Testosterone—we all know what it does, but do we really know everything about it? What does testosterone really do when it’s at optimal levels? And what happens when it’s low?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is produced in the testicles or gonads, and plays a significant role in sexuality and reproduction, your ability to get and maintain an erection, gain muscle and lose weight, and energy levels.
It also plays an important part with regulating other vital functions like bone density, motivation, and overall sense of wellness and much more.
Here is the not so good news. Testosterone levels in men start to decline by about 1% per year in their 30’s.
A drop in testosterone levels can seem to some men as a loss of their manhood, but understanding the causes and your options are the first step to ensuring optimum levels of vitality, energy and sex drive.
What are some of the most common questions about testosterone?
- What are considered normal levels of Testosterone? Normal testosterone levels range from about 240 to 950 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) (look for those numbers on your blood test results).
- How do I know if I have low T? Your doctor should be able to tell from the bloodwork results (your numbers of total T will be below the range above). Other signs and symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Low sex drive and libido, less spontaneous erections
- Discomfort around the breasts, or gynecomastia (aka “man boobs”)
- Loss of body or facial hair, and needing to shave less often Infertility due to low sperm count
- Small or shrinking testicles Losing muscle size and strength
- Decreased physical performance
- Gaining weight and body fat Loss of bone density
If you have any of the above symptoms above, it may be time to go to your doctor and do a blood test for checking your testosterone levels. Testosterone measurement is a bit tricky, so ask your doctor to test for both your total testosterone and free testosterone.
So if the hormone is so vital, isn’t there a pill or an injection you could take to increase Testosterone levels?
Yes, but not without potential risks to your health. You can supplement Testosterone using a gel, injections, a patch, pills, or pellets implanted under your skin. Studies have shown that long-term, external supplementation of Testosterone may reduce fertility and your body’s ability to create sperm, and increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Some studies have also shown that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may increase the potential growth of prostate cancer cells. Though another study suggests there isn’t enough significance in the data to conclude causation—still something to consider before injecting the needle (or cream, or pill).
Let’s start with natural, less risky ways to increase testosterone. Here are the 5 best natural ways you can incorporate today to increase testosterone levels in your body.
1. Stay Fit and Exercise
There is so much more to the beer belly than meets the eye, no pun intended. For men specifically, extra fat around the mid-section can have significant health implications—most notably its ability to destroy your testosterone.
Research shows that being overweight can lower testosterone up to 20 percent.
Of course, the obvious comes to mind when you think about losing weight—reduce calories, hit the gym, and eat healthier foods—staying fit does not have to be complicated.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent many lifestyle-related diseases, and it can keep your hormones working like a well-oiled machine.
We’ve talked about how exercise can improve your Human Growth Hormone, but it can also improve your testosterone as well. One study found that people who exercised regularly had higher testosterone levels.
Is there a specific type of exercise that has the most benefits?
Strength training is your best bet for optimal testosterone levels. Resistance training using multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, chin press and bench press recruit more muscles which has also been shown to be important in the release of testosterone.  
We’re also a big fan of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) at Anti-Aging Practice. HIIT has been proven to boost testosterone levels, and also help maintain testosterone levels throughout the day. 
Additionally, HIIT training provides the after-burn affect, which means you’re burning fat up to 48 hours after your exercise. Lower fat equals higher testosterone.
2. Eat Well and Feel the Bump
This is a mantra we live by at Anti-Aging Practice, your diet matters. You can lift weights everyday but if your diet is lacking, you’re not going see an increase in testosterone. Eating specifically with your testosterone levels in mind, it’s best to:
Eat lower Carbs, Avoid Sugar
Diets that are high in fast-acting carbs like those found in sugary snacks and foods with a high glycemic load (white rice or pasta) can spike your blood insulin.
Insulin is the hormone that helps regulate glucose in the body for energy. It is also is the energy storage hormone, and it’s the hormone that will help you grow that spare tire around your waist. As discussed above, higher levels of fat in the body equals lower your testosterone levels.
Eat Fat (quality is crucial here)
It may seem counter-intuitive that eating fat will help your testosterone—doesn’t eating fat make you fat? We’re not talking about eating French fries and pork rinds, which will certainly make you gain weight (but most likely just from the excess calories).
We’re talking about healthy fats like the monounsaturated and saturated fats found in foods like avocados, olive oil, grass-fed beef, butter and ghee that can actually promote the production of testosterone in the body.
In fact, one study showed that low-fat diets actually had a significant negative impact on testosterone levels.
Eat Testosterone Promoting Foods
Just like consuming healthy fats promote higher testosterone, there are also foods that men can eat that help promote the production of testosterone or block estrogen. Some of these foods include:
- Egg yolks for testosterone boosting micronutrient vitamin D3
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, for example, release a compound called indole-3 carbinole, which helps block estrogen and increase free testosterone in the bloodstream.
- Spinach—it’s not just for Popeye. Spinach is a powerhouse for building muscle and boosting free and total testosterone in the blood. Specifically, spinach is high in magnesium, which works wonders for muscle development and boosting testosterone.
Intermittent fasting has many benefits for your testosterone. Research has shown that fasting increases the luteinizing hormone (a precursor hormone to testosterone) by 67%. So not only can Intermittent Fasting benefit you overall, it has more indirect benefits on your testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting will also help you shed more fat, and lowering your body fat is essential to boosting your testosterone. It’s a win-win.
3. Sleep Well
Sleep, oh glorious sleep, is important for all aspects of slowing down the aging process, and it is also a significant factor for optimum levels of Testosterone. The majority of replenishment for Testosterone comes when you’re asleep. You need lots of sleep, and quality is as important as quality.
With regards to testosterone levels, all the magic happens in deep REM sleep. In fact, a 2011 study concluded that poor sleep closely correlated with gradual lowering of testosterone.
Another study from 2018 showed that insufficient sleep is corelated with lower testosterone in adult males.
4. Reduce Alcohol
While a nice cold beer can be one of those favorite indulgences, if you’re experiencing low-T, it may be one of the easiest changes you can make to help increase your testosterone.
Alcohol consumption in excess has an impact on several functions in the body, including your liver function and quality of sleep.
While your liver helps filter your blood from the alcohol you’ve consumed, it’s not helping in the production of testosterone. It’s best to keep the liver unoccupied by cleansing out excess alcohol.
Additionally, drinking alcohol leads to a poor quality of sleep. And you may wonder how that’s possible, when it is relatively easy to pass out after drinking a lot.
Technically, you enter into the deepest sleep (delta), but you also increase your alpha cycle. What you don’t get is REM sleep, which is not only the most restful state of sleep, but it’s also the most restorative for the body.
5. Get some Sun, also on your Gonads
Due to warnings about dangers from sun exposure and from living in colder climates, a significant portion of the Western world does not get enough sun exposure which results in lower levels of Vitamin D produced in the body.
In one study, when participants spent more time in the sun, their levels of vitamin D increased and so did their levels of testosterone .
A study demonstrated that men’s testosterone increased when they exposed their testicles to the sun . Sunlight production in the testes can boost production of Leydig cells (which produce testosterone) by an average of 200%. 
6. Try Supplements
- Vitamin D3: If you are unable to get some sunlight on your skin daily, then you may consider a vitamin D supplement. Doctors recommend taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. You can get that from food rich in vitamin D such as fish, shrimp, oysters, and eggs and a vitamin D supplement.
- Zinc is involved in most aspects of male reproduction, and it plays a part in testosterone metabolism. Zinc deficiency has been correlated to hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone.
Zinc is a vitally important mineral in our diets, yet is commonly deficient around the world, even in the US where zinc-filled foods like meat, shellfish, nuts, dairy, and eggs are a big part of the U.S. diet.
Though the exact reason for this is unknown, studies have shown a direct correlation in the increase of zinc and an increase in testosterone in normal men.
So if you’re not sure you’re getting enough zinc in your diet, consider a supplement.
Note: If you’re not deficient in zinc, a supplement may not be necessary, and may not provide you any additional benefits to your T-levels. One study found that a zinc supplement didn’t raise testosterone levels in men who consumed enough zinc in their diet. So again, a balanced diet is ideal.
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has often been touted as a natural alternative to the potentially harmful testosterone replacement therapies. DHEA is a hormone plays a role in boosting testosterone and managing estrogen levels.
Studies are still inconclusive on whether DHEA boosts testosterone, though the research is promising. One study showed that in middle-aged and young men, a supplementation of DHEA following HIIT training boosted levels of free testosterone above baseline within a 24-hour time period.
Several studies have found DHEA as an effective supplement for increasing levels of testosterone, while several other studies have found mixed results. 100 mg of DHEA seems to be a safe daily dose.
Caution: While signs point to the positive benefits of DHEA and many in the fitness industry swear by it, DHEA supplementation is not without its risks—DHEA supplementation has also shown to have side effects such as oily skin and acne, hair loss, stomach upset, high blood pressure, and unfavorable changes in cholesterol. Is it worth the risk? That’s a question for you to decide.
Note: You may also like our newest article on how to boost male sexual performance, treat ED and peyronie’s without pills or injections – from the comfort of your home.
When you get into the science of testosterone, it can seem pretty overwhelming. Hopefully you can try out these ways listed above to boost your testosterone levels naturally at first. If you try everything and your symptoms don’t change, perhaps it is time to seek medical assistance in the form of testosterone treatment.
However, you would be surprised what living a health lifestyle can do for your overall wellness when you put your mind to it. There are so many ways to naturally keep your body in harmony, so hopefully these tactics are helpful.
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