Hormones are powerful things! If they're a little bit off or not in the right balance it can cause all sorts of issues: depression, low sex drive, poor muscle tone, weak bones… the list is endless.
Testosterone affects so many things that every male should seek out higher testosterone levels (T levels). Unfortunately, a lot of men have less than ideal T levels and don’t know what they’re missing out on. I see it all the time with new members of The Program
So what should you do if you're low in testosterone or simply want to boost your levels naturally?
Below are 29 strategies proven to increase your testosterone. If you don't know what your testosterone levels are, or you want to do a before-and-after experiment, I suggest you order a testosterone kit. LetsGetChecked.com is the company I recommend.
I’ve broken things into three sections—The first is your 'Must Do' list. Before you start spending big dollars on all the supplements and trying fancy hacks, stick with the big wins.
Then I move into the 'Should Do' list. If you have the big wins down solid and still want more gains then you should do these.
Finally, I cover the 'Could Do' list. These are ideas to try as a last resort. Some of these things involve financial outlay or may seem a bit silly. However, you should still see some benefit.
All 29 strategies I have listed have either been
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Research shows that skipping sleep can drastically lower testosterone in healthy guys (1). After one week of less-than-ideal sleep duration testosterone levels decreased by 10–15%.
Don’t bother spending your hard-earned cash on supplements if you’re not sleeping a solid eight hours or more in a 24-hour window (e.g., seven or more hours at night, plus an hour nap is one option).
Prioritize your sleep! For more info on the positive effects of sleep and how to improve sleep quality please see my Sound Asleep in 21 Nights Program.
Yes, you read this correctly, eat more fat. If you’re still on the low-fat wagon you’re doing it all wrong. That wagon crashed and burned long ago! (Be sure to read 9 Reasons Why Your Doctor Is Wrong About Fat).
But don't eat just any fat. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, for instance, can do more harm than good. In order to boost your testosterone naturally, you should eat more saturated fat: butter, bacon, beef fat, coconut oil, and egg yolks are all sources of saturated fat.
Cholesterol (which is found in animal-derived saturated fat), is one of the most essential building blocks of testosterone. Cells convert cholesterol to free testosterone. In fact, testosterone cells are made from cholesterol.
The Ideal Breakfast for Improving Your Testosterone Levels?
Research shows that a diet with less than 40% of total energy as fat (and mainly from animal sources of saturated fat) lead to a decrease in T levels (13). Look at that number again—40%! A lot of common bodybuilder diets out there recommend 20% fat for your total calories.
If you’ve been trying to avoid fat (e.g., you’re having egg-white omelets, you drink low-fat milk, you always choose the leanest cuts of meat...) then you’re probably also eating around 20% fat. If you join The Program you’d be eating anything from 40–70% of your total calories as fat. So go on—put some butter on that steak!
And remember, saturated fats work best along with monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil, almonds, avocados, etc.). In fact, higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (e.g., canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine, etc.) are linked to lower testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFAs in a lot more detail in this article—PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Every Day.
So eat more fat, but make sure it’s the right kinds of fat!
Let me emphasize heavy lifting. Doing that pump class with your girlfriend doesn’t count nor does curling 5kg dumbbells for 20 reps or getting a burn on the leg extension machine.
I’m talking heavy, intense weights that you can only lift for two to ten repetitions. And the more muscle you use the better. Studies show that the good old squat made the body produce more growth hormone and testosterone than a machine working similar muscles (18). Therefore, train using squats, deadlifts, rows, chin-ups, presses, etc.
Think I’m just saying this because I’m a trainer? Well, another study showed that 'strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age' (17). And it's not only lifting heavy weights that are important, but this research says studies have also shown that longer rest and recovery periods between sets of two or more minutes is best for increasing testosterone (ref 81). I recommend a minimum of 90 seconds or three to five minutes if you are really pushing yourself.
Please note that short rests, however, have been shown to have a positive effect on human growth hormone release. Don’t like waiting three minutes between sets? Do some mobility work or work another body part (e.g., squat heavy, wait 90 seconds, bench heavy, wait 90 seconds, squat heavy, etc.).
If you look at the other side of the coin—repetitive, high-volume 'sweat sessions'—you will discover that this type of training actually lowers testosterone. It is well established in the literature that chronic endurance training suppresses testosterone levels in men. So go on now—go lift some weights—very heavy weights. And remember, those high-rep 'feel-the-burn' type sessions don't count. Have a read of this article if you don't believe me—11 Reasons Why You Need To Lift Heavy For Fat Loss.
Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone, not a vitamin. It is essential for the development and quality of sperm. Also, Vitamin D increases testosterone levels. Research shows that men who supplemented with Vitamin D had significant increases in testosterone levels after one year (19).
You should also know that a lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D. In the USA and many other industrialized countries of the world, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The best way to increase your D levels is sun exposure. You only need 20–30 minutes of exposure to a large amount of skin (e.g., take your shirt off and go for a walk during the day).
Obviously, if your skin isn’t conditioned to this exposure, use common sense and start slow. It’s important to build up a tolerance. Start with ten minutes a day and slowly work up to 20–30 minutes.
If sun exposure isn’t practical (e.g., you live in a cold climate, it's winter or your work restricts your outdoor hours), then consider a safe tanning bed. Or as a last resort, supplement with Vitamin D3. I use Thorne Drops.
If you’re unsure what your Vitamin D levels are, I highly recommend doing a Vitamin D test. Head to LetsGetChecked to do one of these from your home. (Code ALEXFERGUS will save you some cash on these tests). Finally, if you do plan on skipping the sun and simply popping a pill, please be sure to watch this TEDx talk: Why are Scots so Sick: Dr. Richard Weller at TEDxGlasgow.
When you’re under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, overtraining, etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view (47). If we were stressed as cavemen, chances are, it was a life or death situation, not running late to a meeting. In this state (e.g., running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up—there were more urgent matters to worry about!
Today’s society is a high-stress place. Chronic stress and adrenal fatigue are commonplace. There is no point trying to increase your testosterone levels if you’re burning the candles at both ends, overtraining, overworked and in a state of frenzy.
The research shows that even if you could increase your testosterone levels (which would be tough to do in the high-stress settings mentioned), your body is going to block the positive effects anyway.
So work on minimizing stress in your life. Plus, elevated stress levels are highly correlated with fat gain. I explore this in a lot more detail in my article Why You Need To Do Less To Lose Fat. Sometimes less is more when it comes to improving health and testosterone levels.
Have you heard the story about the World War II radar technicians? The story goes that these soldiers, prior to a night out drinking in town, would spend a few minutes standing in front of the on-base radar tower. Why? Because they knew this would temporarily leave them infertile. Perfect for a young soldier about to go out partying.
The science backs up the soldiers' self-discovery. In fact, exposure to radiation (whether it’s from an army radar or the cell phone in your pocket or the Wi-Fi router in your house) has been shown to lower sperm quality, fertility and testosterone. This is true, not only for military personnel (89, 90) but for all males living in modern, industrialized regions of the world (91).
A quick review of the literature uncovers some eye-opening, peer-reviewed papers.
This 2014 paper concluded, 'A correlation exists between mobile phone radiation exposure, DNA-fragmentation level and decreased sperm motility' (91).
Another study concluded, 'Use of cell phones decrease the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones' (92).
But this is an article on testosterone, not sperm quality, so what does the latest science say in regards to EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure and testosterone? Well, it’s not good. I'll share a few studies.
This 2016 study concluded, 'Workers exposed to high magnetic fields in a power plant had reduced levels of testosterone and this could affect their reproductive function' (93).
Similarly, another paper looked at electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure and male testosterone levels. What were the findings? EMR exposure decreased levels of testosterone significantly enough to increase the likelihood of developing testicular and prostate cancers (94).
And if you’re still not convinced about the dangers of the cell phone in your pocket, then I’ve listed a few more studies for you to look into.
This rat study concluded, 'Prolonged exposure to 50Hz EMF has an adverse effect on male fertility. In addition, low-frequency EMF significantly reduced sperm motility and testosterone levels' (95).
A hamster study (That’s a new one!) found that long-term exposure to cellular phones' EMF may affect the reproductive hormonal balance and impair endocrine homeostasis, and it may cause peripheral effects (96).
And one final study found that exposure to mobile phone radiation for 60 minutes/day for the total period of three months significantly decreased the serum testosterone level in Wistar albino rats compared to their matched control (97).
How long are you exposed to non-native electromagnetic radiation in your day? It doesn’t take much to lower your testosterone levels. So, if you’re serious about boosting your testosterone levels naturally, avoid putting your cellphone in your pocket. Change it to airplane mode at least!
Seriously. Red light exposure on testicles has been shown to boost testosterone levels.
Red light therapy can increase steroid hormones such as testosterone by directly stimulating the energy production in organs associated therewith. An example would be testosterone production in the testicles.
Red light can penetrate deeply into the body, thereby increasing energy production in specific organs. When the correct dose of red light therapy is applied to the testicles, it might actually increase testosterone levels up to three-fold.
Red light therapy has been proven to increase male testosterone levels naturally.
You can also read these great articles for more info on red light therapy naturally boosting testosterone and improving infertility:
Estrogen is important in men, but too high of a level has all sorts of negative consequences ranging from heart attacks to prostate cancer (32, 33). The balance between testosterone and estrogen (or estradiol) is critical for a man. If the ratio is out and estrogen starts to dominate, you run into all sorts of issues—breast cell growth, prostate enlargement and lower testosterone, of course.
In fact, you could say that the balance between estrogen and testosterone is more important than your actual testosterone level. Estrogen competes for the same receptors as testosterone. For these reasons, we’re going to look at ways to reduce estrogen levels.
We start with plastic. A lot of plastic contains bisphenol A (BPA) which is a weak synthetic estrogen. Like many other chemicals used in making plastics, BPA is a hormone disruptor and can block or mimic hormones and how they act in the body (34). If you think you’re safe with BPA-free plastic, think again. Research shows that BPA-free plastic has similar estrogen-like effects on the body.
So what do I do? Avoid plastic. Simple. However, if you have to use plastic, make sure you don’t heat it. Plastic shouldn’t go into a dishwasher or microwave! And be wary of canned foods. Often there is a BPA-based resin in the can, so be sure to source BPA-free cans.
Along with avoiding plastic, you should also watch what you put on your skin. Your skin is an organ. It absorbs things straight into the blood. That’s how the hormone replacement gels and cream get into your body. Treat your skin like a second mouth. If I wouldn’t eat it, I won’t put it on my skin. Simple.
Sunscreens are a big one. They often contain chemicals that are estrogenic which disrupt the endocrine system. Remember guys, we want to minimize estrogen! Hormone-disrupting chemicals such as octyl-methoxycinnamate are found in most sunscreens. Homosalate, which is a UVB blocker, is also commonly used and linked to hormone disruption (35).
What do I do? We know it’s important to get some sun for testosterone production, so I simply avoid sunscreen use when outside. And if it gets too intense, I will cover up or find shade.
In fact, I require all my coaching clients to get outside for 20 minutes a day five days a week as part of their accountability program. They have to snap a photo to show me that they have gotten outside that day. Sunlight is that important!
This ties in closely with the above point, but I want to focus on parabens in particular. Parabens are widely used preservatives found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. They can be ingredients in toothpaste, tanning products, lubricants, shaving gels, shampoos and moisturizers, amongst other things. Some foods also contain parabens as a preservative.
Parabens are still under debate in the literature. But there is evidence to show that the body absorbs the stuff. It doesn’t necessarily all get excreted in the urine. It’s also well known to disrupt the body’s endocrine system and have estrogen-like effects. If you’re looking to maximize your testosterone—ditch parabens.
Those 40-minutes-at-120-beats-per-minute-heart-rate sweat sessions are not helping your testosterone levels. Sure you will be feeling blissful with all those endorphins from the 10km run you’re doing three times a week, but at what cost to your T levels?
One study compared testosterone levels among three age-matched groups: weightlifters, road cyclists and a control group. Of the three groups, the weightlifters had the highest T levels, while the endurance riders had the lowest (ref 82). It is well established in the literature that chronic endurance training suppresses testosterone levels in men (ref 83).
Don’t want to give up your runs or fitness feats? See the next point.
Sprinting has repeatedly been shown to have positive effects on testosterone levels. One 2011 study looked at weightlifters who performed 4x35m sprints twice a week. In contrast to the control group (who continued lifting, but did not sprint), it was found that after the 4-week training program, both total testosterone and the testosterone to cortisol ratio increased significantly in the sprinters' group (ref 84).
Another study had healthy athletes perform 4x250m sprints with a three-minute rest. The group that performed the sprints had 'significant increases in testosterone' (ref 85).
Sprint! Do it at Maximum Intensity for Short Bursts.
Why is this the case? Why do the marathon runners have such lower T levels than the sprinters? A lot of it is to do with cortisol. We know how cortisol levels have a massive impact on testosterone. Well, the downside of long steady-state cardio is higher cortisol since you are stressing the body for a long time.
Whereas the sprinters with adequate rest periods are only experiencing brief, yet very intensive, spikes in cortisol and then allowing the body plenty of time to recover. If you do start undertaking a sprint-intervals program, be careful not to overdo it.
Start small. One or two sessions per week are more than enough to reap the rewards. You must ensure you allow the body plenty of time to recover from the intense workout. So run, cycle, jump, skip or push hard! Then you rest and recover. For more on this topic, be sure to read—Why You Need To Do Less To Lose Fat.
Soy is everywhere! So many foods contain soy or soy derivatives. It contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that have similar effects to estrogen in the body. A lot of people consume soy, unaware of its hidden dangers.
There have been numerous animal studies showing soy consumption in early life and its negative effect on testicular size (37), lower testosterone (38) and decreased testicular expression of steroid hormone receptors (39). Though it should be noted that there are some inconsistencies across studies.
There are studies that show soy consumption in humans leads to lower sperm count. Unfortunately, they did not look at testosterone levels in the study (40). Another study compared the estrogen production of men drinking soy protein to those drinking whey. After two weeks they found the estradiol levels were equal, however, soy drinkers had lower testosterone levels and higher cortisol levels which are both bad (41).
And we have an n=1 study where a 19-year-old boy consumed a large quantity of soy for a year. He lost his libido and had erectile-dysfunction problems along with lower testosterone levels which later returned to normal after a year of ditching the soy intake (44). Though it needs to be remembered, this study only included one person.
The final two studies looked directly at soy vs testosterone levels. The first looked at the effects that introducing consumption of soy flour had on testosterone levels. They found that those who ate the soy flour lowered their T levels during the study (43). And the second study looked at healthy men who consumed soy protein isolate powder (soy that has undergone processing to isolate just the protein). They found that testosterone levels decreased upon consumption of soy protein (45).
In summary, it’s important to know that this topic is still hotly debated, and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the data. We do know that soy contains phytoestrogens and does seem to have a lot of effects on the body, including some studies that show decreased testosterone levels. For that reason (and the fact that it tastes nasty), I avoid it. And I recommend you also avoid it (in particular soy isolates) if you’re seeking higher testosterone.
For more on the dangers of soy, read my article—13 Reasons Why Soy Is The Worst Food In The World.
Zinc stops or slows the conversion of testosterone into estrogen and assists in testosterone production. Studies have shown that supplementing with zinc increases testosterone levels and restricting zinc intake drastically lowers T levels (29, 30).
What's the best source of zinc? Oysters. Otherwise meat, fish or raw milk. Failing that, I recommend supplementing with Thorne Double Strength Zinc Picolinate once-a-day.
Carbs play a big part in determining your testosterone levels. Let's start with what to avoid. Research shows that a large serving of sugar (75g of glucose) caused a 25% decrease in testosterone levels (25, 26). For comparison, an equivalent meal having the same effect on blood sugar levels would include three slices of toast with jam, a cup of sweetened tea and canned sweetened puree. I know this is a pretty extreme dosage for some of us. You may want to avoid such massive servings of sugar. Also, men who have metabolic syndrome have lower testosterone levels (27). Metabolic syndrome is often brought about by chronically high blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance.
High insulin levels over long periods of time from frequent intakes of sugar throughout the day on an ongoing basis with poor insulin sensitivity will hamper sex hormone synthesis thus leading to lower sex hormones as we age. Yes, our hormone levels naturally decrease with age, but the chronically high insulin levels likely exacerbate this decline (56).
When a lot of insulin is present in the blood, sex hormones (which are meant to be transported through the blood by proteins called globulin) remain bound or stuck to the globulin instead of being dropped off at their target site (e.g., brain, adrenal glands and sex organs).
Yes, carbs are important for healthy testosterone levels (more on this soon). Just don’t overdo it.
Side Bar: Confusing Carbs?
Insulin causes lower testosterone levels, so go easy on the carbs and eat more protein, right? Well, you need to be careful with protein consumption. Excess protein without fat can also cause insulin spikes. So go easy on that chicken breast with a side of egg white omelets washed down with a protein shake. From an insulin point of view, you may just as well drink a can of soda with some amino acids! So what should you do? Eat more fat.
Now that we know chronic insulin spikes lead to lower testosterone production, I hope I haven’t sent you running into the low-carb camp! There are a few studies out there showing that long-term low-carb or ketogenic dieting leads to higher cortisol levels (especially with subjects who are training) and decreased testosterone levels (28, 29). I have used low-carb diets in the past with successful results (such as winning a national bodybuilding title). However, the key is to use cyclical carb-refeeds. If you’re going to go on a low-carb diet for whatever reason, be sure to work in a large carb-refeed once a week.
Finally, if you think finding the right balance between fat and carbs is too consuming and that you’ll just eat plenty of protein instead, be careful. Studies have shown that high-protein diets can, in fact, be detrimental to testosterone levels (ref 86).
So this is an interesting one. I have always been led to believe that alcohol had a massive, negative impact on testosterone levels. Well, after digging through the studies, I found that this is not necessarily 100% true.
One study looking at alcohol consumption found that increasing alcohol consumption led to a higher level of free and total testosterone compared to a non-drinking control group (20). Drinking did however lower SHBG testosterone levels. This type of testosterone is bound to the sex hormone binding globulin protein, so our bodies cannot use it to build muscle or improve our mood.
The same study showed that drinking did, however, lower semen count and quality. And I want to remind you—this is an article on improving testosterone levels, not general health advice as there are a lot of studies that show drinking leads to an assortment of health issues. This acute spike in testosterone could possibly be due to the effect alcohol has on libido and also the energy influx in the liver.
Binge drinking, on the other hand, does negatively impact testosterone levels—especially on a short-term basis. Two studies (22, 23) show that large acute quantities of alcohol consumption in a short period led to decreases in testosterone levels by a whopping 20–23% after 24 hours! However, this is drinking to extreme excess! Likewise, chronic alcohol abuse is known to reduce testosterone more notably (as seen in alcoholics).
Another concern is the higher levels of estrogen associated with alcohol consumption (66). There aren’t a lot of studies on this, but this one particular study did show an increase in estrogen levels when looking at drinkers vs non-drinkers.
Also, it's important to note that one side effect of drinking alcohol is zinc depletion. We know low zinc levels can lower testosterone levels. So if you are drinking, consider taking a zinc supplement or eating some oysters.
There's something else to note if you like your beer. This study showed that 2–3 beers per day were shown to lower testosterone levels by nearly 7% in a three-week period (21). Note, the point here is the fact that they drunk beer. The hop flower used in brewing beer is widely known to contain potent estrogenic substances (24).
High estrogen levels in men are linked to man-boobs and lower testosterone levels. Also, hops are classified as an anaphrodisiac herb—which lessens sexual desire!
In order to boost your testosterone levels, I suggest the following when it comes to alcohol:
Beer—avoid it if you want to maximize your testosterone levels.
We’ve touched on carb intake previously, now I want to delve into what types of carbs you should and shouldn’t be eating to maximize testosterone levels. The things you should avoid on a regular basis are
Let's touch on these individually. Gluten has been shown to increase prolactin levels in male mice (48, 49). Increased prolactin levels in males lead to all sorts of horrible things: man-boobs (50), high inflammation (51) and worst of all, higher prolactin levels have been shown to be testosterone-lowering and lead to shrinking of the testicles (52).
There are also studies which show that higher prolactin isn’t always associated with lower testosterone levels, but I think there’s enough evidence for me to avoid gluten for other health reasons alone. If it also helps with my testosterone levels, that's great.
Unsprouted grains have been shown to increase inflammation in the body (51). However, it should be noted that often these studies take place in sick people (e.g., those affected by celiac disease, obesity or other gut issues). Some studies show that grain consumption in healthy people does not lead to inflammation (53). This makes sense.
However, I take the following approach—first, there are a few studies showing there may be negative sides to eating grains, especially modern wheat. So, as someone who wants peak performance, I avoid them. Second, if I do eat grains, I will soak, sprout and/or ferment them first. This helps reduce anti-nutrients and improve absorption.
So what carbs do I recommend?
A lot of people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium helps with sleep and energy production. It can also help with testosterone production, especially in those who are deficient (59). There are quite a lot of studies showing magnesium use and greater testosterone levels (60, 61, 62). Fortunately, magnesium is relatively inexpensive.
For this reason, I have added it to the 'Should Do' list. I personally use Thorne Magnesium and also a transdermal lotion which I apply to my body each night. Beware of cheaper forms of magnesium tablets as they can cause your stomach to have gastrointestinal issues. For more on the importance of magnesium read Why You Should Be Supplementing With Magnesium.
If you aren’t already taking creatine for its physical or cognitive performance-enhancing effects (and you should be!) then you could look into taking it for its testosterone-boosting effects. Studies have shown that five grams a day of creatine monohydrate can boost testosterone and decrease cortisol levels in men (69).
This supplement is so widely researched (and is well-proven to be beneficial in multiple areas) that it cannot be ignored no matter your goal. Plus, it's dirt cheap these days. I add 5g to my workout shake or my morning smoothie.
You can read more about creatine here—Everything You Need To Know About Creatine.
I experimented with the Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster and Estrogen Control Combo herbs over a 12-week period. What did I find? According to my before-and-after DUTCH hormone tests, my testosterone increased by 26% after taking these herbs (more on this here—Mike Mahler's Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster review).
A 26% boost over 12 weeks, combined with my ongoing clients' successes with these products leads me to place these herbs in the 'Should Do' section. Though I will admit, there aren't any controlled studies on this product.
However, there are some interesting herbs in these products. Mucuna pruriens are shown to increase testosterone in unfertile men (67). Buline natalensis has some interesting studies on PubMed. If you have a few dollars and you’ve done all of the above, then sure, give it a go. If you do, please let me know how you get on!
So if you’re intent on maximizing your testosterone levels, and/or you have applied all of the above and you’re still not satisfied with your results (which would be surprising) then you could try the ideas below. I will point out that some of these tips may not have the scientific evidence to back them up like the previous points. But I can assure you that either I have used them or still do use them (and have had positive results), a client has used them with pleasing results or else it is such a new concept that there isn’t enough evidence to prove it one way or another.
Researchers found that the simple act of 'expressing power through open, expansive postures' (e.g., standing up straight and proud) can increase testosterone and decrease cortisol (58), as well as improve feelings of power and tolerance for risk. Easy! Your mother was right—don’t slouch. This could be a handy trick before making a speech or going on a date!
For more on this be sure to check out the Ted talk—Your body language shapes who you are.
I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that this works. But I have used it myself with good results and there are a lot of positive reviews on the web.
Pine pollen is an androgen, meaning, in theory, it can raise testosterone levels—effectively making it a naturally derived source of testosterone. Read more about this on the links below. But like I said, I started taking it for a few weeks and did notice a bit more ‘up and go’ so to speak, but it did only last a few weeks. I have tried cycling it, but I haven’t noticed the same effects as I had when I initially started with it. I’m still experimenting and will keep this page updated. Therefore, I recommend doing your own research.
Studies show that if your testicles become too hot, sperm production and testosterone production all decrease (63, 64). So avoid wearing tight-fitting briefs. Sleep naked. Have cold showers. Remember, there’s a reason your balls are hanging outside your body!
Competing and winning in competitions has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Losing has been shown to lower testosterone levels (57). So go and challenge your mate to a game of something, just make sure you’re good at it!
Similarly to the reasons why we should avoid plastic and parabens, synthetic herbicides and pesticides may contain xenoestrogens that imitate estrogen and other chemicals that disrupt the body’s hormonal system.
This is still a hot topic in the nutrition/health community, so I’ll let you do your own research on this. What do I do? I try to eat organic whenever I can. I even have my own organic vegetable garden that you can see here.
It has been shown that overweight males have lower testosterone levels (46).
The reason why this is in the 'Could Do' section, is because it's still unclear whether these people have low testosterone because they’re fat or if they’re fat because they have low testosterone.
It is clear that if you lose body fat, chances are good that your testosterone will increase. So if you are heavily overweight, before you start worrying about what supplement to take to help your libido, just start working on losing weight.
If you work on some of the things I have outlined above (like improving sleep, eating more fat, drinking less, training hard, etc.), you’ll most likely start to improve your body composition anyway. Otherwise, if you are serious about losing weight then be sure to apply for my coaching program or read my natural fat loss article here.
DAA is an amino acid regulator of testosterone synthesis. A few studies show short-term gains in testosterone and others have shown great gains in testosterone levels for infertile men (65).
If you do take DAA I recommend cycling it (e.g., five days on, two off, over four weeks then four weeks off). I suggest taking it with an aromatase inhibitor (which ensures the aspartic acid doesn’t get converted into estrogen). More studies are coming out showing the increase in testosterone is limited to a week or two before it drops back to normal levels.
Forskolin is an extract from the roots of the plant coleus foskohlii. Forskolin increases cellular levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which in turn should increase hormone activity. Think of cAMP as a messenger between hormones and the body's cells (ref 70).
Some studies have shown that 250mg increases testosterone by 33% (ref 71). However, the test subjects were obese men. There have also been a few in-vitro studies that have shown positive results with forskolin increasing testosterone (ref 72).
It's hard to say from the science if this herb actually works, but I have personally found a bit of a 'kick' when I cycle this herb. Like all herbs, I recommend a cyclic approach to their use. Either use it one day on and then one off. Or take it for five days followed by two days off. I recommend one cap of Paradise Herb Forskolii twice a day (morning and night).
One study showed mucuna pruriens (MP) increased testosterone in healthy males by 27% (ref 75). The other studies were on infertile males so it's still too little data to conclude that MP works for healthy men.
MP increases dopamine, which in turn drives down prolactin. This is the theory behind why MP leads to higher testosterone. It should be noted that mucuna pruriens contains L-DOPA, which is a dopamine precursor that is also used to treat Parkinson's disease.
For this reason, I recommend doing your own research on this supplement before taking it. In the studies, they used 5g of the powder. I recommend taking one or two capsules of the concentrated form from Paradise Herbs. Alternatively, the Aggressive Strength Test Booster also has MP in its formula, so you may prefer to use that blend instead.
There are a few herbs out there which have some positive studies in the literature in regards to improving testosterone. However, these supplements do not have enough research for me to confidently say they will work. I occasionally use some of these, and I cycle through them with pleasing results.
Combine the name of this herb with the fact that the Chinese have been using it as an aphrodisiac for over a thousand years and it has to do something, right? Well, there are animal studies that show it does benefit testosterone (ref 76). I personally use this blend sold by the brand Now.
There are no studies showing its effects on healthy males, but it has been shown to drastically improve testosterone in infertile males (ref 77). It's also packed full of minerals, so it's a great superfood, nevertheless. I use the Sunfoods brand. Make sure you buy from a quality brand. There are a lot of poor shilajit products out there. Some of those have been shown to be high in heavy metals.
Take one teaspoon. Incredibly dense in nutrients and feed by bees to the one larvae which grows to become the queen bee. I found one human study where a 4g daily serving led to a small increase in testosterone in older men (ref 78). There are also numerous animal studies showing positive effects (ref 79). Personally, I source authentic New Zealand manuka royal jelly from Manuka Health.
Also known as LongJack. I take 200–400mg a day on a cyclical basis. It's very popular in Asia to assist with libido. There are a few very poor studies that show slight increases in testosterone. I use the Advance Physician product.
Tongkat Ali—Nature's Sexual Stimulant?
Ashwagandha is shown to be effective at reducing cortisol which in turn helps with testosterone production. There are also numerous studies showing the effects on improving testosterone in infertile men (ref 80). If you are using the Aggressive Strength product you don't need to supplement with ashwagandha as it's included in the testosterone-booster formula. Likewise, you're already getting it if you're using Tian Chi (which is my daily herb drink).
I know I have listed a lot of herbs to help your testosterone levels. Overwhelmed? I don’t blame you. On that note, I recommend focusing on the Must Do list and working your way down before you start spending money popping ground up plants!
There are a lot of T-booster blends out there. A lot of them are junk. I have tried to cover the most effective herbs above. As always, I recommend doing your own research and experiment to see if you notice an effect. If you would like one easy herbal solution, I recommend starting with Mike Mahler's Aggressive Strength product purely because I have solid anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. But again, supplements should be seen as just that—a supplement to a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, hard training and adequate rest.
Without these core fundamentals in place, you may very well be wasting your money popping pills.
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This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is an ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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