Want the perfect workout program?Take Quiz
Fact checked by Andrew LenauFACT CHECKED
April 29, 2023
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. It's the driver that builds muscle, drops body fat, and enhances libido. As a male, your goal should be to get more of it. However, men today have less testosterone than at any other time in human history. And, as we age, we get even less of it.
Yet, there are ways to boost your testosterone without resorting to testosterone replacement therapy or artificial steroids. In this article, we drill down on the most effective ways to increase testosterone naturally.
Testosterone is necessary for the growth of male sex organs and secondary sex traits, such as facial hair and a deep voice. It contributes to both sexual desire and performance in both men and women.
Testosterone also plays a key role in the development and maintenance of bone and muscle mass. In addition, it has been associated with memory, brain activity, and mood modulation. Anxiety, fatigue, and depressive symptoms have all been attributed to low testosterone levels.
Finally, testosterone plays a part in the synthesis of energy and the metabolism of that energy. That's why people who are low in testosterone lack energy and are prone to fatigue.
Ladies, this applies to you too! Low testosterone in women can have a negative impact on ladies' overall health, so if you're feeling off, low T is certainly worth considering.
Testosterone is produced naturally in the testes of men and the ovaries of women. Researchers have proven that there are a number of lifestyle factors that can increase testosterone output. Here are six ways to boost your body's testosterone production naturally.
And for ladies looking for tips geared toward them, be sure to check out our article on 5 Ways Women Can Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels.
Lifting weights has been shown to increase testosterone levels by increasing muscle mass. Your body can manufacture more testosterone the more muscle mass you have. Vigorous weight training puts a lot of stress on the body, and your body will produce testosterone at a higher rate the harder you work out. Studies have demonstrated that following a vigorous workout, testosterone levels can increase.¹
Weightlifting can activate the endocrine system, which in men also includes the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, and the testes. Luteinizing hormone (LH), which is released by the pituitary gland, encourages the testes to produce more testosterone.
Lifting weights and utilizing the best exercises to increase testosterone can help reduce body fat, which may increase testosterone levels. An enzyme called aromatase is found in fat cells. Aromatase transforms testosterone into estrogen.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has also been shown to improve healthy testosterone levels.²
In one study, a group of 56 men underwent a 12-week workout program. Their testosterone levels were assessed before and after the training. It was seen that those who had the greatest gains in strength and muscle mass also experienced the highest testosterone increases.³
You can learn even more about this in our article: Does Working Out Increase Testosterone Levels?
Maintaining a regular sleep pattern will allow your body to secrete hormones according to a balanced, set pattern. However, when we are inconsistent in our sleep habits, we throw off our hormonal clock, which causes us to suppress the release of such key hormones as testosterone.
A 2022 study by Liu, et al. showed that people who suffer from sleep apnea have a significantly reduced testosterone production ability.⁴
There are specific things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. Do not have a large meal within two hours of going to bed. You will upset your digestive process, which will, in turn, prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
Try to go to bed at the same time each night and aim to get at least eight hours of sleep. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Refuse to take technology into your bedroom (including your phone). Make the bedroom the place where you rest, not where you engage in social media.
Avoid alcohol as well as stimulants such as coffee or tea within an hour of bedtime. Contrary to what many people think, alcohol will not put you to sleep – it will, in fact, do the opposite.
Avoid extreme mental or physical exertion before bedtime. Exercise will help you to get a good night's sleep, but not if you do it in the evening. Taxing your brain is also good for you, but it may also keep you awake if you strain your brain too late in the day.
Low testosterone levels may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, particularly regarding zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D. A diet lacking in these nutrients can have a negative effect on testosterone levels because they are necessary for the creation of testosterone.
A 1996 study compared testosterone levels and zinc levels in healthy adults. Those with inadequate zinc levels had significantly lower testosterone levels than those with adequate zinc levels. This suggests that consuming a diet high in zinc is essential for supporting healthy testosterone levels.⁵
You can learn more about this in our article: Does Zinc Increase Testosterone?
Unhealthy weight gain and high percentages of body fat can cause reduced testosterone levels. As previously mentioned, an enzyme called aromatase is found in fat cells, and it transforms testosterone into estrogen. Your body produces more aromatase the more body fat you have, which lowers your testosterone levels.
Extremely low-calorie diets can also cause a decrease in testosterone levels. A decrease in testosterone production can occur when the body enters "survival mode" due to insufficient nutrients.
Eating a diet high in protein can raise testosterone levels. A protein-rich diet can support testosterone production since it offers the building blocks needed for testosterone synthesis.
A 2010 meta-study looked at the relationship between weight training, diet, and testosterone levels. The researchers concluded that a high protein diet that also includes magnesium and zinc, combined with weight training, supports healthy testosterone levels.⁶
When the body is under stress, cortisol is produced, which impedes testosterone production.⁷ You can increase testosterone levels by reducing stress, which will lower cortisol levels.
The synthesis of testosterone also depends on getting enough rest and recovery. Low testosterone levels can result from chronic stress' impact on sleep quality. By reducing stress, you can get better sleep and boost your body's production of testosterone while you are sleeping.
Cortisol has been shown to interfere with the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), which is necessary for the secretion of testosterone from the testes. The stress hormone also promotes the breakdown of muscle tissue. The lower your muscle mass, the lower your testosterone production will be.
Sunlight exposure causes the skin to create vitamin D3, which is later changed into calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D, via the liver and kidneys. Studies have shown that calcitriol boosts the body's testosterone production.⁸
There is also some research to show that exposure to sunlight lowers cortisol levels, which can help maintain normal testosterone levels.⁹
Despite the stereotype, beer definitely does not make the man!
Ironically, the first three or four drinks have been shown to increase your testosterone levels. From there, though, it's all downhill. The effect that alcohol has on the body is dose-dependent. It also depends on the size of the person. But the pattern is clear.
Alcoholics tend to have super high estrogen levels and pathetically low testosterone levels. That's also why you see the massive beer belly and terrible skin on guys who overindulge.
However, strategic use of alcohol can be useful. In a study out of Finland, subjects consumed half a glass of vodka immediately after resistance training. This had the effect of boosting their testosterone levels by 100%.¹⁰ If you want to try this after working out, stick with a straight liquor, such as tequila, rather than beer – and just the one!
Studies have identified certain foods that should be avoided if your goal is to increase testosterone naturally.
Flaxseeds have become extremely popular in recent years. They have been aggressively promoted as a wonder food due to their high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you're interested in your manhood, you may want to reconsider your flaxseed consumption.
Flaxseeds are extremely high in a compound known as lignans. Lignans are estrogenic and actually work against testosterone production. A 2001 study gave a 30-gram per day dose of flaxseed to 40 men over a period of 30 days. Over that short time, the men experienced a 10% drop in their total testosterone levels.¹¹
Licorice is an extremely popular snack food, especially in European countries. The big problem with it is that it contains a compound known as glycrrhetinic acid. This acid is what gives licorice its distinctive taste. However, it has been shown that this acid will reduce your testosterone levels.
A 1998 Japanese study by Sekamoto et al., showed that even a modest dose of glycrrhetinic acid is able to significantly block testosterone production in Leydig cells. It does this by inhibiting the 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme. This enzyme is a vital catalyst in testosterone production.¹²
Most vegetable oils contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fats. While the intake of monounsaturated fats and increase total fat intake actually boost testosterone levels, the consumption of polyunsaturated fats significantly lowers them.¹³
That makes polyunsaturated vegetable oils disastrous news for anyone who's suffering from sagging "T" levels. Cooking your steak in this stuff is going to decimate your levels even further.
A number of natural herbs and other compounds have been shown to boost the body's natural testosterone production. These are combined in testosterone-boosting supplements. We cover this in-depth in our article on the 8 Best Supplements to Increase Testosterone Naturally.
Here's an overview of the key ingredients:
D-Aspartic Acid: D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) is an amino acid that stimulates LH production. This, in turn, promotes testosterone production in the testes.¹⁴ There's a reason why DAA is included in most testosterone boosting supplements.
Zinc: Low zinc has been associated with reduced testosterone levels, so increasing zinc levels may boost 'T' production.
Vitamin D: As we've seen, increasing Vitamin D levels can reduce cortisol levels. Because cortisol has a testosterone-lowering effect, supplementing with Vitamin D can have the overall effect of improving testosterone levels.
Tribulus Terrestris: Tribulus Terrestris (Puncture Vine) is used by many bodybuilders as a post-steroid cycle way to restart their "T" production. It has been shown to enhance LH secretion, paving the way for increased testosterone production.¹⁵
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is an herb that has been shown to assist in inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, which can lead to higher testosterone levels.¹⁶ This is one of many examples of traditional medicine used for boosting testosterone.
Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb that can reduce stress and anxiety. This helps lower cortisol production, which can lead to higher testosterone levels.¹⁷ It is one of our favorite herbs that boost testosterone.
Low testosterone levels will profoundly affect a person's health and well-being. Here are the main symptoms of testosterone deficiency:
If you have any concern about your T-levels and you want to get checked by medical professionals, there are online TRT clinics who can give you a low-T assessment. It's a private, convenient, and cost-effective option.
We highly recommend the reputable online clinic Fountain TRT for your assessment. We have thoroughly vetted and reviewed them and many of our readers have used Fountain TRT for their testosterone assessment and/or treatment and have reported back to us happily. So we are confident they are a good choice.
Men's testosterone levels naturally decrease with age. Typically, testosterone levels reach their peak in the late teens or early 20s, and after the age of 30, they start to slowly fall by roughly 1% annually.
Low testosterone levels can also be a result of damage to the testicles or specific medical disorders such the mumps or testicular cancer. Some drugs, such as painkillers and steroids, can inhibit the production of testosterone.
Too much body fat might cause testosterone to be converted to estrogen, resulting in reduced testosterone levels. Diabetes and chronic renal disease are two examples of chronic conditions that might reduce testosterone levels.
Finally, chronic stress can result in the release of cortisol, which can prevent the creation of testosterone.
Here are seven foods that have been shown to boost testosterone levels:
There is no fast track to increasing testosterone production naturally. To up your testosterone levels, you need to do the following regularly:
Yes, you can boost your body's natural production of testosterone. The combination of weight resistance training, cardio to reduce body fat, getting plenty of sleep, taking supplements containing proven testosterone-boosting ingredients, eating a balanced diet, and reducing stress levels will help you to do so.
Testosterone is the most important anabolic hormone in your body. Yet, from age 30 onward, your production of it declines. In this article, we've identified the most effective, research-backed ways to safely increase your body's natural production of testosterone; strength training workouts, quality sleep, sunlight, reducing stress and alcohol intake, and following a balanced diet. The most crucial factor of all is consistency. Make the lifestyle habits we've discussed a part of your daily routine, and your testosterone levels will be optimized.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
At SFS we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases, killer workouts, actionable fitness content and more. As our motto goes - "You don't have to get ready if you stay #alwaysready!"