The 11 Best Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally

Looking to give your T an edge, organically? Try these tips to raise your levels.
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Testosterone, a vital human hormone found in everyone, is essential to maintain overall health. In men, it plays a key role in regulating and controlling functions including energy, libido, fertility, body fat distribution and more.

If the amount of testerone in your body is too low, a host of problems can occur. You might feel tired and lethargic, you might struggle to focus at work or home, or you might not have the endurance to crush your workouts. Several factors can cause testosterone levels to lag, including just aging: Each year after the age of 35, men’s testosterone levels start to decline by at least 1 percent per year.

Replenishing those levels to restore balance is key to living your life at your full potential. Clinical options, such as testosterone replacement therapy (or TRT), are a potential route, but there are plenty of ways to naturally boost your testosterone. Here are 10 of our favorites.

1. Up Your Magnesium to Raise Free T

Testosterone is found in the bloodstream in two forms. It can be bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) or albumin, which transport testosterone throughout the body. This form of testosterone—called total T—is biologically inactive (meaning: it doesn’t exert its effects upon the body). Total T makes up about 98 percent of your overall testosterone levels. The remaining two percent—called free T—is what’s vital. Free T floats around and binds to the right receptors to keep your body in optimal condition. The more free T in your system, the better. Research has found that magnesium increases total T and free T, because the mineral prevents SHBG from binding to testosterone. The result: more free T. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Men should aim to get about 400-420 mg of the mineral daily from a combination of food and supplements.

2. Eat The Right Amount of Protein

Protein can be a friend when it comes to keeping testosterone levels in a healthy range. Like magnesium, protein can limit SHBG. If you don’t eat enough protein-rich foods, you’re left with less free T to do its job. Eating enough protein can also help you drop extra pounds, which is important since obesity holds the title as the most effective predictor of low testosterone in men.

While a well-marbled bone-in ribeye the size of your face may be stupendously appealing, 5 or 6 ounces of lean beef, chicken, eggs, or fish are your best option. Protein doesn’t have to exclusively come from meat, either; plenty of seeds, nuts, and tofu pack a strong protein punch. (Avoid tofu because soy products can send your T levels plummeting.)

Each year after the age of 35, men’s testosterone levels start to decline by at least 1 percent per year.

3. Minimize Stress

Studies show that when your body is faced with chronic and ongoing stress, it overproduces the stress hormone, cortisol, to compensate. Elevated cortisol, in prolonged and unnaturally high levels, works to diminish testosterone. High levels of stress can ramp up your appetite, leading to weight gain—and the accompanying body fat isn’t good for your health.

Side effects of stress, like poor sleep and not having the motivation to workout can also contribute to lower-than-normal testosterone levels. (Seriously, now’s the time to quit the job you hate and blame it on your health.)

4. Increase Onion and Garlic Intake

Onions and garlic can take a so-so kitchen dish to the next level—and they can do the same for testosterone. High in flavonoids—powerful antioxidants that help regulate cellular activity and combat pesky free radicals that wreak havoc on your system—these superfoods also aid in the increased production of healthier sperm. More importantly, onion and garlic activate luteinizing hormone, which helps spur the production of testosterone.

5. Get Plenty of Vitamin D

About 42% of adults are vitamin D deficient. That’s a problem for many reasons: vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, mood swings, chronic skin conditions, lack of energy and more. And recently, Danish researchers found that vitamin D deficiency may also reduce testosterone production.

You can up vitamin D levels by spending more time in the sun, eating more fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, or taking vitamin D supplements. In addition to bolstering testosterone, D is a miracle micronutrient for other reasons: It strengthens your immune and nervous systems, protects your heart, and calcium-clads your bones to boost their strength and help fight fractures.

6. Increase Your Zinc

Zinc’s another super supplement that’ll help jumpstart luteinizing hormone, as well as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) another hormone that stimulate testosterone production. Plus, if you have Low T (or hypogonadism) and are concerned about your fertility levels, zinc is proven to help raise sperm motility. Zinc’s pumped into most breakfast cereals, but you can find naturally high levels in oysters. Aim for 11 mg of the essential mineral daily.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Fat cells have a high amount of aromotase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen (while estorgen is the primary female sex hormone, men need it too, in small amounts). Abdominal fat in particular produces high amounts of aromatases. Extra estrogens can trigger your body to produce less testosterone. That can set up a vicious cycle, because the less testosterone your body produces, the more belly fat you accumulate.

8. Drink Less Alcohol

Drinking more than the recommended amount—two drinks or less per day for men—can lower testosterone levels. When you imbibe, your body metabolizes a compound in alcohol called ethanol, which lowers an enzyme involved in testosterone production. Regular heavy drinking also can elevate estrogen and cortisol levels, and as mentioned above, both of those can diminish testosterone production. Knocking back too many brewskis also disrupts your sleep and can lead to snacking and weight gain.

9. Reduce Plastic and BPA Exposure

Plastic makes our life easier. We pack our foods in it, drink our water and other beverages from it. In fact, it’s so ingrained in our lives that it’s started to leach into our bodies—literally. Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found within many plastics is absorbed by the body. Once in there, your body treats it like estrogen, which means it decreases your testosterone production and can raise your risk of other diseases, including cancer. Minimize your BPA exposure by opting for glass whenever you can.

10. Exercise More

Hit the gym and you could definitely see your testosterone levels get swole. One study found that people who exercised regularly had remarkably higher levels of testosterone. Cardio’s great for heart health, but if you’re looking to up your T levels, you’ll want to focus on strength training. A 2007 study found men who did strength/resistance training 3 days a week for 4 weeks saw increased testosterone levels right after the workout and over time. Bonus points if you’re into HIIT workouts; high-intensity interval training is among the most effective workouts to boost T.

11. Don’t Skimp on Sleep

Too many of us stay up that extra hour, watching junk on TV or messing around on our phones. Lack of quality sleep can leave you too tired to eat well or sneak in a workout the next day. It’s can also slaughter your T levels. Your testosterone during the day can dip as much as 15 percent if you’re sleeping as little as 5 hours. Try to clok 8 hours a night whenever possible.