What Are the Best Testosterone Boosters?
The primary male hormone, Testosterone is responsible for a handful of features that essentially make a male, a male. It contributes to the alpha-mindset along the traditional male physique and also has a handful of benefits for men.
Having optimal Testosterone Levels helps you produce lean body mass and lose weight, improves your mood, confidence, and motivation levels, increases your desire for dominance, power, and success.
It also gives you stronger bones and better cardiovascular health, stimulates body and facial hair growth, and, perhaps the most well known set benefits, helps you out in the sex department.
Proper levels of testosterone lead to a healthy libido, improved sexual performance, and better erections.
Low testosterone, often referred to as ‘low T’ doesn’t paint a pretty (or manly) picture for men. Cognitively it can lead to depression and an inability to focus, while physically it can make it easier to pack on the pounds - the ones you don’t want.
It can make you ‘look’ more feminine as it can lead to osteoporosis and low muscle mass, produce hair loss and fatigue.
It may also produce a pretty unpleasant amount of sexual issues including low semen count, low sex drive, and difficulties getting and maintaining an erection.
Clearly an uncomfortable topic but too important to ignore, erectile dysfunction, commonly labeled as ED is the preferred ‘clinical’ term used to describe the inability of a man to achieve and maintain an erection of sufficient rigidity to permit satisfactory sexual activity - meaning you can satisfy her in bed.
It does not necessarily mean the complete inability to achieve an erection. So even if you’re getting regular erections but they’re not ‘getting the job done’ so to speak, you may be suffering from ED.
It’s worth noting that ED, or erectile dysfunction isn’t only the result of low testosterone. There are a variety of psychological and lifestyle factors that also play a role, such as anxiety, fear, smoking, and being overweight.
And while it’s still kind of a hush-hush subject ED is widespread. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 10 men suffer from ED, yet only 33% of men actively seek out help.
Despite all the exceptions to the norm, ED is often very much linked to low testosterone, which is why keeping your testosterone levels high or boosting them if they are low, is extremely important for not only your pleasure but your sanity and success in any romantic relationship.
Luckily low testosterone levels can be treated, surprisingly easily with certain lifestyle and diet changes. Sure you can get testosterone injections and go down the medical rabbit hole, consider these fairly easy science-based natural ways to boost testosterone
Step 1: Tesosterone Boosting Lifestyle
Sleep - You know, you know, you need more sleep. Well in addition to the seemingly ever-growing list of problems that result from not getting enough sleep, low testosterone is also on the list. You not only need enough sleep, you need good, deep sleep.
Partial sleep restriction lasting one-week in a laboratory setting has been shown to decrease overall 24-hour testosterone levels in healthy young men by about 15%. Note that ‘partial’ sleep restriction in this study meant 5 hours a night - which many people do operate of off due to work and family obligations that cut into their sleeping time.
In a study from Gov et al on 531 Chinese men, increased sleep time was correlated with higher total and free testosterone levels, so much so that the researchers also calculated that each extra hour of sleep led to about 15% more testosterone.
Stay Lean and Maintain Muscle Mass - No, it’s not just for your looks. The higher your body fat percentage, the lower the testosterone.
An increased amount of muscle mass also positively correlates with serum testosterone levels. More specifically, your body fat percentage should be relatively low (between 8-14%), if your goal is to get more T running through your veins.
Control Your Stress Levels - Not just for sanity but also for your masculinity. Stress wreaks havoc on your body in a variety of ways but where testosterone is concerned, the issue is that stress increases cortisol, and cortisol suppresses testosterone.
Lower Your ‘Endocrine Disruptor Exposure’ or Contact With Synthetic Chemicals - It’s hard to completely avoid chemicals in today’s modern day and age but you can make some positive steps to lower your exposure. As a technical overview, synthetic chemicals that lower your T count include:
- Bisphenol A (found in plastics and other materials)
- Parabens (preservatives in everything from food to lotion)
- Phthalates (found in personal care items)
- Benzophenones (found in sunscreens)
- Triclosan and Triclocarban (in soaps and sanitizers)
They are all linked to lower testosterone levels.
Simply take the extra minute to read the labels of products you use, and, as gross as it is, avoid fast food as well (yes, really think before ordering that Big Mac...) to reduce your contact with these chemicals.
Have More Sex - Yup, the more sex you have the higher your testosterone levels will be, as multiple studies report.
It’s simply a myth that ejaculating “drains” the body from testosterone.
While sex physically increases testosterone, it also has psychological benefits such as increasing feelings of power and confidence, which can go hand in hand with healthy testosterone levels.
Improve Your Posture - When your teachers and parents told you to sit up straight as a child, they probably didn’t realize their nagging was actually teaching you something that would make your sex life better but that seems to be the case.
According to a study done by Cuddy et al at Harvard University, your body language as well as postural changes can almost immediately impact your stress and steroid hormones in a rather impactful way.
Only 2-minutes of ‘power-posing’ posture led to 20% increase in salivary testosterone levels, and 25% decrease in the stress hormone; cortisol.
Increase your high-power poses such as taking up more space, standing tall, putting your hands on your hips, and other basic dominant alpha poses, and get rid of ‘low-power poses which include’ contractive behavior, closed off limbs, taking less space, generally what are perceived as insecure positions.
Other lifestyle factors that can boost your testosterone include living a life that makes you feel successful (be that through money or other means), read prescription and over the counter drug labels and side effects.
Read, learn, and research info on hormones (the TestShock Program is a good place to start), and maintain optimal testicular function by keeping your testicles slightly cooler than the rest of the body - think sleeping naked, wearing loose boxers, and taking frequent cold showers.
Step 2: Testosterone Boosting Nutrition
Avoid Excess Alcohol - There’s an all too common phrase that goes along with drinking whiskey and having trouble performing but it’s actually any alcohol in excess that can have a damaging effect on your T levels.
Here it’s a case where the dose creates the poison. Alcohol in moderation won’t have a heavy impact on your testosterone, but if you’re passing out nearly every night from excessive alcohol consumption you’ll have lower testosterone levels as well as higher estrogen levels.
Get Enough Calories - In order to make your body produce adequate amounts of testosterone, you need to give it enough calories to fuel the processes necessary in hormone production.
Of course eat within reason, as being overweight directly contributes to lower testosterone levels.
Eat Protein, But Not Too Much - Yes, you do need protein for both testosterone and muscle gains, but you don’t need as much as the fitness industry would have you believe.
For the optimal amount in terms of T-production, a good starting point would be getting about 20-25% of your daily calories from protein.
Also, it’s important the protein comes from animal, rather than plant-based sources, as the latter simply does not have the same testosterone-boosting effects.
Eat More Carbs Than You Think You Should - Sorry to burst the Paleo lovers bubble, you do need carbs to keep testosterone high.
Although over the last 15 years or so the diet industry has ruthlessly shamed carbs, your body actually needs them. Low-carb diets are notorious for lowering testosterone levels, increasing the stress hormone cortisol, and messing up your sleep.
Consider how your body feels overall when you eat carbs, as every 'body' is different, but certain experts will recommend that anywhere from 40 to 60% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates, mainly from low-fiber (too high of fiber diets can have surprisingly damaging effects on testosterone) low-gluten sources such as potatoes, rice, and fruit.
Up Your Intake of (the Right Type of) Dietary Fat - Increased amount of energy from dietary fat, leads to increased serum testosterone levels, but not all fats are created, or digested in this case, equally.
Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) correlate very positively with higher testosterone levels, whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and trans-fats effectively suppress androgen production, which lowers testosterone.
Ideally, you want to keep your dietary fat intake at somewhere close to about 20 to 35% of your daily calories, with most of them coming from SFAs and MUFAs and limited – even completely removed – amounts of PUFAs and trans fats.
Keep the Milk Mustash But Switch to Low Fat or Skim - There are some experts out there that will insist any type of milk is bad for your testosterone levels, the issue mainly being that milk often comes from pregnant cows which increases your estrogen levels, but the latest research shows that it’s really about the type of milk you consume.
These studies have shown that when physically active men drank full-fat milk their overall sperm quality significantly decreased, while consumption of low-fat and skimmed milk actually increased sperm volume and mobility.
Get Your Cholesterol - Go ahead and crack open those eggs. All steroid hormones are made from cholesterol, and even though your body naturally synthesizes it on a daily basis – and controls the production accordingly to your dietary intake.
Increased dietary intake of cholesterol, as well as blood levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), are positively linked to increased serum testosterone levels. Just be sure to make sure to keep your blood HDL levels high as well.
Choose Coffee Over Tea - Tea, especially green tea is hailed for its many benefits, and while it may be ideal for some individuals and certain medical circumstances, from a strictly testosterone point of view, coffee is the ideal option.
It’s particularly useful to ingest it around the time of your workouts. 4mg/kg of caffeine taken 1-hour prior to exercise has been shown to increase T-levels by 12% in elite athletes.
Step 3: Testosterone Boosting Foods
When it comes what you should and shouldn’t eat to boost testosterone, much of it comes down to things like high micronutrient density, high amount of protective antioxidants, high SFA or MUFA with low PUFA/trans-fats, quality animal based muscle-meat and collagen protein, and low-gluten starchy carb sources.
Without getting into too much nutrition jargon, we broke foods you should eat down into five categories of Fats & Oils, Meats & Proteins, Fruits & Vegetables, Nuts & Snacks, and Spices/Other:
- Fats & Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, virgin argan oil, grass-fed butter, extra virgin coconut oil, avocado oil animal-fats
- Meats & Proteins: Steak, epic bars, beef, gelatin, eggs, grass-fed beef jerky, minced meat, organic bacon, oysters
- Fruits & Vegetables: Potatoes, avocados, pomegranates, onions, garlic
- Nuts & Snacks: Macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, raisins, raw cacao nibs, dark berries
- Spices/Other: Coffee, parsley, ginger, real salt, white button mushrooms, baking soda, yogurt, blue cheese, sorghum
...Not This - While you integrate T boosting foods, lower or decrease these testosterone draining items from your diet:
- Flaxseed products
- High-PUFA vegetable oils
- Mint, peppermint, & spearmint
- Soy products
- Green tea
- High-PUFA nuts (Walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Stay Hydrated - Water (not soda, coffee, fruit drinks, energy drinks, etc.) is necessary for cognitive function, exercise capacity, and overall bodily functions, as well as keeping testosterone at a healthy level.
Even mild dehydration will suppress the exercise induced rise in testosterone and growth hormones, while dehydration also increases cortisol secretion.
Other nutrition related factors that can boost testosterone include avoiding vegetarian diets, opting for organic foods whenever possible, including some natural (such as from fruits) sugars in your diet.
But don’t overdo it, and intermittent fasting for androgen sensitivity - but of course always do your research and/or speak to a medical professional before starting any type of fast.
Step 4: Testosterone Boosting Training
Do Resistance Training - Resistance training is not only good for toning your body, it can regulate androgen receptors in muscle tissue while also increasing testosterone levels.
To get the most out of any resistance training, lift heavy enough weights, be explosive but still maintain your form, activate large amounts of muscle mass, stimulate fast-twitch glycolytic muscle fibers, do your training in a short-period of time, and rest properly.
If you’re interested in a technique to follow to get you started, consider looking into the THOR Testosterone Training program.
Do High-Intensity Intervals - Fitness buffs know this to be called HITT (High-Intensity Interval Training) training.
Basically, the explosive nature, short-duration, activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers, and increased production of lactic acid – without being 'chronic' enough to cause prolonged increases in stress hormones.
HIIT can cause sharp increases in total testosterone, free testosterone, along with DHEA and dihydrotestosterone. You can do HITT training on cardio machines at the gym, but you can also get HITT benefits from activities like regular sprinting, hill and wind sprinting, circuit training, and playing hockey.
Maintain Daily Physical Activity - Sorry lazy Saturdays aren’t good for your testosterone levels. You don’t have to spend hours lifting weights each day but do find a way to do some physical activity each day, or do what some consider ‘active rest’ activities.
There are endless activities you can pick but some easy ones include walking, plowing the snow, mowing the lawn, low-intensity hockey game with friends, even sex.
Need some motivation? Consider that in a study of Tsimane tribesmen, 1-hour of chopping trees led to a 46.8% increase in testosterone.
Do Cardio Before Weights - Simply put, doing cardio before weights is more ‘anabolic’. A study by Rosa et al showed that the guys who hit cardio machines before weights had 7 times higher post-workout testosterone levels than the men who did cardio after weight training.
Decrease Endurance Training - If you hate running, here’s some good news: Endurance-type long steady state exercise is very good at lowering testosterone levels and causing chronically elevated cortisol response.
Research has shown that endurance cyclists and runners, (but, of note, not swimmers) have significantly lower testosterone levels than sedentary controls.
Male distance runners are also known for having significantly lower than average testosterone levels.
Plus, if you do only hardcore endurance training, your body is going to end up looking rather frail and weak, which isn’t very masculine.
If you need that runner's high or just can’t do without some endurance exercise for personal, mental, spiritual, or any other important reasons, consider low-pace walking, walking on an incline, or hiking instead.
Introduce Reverse Pyramid Training Into Your Routine - Reverse pyramid training (RPT) is a set/rep pattern used in resistance exercise movements where after warming up you hit the heaviest weight on your first set and then reduce some of that weight and add more reps to the second, third, and ongoing sets.
This is a very demanding type of workout but it allows you to lift a lot of weight in a relatively short amount of time.
Basically you hit your first of set (your choice of how many but experts suggest 5 to 8 sets) with all of your effort, then you rest for roughly three to five minutes and reduce the weight by 10% and then do the same with one to two more reps than in the first set and rest again.
From there you keep going back and forth between reps and rest but keep reducing the weight by about 10% and adding 1-2 reps each time.
Consider Neuromuscular Training - Neuromuscular Training (NM training) is a type of bodyweight training that maximizes the stimulus of the nervous system, leading to maximum stimulus of the neuroendocrine system, which in turn leads to increased testosterone production and androgen receptor up regulation.
The way to do this is by activating large amounts of muscle volume, with high intensity, under a performance threshold.
The key here is high intensity. Since increased muscle activation is known to increase the testosterone and growth hormone response exercises such as squats are often recommended to boost testosterone.
Sure squats can help with testosterone, simply doing squats as you please (or without any structure) doesn’t usually allow or motivate you to create enough intensity and as so you cannot benefit from activation of fast glycolytic muscle fibers, plus you more easily hit your training threshold.
The best movements for NM training includes weighted chin-ups and pull-ups, weighted dips, clean & jerk, muscle-ups box, and jumps For more information do some research on THOR Testosterone Training program and Chris Walker.
Progress, but Don’t Overtrain - Going to the gym with no energy or when you’re still recovering from your previous workout does very little to progress your health or physique and actually negatively affects your hormonal response.
Instead, constant progress is the key to physical improvements and hormonal adaptations. For increased testosterone response you need to move your resting baseline higher and higher (creating the new 'normal' on an ongoing basis).
Bottom line is you have to get out of your comfort zone and constantly progress to heavier weights and higher intensities.
Testosterone Boosting Supplements
Get a Multivitamin and Take it Daily - Beyond keeping your body healthy, a proper multivitamin will have the key vitamins and minerals that boost testosterone. Look for one that has high (but not insane) levels of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Phosphatidylserine - This is a naturally occurring phospholipid complex present in all of the bodily cells that mainly acts as a signaling molecule between cells and hormones.
There are many claims that Phosphatidylserine has brain boosting functions especially improving cognitive functions, but it can also boost testosterone in exercising individuals.
Phosphatidylserine can improve athletic performance by reducing the exercise induced rise of oxidative stress and has a dose-dependent cortisol reducing and testosterone promoting effect in exercising subjects.
In one study Phosphatidylserine was able to improve the testosterone to cortisol ratio by 180% more in favor of increased T.
Bromelain - Bromelain is a pineapple extracted blend of ‘proteolytic enzymes’ that’s basically a supplement containing bunch of enzymes that can break down the peptide chains between amino-acids, improving digestion and absorption.
It’s most valuable to individuals who do endurance training, because bromelain can preserve T-levels during ‘strenuous’ (aka endurance) training.
Forskolin - Forskolin is the standardized extract of an Indian plant Coleus Forskohli and you’ve likely heard about it since it’s become a recently popular fat burner and is often overhyped as a weight loss supplement (think, Doctor OZ) but we don't want to completely trash it as multiple studies show it has testosterone boosting effects as well.
When forskolin was tested for its hormonal effects in humans, 12-weeks of forskolin at 250mg/day was able to increase testosterone levels by 33%.
Creatine - The super popular supplement for bodybuilders, creatine testosterone benefits have mostly been studied by athletes in specific groups, such as hockey players or swimmers.
But in a more general study, a long 4-year one in fact, athletes who reportedly used creatine, had a trend towards increased testosterone levels.
Estrogen Flusher - It doesn’t matter how much testosterone you have if you have too much estrogen as well. To flush out estrogen there are a few supplements you can try including:
There are a variety of supplements to boost testosterone on the market, and while many are scams, some others with rather hefty scientific data behind them you may want to look into include Ashwagandha Roots, probiotics (which is a vast category), Tongkat Ali, L-Carnitine, Royal Jelly, Shilajit, Ginger Root, Horny Goat Weed, and Mucuna Pruriens.