Testosterone is primarily a male sex hormone that begins to increase during puberty and starts to decline after the age of 30. Often associated with sex drive, testosterone plays a crucial role in determining masculinity. But that’s not all—it also affects the way men’s bodies store fat, bone, and muscle mass, and aids in red blood cell production. Fluctuations in testosterone levels may also affect mood.
Increasing Testosterone Levels Naturally
There are positive changes you can make to your overall health that could also benefit your testosterone levels. Here are ten proven ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally.
- Exercise: Getting the right amount of exercise is important in supporting healthy Testosterone levels quickly adapt to your body’s needs. Too little exercise and your body doesn’t manufacture as much testosterone to boost your bones and muscles. Going to the gym every day is beneficial, but too much high endurance exercise can actually lower testosterone levels. For that reason, many workout routines incorporate the use of break days.
Get Enough Sleep: Make an effort to get the right amount of sleep. Insufficient sleep can lower your testosterone levels in as little as one
week.2 To maintain healthy levels of this hormone, you need around 7-9 hours of sleep. The exact amount will depend on how tired you are and the quality of your sleep. If you snore a lot and are sleepy during the day, you may have sleep apnea and should see your doctor since it can lead to other problems like high blood pressure. Going to bed and getting up at consistent times also supports your natural circadian rhythm. Improve your sleep by keeping your phones, TV, tablets, and computers out of the bedroom, since these light sources confuse the brain’s signals that it’s time to rest.
Balance Your Diet: Pay attention to your long-term calorie intake, as constant overeating or dieting can disrupt testosterone
production.3 Maintain a healthy balance of fat, protein, and carbs to optimize testosterone levels and support long-term health. Make whole foods a mainstay of your diet and avoid processed and refined foods.
- Reduce Stress: Keep the stress in your life to a minimum and your testosterone levels may increase.4 Your body reacts to stress by producing a hormone known as cortisol, which leads to storage of fat and breakdown of muscle tissue. Cortisol also interferes with the production of testosterone. Manage your stress levels by meditation, yoga, regular sleep and exercise. Try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Get Plenty of Vitamin D: Almost half of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.5 As well as being essential for fighting disease, supporting bone health, and balancing moods, this vitamin may also act as a natural testosterone booster.6 If you’re not spending enough time in the sun to replenish your vitamin D levels, then take a daily supplement.
- Reduce Your Sugar Consumption: A high sugar diet will quickly lower your levels of testosterone. Studies show that each time you consume sugar, your testosterone levels drop 25 percent for up to two hours after the meal.7 If you cannot completely eliminate sugar from your diet, limit it as much as possible. Replace it with natural sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.
- Eat Healthy Fats: Eating healthy fats doesn’t only mean eating mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts and avocados, but also eating the right amount of saturated fats. According to research, a diet with less than 40 percent of energy from fat may lead to decreased testosterone levels.8 Get a combination of fat types from whole, unprocessed, high-quality foods like chicken, lamb, beef, and low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt.
- Consume Plenty of Zinc: This mineral is vital for the healthy functioning of hormone, enzyme, and immune systems. A zinc deficiency can quickly cause depleted testosterone levels.9 Your diet is the best source of zinc. Natural sources include red meat, poultry, oysters, whole grains, and legumes.
- Consume Enough Magnesium: Just like zinc, magnesium is another vital mineral for balancing testosterone levels.10 You need to keep an eye on your magnesium intake if you work out on a regular basis, as it can be lost through sweating. Good dietary sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, legumes, spinach, whole grains, bananas, figs, and fish. Take a magnesium supplement if you think you may be deficient; this can also improve your sleep quality.
- Take a Natural Testosterone Booster: Many testosterone metabolism supplements boast a wide range of herbs that support the production of testosterone, but few of them have been clinically tested. The ones that have been shown to be effective include ginger,11 ashwagandha,12 horny goat weed,13 and Tongkat ali.14
- Ginger – Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizomes have commonly been used as a spice. While most people understand ginger for its potential to support digestive health, some preliminary studies suggest that ginger may also be effective as a natural testosterone booster.11 Studies generally show that the administration of ginger over a period of time has shown statistically significant increases in serum testosterone levels. Studies in rats and infertile men support the usage of ginger as a potential testosterone booster, though the exact mechanism of action still requires research.
- Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Research has found that the herb may help to boost testosterone, particularly in men undergoing resistance training.12 One study found that a group of healthy but untrained men who began strength training regimens while taking 300 mg of ashwagandha twice a day saw a statistically significant rise in serum testosterone.13 Ashwagandha is also known to be a powerful adaptogenic herb, meaning that it may help your body maintain homeostasis and support your health against the physical and chemical effects of stress.
- Horny goat weed - Horny goat weed belongs to the genus Epimedium, which belongs to a family of plants that mostly grows in parts of Asia. The main active ingredient in horny goat weed is icariin, which may be responsible for many of its potential effects on health.14 Used widely in traditional Chinese medicine, horny goat weed has been shown in some studies to support the increase of testosterone production in men. In men and women, the herb may promote hormonal balance, proper circulation, and an enhanced libido. Other studies suggest that horny goat weed may also help to support bone density and joint strength while balancing mood and stress levels.
- Tongkat ali – Of these herbs, tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia) may have the most evidence to back up its potential effects as an aphrodisiac and anti-estrogen agent.15 Numerous animal studies suggest that tongkat ali may have a potent aphrodisiac effect. Preliminary studies on men suggest statistically significant results regarding the herb’s effect on male sexual health.16 In vitro trials suggest that Eurycoma longifolia may have anti-estrogenic effects, and early research and clinical studies show that this herb may increase testosterone levels.
- Indian spinach – Alternately known as Basella alba, Indian spinach has been used in conjunction with hibiscus to improve fertility health. Animal studies have found that dry leaf extracts of Basella alba effectively increased testosterone levels in rats.17
- Pine bark extract – Pine bark extract (Pinus pinaster) is rich in natural compounds known as proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to help manage cholesterol and support circulation and cardiovascular health. Studies also suggest that pine bark extract may boost testosterone, particularly if used in conjunction with L-arginine aspartate.18
- Chrysin – Chrysin is a compound that is found in blue passionflowers (Passiflora incarnate). Chrysin can be taken as a supplement or drunk as a tea. Some studies in rats suggest that chrysin can increase testosterone levels and support general sexual health in men.19
Puncturevine – Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) is a tropical plant commonly used in traditional folk medicine. It can be found in the form of capsules, tablets, and teas. In one study, men who took a dosage of puncturevine for 60 days had increased testosterone
A balanced diet, daily exercise, and a regular sleep pattern are the best ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels. Higher testosterone levels are associated with lower blood pressure, lower LDL bad cholesterol levels and lower risks of heart disease and diabetes. Adding a daily testosterone boosting nutritional supplement to your wellness regime is also a good way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to make testosterone as well as some of the herbs that support testosterone levels.