Many men want to know what they can do to raise their testosterone levels without resorting to the self-defeating method of taking exogenous forms of the hormone. Raising testosterone naturally from within the body is more appealing than administering an exogenous source for many reasons – not the least of which is the fact that putting testosterone into the body is the surest route to depending on that method indefinitely since it shuts down the body’s natural production of this vital stuff.
A big mistake when attempting to naturally raise testosterone is to only utilize one or two tips that can help. You’re far more likely to make a noticeable difference to natural testosterone levels if you synergistically combine a few methods that can either directly increase testosterone, or indirectly raise it by squelching its most insidious antagonist – estrogen.
That’s right guys – we have some estrogen in our bodies. We’re supposed to have it in small amounts compared with the testosterone (as in a 50 to 1 ratio when we’re 20 years old). But with age, that ratio can drop to a nightmarish 7 or 8 to one if we allow recklessness to become our modus operandi. Increased abdominal fat seems to be the biggest culprit here, so although it doesn’t always represent a quick and easy “fix”, we’ll list losing the gut as the number one method to ‘naturally raise testosterone’.
Some studies show that just a ten pound increase in abdominal fat can cut a man’s testosterone levels in half. This “neutering effect” that rising body fat has on men makes sense from a nomadic-hunter/gatherer perspective; the ancient man who lost his virile shape, and thus his hunter-provider capacity, might be “decommissioned” (so-to-speak) from a reproductive standpoint.
Regardless of the reason or origin, flattening out the mid-section can most dramatically raise testosterone levels for the guy who’s carrying too much abdominal fat. That’s because body fat (particularly the mid-section stuff) converts a lot of testosterone into estrogen by way of releasing a conversion hormone called aromatase.
Keep in mind: losing the gut typically requires an overall drop in body fat. This necessitates either consuming fewer calories than what you’re burning or actively burning more calories than you’ve currently used to consuming. Either way, finding the motivation to do it is easy once you fully realize the increased energy, virility, and muscle gains you can enjoy just by shedding the “Buddha Belly.”
2. Eat Animal Protein
If you’re the vegetarian or vegan type, don’t expect to naturally raise testosterone to maximum output. Studies show that eliminating items like beef, eggs, fish, chicken, and turkey from the diet tend to reduce testosterone levels in both men and women.
Beef and fowl are high in zinc, a mineral that’s absolutely essential for testosterone production. All animal proteins provide dietary fat, which in moderate quantities (20% to 40% of total daily calorie intake), provide the optimal amount of fatty acid building blocks for testosterone production to occur.
I’ve personally noticed that when my beef consumption goes up, so does my strength in the gym. Of course, I keep an eye on my cholesterol level to ensure that the increase in saturated fat isn’t raising it too high.
Bottom line: If you’ve been skimping on animal protein as a lifestyle statement or because you thought they were making you fat, an increase in consumption of this type of food could help raise your testosterone levels. Keep in mind: testosterone is a fat burning hormone, so balance is the key.
3. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Many years ago, a colleague of mine at the time intrigued me when he told me how much he loved broccoli: “I love it raw, cooked, in other foods, by itself – doesn’t matter, I love the stuff”, he said. His words had that just-inflected-enough enthusiasm that they’d persuaded me to try loving it without his having that intention.
I’m glad I’ve learned to love this food as well. It falls in the category of ‘cruciferous vegetables’, which are absolutely necessary if you want to naturally raise testosterone levels. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts posses a compound called diindolylmethane (DIM) which helps flush excess estrogens from the body. Remember, it’s excess amounts of the female hormone that crowds out testosterone from receptor sites and lowers overall ‘free testosterone levels.’
A diet high in cruciferous veggies has the added benefit of helping reduce the odds of developing certain types of cancer. These foods are high in a phytochemical called isothiocyanate, which has been shown to break down and remove carcinogens from the body.
4. Eliminate or Reduce Alcohol Intake
Here’s another way to naturally raise testosterone through the indirect route of reducing estrogen levels. Alcohol consumption tends to interrupt the liver’s ability to remove excess estrogen from the body. In addition to this, it can greatly reduce the amount of essential zinc from the body – a mineral that’s required in sufficient amounts for healthy testosterone production.
Also, when we eliminate or at least greatly reduce our alcohol consumption, losing that gut in order to naturally raise testosterone levels through fat loss becomes a great deal easier.
5. Reduce Stress Levels
This might seem easier said than done for a lot of guys, but when we reduce our stress response, we tend to lower our body’s cortisol level which can raise our testosterone. High levels of cortisol reduce the body’s testosterone level. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and is released in heavy doses whenever we get that “I’m running late and stuck in traffic” kind of bodily response going on.
Notice I mentioned reducing our “stress response.” It’s not so much what’s happening in our external environment that wreaks havoc; we all have times when life’s challenges seem overwhelming. It’s the ‘internal representations’ we play in our heads based on what those circumstances mean to us that determines the amount of stress we feel.
Luckily, you don’t have to become a Yogi or study meditation for ten years in order to manage stress levels. You can read about an often overlooked way of reducing stress – and thus raising natural testosterone levels right here.
6. Get a ‘Torso Tan'
I thought I’d throw in a strange one just for fun. It turns out that getting a good dose of UV rays can actually stimulate testosterone production. So maybe all this “get outa the sun – it’ll hurt you” hype we’ve been hearing for years is having the inadvertent effect of depriving us of vitamin D… as well as our maximum manliness.
Some research has shown that 50 to 60 minutes of early morning UV exposure from the sun on a broad area of the body (like the chest and/or back) can stimulate testosterone production by up to 65%. This might be something worth experimenting with in moderation if you don’t have a light complexion that’s prone to the burning effects of UV rays.
If you sun tan, I would recommend using some sun screen and being careful. I know someone with a light complexion who spent years worshipping the sun and she’s now constantly battling with having basal cell carcinoma tumors removed from her skin – so the danger in overdoing it is real.
7. Lift Weights with High Intensity – but Avoid Overtraining
This might sound like a tricky balance, but it’s really not once you know the threshold secret. In order to naturally raise testosterone levels through bodybuilding/weight training, a high intensity of effort must be put forth during training sessions. However, it’s important not to ‘over-train’ or the opposite effect can occur – a drop in testosterone levels.
The key to testosterone-releasing training sessions is in knowing how to maximally push the muscles beyond what they’ve ever done without resorting to “intensifying techniques” such as ‘forced reps’ – which easily take the body down the road of overtraining. The method of training that I outline in my book is ideal for testosterone release without the negative effects of overtraining during workouts.
The second thing to steer clear of is training too often. This is probably the most prevalent reason for being in an over-trained state. Scheduling your workouts so that you never train a muscle before the soreness from its previous workout has dissipated will help you maximize testosterone release through the use of intense workouts.
Also, make sure you work the bigger muscle groups (chest, legs, back, shoulders) with at least one compound exercise during each workout. Testosterone release improves with execution of exercises like squats, bench presses, rows, dead lifts, and shoulder presses – provided they’re done with enough intensity.
8. Eat Monounsaturated Fat
Olive oil, peanut butter, cashews, almonds – they’re loaded with the kind of fat that’s good for you and has also been shown in studies to naturally raise testosterone levels. Whether monounsaturated fat stimulates the testes to produce testosterone or merely provides the building blocks that are necessary for production isn’t known – only that a daily consumption of it helps raise this hormone.
But be careful. Overdoing these snacks can expand your waistline. There are 9 calories in every gram of dietary fat – regardless of whether that fat is good for your arteries or hormone production. Gaining back the belly fat will negate any rise in testosterone levels that eating certain foods might produce.
9. Avoid Sleep Deprivation
I’m not one of those writers providing cookie-cutter advice that says you need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night in order to naturally raise testosterone levels. Personally, I couldn’t sleep eight hours every night if you injected me with a regular evening dose of Demerol. My body doesn’t require that much down time for daily recuperation/rejuvenation. I know that many of you are in the same boat.
But it is important for you to determine your personal ideal sleep requirements and avoid depriving yourself of that rest time if you want to maximize testosterone levels. Plenty of research indicates that getting behind on Zs can put a serious damper on testosterone release.
10. Avoid Testosterone Squelching Foods
Consuming licorice can reduce a guy’s testosterone level by up to 60%. The sweetener Stevia has been shown to put a damper on ‘test levels’ as well. Stay away from grapefruit if you want maximum testosterone levels because this stuff possesses substances that increase aromatase – the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen in a man’s body.
In addition, it’s a good idea to keep protein consumption at no more than around 40% of total calorie intake if you want to naturally raise testosterone. Too much protein in ratio to carbohydrates (i.e. ‘The Atkins Diet’) has been shown to decrease testosterone levels.
Conclusion: Naturally raising testosterone levels is a matter of synergistically combining habits of commission and omission. The more tips you are willing to adopt, the more cumulative will be the effect – possibly raising your “test levels” by a few hundred micro-grams per decileter each day.