June 20, 2023 - Shelly Jones
Updated Version - July 28, 2023
Testosterone is a critical hormone responsible for numerous functions in the body, predominantly in men. It influences bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength, red blood cell production, and sex drive. As age progresses, testosterone levels naturally decline, leading many individuals to explore ways to boost testosterone naturally. In this article we will guide you through various science-backed methods.
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Regular physical activity, especially high-intensity interval training, helps stimulate testosterone production.
When you exercise, especially when you do resistance training or high-intensity exercise, your body experiences physical stress. As part of this stress response, the body increases production of various hormones, including testosterone.
Resistance training, such as weight lifting, helps increase muscle mass. Since testosterone is important for muscle development, the body increases testosterone production to support muscle growth and repair.
Exercise also increases hormones like growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which have a relationship with testosterone. These hormones support anabolic processes in the body which are also controlled by testosterone.
Testosterone levels increase to a certain extent with a higher amount of exercise. Overtraining can actually lower testosterone levels. It's important to strike the right balance and avoid over-exercising which can lead to burnout or injury.
Adequate sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and it plays an important role in testosterone hormone production.
The body produces testosterone during sleep, and especially during part of the deepest stage of sleep. In this phase, the body's regenerative processes are most active, including hormone production. Therefore, getting enough quality sleep ensures that the body has enough time to produce testosterone.
Studies have shown that men who slept less than five hours a night for a week saw a 15 percent decrease in daytime testosterone levels. Therefore, it is important to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night to support optimal testosterone levels.
Under stress, the body increases production of the hormone cortisol to help manage the body's response. Cortisol and testosterone production have an inverse relationship. When cortisol levels increase, testosterone production decreases. By reducing stress, you reduce cortisol production, which can increase testosterone levels.
Reducing stress often involves lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, mindfulness practices, and possible professional help in the form of therapy or counseling.
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, but it also acts as a steroid hormone in the body. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is present in many tissues, including the male reproductive tract. The conversion of vitamin D to its active form occurs in the kidney and then circulates in the blood to perform various functions, one of them being the regulation of testosterone levels.
Studies have shown that men with adequate vitamin D levels had significantly higher testosterone levels and lower sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) than men with insufficient levels of vitamin D. Sex hormone-binding globulin binds to testosterone and prevents it from being used in the body.
Vitamin D supplements can be taken to potentially increase testosterone levels. One 12-month study found that supplementing with approximately 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by approximately 25%.
Remember, too much of any good thing can be harmful, and it is important to balance taking a vitamin D supplement, or else negative health effects such as vitamin D toxicity can occur.
Estrogen-like compounds are present in plastics, personal care products, and some manufactured foods. These can affect the hormone balance of the body. Minimizing exposure to these compounds may increase testosterone.
A balanced diet plays a vital role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Some foods that can increase testosterone naturally include:
Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food. Zinc is important for sperm health and reproductive function. Males with severe zinc deficiency may develop hypogonadism, in which the body does not produce enough testosterone. They may also experience impotence or delayed sexual maturation.
Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of micronutrients, including magnesium, a mineral that's critical for maintaining optimal testosterone levels, especially in older men.
It's thought that magnesium increases testosterone bioactivity in the body because magnesium reduces oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidant defenses and free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress and inflammation can reduce testosterone, so consuming nutrients that combat oxidative stress can help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Egg yolks are rich in healthy fat, protein, and selenium, a mineral that acts as an antioxidant in the body. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, cholesterol, vitamin D, and omega-3s, all of which aid in the production of testosterone. Eggs are very versatile ingredients and not only do they help increase testosterone levels, but the proteins in them also help build muscle.
Fatty fish is very beneficial because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You can also boost your omega-3 fatty acid levels by taking fish oil or omega-3 supplements. Examples of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
Garlic contains a compound called allicin which can be useful for lowering your cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland, which is where testosterone is produced. When your body is under stress it produces cortisol and this has an impact on other bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. therefore, by reducing the amount of cortisol in your system you allow testosterone to be produced more effectively by the adrenal gland. Garlic doesn't itself boost testosterone but it is a cortisol reducer.
Berries, cherries, and pomegranates are high in flavonoid antioxidants, which may help protect testosterone-producing cells from damage and increase testosterone production. Pomegranates, berries, and cherries may protect against obesity-induced inflammation, which can lower testosterone levels.
Some natural supplements may increase testosterone levels, including fenugreek, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and ashwagandha. However, it is good to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplement.
Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, minimizing exposure to estrogen-like compounds, and balanced nutrition have all been linked to increased testosterone levels. However, it's crucial to remember that sudden, drastic changes in testosterone levels can have side effects. Always seek medical advice before making significant changes to your lifestyle or starting supplements to boost testosterone levels.