Hormones are powerful things! A little bit off, or not in the right balance 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. Unfortunately a lot of men have less than ideal levels & don’t know what they’re missing out on. I see it all the time with new signups to The Program
So what should you do if you're low in testosterone or simply want to boost your levels naturally?
I’ve broken things into 3 sections – The first are your ‘Must Do’s’. 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’s’. If you have the must do’s down solid, and still want more gains then you should do these.
Finally, the ‘Could Do’s’. These are last resort, some of these things involve financial outlay, or may seem a bit silly. However you should still see some benefit.
Everything I have listed before has either been:
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Research shows that skipping sleep can drastically lower testosterone in healthy guys (1). After 1 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 8+ hours in a 24 hour window (i.e. 7+ 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 correct, 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 – yes butter, bacon, egg yolks, beef fat are all sources of saturated fat.
Cholesterol (which is found in 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 – saturated fat!) lead to a decrease in T levels (13). 40%. Look at that number again. A lot of common Bodybuilder diets out there recommend 20% fat for your total calories.
If you’ve been trying to avoid fat (i.e. you’re having egg white omelets, you drink low fat milk, you always choose the leanest cuts of meat) 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 – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to LOWER testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFA's in a lot more detail in this article - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday.
So eat more fat, but make sure it’s the right kind of fat!
Doing that pump class with your girlfriend doesn’t count. Nor does curling 10kg DBs or getting a burn on the leg extension machine. I’m talking heavy, intense weights that you can only perform 2-8 repetitions of. And the more muscle you use the better.
Studies show that the good old squat made the body produce more growth hormone & testosterone than a machine working similar muscles (18). – So think Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Chins, Presses etc.
Think I’m just saying this because I’m a trainer? Well this study (17) “indicate(d) that strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age.”
It should be noted that the best way to lift heavy is to ensure you have adequate recovery between sets. I recommend a minimium of 90sec, and 3-5minutes if you are really pushing yourself. In fact, studies have shown that longer rest peroids (2min+) are better for increasing Testosterone (ref 81).
Please note that short rests however, have been shown to have a positive effect on growth hormone release. Don’t like waiting 3 minutes between sets? Do some mobility work, or work another body part (ie, squat heavy, wait 90sec, bench heavy, wait 90sec squat etc).
So go on now, go lift some weights, 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, which is actually a steroid hormone, not a vitamin, 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 & many other western regions in 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 (i.e., 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 10minutes a day and slowly work up to 20-30 minutes)
If sun exposure isn’t practical (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 having a 25(OH)D test. Ask your GP, or contact Michael at planetnaturopath.com. 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 (47), which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – if we were stressed as cavemen chances are it was a life or death situation – not running late to a meeting - in this state (i.e. running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up, there was more to worry about!
Today’s society is a high stress place, chronic stress and adrenal fatigue is 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 should you increase your testosterone levels (which would be tough to do in the setting mentioned) you body is going to block the positive effects anyway.
So work on minimizing stress in your life. Plus, high 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 2 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 soldier’s self discovery, in fact, exposure to radiation (whether it’s from an army radar or the cell phone in your pocket, or the wifi router in your house) has been shown to lower sperm quality, fertility and testosterone. This is true not only for military personnel (88, 89,90) but all males living in a modern world (91).
A quick review of the literature uncovers these peer reviewed papers:
This (91) 2014 paper concluded: “A correlation exists between mobile phone radiation exposure, DNA-fragmentation level and decreased sperm motility.”
Another study (92) 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.”
But this is an article on testosterone not sperm quality, so what does the latest science say in regards to EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency or Field) exposure and testosterone? Well it’s not good. Here a few studies:
This 2016 study (93) concluded – “Workers exposed to high magnetic fields in a power plant had reduced levels of testosterone and this could affect their reproductive function, said researchers.”
Another paper (94) looked at EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation – another name for EMF) exposure and male testosterone levels. The findings? EMR exposure decreased levels of testosterone. A drop significant enough to increase the likelihood of developing testicular and prostate cancers.
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 (95) Rat study concluded:
Prolonged exposure to 50 Hz EMF has an adverse effect on male fertility. In addition, low frequency EMF significantly reduced sperm motility and testosterone levels.
A Hamster (that’s a new one!) study (96) found:
In conclusion, long-term exposure to cellular phones EMF may affect the reproductive hormonal balance and impair endocrine homeostasis and it may cause peripheral effects.
And one final study (97) found that:
Exposure to mobile phone radiation for 60 minutes/day for the total period of 3 months significantly decrease the serum testosterone level in Wistar Albino rats compared to their matched control.
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. Turn it onto 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 threefold.
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 – such as breast cell growth, prostate enlargement and of course lower testosterone.
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); BPA 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 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 careful 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, us guys want to minimize estrogen! 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 20minutes a day 5 days a week as part of their accountability program! They have to snap a photo to show me that they have got 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 used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. They can be found in toothpastes, tanning products, lubricants, shaving gels, shampoos, and moisturizers amongst other things. Some foods also contain parabens.
Parabens are still under debate in the literature, but there is evidence to show that the body absorbs the stuff and 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.
You know the type, the 40mins at 120bpm heart rate sweat sessions. Or maybe it’s the 10km run you’re doing 3 times a week. Sure you will be feeling blissful with all those endorphins, but it's not helping with your testosterone levels.
One study (ref 82) compared testosterone levels of weightlifters, a control group, and road cyclists (all the same age). Of the 3, the weightlifters had the highest T levels, while the endurance riders had the lowest. 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 been shown numerous times that it has positive effects on testosterone levels. One 2011 study (ref 84) 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, total testosterone and the total testosterone/cortisol ratio increased significantly in the (sprinters) EXP group”.
Another study had healthy athletes perform 4x 250m sprints with a 3minute rest. The group that performed the sprints had “significant increases in testosterone” (ref 85)
Sprint! Run, Cycle, Jump, Skip, Push - Do it at Maximum Intensity for Short Bursts
Why is this the case? Why do the marathon runners have such lower Test 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 – you are stressing the body for a long time.
Whereas the sprinters (with adequate rest) are only performing brief (yet very intensive) spikes in cortisol, and allowing the body plenty of time to recover. If you do start undertaking a sprint interval program, be careful not to overdo it.
Start small. 1 or 2 sessions per week is more than enough to reap the rewards. You must ensure you allow the body plenty of time to recover from the intense workout. 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. Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that have similar affects 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 affect 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, but unfortunately they did not look at testosterone levels in the study (40). This (41) particular 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 (both bad).
And we have an n=1 study where a 19 year old boy consumed large dose of soy for a year. He lost his libido and had ED problems along with lower Testosterone levels (which returned to normal after a year of ditching the soy intake) (44). Though it needs to be remembered this had a study size of one!
The final two studies looked directly at soy vs testosterone levels. The first looked at introducing consumption of soya flour 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 the consumption of soy protein isolates (powder) in healthy men. They found that testosterone levels decreased upon consumption of soy powder (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 affects on the body, including some studies that show decreased Testosterone levels. For that reason (and the fact that it tastes like ass) I avoid it, and I recommend you also avoid it (in particular soy isolates!) if you’re seeking higher testosterone.
Zinc stops/slows the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and assists in testosterone production. Studies have shown supplementing with zinc increases Testosterone levels, and restricting zinc intake drastically lowers T levels (29 & 30).
Best source of zinc? Oysters. Otherwise meat, fish or raw milk. Failing that I recommend supplementing with 1x Thorne Double Strength Zinc Picolinate a day.
Carbs play a big part in determining your Testosterone levels. Let's start with what to avoid. First, research shows that a large serving of sugar (75g of glucose), decreased Testosterone levels by as much as 25%! (25 & 26). I know this is a pretty extreme dosage, but you may want to avoid massive servings of sugar! Also, men who have Metabolic syndrome have lower Testosterone levels (27). Metabolic syndrome is often brought about by chronic high blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance.
High insulin levels over long periods of time (i.e., frequent intakes of sugar throughout the day on an ongoing basis with poor insulin sensitivity) hamper sex hormone synthesis, leading to lower sex hormones as we age. Yes, our hormone levels naturally decrease with age, but the chronic insulin levels likely exacerbate this effect (56).
When a lot of insulin is present in the blood, sex hormones (which are meant to be transported through the blood by blood proteins called globulin) remain bound, or stuck, to the globulin instead of being dropped off at their target (i.e., brain, adrenal glands and sex organs).
Yes carbs are important for healthy Testosterone levels (more on this soon), but don’t over do 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 as well drink a can of soda with some aminos acid! 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 (winning a national bodybuilding title), however the key is to use cyclical carb re-feeds. If you’re going to go on a low carb diet for whatever reason, be sure to work in a large carb reefed once a week.
Finally, if you think finding the right balance between fat and carbs is all to 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 & total testosterone compared to a non-drinking control group (20). Drinking did however lower SHBG testosterone levels, though this type of testosterone is bound to a protein meaning our bodies cannot use it to build muscle or increase 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 as there are a lot of studies that show drinking leads to an assortment of health issues. This acute spike in Testosterone could be due to the effect alcohol has on libido, and also the energy influx in the liver?
Binge drinking on the other hand does 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 whooping 20-23% after 24hours! Note 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 from drinking alcohol is zinc depletion. We know low zinc levels can lower Testosterone levels. So if you are drinking, maybe take some zinc or eat some oysters?
Something else to note if you like your beer, this study (21) showed that 2-3 beers per day was shown to lower Testosterone levels by nearly 7% in a 3 week period (21). However the point here is the fact that they drunk beer. Hops are 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 anaphradesiacel herb – it lessens sexual desire!
In order to boost your testosterone levels, when it comes to alcohol I recommend:
Beer - Avoid 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:
Lets touch on these individually. Gluten has been shown to increase prolactin levels in male mice (48 & 49). Increased prolactin levels in males leads to all sorts of horrible things: Man Boobs (50), High inflammation (51), and most importantly, higher prolactin levels have been shown to be testosterone lowering and lead to shrinking of the testicle (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 helps with my Testosterone levels then great.
Unsprouted grains have been shown to increase inflammation in the body (51). However it should noted that often these studies take place in sick people (coeliac disease, obese, or have gut issues). And 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. If I do eat grains, I will soak, sprout, 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 & energy production. Magnesium can 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). And 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. Be careful of cheaper forms of magnesium tablets as they can cause stomach GI issues. For more on the importance of magnesium Why You Should Be Supplementing With Magnesium.
If you aren’t already taking creatine for its physical or cognitive performance enhancing affects (and you should be!) then you could look at taking it for its Testosterone boosting affects. Studies (69) have shown that 5 grams a day of Creatine monohydrate can boost testosterone and decrease cortisol levels in men.
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 morning smoothie.
You can read more about creatine here - Everything You Need To Know About Creatine
I experimented with the Agressive Strength Test booster and Estrogen control herbs over a 12 week peroid. 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 client success with this products leads me to placing 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 (shown to increase Testosterone in unfertile men 67) & Buline Natalensis have some interesting studies on pubmed. If you have a few dollars and you’ve done all 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 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 or do use them (and have positive results), or a client has used them with pleasing results, or finally it is such a new conception that there isn’t enough evidence to prove it one way or another.
Researchers found that the simple act ‘expressing power through open, expansive postures’ (i.e. standing up straight and proud) can increase Testosterone and decrease cortisol (58), along with improving 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 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!
Similar to 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 eat organic whenever I can. I even have my own ogranic vege 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 if these people have low testosterone because they’re fat, or if they’re fat because they have low testosterone.
One thing is clear and that is if you lose body fat, chances are 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 a few kgs.
If you work on a few 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.
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 (i.e. 5 days on, 2 off, over 4 weeks then 4 weeks off). And taking it with an aromatase inhibitor (which ensures the aspartic acid doesn’t get converted to estrogen). Especially as 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) (ref 70), which in turn should increase hormone activity (cAMP acts as a messenger between hormones and the body's cells).
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 showed 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 using them. Either 1 day on, 1 off, or 5 days on, 2 off. I recommend 1 cap of Paradise Herb Forskolii twice a day (morning & night)
Studies (73, 74) have shown this to be effective at increasing Testosterone in animals. Two studies have been done on humans that shown positive results.
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 precurosor and is used to treat parkinsons disease.
For this reason I recommend doing your own research on this supplement before taking it. 5g of ground up dried powder is what was used in the studies. I recommend taking 1-2 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 occsionaly 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 by 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 is a great superfood nevertheless. I use the Sunfoods brand. Make sure you buy from a quality brand, as there are a lot of poor shilajit products out there, also some have been shown to be high in heavy metals.
Take 1 teaspoon. Incredibly dense in nutrients and feed by bees to the larvae who grows on to be the queen bee. I found one human study where a 4g daily serving led to an small increase in testosterone in older men (ref 78). There are also numerous animal studies (ref 79) showing positive effects. Personally I source NZ manuka royal jelly from Manuka Health.
Also known as LongJack. I take 200-400mg a day on a cyclical basis. 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 test booster formula. Likewise if you're using Tian Chi (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 dos and working your way down before you start spending money popping ground up roots and plants!
There are a lot of test 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 Mahlers Aggressive Strength product purely because I have solid anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. But again, supplements should be seen purely as that - a supplement to a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, hard training with adequate rest.
Without these core fundamentals in place you may very well be wasting your money popping pills.
If you are struggling with hormonal imbalances, low testosterone, high estrogen, poor libido and low muscle mass, then there is a solution. I have built a Program specifically for people like you. In this Program we work from the ground up to fix hormonal imbalances.
I map everything out for you - from training, to sleep, to supplements. And I make it easy for you to increase your testosterone to levels you've never reached before.
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