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Optimizing your testosterone levels is critical to looking, feeling, and performing at your best. However, testosterone naturally declines as we age. This reduction leads to symptoms like fatigue, decreased muscle mass, and a lower sex drive.
No one wants any of that.
If you're experiencing these symptoms, the good news is that several options exist to address the issue. One of the most commonly discussed these days is testosterone replacement therapy, also known as TRT. But, before making that decision, there are other options to explore to increase testosterone levels naturally.
In this article, we'll dig into everything you need to know about how to increase testosterone levels, along with the pros and cons of TRT. So whether you're a fitness enthusiast looking to maximize your gains or improve your overall health, read on to learn how to optimize your testosterone safely and effectively.
Table of Contents:
Testosterone is a hormone mainly produced in the testicles in males and smaller amounts in the ovaries in females. It is a steroid hormone and belongs to a group of hormones called androgens.
In males, testosterone plays a vital role in the development of reproductive tissues such as the testicles and prostate and in the development of secondary sex characteristics like increased muscle mass, body hair growth, and voice changes during puberty.
It also has a role in producing sperm and maintaining a healthy sex drive. In fact, the male reproductive system will not function properly if a testosterone deficiency exists and test levels are not sufficient.
In females, testosterone also plays a role in developing reproductive tissues and maintaining a healthy sex drive, but at much lower levels than in males. The significant difference in testosterone production is the main reason why men generally have more muscle mass than women.
Testosterone also has non-reproductive functions in both males and females, including maintaining bone density, building muscle mass, and red blood cell production.
One way testosterone impacts muscle development is by enhancing the rate of protein synthesis. It can also affect mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.
What is normal for a 20-year-old will not be the same as what is typical for a 50 or 60-year-old.
Testosterone levels can vary depending on age, sex, and other factors. Healthy testosterone levels for adult males generally fall between 300 and 1,000(ng/dL), which stands for nanograms per deciliter.
However, test levels decline gradually with age, so the healthy range for an individual depends on how old they are.
Here are the healthy non-obese testosterone levels for men based on age1:
Low testosterone can have several causes, including:
It's important to mention that low testosterone levels can also result from ordinary fluctuations in hormone levels and may not always require medical treatment. However, if symptoms of low testosterone are present, seeking medical advice to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment is recommended.
The signs and symptoms of low T can vary depending on the person and the severity of the condition. However, none of the symptoms are things anyone would want to live with for long.
Some common signs and symptoms of low T include:
A blood test is the best and most reliable way to confirm you have low testosterone. If you suspect you have low T, bring it up to your healthcare provider. Often your doctor will order a blood panel to take a look at where your levels are at.
However, most general practitioners are not well-versed in optimizing hormones, so they may refer you to an endocrinologist or urologist. Depending on where you live, scheduling an appointment might be a long, drawn-out process.
If this seems like a hassle, I get it. Fortunately, you can skip straight to the source and work directly with a TRT clinic.
You can schedule a consultation with most TRT clinics and virtually meet with their in-house doctor specializing in hormone optimization. You can check out these 8 Online TRT Clinics, all of which we've vetted, to get started.
Our top recommendation for an online TRT clinic is Fountain TRT. They always start with a free personalized TRT evaluation that consists of a testosterone test, followed by a 1-on-1 video call with a Fountain provider to go over results
During the consult, they will evaluate your symptoms and schedule blood work to determine if you have low testosterone levels. From there, they will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan based on the blood test.
Although a blood test is the most common way to test for low T, if you hate needles, there is another option. Some clinics offer at-home health kits that test your testosterone using a saliva sample. For these, they send you a box with materials and instructions to collect your saliva; all you have to do is mail it back to them.
Research supports that testosterone can be accurately measured in male and female saliva samples3. The obvious benefit is that you don't even have to leave your house.
There are three main ways to increase your testosterone. The first way is to improve fundamental lifestyle factors. These include quality sleep hygiene, a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and minimal stress. You can even layer on a few bio hacks to this regimen, such as using cold showers to boost testosterone.
The second way is through using natural testosterone supplements. And the last way to increase testosterone is by using exogenous testosterone treatments (TRT). You can learn more about TRT in our guide to using TRT for bodybuilding.
Before getting into TRT, I recommend trying to boost your testosterone naturally by addressing lifestyle factors first. Although TRT works phenomenally well and has helped thousands of people, it is often a lifelong commitment.
Hormone and metabolic research indicate that addressing these seven lifestyle factors is the low-hanging fruit. In isolation, none of these things will make a substantial difference. However, stacked together gives your body the best chance to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
And for ladies looking for tips geared specifically to them, be sure to check out our article on 5 Ways Women Can Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels.
If I had to say what lifestyle factor is most critical, I would say sleep. Sleep is necessary for a variety of reasons, including hormone balance.
Even one week of inadequate sleep reduced testosterone in healthy young men4. Aim for 7-9 hours of time in bed per night. If you have concerns with any sleep issues, like sleep apnea, see a doctor so you can address them.
Regular exercise, particularly lifting weights and using the best exercises that increase testosterone, can aid in testosterone production. Lift 3-6 times a week, concentrating on progressive overload and strength gains. However, it is critical not to overdo it. Overtraining is linked to reduced testosterone levels, particularly in endurance athletes5.
If you want to include cardio while maximizing testosterone, opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT improves the balance of testosterone and cortisol, a stress hormone linked to decreasing test levels6.
You can learn even more about this in our article: Does Working Out Increase Testosterone Levels?
A healthy diet rich in protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables can preserve appropriate testosterone levels and even increase your luteinizing hormone, which stimulates testosterone production.
In addition to getting all your micronutrients, ensure you get at least 20% of your calories from fat. Studies have shown low-fat diets reduce testosterone levels in men7.
Maintaining a lean physique through regular exercise and nutrition can aid in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
In fact, being overweight is the most significant risk factor for low testosterone levels, especially in middle-aged and older men8.
Need some help getting started? Check out our 4-week weight loss meal plan!
Chronic stress has been shown to lower testosterone levels. Under chronic stress, the body produces the hormone cortisol, which can interfere with testosterone production.
Additionally, stress can lead to poor sleep quality, which can also lower testosterone levels.
Alcohol consumption can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels, particularly in men. However, it's important to point out, we are talking about excessive drinking.
A beer or glass of wine here or there will not make a significant difference. That said, serious alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels9.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical commonly found in plastics and other consumer products. BPA exposure has been linked to decreased testosterone levels, particularly in young men.
Researchers found high levels of BPA exposure were associated with lower levels of serum testosterone in male adolescents10.
Testosterone boosters are dietary supplements containing vitamins, minerals, and herbs intended to naturally boost testosterone. We discuss the best vitamins, minerals, and herbs in detail in our article on the 8 Best Supplements to Increase Testosterone Naturally.
The product's ingredients determine the particular mechanism of action. However, most test boosters function by replenishing vitamin deficiencies. This is especially true for products containing Vitamin D, Zinc, and Magnesium.
You will not produce testosterone optimally if you are deficient in specific vitamins and minerals.
Some herbal substances may raise testosterone by reducing cortisol levels, antioxidant qualities, or altering enzymes involved in testosterone production11.
It's important to point out that testosterone boosters are not anabolic steroids or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Unlike steroids or TRT, test boosters will not enhance testosterone levels above what is naturally possible.
Furthermore, test boosters only contain ingredients that are available over the counter. There is no need for a prescription.
You can learn more about this in our article: Is Testosterone A Steroid?
For the most part, over-the-counter testosterone boosters are perfectly safe. But you want to make sure you're picking products that use ingredients that have been proven to be effective.
Here's a look at our favorite ingredients. And, if you want to bypass the research stage, SET FOR SET has already done the work for you, including our favorite ingredients and products in this round-up of the 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements.
Ashwagandha is a plant well known for alleviating stress and anxiety. However, there is some evidence that ashwagandha supplements can increase serum testosterone levels12.
Overall, the evidence is pretty strong, which is why it made our list of 6 Best Herbs That Boost Testosterone.
Forskolin, also known as coleus forskohlii, is a herb that may have an effect on testosterone production, though additional research is needed.
One study indicated that using forskolin for 12 weeks boosted testosterone and improved body composition in overweight individuals13.
Fenugreek is a herb believed to boost libido and improve blood sugar metabolism but may also raise testosterone. A meta-analysis published in 2020 discovered that fenugreek has a beneficial effect on testosterone concentration in men14.
TestoPrime, one of our favorite T boosters, included fenugreek as one of its ingredients.
Magnesium is a mineral that regulates blood pressure, energy metabolism, and testosterone production. The catch is that supplementing with magnesium only increases testosterone if you're deficient.
But unless your diet is dialed in, there is a good chance you are deficient in magnesium. There is solid research to support magnesium supplementation, too. One study showed that taking magnesium raises free and total testosterone levels in athletes and sedentary people15.
Interested? Check out these 7 Best Magnesium Supplements!
Zinc is a mineral that plays numerous roles, including brain function, immune system health, and promoting normal testosterone synthesis.
If you have a zinc deficiency supplementing can help you increase your testosterone16. However, you can focus on eating zinc-rich foods such as red meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Learn more about this in our article: Does Zinc Increase Testosterone?
An indoor lifestyle makes obtaining appropriate vitamin D levels difficult. Vitamin D supplementation is linked to various health perks, including testosterone production.
A 2010 study indicated that men with low Vitamin D levels had greater testosterone after a year of supplementation17. If you think you have a Vitamin D deficiency, it can be tested in blood work.
These Vitamin D Supplements are excellent, but I also recommend aiming to get vitamin D through sunlight and nutrition. Cod liver oil, salmon, milk, eggs, and liver are high in vitamin D.
Now that we've covered testosterone boosters, let's take a deep dive into testosterone therapy.
Testosterone therapy is a treatment that involves supplementing the body with additional testosterone to increase low levels of the hormone.
This treatment primarily treats hypogonadism, a condition in which the body cannot produce enough testosterone, leading to symptoms such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and reduced muscle mass.
Testosterone therapy is available in several forms, including injections, skin patches, gels, pellets, and tablets. The most common forms of TRT are injections and skin patches. Head to our article on the 8 Best TRT Benefits to learn more about this treatment option and what it does for you.
Testosterone therapy can help improve symptoms associated with low testosterone levels. However, testosterone therapy also carries potential risks and side effects.
The first step in testosterone therapy is researching testosterone therapy clinics in your area or asking for a referral from your doctor.
Once you have identified potential clinics, check their credentials, ensure they are reputable and have licensed medical professionals on staff. You can also check online reviews to understand their reputation. Ensure the clinic is there to help create a customized treatment plan for you.
Depending on your location, you might find that you don't have many quality options. That's fine. Luckily, there are some great online TRT clinics that can work with you virtually.
Once you pick the right spot, contact the clinic and schedule a consultation. During the consultation, you will discuss your needs and determine if testosterone therapy suits you.
When you meet with the doctor, they will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order necessary blood tests. If testosterone therapy is deemed appropriate, the medical professional will work with you to create a customized plan to meet your individual goals.
The relationship doesn't stop there. Once you begin testosterone therapy, you will need to continue to monitor your progress, adjust your treatment plan as necessary, and ensure that you are experiencing optimal results.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy clinics typically use a low dose of synthetic testosterone to boost T levels. Testosterone is a drug, so you need a prescription to get it.
There are multiple types of testosterone therapy available. The best delivery method will depend on your needs and goals. By far, the most common way to administer testosterone is through injections, but if you hate needles, there are alternative methods.
In addition to prescription testosterone, clinics may also recommend lifestyle changes and supplements to help boost testosterone levels.
Testosterone therapy can effectively treat men with low testosterone levels. In addition, TRT reliably improves several symptoms linked with low t, such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and depressed mood.
In addition to improving symptoms, TRT can increase muscle mass, strength, and sexual function, decrease body fat, and help with losing weight.
TRT may also decrease the risk of certain health conditions associated with low testosterone, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Remember, though, that while TRT is great, it works best when combined with improving lifestyle factors. Ensure you sleep well, exercise, eat a balanced diet, and manage stress.
TRT is not for everyone and can carry potential risks and side effects. It's important to talk through everything with your doctor or the TRT clinic's doctor before getting started.
Many of our readers have opted for Fountain TRT based on our recommendation and have reported back happily. We have thoroughly vetted Fountain TRT and can reliably confirm their 4.8/5 stars on Trust Pilot is worthy. We speak with them regularly as to keep up-to-date with any changes at their clinic and in the industry. Their process is entirely free to start and they don't use any pressure tactics. In fact, if you don't need TRT, they will be the first to tell you. Their integrity (along with ease of use and pricing) is a big reason we recommend them. So, if you are on the fence, simply give Fountain TRT's free evaluation a try and go from there. Nothing to lose.
If you are undergoing testosterone therapy or taking steps to naturally boost your testosterone levels, there are a few ways to determine if your testosterone levels are increasing.
The most accurate way is through a blood test, which measures the amount of test in your bloodstream. Your doctor or TRT clinic can order a testosterone test, which should be conducted regularly to monitor your progress.
Another way to determine if your testosterone levels are increasing is by monitoring improvements in symptoms such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and depressed mood. Increased testosterone levels can lead to improvements in these symptoms, and if you notice improvements, it may indicate that your testosterone levels are rising.
Finally, if you notice changes such as more muscle mass, improved muscle strength, and decreased body fat, it can also be a sign that your testosterone levels are increasing.
Determining the best way to increase your testosterone depends on the individual. However, if you are under 40, prioritize optimizing lifestyle factors and try supplementing with natural test boosters.
TestoPrime is an excellent option, as it contains research-backed ingredients, is third-party tested, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
TestoFuel is another great T-boosting option, proven to help increase your T, boost your energy, and speed up your metabolism.
TRT might still be the right call if you are under 40, but aim to get the most out of the natural route first. TRT is a long-term and potentially life-long commitment.
For the over-40 crowd, still, take care of the low-hanging fruit first. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, and make sure you get enough sleep. That said, if you still have low testosterone, TRT will be the best way to increase your testosterone levels to the degree necessary to improve your life. Thankfully, it's easier and more accessible than ever thanks to online TRT clinics.
To wrap things up, optimizing testosterone levels can significantly impact your health and well-being, from improving muscle mass and energy levels to enhancing sex drive and mood.
Whether you choose to increase your testosterone levels naturally or through testosterone replacement therapy, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional and weigh the pros and cons carefully.
However, with the right approach, achieving optimal testosterone levels can help you feel your best and perform at your peak.
Ready to start boosting your testosterone naturally? Work on getting your lifestyle habits in check while supplementing with one of these 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements!
At SET FOR SET, we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Our team of experts, including certified trainers, dietitians, and athletes, brings over a decade of industry expertise. Our goal is to be your primary resource for all fitness inquiries, guiding you toward a stronger and healthier life. Sign up to stay up-to-date!