Whether you’re athletic or not, testosterone is considered the king of hormones. It peaks in your younger years, but it starts to dwindle as you age. Especially for athletes, but also for those looking to simply improve their libido and vitality, the quest for increased testosterone is a common goal. If you have average or below average levels, are there ways to boost testosterone naturally? Thankfully, the answer is yes!
Optimizing free testosterone levels is the holy grail for all athletes. Free testosterone is the amount found in your bloodstream which isn’t bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), as opposed to serum testosterone, which is the total level of testosterone in your blood. The benefits for athletes are countless.
Low testosterone can greatly diminish your physical performance let alone just about every other aspect of life. A few signs of low testosterone include:
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain (increased body fat)
- Decreased strength
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
Obviously, any of these symptoms are undesirable, and if you experience any combination of these, let alone all of them, it’s recommended that you see a physician. Low testosterone is a genuine health concern, and any number of other issues that could cause these symptoms should be the cause of equal concern.
If you want to optimize levels for improved physical performance or muscle building, here are nine ways to boost testosterone naturally:
Increased body fat can have a negative effect on your self-esteem, and it can also make you feel lethargic and decrease your performance capacity. Storing more body fat can also have a negative effect on testosterone.
Cleaning up your eating habits and incorporating exercise to bring your weight down and lose fat can help spark healthy testosterone production.
As mentioned above, exercise is a great way to reduce your body fat levels which can positively influence your testosterone production. It can also boost self-esteem and is simply good for your long-term physical health.
Beyond simply getting healthy and fit, your choice of exercise can also boost testosterone production. Regular resistance training can have a positive effect on hormone levels, but the type of weight training you choose can add to that.
Big, basic, multi-joint movements like squats and deadlifts tend to stimulant hormone production, as do negative-accentuated exercises (slow negative reps), and high-rep sets that create deep muscle burn.
On top of strength training, or incorporated into your training routine, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) also requires more physical demand which can boost testosterone naturally.
One caveat to exercise, however, is that while increased effort can have a positive effect, excessive exercise can diminish testosterone production. Listen to your body! You shouldn’t spend hours a day training, and if your strength starts to suffer or you show any other signs of overtraining, you may need to temper your enthusiasm. More isn’t always better.
Manage Carbohydrate Intake
Managing your carbohydrate intake for testosterone production doesn’t necessarily mean going on a low-carb diet. While that may be helpful for weight loss, proper carbohydrate intake can be beneficial for hormone production and insulin response.
In the case of optimizing testosterone production, it’s best to minimize or eliminate any processed sugar, and it’s often a good idea to reduce intake of grains and lactose (milk sugar), as these can cause insulin resistance which promotes weight gain.
Increase Healthy Fat Intake
If you’re on a low-fat diet, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors in the hormone department, and you might even be creating an environment in which you struggle to lose fat. Obviously, reducing or completely eliminating bad fats (particularly hydrogenated oils or anything that’s been fried) is good for your health, but maintaining healthy fats is crucial to good health, fat burning, and hormone production.
Healthy fats are crucial to good health, and that includes testosterone production. It’s not only mono- and polyunsaturated fats from nuts, avocados, etc. that your body needs but also natural saturated fats that are found in grass-fed meats and eggs sourced from pasture-raised chickens. Contrary to popular belief, these shouldn’t raise your body’s bad cholesterol, but they can boost testosterone naturally.
Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol
With the lowered inhibitions and potentially increased aggressiveness some people experience from alcohol, it may be surprising to learn that alcohol consumption actually affects testosterone levels adversely.
While an occasional drink or two isn’t likely anything to be concerned with, regular alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels fairly significantly. For long-term health, and specifically, natural testosterone levels, limiting or even eliminating alcohol consumption may be exactly what your testosterone levels need.
A certain amount of stress is simply an unavoidable part of life and can help with problem-solving and the development of coping mechanisms. However, too much stress is inarguably bad for your health, including testosterone production.
Both mental and physical stress increase the release of the stress hormone cortisol. While some cortisol release is perfectly normal, excessive stress can pump out enough cortisol to block the effects of testosterone. Plus, too much stress can cause muscle loss and weight gain, both of which can compound the testosterone-reducing effects.
Exercise can be a good source of relief from stress, but as mentioned above, overtraining can have a negative effect, so always listen to your body. Other activities such as meditation, yoga, and massage therapy can help, and even the simple action of some good laughter and spending time with friends and family can have a positive effect on stress levels.
Get Enough Sleep
This should go without saying, but sleep is crucial for good health. Sleep is when your body recovers, recharges, and produces key hormones, including testosterone. Getting enough rest is also one of the best ways to de-stress.
Not getting enough sleep can have negative effects on just about every aspect of health, so be sure to get enough sleep every night. Turn off the TV and other electronic devices and turn on healthy sleep and hormone production.
While we’ve already mentioned a few food-based nutrients to increase or reduce for healthy hormone production, what about supplemental nutrients to boost testosterone naturally? There are several that can help…
Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” regulates and promotes healthy testosterone levels. If you aren’t getting much sun exposure, which is the case for most people these days, supplementing with vitamin D is recommended for its numerous health benefits.
BCAAs or Whey Protein: Branched-chain amino acids and whey protein, which is generally rich in BCAAs, have been shown to not only increase protein synthesis but may also have a positive effect on testosterone levels when taken before, during, and after exercise.
Caffeine: Particularly when taken before exercise, caffeine has been shown to help with elevated testosterone levels, but it should be noted that excessive caffeine can cause high cortisol levels which can negate the testosterone-boosting effects.
Creatine: Not only does this help with strength and increased muscle size, it’s been shown to result in elevated testosterone when combined with strength training.
ZMA: The combination of zinc monomethionine and magnesium aspartate (ZMA) plays a big role in tissue repair and is great for recovery, but it also promotes naturally increased testosterone levels.
Tribulus Terrestris: The active phytosterols, flavonoids, and glycosides in Tribulus can help maintain natural and healthy testosterone levels by increasing luteinizing hormone production.
Muira Puama: Also known as “potency wood,” this is often used as an herbal aphrodisiac that has a strong effect on libido and virility as well as athletic-enhancing effects.
Urtica Dioica: Derived from stinging nettle root, this prevents the binding to SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) to increase free testosterone levels in the bloodstream.
Resveratrol: This nutrient is well known for its anti-estrogenic effects which favor a healthy testosterone ratio by default.
D-Aspartic Acid: This calcium salt is generally utilized for its ability to increase testosterone-producing luteinizing hormone (LH).
Forskolin: Derived from coleus forskohlii, this plant-based nutrient increases free testosterone with added benefits of potential body fat reduction and increased muscle size.
Have More Sex
One of the most effective and enjoyable ways to increase testosterone is by having more sex. While decreased testosterone levels obviously hamper the desire for sex, an increase in sexual activity can give a significant boost to testosterone production.
An active sex life can also work wonders on stress levels, so you can effectively get the testosterone-boosting effects of decreased stress and increased hormone production. We’re not doctors, but this certainly sounds like a win-win situation, and certainly the most enjoyable way to boost testosterone naturally.
Note: For information purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.