12 Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels
Most people associate testosterone with facial hair, gigantic muscles & illegal steroids. Naturally produced testosterone plays a very important role in male/female metabolic function. Lowered testosterone is a chronic epidemic that is threatening lives all around the world. This article will go over 12 ways to boost testosterone levels naturally through healthy lifestyle measures.
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid hormone that plays a critical role in metabolism, sex drive, muscle building, mood regulation, memory & cognitive function. Normal testosterone levels play a huge role in maintaining optimal weight as well as reducing risk of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, & certain cancers (1, 2, 3).
Women produce testosterone but in significantly lower amounts than men. In the man, testosterone is produced in the testes and adrenal glands. Meanwhile, women produce it in the adrenals & ovaries. Testosterone is known to peak in the early twenties and then drop about 10% with each successive decade.
Post-menopausal women lose the function of their ovaries and are at risk for low testosterone later in life. With inadequate testosterone, women are at much greater risk for developing osteoporosis/osteopenia and other chronic diseases.
The Problem With Low Testosterone:
Men are said to lose 1.5% of their testosterone production each year beyond 30. Men who lose a greater proportion of their testosterone are said to have andropause (4).
The Alliance for Aging Research has indicated that one third of American men over the age of 39 have reported two or more symptoms of low testosterone (5). Symptoms of male andropause include lowered libido, decreased muscle mass, increased abdominal fat accumulation, depression and lack of drive.
The changes involved in andropause are gradual over time. They often go unnoticed for years. In a large study of 858 males over 40, men with low testosterone had an 88% increase risk of death compared with those who had normal levels (6).
The Problem with Aromatase:
Aromatase is an enzyme that is found in estrogen producing cells located in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, brain and fat tissue. Higher levels of aromatase in the body convert more testosterone and progesterone into estrogen. This process of converting androgenic hormones into estrogens is called aromatization.
Elevated aromatase activity and estrogen dominance are some of the most common factors associated with breast, uterine and ovarian cancers in women (7). Prostate, colon and breast cancer in men are associated with estrogen dominance.
Stress Hormones and Testosterone:
Chronic stress is one of the biggest factors that must be addressed in order to boost testosterone. The body produces stress hormones and in particular high cortisol when faced with chronic chemical, physical, & emotional stressors. Cortisol is the anti-thesis to testosterone.
The testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which protects your testosterone molecules from the effects cortisol. During times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated cortisol, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle. This results in testosterone molecules being destroyed inside the gonads before they even enter the bloodstream (8, 9).
Additionally, high stress hormone production reduces the amount of testosterone production through a process called pregnenolone steal. Elevated stress will also increase aromatase activity and convert testosterone into estrogen creating a state of estrogen dominance (10).
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, journaling, counseling, etc. can dramatically help reduce stress. Additionally, focusing on good sleep habits is critical for healthy testosterone levels.
The key to stabilizing testosterone levels begins with an anti-inflammatory diet. This should be loaded with phytonutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Grains and sugars stimulate higher levels of insulin and cortisol.
Healthy fat sources are extremely critical for good hormone function. Fats and cholesterol play a critical role in forming the structure and rigidity of our cell membranes. These fats impact cell messaging by acting as enzyme and hormone regulators (11).
The nutrition plan should consist of ample amounts of good fats such as avocado, coconut, & olive oil. Saturated fats, cholesterol, conjugated linoleic acids and essential omega 3 fatty acids from healthy grass-fed animal products are especially important.
Get Rid of Environmental Toxins:
Xenoestrogens, artificial hormone mimicking substances, are linked to lower testosterone levels. These xenoestrogens are found in tap water, plastics, home cleaning agents, deodorants, soaps, make-up & body lotions (12).
Many medications also contain heavy amounts of synthetic xenoestrogens as well. Avoiding these sources along with a diet rich in raw and lightly cooked fruits and vegetables provide fiber and phytonutrients that help the body eliminate these toxic substances.
High intensity exercise is crucial to boost testosterone (13). Exercises should be explosive in nature and maximize the resistant overload on the muscles. Large muscle group compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts & burpees are some of the best testosterone boosting exercises. The training session should be short (5-30 mins) and have very little rest periods between sets.
I highly recommend using a great essential amino acid mix post-exercise in order to boost testosterone. These essential amino acids and especially the concentrated branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Getting these amino acids in the post-workout window dramatically boosts testosterone production (14). I like using our Amino Strong and will often recommend a scoop pre-workout and post-workout for the best muscle building, testosterone boosting benefits.
12 Steps to Boost Testosterone:
Here are 12 key steps to follow in order to boost and optimize your testosterone levels. If you apply these principles and do not see a significant change in your mood, energy, weight and libido than I would highly recommend working with a natural health care practitioner.
A good practitioner can run functional labs to assess for a chronic infection or environmental toxin exposure that may be holding you back from achieving your health goals.
Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep:
Chronic stress causes a reduction in testosterone production. It is absolutely critical to keep stress balanced in order to produce healthy sex hormones. Chronic stress will result in elevated stress hormone production and lowered testosterone.
Prioritizing good sleep is just as important as reducing your stress levels. Develop a regular schedule going to bed and getting up at the same time every day to support your circadian rhythms.
Avoid electronics, sugar, caffeine, heavy foods, and stress close to the bed. Engage in relaxing activities, including stretching, relaxing baths, meditation, and prayer. Make sure that you have a supporting bed, pillow, and bedding, and sleep in a dark calming room
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is one of the foundational things you can do to support optimal testosterone levels. First, eliminate all inflammatory foods, including refined sugar, gluten, refined oils, deep-fried and processed foods, conventional dairy, grain-fed meat and eggs, soda and sugary drinks, and foods that you are sensitive to.
Focus on good fats, antioxidants and clean proteins. Good fats such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, olives and olive oil and fish oil provide the key fatty acids needed for testosterone production.
Healthy animal products such as grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, antelope, deer and free-range chicken, turkey and eggs should be used generously. It is also important to include lots of clean water and phytonutrient rich raw and lightly cooked vegetables.
Getting into ketosis will enhance mitochondrial function and testosterone production. Learn more about following a ketogenic nutrition plan here and avoid exposure to herbicides and pesticides by choosing organic food as much as possible.
Intermittent fasting is a form of fasting cycles between not eating (fasting) and eating (feasting) over a period of time. The benefits of intermittent fasting benefits include cellular repair, autophagy, immune regulation, inflammation levels, and insulin sensitivity.
It also helps to improve human growth hormone and testosterone production in males. Going 16–18 hours between dinner and breakfast is one of the best ways to improve mitochondrial production. Your body improves energy efficiency by increasing and strengthening the mitochondria during periods of fasting. Consume your meals in a 6-8 hour window such as 11am–7pm or 12–6pm.
When you do this you enhance cellular healing and brain cell regeneration. Fasting increases the production and utilization of ketones as an energy source which reduces inflammation and improves testosterone production. To learn more about the benefits of intermittent fasting and best intermittent fasting practices, I recommend this article.
High Intensity Exercise:
High intensity training, especially resistance training boosts testosterone. Do large muscle group, compound exercises such as squats, lunges, bench press, T-bar rows, pull-ups, overhead press, etc. Be sure to lift heavy!!
The more muscle tissue that is intensely stimulated, the more testosterone production will go up. Be sure to get good rest between workouts. I like to do an upper body day, lower body day and then a day off. Then back to upper body and lower body and then another day off…and so on and so on.
Low Intensity Movement:
A sedentary lifestyle depletes testosterone but so does over-training. Be sure that your workouts are intense but short (30 minutes max). Throughout the day, get a lot of low-intensity movement such as walking, light cycling, playing, etc.
Low intensity movement helps improve circulation, improves mood and happiness and balances stress hormone production. Doing this on a regular basis will also improve testosterone production.
Use Amino Acids:
Getting in high quality essential amino acids will help improve muscular strength and endurance, build lean body tissue and burn fat. This combination will help support optimal testosterone levels.
Most people with low testosterone struggle to produce enough stomach acid and don’t digest protein at an ideal level. This is why I recommend taking a dose of amino strong both pre and post workout for optimal results.
Take Cold Showers:
Cold exposure has been known to stimulate and boost testosterone production and improve metabolism, detoxification and brain function. You can begin by doing cold showers although you may want to try cold water plunges, ice buckets or cryotherapy for a really great boost.
Start your shower with warm/hot water and turn it to cold for the last 30-60 seconds while pumping your muscles and creating a big shiver as your muscles contract. That will help to boost internal heat and boost testosterone production. This article will help you.
Optimize Your Vitamin D:
One of the main benefits of getting out into the sun is a natural boost of vitamin D. No wonder that vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is an important vitamin that is critical for many areas of your health, including your immune function, bones, muscles, and mental health.
Low vitamin D3 is associated with low testosterone production (15). Since obtaining enough sunshine while spending a lot of time indoors during the colder months is difficult, supplementing with vitamin D is critical. In fact, vitamin D is one of those vitamins that everyone may benefit from.
I recommend taking a daily vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 optimizes the absorption of D3 and further enhances your health. Be sure to increase your vitamin D through good amounts of regular sun exposure and/or taking a high quality vitamin D3/K2 supplement.
Zinc and Magnesium:
Be sure to optimize your zinc and magnesium levels. Both of these nutrients are key for testosterone production.
Magnesium helps to improve blood sugar signaling patterns and protects the blood-brain barrier. The best magnesium and zinc rich foods include eggs, grass-fed animal products, raw cacao and pumpkin seeds.
You can also do Epsom salt baths to support your magnesium levels. It would also be wise to supplement with a good magnesium and zinc supplement. Look for magnesium L-threonate which is the best form of magnesium for crossing the blood brain barrier.
Reduce Estrogen Load:
Avoid foods with phytoestrogens such as soy, flax and many beans. Additionally, consume lots of cruciferous veggies and in particular broccoli sprouts which have tons of I3C and DIM which help to detoxify bad estrogen metabolites that cause problems with estrogen/testosterone balance. I also recommend steamed crucifers (brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) with grass-fed butter/ghee melted over the top and added herbs.
Toxins in your body may increase your risk of high estrogen and low testosterone. It is important that you improve your detoxification pathways to support your body. Remove toxic, non-organic ingredients in your food, beauty, body, and cleaning products.
Make sure that you drink purified clean water instead of regular tap water and invest in an air purification system. Spend time in fresh air. Support your lymphatic health through dry brushing. Practice fasting or intermittent fasting. I also recommend our Thyroliver protect supplement to support detoxification.
Support Gut Health
The health of your microbiome is critical to how you handle stress and produce sex hormones. It is important to eat an anti-inflammatory diet and use herbs like ginger, turmeric, aloe vera, chamomile, licorice root and marshmallow root in order to support overall gut health.
Eat plenty of fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. Take a daily probiotic supplement, such as ProbioCharge, to support a healthy gut microbiome. I also recommend Gut Repair for gut dysbiosis and gut health issues.
Eat Spinach and Garlic:
Spinach contains its own type of plant based steroids called phytoecdysteroids. These unique compounds protect the spinach plant from plant-parasitic nematodes. They also help to balance blood sugar, stabilize stress hormone and boost testosterone (16, 17).
Garlic has been shown to improve testosterone output in rats on a high protein diet (18). Since a testosterone boosting nutrition plan should naturally be higher in quality proteins it makes sense to use lots of garlic as well.
This adaptogenic herb has been shown to reduce stress hormone, increase DHEA and boost testosterone levels. In the largest human trial using ashwagandha the herb was shown to reduce cortisol levels up to 26%.
Chronically elevated cortisol increases inflammatory and degenerative processes in the body. Additionally, the participants had a lowered fasting blood sugar level and improved lipid profile patterns (19). Another study showed that ashwagandha improved semen quality and testosterone production in infertile males (20).
My flagship product with high quality ashwagandha along with other adaptogenic herbs including Magnolia officinalis, L-theanine, banaba leaf and maral extract. This product has been proven in studies to lower high cortisol levels and support improved mood, memory and mental performance.
Cortisol Defense helps your body resist and recover from the effects of everyday stress. Components of this multifunctional formula have been shown to support healthy cortisol levels, help alleviate occasional fatigue, promote mental clarity, and support relaxation and restful sleep.*
Final Thoughts on Testosterone
Low testosterone is common and growing health condition that is characterized by sadness, low energy, fatigue, reduced cognition, weight gain, reduced muscle strength and poor libido. The strategies I discussed in this article are not FDA approved to prevent, treat, mitigate or cure low testosterone but they have been helpful for many individuals looking to improve their sexual and hormonal health.
If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach. At my clinic, we offer long-distance functional health coaching programs. For further support with your brain health and other health goals, just reach out and our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.