Testosterone is a hormone that is vital to a man’s health and his sex life. It plays a role in everything from supporting sex drive, strengthening your bones, and distributing fat and muscles to producing sperm and red blood cells.
Testosterone levels are usually at their peak during early adulthood and decline as you age, consequences. Lower testosterone levels can result in weight gain, low libido, and infertility, just to name a few.
In this article, you will discover
- What testosterone is and why it’s important
- 8 killer symptoms of low testosterone levels
- 10 ways to naturall boost testostoerone
- 5 testosterone-boosting foods
- And 6 supplements that could help you increase your t levels
What is Testosterone and What Are Its Functions?
Testosterone, also known as the male sex hormone, is produced naturally in the body. While it’s present in both males and females, women’s amount is less than us guys. Though testosterone is mostly concerned with sexual drive, it also affects bone health, fat storage, and red blood cells production. Your testosterone levels increase during the puberty stage and reduce as you get older.
What Happens When Testosterone Levels are Low?
Low levels of testosterone, also known as low T levels, can result in the following effects (in no particular order):
- Low self-esteem
- Weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
- Less body hair
- Mood swings
- Thin bones
Though low levels of testosterone are often associated with aging, it can be caused by various other factors.
Chemotherapy and injury to the testicles can negatively influence testosterone production. Aside from this, stress and life-threatening conditions like kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and AIDS can also cause low T levels. There are many ways to improve testosterone production, and you can find natural ways below.
10 Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone Production
To boost testosterone levels, natural diet and lifestyle changes have proven to be incredibly effective for many people. An additional benefit of testosterone therapy aside from natural or free testosterone is weight gain.
Testosterone therapy has existed for years. It’s considered an effective treatment option for low T levels. But boosting your testosterone through natural means is oftentimes the safer option. In short, this means adopting a healthier lifestyle.
The key to a healthy diet when trying to elevate your testosterone levels is avoiding refined, simple carbohydrates, like the ones found in chips and other junk food. These simple carbs can lead to spikes in your blood sugar and have been shown to reduce free testosterone levels.
The following natural methods are scientifically proven to be effective in increasing your testosterone levels. Let’s explore each.
1. Exercising regularly
From the heart to the joints and brain, exercise benefits many parts of your body. Since workouts boost body functions, it’s not surprising that they also accelerate T levels. A fact the European Journal of Applied Physiology further confirms that. While many forms of physical activity can get the job done, one of your best bets will be lifting weights.
Studies have found that a workout regimen consisting of weight lifting and resistance training is the best type of exercise to increase testosterone.
When it comes to specific weightlifting exercises, bench press, squats, shoulder press, and deadlift are great options. Studies have also shown that high workout volume increases T levels.
Besides weightlifting, HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) also supports T levels. HIIT is any workout routine involving short bursts of intense exercise and recovery periods of less intense activity. As a side benefit, HIIT also contributes to athletic performance, increased muscle mass, and improved fat metabolism.
A good example is the simple wind sprint routine. But as beneficial as exercise is, you shouldn’t overstretch yourself as this may have debilitating effects on your body and testosterone levels. Instead, take time to rest in between intense workout days.
Cardio has its benefits, but it doesn’t boost your testosterone as strength training can.
As with all things, do not overdo it, rest is important too. If you over-train, you risk boosting the stress hormone cortisol, which has the opposite effect of testosterone.
2. Eat healthy protein rich meals
Research states that a balanced diet consisting of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins can increase hormone levels and boost overall health. Carb intake, in particular, has been shown to be a natural testosterone booster.
For instance, adding onions and garlic to your food enables you to produce more sperm. Both of them contain flavonoids which protect the sex cells from damage.
You should pile on proteins as well. Include chicken, lean beef, eggs, fish, nuts, and tofu in your diet. While it’s ideal to consume 5 to 6 ounces of these proteins daily, the amount needed differs according to your age and sex. Fatty foods like mackerel, salmon, and tuna are natural testosterone boosters.
Your sex glands also need minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Almonds, peanuts, and cashews are magnesium-rich foods that act as protein blockers, allowing the free flow of spermatozoa within the bloodstream.
Oysters are also popular for their fertility benefits. Little wonder it’s assumed to be five times as effective as a zinc supplement.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is as essential as diet and exercise. It helps increase testosterone naturally. It’s not just sleeping; it’s getting enough quality sleep. Many people are sleep-deprived due to the nature of their jobs, late-night plans, and the likes.
Guys need beauty sleep too. Men produce more testosterone when they’re sleeping, which means that their hormone levels are dependent on the quantity and quality of sleep they get.
Research has found out that sleeping for just 5 hours every night can reduce your testosterone levels. Though sleep hours vary from one person to another, 7-10 hours of sleep is generally recommended for healthy T levels. Take measurable steps to improve your sleep by avoiding caffeine at night, not eating right before bed, and reducing your screen time.
But if you cannot get enough sleep no matter what, you may want to pay a visit to your doctor for treatment.
4. Manage stress levels
Whether emotional, mental or physical, stress of any kind affects the whole being, even your testosterone levels. Stress increases the cortisol levels, which are responsible for fight or flight response and other processes.
Studies have shown that stress also raises, increases appetite and fat storage. And fats stored around sex glands can cause a drop in testosterone. If you’re suffering from stress, you might want to try meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Also, evaluate your lifestyle. What’s causing the stress? Is it workload in school or at work? Once you’ve identified the root cause, take deliberate steps to deal with it. Meditating for at least 5 minutes a day can do a lot to relieve stress.
5. Avoid estrogen-like compounds
Guess you thought estrogen is only present in women. No, it’s also produced by men. Men and women have testosterone and estrogen. While it’s healthy for men to have these hormones, estrogen shouldn’t be excessive in their bodies as it could lead to serious health issues. Certain estrogen-like compounds (xenoestrogens) hamper efforts to increase your testosterone levels. Heavy drinkers can have been found to have shrunken testes, thin chest and beard hair, and higher levels of the female hormone estrogen.
Avoid high exposure to common household chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA), parabens, etc. These chemicals are found in personal care products like toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, among others. These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and mimic estrogen hence making the body adapt to it. Xenoestrogens interfere with the body’s functions, resulting in a gain in weight and learning disabilities.
Many endocrinologists believe these chemicals rank among the primary cause of low T levels since they’re widely used in homes. You should try your best to avoid estrogen-like products. Instead of using processed grooming products, opt for the natural option. Choose deodorant, soap, and shampoo that are paraben-free. If possible, eat organic foods often.
Sometimes, pesticides and hormones are used in our food, interacting with our bodies when ingested without proper washing. Consider meat and dairy products that aren’t processed with hormones. Gasoline also contains a considerable amount of xenoestrogens. After handling this byproduct, ensure you wash your hand thoroughly.
Furthermore, plastic contains a huge amount of phthalates, which are harmful to health. You probably never thought plastics could hurt your testosterone levels. We bet you don’t. The soft and flexible nature of plastics results from phthalates added during the production process.
These chemicals are present in plastic food containers and laundry detergent. Though phthalates aren’t stored in the body, they’re detrimental to sexual health. Avoid using plastic containers for heating food. Instead, use glassware for storing and warming food.
6. Maintain a healthy weight
From cardiovascular disease to diabetes, bone illness, excess weight contributes to several health conditions. It also affects the hormone-making process. Hence, maintaining a healthy weight isn’t overemphasized. It’s crucial to the total well-being of individuals.
A study published in The Journal of Endocrinology reports that diabetes is associated with low testosterone levels. Men who maintain a normal weight have less chance of having diabetes and reduced testosterone. Besides consuming low calories, exercising, eating healthy foods, and intermittent fasting helps in decreasing body fat.
A more effective weight management routine is combining intermittent fasting with cardio. This works to burn fat as a means of expending energy. Reducing fats in the body doesn’t mean you should stay off fatty foods completely. You can opt for a high-fat diet like Keto fats so long they’re healthy. Avoid trans-fat like a plague.
7. Use probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that offer health benefits to the body. These probiotics influence gut health, testosterone production, and overall health. What’s the importance of bacteria in maintaining an optimal testosterone level?
Typically, harmful and beneficial bacteria are present in the stomach. The probiotics act on the harmful ones and kill them while boosting digestive health. A healthy gut will invariably affect all parts of the body, including the sex glands. Choose a good and effective probiotic majorly designed for men. Then, add it to your daily health routine.
8. Avoid excessive drinking and drugs
Drugs and alcohol are closely linked to low T levels. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that excessive alcohol use harms the male reproductive system. Beer contains hops that act as phytoestrogens, capable of causing a drop in testosterone levels. The estrogen-like compounds also raise your estrogen levels.
Drug abuse also results in a decline in testosterone. So how much alcohol is too much? While there’s no actual amount, experts suggest moderate drinking to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Men are advised to consume at most two drinks per day and women a drink a day.
9. Stay off stimulants
Stimulants such as caffeinated drinks and caffeine boost the release of cortisol which equally reduces testosterone. Caffeine acts as an energy booster that makes you active throughout the day. Many people out there have become addicted to caffeine. They need to take a cup of coffee to make them energetic and awake during work. Based on research, caffeine is revealed to disrupt the secretion of testosterone. Reduce your caffeine intake and try to get sufficient, quality sleep. Staying off stimulants proves to optimize testosterone levels.
There is also some suspicion that chemicals play a role in declining testosterone levels.
10. Tackle any underlying health issues
Many people don’t know that low testosterone doesn’t occur like that; it’s mainly due to underlying health conditions. Besides obesity and diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea contribute to low T levels. A decrease in testosterone may also be due to the side effects of medications taken for a health condition. Pay a visit to your doctor to determine the cause of reduced testosterone while prescribing lifestyle changes or testosterone treatment that can help your hormones.
5 Testosterone Boosting Foods
A healthy diet does is the starting point for men looking to boost t production. Avoid unhealthy foods at all costs since they have debilitating effects on health. Consume more whole foods, chia seeds, avocados, lean protein, dark chocolate, among others, to boost testosterone production, memory, and absorption of nutrients. Below are some of the testosterone-boosting foods which will elevate your hormone levels.
Tuna is rich in Vitamin D, which is linked to testosterone production and longevity. It’s also rich in protein and low in calories. Tuna is also considered good for the heart since it promotes cardiovascular performance. If you don’t like tuna, you can opt for other fish sources like sardines or salmon.
2. Egg yolks
Egg yolk is a rich source of Vitamin D and cholesterol, which greatly benefits the body, including helping testosterone production. If you don’t have heart or cholesterol issues, you can eat an egg per day. In addition, as a protein-rich food, egg yolk helps build lean muscle.
3. Low-fat milk
Containing Vitamin D, calcium, and protein, low-fat milk boosts your overall health. It also promotes bone health and helps support testosterone levels. Ensure you choose low-fat or skimmed milk fortified with Vitamin D.
Eating crab or lobster will boost the production of the male sex hormone. In addition, thanks to zinc contained in seafood, they’re quite efficient in improving testosterone levels.
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans are rich in fiber and good protein sources. These plant-based proteins have beneficial effects on the male reproductive system.
Best Supplements to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
Besides diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes supporting sex hormones, holistic supplements are alternative ways to increase testosterone production.
Always get tested for deficiencies before taking any supplements.
Keep in mind that If you have adequate zinc levels, you won’t need supplements. Increasing zinc levels beyond normal can affect the intestines, leading to kidney and liver damage. Ensure you take zinc with meals to prevent nausea. It’s reported that using zinc on an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous. Also, avoid taking zinc with calcium, iron, and magnesium, especially in 800 mg or more doses. This reduces the potency of supplements as minerals compete for absorption.
Vitamin D is often associated with fertility and sexual drive. Research has shown the influence of this vitamin on testosterone levels. This is due to Vitamin D receptors present on sperm cells. Men with low sex drive experienced a rise in testosterone levels after using supplements for over a year.
Controversies surround the claim, as the study was conducted in middle-aged men who possibly exhibited a decline in testosterone levels due to aging. Vitamin D may be a better supplement option for men who live in areas with low sunlight. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s recommended to take Vitamin D with meals with high-fat content.
Like zinc, magnesium deficiency negatively affects testosterone. Lack of magnesium can lower testosterone levels. With magnesium supplements, you can restore the levels to normal. Like zinc, only use supplements when there’s a deficiency. Unlike Vitamin D, magnesium can either be taken on an empty stomach or with food. However, magnesium gluconate is best taken with meals since it aids absorption.
D-Aspartic acid is an amino acid existing in two forms which helps testosterone production and release in the body. A study involving men of ages 27 to 35 and administered D-Aspartic acid supplements for 12 days. According to reports, 20 out of the 23 men given the supplement exhibit an increase in testosterone levels, about 42%. After 3 days of discontinuing the supplements, the testosterone levels were still raised. The amino acid may likely help infertility by improving the quantity and quality of sperm. Typically, a dose of 3g of D-Aspartic acid is recommended per day.
Fenugreek is purported to have an impact on testosterone levels. The medicinal plant contains furostanolic saponins, which facilitate sex hormone production. Numerous studies suggest fenugreek supplements may boost testosterone. A 12-week study involving 120 men aged 43–75 revealed that the ones who administered 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract per day showed improved testosterone levels and sex drive.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an herb used in traditional medicine. From reducing stress and cholesterol to raising low testosterone, Ashwagandha is beneficial to boosting health. According to a 2010 study where 150 men were given ashwagandha. 75 of them were fertile, while the remaining 75 were undergoing fertility tests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Testosterone?
A: Testosterone is a hormone produced by the body, responsible for developing male secondary sexual characteristics. The gonads majorly produce the sex hormone. The adrenal glands also release testosterone but in a small amount. Testosterone performs several functions in the body. For example, it helps build muscle mass, boosts sexual drive, bone strength, mood, among others.
Q: What are "Normal" Levels of Testosterone?
A: The normal levels for testosterone ranges from 350 ng/dL to 1000 ng/dL in healthy men. Typically, the brain and testes work alongside to keep testosterone levels within the normal range.
Q: What are Symptoms of Low T in Men and Women?
A: General symptoms of low testosterone in men and women include hot flashes, reduced sexual drive, and bone loss.
Below are some of the symptoms specific to men:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss and lack of focus
- Irritability and depression
- Smaller and softer testicles
- Increased breast size
Here are the low testosterone symptoms associated with women.
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of muscle mass
Q: What Regulates Testosterone Production?
A: The hypothalamus and pituitary gland control the secretion of testosterone. These two glands located in the brain transmit signals to the testes to initiate the production of testosterone. Be wary of herbal supplements. It’s important to seek professional medical advice in regulating our body’s hormone system.
Q: Who is Most Likely to Have Low Testosterone?
A: According to research, 40% of obese men above 45 years are more likely to have low levels of testosterone. Men with low T levels have a high chance of becoming obese. Weight loss through exercise, which in turn improves testosterone. Supplements can also help boost the production and release of the sex hormone.
Q: Should I Consider Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)?
A: Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a treatment procedure for Hypogonadism in men. Hypogonadism refers to a condition in which the sex glands or gonads produce little or no sex hormones. This condition may be due to hormonal issues or testicles problems. Testosterone replacement therapy is often referred to as androgen replacement therapy or hormone replacement therapy. This therapy helps to replace testosterone exogenously. TRT works to counter the effects of hypogonadism. However, it’s not evident that hormone therapy will increase testosterone levels in men who are healthy and don’t have hypogonadism.
Q: How Do You Know If You Have Enough Testosterone?
A: If you have a normal weight, live healthily, and are quite energetic without exhibiting any symptoms of low T levels, then in most cases you’re fine. Nevertheless, if you aren’t sure speak to your doctor about getting tested. According to the American Urological Association (AUA), optimal levels for testosterone are at least 300ng/dL, but again, speak to your doctor.
Q: Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?
A: No, it doesn’t. Masturbation seems not to have any harmful effects on testosterone levels. While masturbation may not produce testosterone or reduce testosterone, low testosterone does cause changes in sexual function.
Q: Does Having Low Levels of Testosterone Only Negatively Affect Men?
A: No, it doesn’t. While testosterone and low T levels are often linked to men, women produced considerable amounts. In males, testosterone levels peak during puberty. Women produce a small amount of this sex hormone. There are concerns if low testosterone negatively affects women as well. Yes, it does. Low testosterone in women leads to thinning hair, reduced sex drive, and body fat. In addition, females with low T levels often have a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). This condition is a common sexual disorder associated with women, resulting in low self-confidence, depression, low interest in sex, etc.
Q: Does Physical Activity Increase Testosterone Levels?
A: Yes, it has a significant effect on their testosterone levels. Lifting weights has proven to be more effective in increasing testosterone production than other forms of exercise. If you’re a fitness enthusiast who seeks to accelerate the production of sex hormones, you should consider deadlift, squat, among others. Overall, all forms of exercise support testosterone levels though their efficiency varies from one to another.
To summarise, the main ways to increase testosterone naturally include:
- Workouts consisting of strength training to increase muscle mass
- Reducing alcohol, drugs, and stimulant intake
- Avoiding endocrine disruptors (estrogen-like compounds)
- Taking supplements for any deficiencies
- Getting good, quality sleep
- Eating protein-rich meals
- Getting to and maintaining a healthy body weight
Once you’ve done everything you can naturally, you should consult with your doctor to consider other options if you’re still affected by low-t levels.
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