase your testosterone levels. There are lots of ways to manage stressful situations including being active and taking control, accepting help from other people and effective time management.
For more information, the American Heart Association has these four useful techniques on how to deal with stress.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Not only will a good night’s sleep help you to combat stress but poor sleep on its own affects healthy testosterone levels.
In fact, this one is a double-edged sword in that low testosterone causes poor sleep and sleep deprivation causes low testosterone; this can make the cycle a difficult one to break.
We need restful sleep in order to produce and replenish testosterone used during a normal day and, without the requisite amount of undisturbed REM sleep we simply fail to stock up.
Poor sleep is also associated with the production of cortisone. Similar to the effects of cortisol, cortisone reduces the amount of testosterone in our bodies.
Try to set a strict routine for sleep; one that does not include heavy meals before bed or any ‘screen time’. Your bedroom should be cool enough to be comfortable and free of too much noise and light. Give sleep the importance in your life that it deserves; not as a sign of weakness but a crucial part of looking after your body and mind.
Cut Down on Alcohol
You might not want to hear this but alcohol is the enemy of testosterone production. It works in not just one way but four different ways to prevent your T-levels from being normal.
- When ethanol is metabolised in our system it reduces the amount of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide inside the liver and testes. Known as NAD+, this coenzyme is an essential part in the production of testosterone and other androgens.
- If we drink too much alcohol, then this can cause oxidative damage to many parts of the body including cells in the testes leading to a localised reduction of testosterone. In the bigger picture, this kind of damage also contributes to more global destruction of testosterone due to the release of cortisol.
- When we drink, we feel relaxed because our brains produce beta-opioid endorphins. Unfortunately, these same endorphins also have a negative effect on the synthesis of testosterone.
- If you drink excessively high amounts of alcohol, then you boost the amount of aromatase in your system. As in the example above with belly fat, this enzyme actively converts testosterone into the female sex hormone, oestrogen. Too much oestrogen in your system prevents healthy production of testosterone.
If you can’t eliminate alcohol from your lifestyle then cutting down will help, as will switching your favourite tipple.
For instance, the hops in beer is known to have high levels of phytoestrogen (the plant version of oestrogen) and could contribute to man boobs as well as erectile dysfunction.
If there is any truth in the old adage, ‘you are what you eat’, then you will want to find some space in your meal plan for these tips.
Our diets are the primary way that our body finds fuel for everything from repairing damaged muscles, burning fat and producing growth hormones to regulating and controlling our moods, libido and sleep.
It may seem like a cliché but choosing the right foods to include in your diet is like choosing premium grade fuel at the pumps; you’ll notice the difference in your engine power.
Consume Plenty of Zinc
The relationship between zinc and testosterone isn’t fully understood but having a low level of the former will have a correlative effect on the latter.
Eat plenty of foods rich in zinc such as beef, crab, chicken, yoghurt, nuts, oatmeal and oysters.
Bread and cereal that is fortified are also good sources.
Taking supplements can help but because zinc is toxic, caution is recommended on dosage. The recommended daily allowance is 11 milligrams with adults taking 40 milligrams a day being at risk of overdosing. The body cannot store zinc so you will need to ensure that your diet contains a daily dose from a quality source.
Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Our body produces vitamin D via exposure to sunlight but can also be found in fortified foods and supplements as well as fatty fishes, beef liver, egg yolks and cheese.
This fat-soluble vitamin boosts testosterone production in healthy males by an average of 20%.
Quite why and how the role of vitamin D is important in the synthesis of testosterone is a mystery but ensuring you get your recommended daily dose will help.
Avoid Oestrogen Rich Foods
Lowering your intake of food that is rich in the female sex hormone, oestrogen will help restore the balance of your T levels. The top 10 foods to cut out of your diet (or limit) include:
- Dried fruit
- Bran cereals
- Alfafa sprouts
- Soy milk
Get Your Meat On
Following on from the last tip it will come as no surprise that vegetarians often have a deficiency in their testosterone levels.
The absence of meat from a diet not only excludes quality protein vital in the production of male sex hormones but is also rich in oestrogen. Select organic meat where you can that is free from hormone contaminants.
Limit or Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet
The culprit of so many modern medical problems, it won’t be a shock to find sugar on this list.
Sugar levels in our body affects all kinds of hormone imbalances, particularly our sex hormones.
There is a direct relationship between glucose levels and testosterone levels and they do not make good bedfellows.
Men (and women) with high glucose tolerance have been clinically found to have lower testosterone levels. Cutting sugar, in all its forms, out of your diet will not only have a beneficial impact on your hormones but will also help to combat excess body fat which, as we know, can boost oestrogen levels.
If you need any more incentive then consider this: sugar prevents our bodies from feeling full meaning we eat more and it decreases the amount of GH (the growth hormone responsible for our libido, increasing lean muscle mass and burning stored fat) we produce.
Sugar makes us feel more tired, more stressed and more anxious; all-in-all sugar doesn’t really do us any favours at all.
Cabbage is rich in indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that is being studied for its benefits on prostate and breast cancer.
Trials at the Rockefeller University in New York showed that this powerful substance can help reduce oestrogen levels in men.
The reduction of the female sex hormone in a healthy male can help boost the production of testosterone and help reduce the amount of body fat accumulated. Whilst you can take supplements to provide this testosterone boosting chemical the best source is from cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
A daily dose of 500mg was enough to see a 50% reduction in oestrogen levels in just a week during the research.
Supplements for Boosting Testosterone
Taking supplements to boost testosterone levels is thought to be best when undertaken in cycles.
Most of these compounds produce an effect on testosterone production but reach a plateau with no discernible benefits for long-term use.
A key component of the traditional branch of Indian medicine known as Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is known for its homeostatic (or balancing) properties.
A kind of herbal reset, ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng of poison gooseberry. Many parts are cultivated from the plant but it is the root extract which is known to be boost testosterone and improve the motility, quality and concentration of sperm count.
Unusually, the efficacy of the extract has been widely proven in various clinical trials with results indicating that regular use can increase testosterone levels in healthy adult males by as much as 20-50%.
One of the main active components of tribulus terrestris are steroidal saponins; secondary metabolites that are the building blocks for the human body to produce natural steroids. Also known as saraponins, the key ingredient in tribulus terrestris is protodioscin which has actively been shown to boost testosterone.
Research suggests that the boost provided by this supplement reaches a peak after 10-14 days with testosterone levels stabilising after this period.
Working our way through the ginsengs, tongkat ali is known as Malaysian ginseng.
Taken from the root of the eurycoma longifolia plant, tongkat ali has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men whose initial levels were below average. Whilst evidence to suggest that men looking to boost their levels beyond a normal range are mostly anecdotal there is a good deal of support for this supplement as a way to maintain good base levels.
Also known as the velvet bean, mucuna pruriens is a legume native to the tropical climates of Asia and Africa.
The main active ingredient, L-Dopa, acts as a precursor to the important catecholamine, dopamine, which is crucial as a neurotransmitter and for hormones such as LH (luteinizing hormone).
Released in the pituitary gland, LH is known to boost the production of testosterone. If that weren’t good enough news on its own, L-Dopa is also known to reduce the amount of prolactin released in the body; the result of this means more testosterone AND as a last bonus, mucuna pruriens also provides an important boost to FSH levels which, in turn, increase sperm production and testes growth.
A mineral extract taken from mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Hindukush range, shilajit deposits are principally formed of:
- Fulvic acid
- D—benzo-alpha pyrones
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
Studies on men with low testosterone levels have shown that a daily dose of shilajit improved their base levels by up to 23.5%. Research on the benefits for men whose T levels started in a normal range are inconclusive.