Both men and women depend on healthy levels of testosterone to prevent disease, maintain body composition, sexual function, and overall health.
Low testosterone can impact quality of life and cause symptoms such as low libido, fatigue, loss of energy, depression, mood changes, erectile dysfunction, infertility, difficulty with weight loss, decreased muscle mass, lack of motivation, decreased mental clarity, disturbed sleep and even impact bone density and cardiovascular health. So, it is a pretty important hormone!
Testosterone will naturally decrease with age, so it is important to work on maintaining healthy levels throughout adulthood. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to increasing your testosterone. There is no magical potion or supplement that will instantly and naturally increase your testosterone levels despite what some companies or websites might tell you, and there is not one single thing that will boost your testosterone naturally long term.
Increasing testosterone naturally simply comes down to making some long-term changes in your diet and lifestyle. We will dive into the details on things you can start to dial in and other lifestyle factors to evaluate. The good news is that these lifestyle factors will not only affect your testosterone levels, they will greatly impact your overall health and well-being at the same time!
The more diligent you can be in implementing these changes, the better chance you have of bringing your testosterone levels back into a healthy range naturally.
This information should not be taken as a substitute for qualified medical expertise. If you are struggling with severe symptoms you need to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
1) Strength Train and Focus On Compound Movements!
Numerous studies confirm that strength-based exercise can support and even increase testosterone levels.
All types of exercise are beneficial for healthy testosterone, but strength exercises such as lifting weights, bodyweight, or calisthenics, are the most beneficial (source). We recommend primarily focusing on the larger compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press as this will go a long way with building strength, increasing testosterone and boosting growth hormone. It is important not to overdo it though as this will only increase stress hormones and inflammation in the body. So you should follow a strategic, progressive training program with the right volume and load.
Regular exercise can also help you decrease stress and lose body fat, which are two other major contributors to low testosterone levels.
2) Eat a Well Balanced Diet and Increase Omega 3s
Our diet plays a huge role in our testosterone production. Our glands need certain minerals like zinc and magnesium to get testosterone production started and our Leydig cells need cholesterol to make testosterone. Some foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can help boost testosterone levels by removing estrogens in our body that lower our testosterone. Note: we will reference the Leydig cells a few times, this is important because Leydig cells are responsible for testosterone production in the testes.
One of the biggest nutritional changes that is important to make is to increase healthy fat intake.
There’s a reason why old school strong men would drink raw eggs — studies have suggested that higher fat and cholesterol consumption results in an increased level of total testosterone as men eating low-fat diets typically have decreased testosterone levels (source).
Healthy sources of dietary fat are the building blocks to support optimal testosterone production. Ideally you want to consume at least 30% of your overall dietary intake from healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, organic-grass fed meats, coconut butter, nuts, seeds, etc. If you struggle to consume enough Omega 3s, you can supplement with a high quality Omega 3s in the dose of 1,000 mg per day minimum. If testosterone is really low, you can aggressively supplement with up to 3,000 mg a day for a short period of time as having lowered levels of Omega’s have been directly connected to lower testosterone levels.
3) Focus on SLEEP!
We know many people struggle to prioritize their sleep, yet it is very impactful when it comes to testosterone since testosterone is produced when we sleep. Males understand that testosterone follows circadian rhythm, as most men have a higher drive in the morning compared to evening time.
While some may think that they can ‘function’ or ‘feel fine’ on less than 7 hours of sleep, sleep deprivation is detrimental to our health and our hormones. Studies have found that sleeping only five hours per night was linked to a 10-15% reduction in testosterone levels (source).
Another study demonstrated that those who slept only four hours per night had borderline deficient levels. Another concluded that for every additional hour of sleep, testosterone levels rise on average by 15%.
If you struggle to get 7-8 hours in bed, evaluate your schedule and see what you can cut out - that extra Netflix episode, social media scrolling, etc. If you have a hard time falling asleep, try reading, journaling or meditating before bed to get into a more relaxed state. You can also use a natural supplement, such as SLEEP, until your sleep is regulated.
4) Eat A Diet High In Nutrients, Vitamins and Minerals
Adequate amounts of so many vitamins and minerals are vital for optimal testosterone production. First and foremost, we encourage everyone to focus on diversifying your diet to have a wide variety of nutrients. We know that it is easy to get caught in a rut with food or eat the same 10-12 foods over and over again so it may be beneficial to supplement with the minerals that support testosterone production.
At the forefront are Vitamin A, Vitamin D, B-vitamins, Zinc, Vitamin K, Magnesium, and Selenium. However, the 3 most important are Vitamin D, Zinc and Selenium.
Vitamin D is required and essential for healthy cell formation and the production of natural and free testosterone. We recommend getting in 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight 5 days a week for a healthy dose of Vitamin D. If supplementing with Vitamin D, 2000-5000IU per day is a good place to start; however, we do recommend getting your Vitamin D levels checked prior to supplementing.
Zinc is necessary for healthy sperm production, as well as testosterone function (source). However, zinc only appears to improve testosterone and hormonal profiles when a true deficiency exists, so supplementing with zinc won’t help if you already have adequate levels of this mineral.
Selenium is required to form and replace certain antioxidant enzymes that help protect the cells from free radical damage. Selenium is crucial for keeping metabolism up-regulated because it is imperative for healthy thyroid function. Selenium also plays a role in testosterone metabolism, and studies show that it can enhance testosterone production in the Leydig cells (source). You can supplement with 200mcg or get your daily dose by consuming just 2-3 brazil nuts per day as each brazil nut provides68–91 mcg.
Other honorable mentions:
Magnesium: 400mg per day is adequate and we recommend magnesium glycinate as that is the most absorbable form of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies and has been directly linked to lowered testosterone levels as it also plays a role with sex hormone binding globulin. Learn more about the importance of magnesium HERE.
B-vitamins, we recommend a high quality B complex daily, especially for those who do not eat red meat or foods high in B vitamins. You can learn more about the importance of vitamins and all the different B vitamins in our blog HERE.
5) Eat to Balance Blood Sugar and Avoid High Sugar Consumption
High sugar consumption is the root cause of many dysfunction in the body, including low testosterone levels. If you have diabetes, you’re as much as three times as likely to have lower testosterone. Insulin dysregulation as a result of diabetes can negatively impact testosterone function (source). Sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) Consumption of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) should also be minimized. After consuming refined sugar, white blood cells, immune function, and testosterone numbers take a rather significant dip. In relation to testosterone, it is mainly because of the large insulin release.
Regulating insulin and blood sugar is crucial for testosterone production. When you over-consume sugar, which is amazingly easy to do, you spike insulin levels, which drives all the glucose out of your bloodstream. This can result in blood sugar highs and lows, and provoke you to eat more sugar continuing on the blood sugar roller coaster. Learn more about the importance of stabilizing blood sugar HERE.
When blood sugar is unstable and you consume excessive amounts of sugar, this will result in a higher level of body fat. When we carry more body fat, we have more aromatase enzymes, which results in testosterone being converted to estrogen. Additionally, diets high in refined foods, sugar and carbohydrates increases our stress hormones and further inhibits testosterone production.
Sugar is a tough habit to break as it is highly addictive, but removing it, or at least minimizing it, is one of the most important things you can do to support natural testosterone production and your overall health.
6) Manage Stress
Physical, emotional, or mental stress can negatively affect testosterone production. This is because stress disrupts the hypothalamic pituitary gonadal (HPG) axis, or how the male body signals the testicles to produce testosterone. This problem can also be connected to certain environmental factors, including stress, being overweight or obese, and suffering from insulin resistance.
The stress hormone, cortisol, is often elevated when chronically stressed. Elevation in cortisol can reduce testosterone as cortisol and testosterone work in opposition to each other – as one goes up, the other comes down. Elevated cortisol can even make workouts less effective because of its testosterone-dampening effects (source).
Low (or even low-normal) testosterone levels can indicate the presence of more overall stress than the body can handle.
So how can you decrease stress? Studies show that exercise, sleep, meditation, yoga, mindfulness practices, and other methods can generally decrease stress. Also, increasing intimacy, which is another reason why you might want to work on optimizing testosterone levels.
7) Understand What Lowers Testosterone and Work To Minimize Exposure To Testosterone Tankers!
Knowing how to boost your testosterone naturally is helpful, but it’s equally as important to know what factors might cause lower testosterone. One of the primary causes of the decline in testosterone levels has been hypothesized to be due to environmental factors.
Things like BPA, perfluorinated chemicals, and other toxins are endocrine disruptors, which means they can change the way your hormones function, including testosterone. Estrogen, both endogenous (inside the body) and exogenous (outside the body) in excess, can shut down testosterone production at the level of the brain. If you’re overweight, or diabetic, you’re more likely to have high estrogen in relation to testosterone.
Environmental factors include living in cities and breathing city air, consuming manufactured non-organic, GMO foods, lathering our bodies each day in environmental pollutants - toxic skin care and hair care products, breathing in smog and emissions from cars as we drive, eating processed soy products that are void of any nutrients, and surrounding ourselves with xenoestrogenic plastics and other products.The chemicals in BPAs (bisphenol A), which is commonly found in plastic food and drink containers play a role in lowering testosterone. Something to think about next time you go to the grocery store or heat your food in the microwave in plastic!
It is also worth noting that tobacco products, alcohol, and medications such as steroids, alcohol, narcotics, and opioids lead to low testosterone.
Alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Even worse is beer that is loaded with hops, which is highly estrogenic. Even in moderation, alcohol reduces testosterone levels by increasing estrogen conversion and production, and can lead to packing on the pounds. It is understandable that many people like to enjoy a few drinks per week, but if you drink a few every night, don’t be surprised if you have low testosterone levels and stubborn body fat.
In summary, maximizing testosterone naturally comes down to the basics of everyday health and diet. The problem emerges when people don’t exactly know how their health and diet will impact testosterone levels. If you’re stuck and looking for help, consider hiring a health coach or speaking with a functional doctor that can help you determine if your testosterone levels are healthy, and what you can do to boost them.
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