Testosterone (T) deficiency affects many men, but there may be some steps you can take to boost your levels naturally.
T is present in both males and females, though this hormone is made primarily in the testes.
While it is largely considered to be a key player in sexual health, your T also has important roles related to male hair distribution, voice changes, skeletal muscle growth, and red blood cell production
- Mood changes
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced testicular size
- Low libido
- Decreased bone density
- Diminished muscle mass
- Increased body fat and
If you think you’re at risk, seek medical care as there are several potential causes for deficiency. A combination of a T level below 300 ng/dL and the previously mentioned signs and symptoms is typically enough for a diagnosis.
Though your plan for management may include medical treatment, there may be methods that boost your T naturally.
In this article, we will highlight some lifestyle changes that may offer testosterone boosting effects when implemented in your daily routine.
5 Ways of Boosting Testosterone Naturally
As T offers a wide variety of health benefits, maintaining adequate levels throughout life is vital. Any suspicion of deficiency should be discussed with your doctor, though there may be some steps you can take to boost levels naturally.
In this section, we’ll discuss five ways you can boost T naturally and review any available scientific support for these methods.
As with any plan to improve health, your diet is likely the first checkpoint. But is simply eating a well-balanced diet enough to elevate your T? Probably.
That is, you are more likely to consume the nutrients needed to boost T with a healthy diet.
More specifically, consuming healthy fats may positively affect T levels. The mechanism behind this action may be due in part to cholesterol’s role in the formation of T.
Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, was shown to boost T in both dogs and mice. In human subjects, both argan and olive oil increased T over 3-weeks in healthy subjects. In contrast, low-fat diets may be associated with decreased T levels.
All fats are not created equal, however. Trans fats, for example, are commonly found in highly processed foods and may reduce T levels and testicular size.
Healthy fats are easily attainable regardless of your dietary restrictions, though using a fish oil supplement is also a viable option. Healthy sources of fat can include:
- Fatty fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Plant oils
- Dark chocolate
These foods are high in calories, however, so be sure to consume them in moderation as excess may lead to weight gain.
Adopting a diet that emphasizes single-ingredient, whole-foods (foods as close to their natural form as possible) will promote balance and ensure you’re not missing anything. Reviewing the Dietary Guidelines can provide further insight regarding recommended daily allowances.
While evidence for the T boosting effects of healthy fats is promising in animal models, support in human subjects is lacking.
Exercise is a significant lifestyle change that typically goes hand-in-hand with a balanced diet, so it’s probably no surprise that it may affect your T levels.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the ability of resistance training to boost T.
Programs that work multiple muscle groups seem to be more beneficial than targeted exercise. In healthy individuals, those that performed strength training for both upper and lower body muscle groups experienced a greater increase in T when compared to those that only worked their arms.
Your workout volume is a function of the sets, reps, and resistance included for each exercise – more volume may mean more T.
In 8 healthy subjects, those that completed three sets of resistance training had greater increases in T compared to those that completed just a single set.
Even in elderly subjects, regular resistance training elevated T when compared to a sedentary control group.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) likely benefits T levels as well. Those that performed treadmill sprint intervals boosted their T more than those who performed a steady state 45-minute run.
Any physical activity that is safe and effective will serve to benefit your overall health. Regularly engaging in resistance training or HIIT may offer the most T boosting capabilities, even in those with little exercise experience and elderly subjects.
Your slumber plays a role in much more than merely preparing you for the following day’s challenges. Meaningful rest is paramount for many functions like digestion, cellular repair, and growth.
Poor sleep quality is associated with a wide variety of unwanted effects, and perhaps even low T. In 10 healthy subjects, 5-hrs of sleep each night over 1-week reduced T by 15%.
The same association was found in elderly subjects; those with longer total sleep times had higher T levels.
While the relationship between sleep and T seems to be clear, achieving meaningful rest can be easier said than done. Your sleep hygiene may be the only thing between you and deep sleep.
For better rest, try some of the following tips:
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, particularly later in the day
- Exercise daily
- Use the same bedtime each night
- Have a strict screen/device cut-off time
- Ensure your room is dark – layering curtains can be more cost-effective than blackout curtains
- Ensure your bedroom is quite – use white noise to block out unwanted disruptions
- Avoid daytime naps
4. Reduce Stress
Stress and T may be closely linked, likely related to the effects of cortisol.
In the short-term, elevations in cortisol can sharpen our focus and prepare us for a challenge. When chronically elevated, unwanted effects of this hormone can include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, chronic pain, and depression.
The relationship between T and cortisol seems to be inverse; when one goes up, the other goes down. This relationship was demonstrated in endurance trained cyclists.
Family, work, and other life commitments make stress unpredictable and often unavoidable. That means developing healthy ways of coping is essential.
To reduce the unwanted effects of stress, try the following:
- Try deep breathing
- Keep a stress journal – transfer your stress from your mind to a piece of paper
- Get more sunshine – even if it’s for 5-minutes at a window
- Schedule a mental break at your desk
- Go for a walk – even if the weather doesn’t permit, stroll around your house, school, or office for a mental release
- Know your limits – set realistic goals, so you don’t spread yourself too thin
- Talk to a family member, friend, or trained health professional
5. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
As T plays a diverse role in your body, low levels are associated with several chronic conditions – obesity is thought to be one of them.
The size of fat cells may be one mechanism for the association between T and body weight.
This relationship was also demonstrated in a randomized trial. Obese men with low T that received T treatment lost more body fat and retained more muscle over 82-weeks when compared to placebo.
Several methods can result in successful weight loss. To achieve lasting weight loss, you must adopt positive and sustainable behavior changes. In this regard, there is no substitute for the combination of regular physical activity and a healthy meal plan.
You can review daily nutritional and exercise recommendations here. This will allow you to compare your daily intake to healthy guidelines. Knowing which areas you may be consuming more than you need can be a good starting point.
While the methods reviewed here may positively affect your T levels and overall health, they can be associated with risk.
The signs and symptoms of low T are serious and should be managed by a medical professional. If you think you may be experiencing any of these, seek the care of your doctor.
Adopting healthy lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are likely to be part of your management. These, too, should be discussed with your doctor.
Making drastic changes to your diet can negatively affect your nutrient and energy intake; proceed with caution. Regular exercise should be monitored to ensure you’re working out at an appropriate level, particularly if you don’t have much experience. Engaging in activity too strenuous can place unsafe stress on your heart.
T levels commonly begin to decline around the age of 40. Untreated deficiency can lead to many unwanted effects.
If you feel you are at risk for low T, you should seek the care of your doctor. Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take to boost T naturally.
Optimizing your diet, exercise plan, sleep hygiene, methods of coping with stress, and body weight are proven ways of naturally increasing your T.
As T deficiency often requires medical management, ensure you and your doctor are on the same page regarding other methods of boosting levels that you’re interested in trying.