Ultimate Guide to Boosting Testosterone Naturally (Part 2: Diet & Lifestyle)
The Ultimate Guide to Boosting Testosterone Naturally
Part 2: Diet & Lifestyle
In Part 1 of our Ultimate Guide to Testosterone we’ve taken you through what testosterone is and how it works, as well as how it improves your life. Obviously, now you’re asking yourself: “What are the best methods of boosting testosterone naturally?”.
We mentioned in the last article that testosterone affects your life, but your lifestyle affects your testosterone production. Today, we’re going to explain how you can use your lifestyle to get the best health and fitness results.
We’re going to break down our Ultimate Guide to Boosting Testosterone Naturally into 2 parts: diet and lifestyle.
Boosting Testosterone Naturally With: Diet
We aren’t exaggerating when we say that diet is 80% of looking good. It’s also a huge player in the way that your hormones work and deserves your attention.
It’s not just about looking good and performing at your best (both of which are pretty important!) but harnessing the full potential of your health and mental performance. These are some of the overlooked aspects of dieting that contribute to more than just calories!
Protein is a huge part of muscle and joint health, but it has benefits for the hormones and metabolism that nobody ever talks about. High-protein diets have been shown to improve the amount of testosterone your body produces (1).
This intake of protein also reduces the effects of cortisol – the stress hormone – and improves the function of a bunch of other key hormones. This means that you’re going to see a much healthier and happier balance of hormones, better gains, and less stress – an all-round win!
Fats and Hormones
Your body needs fats to keep you healthy and support your hormones. While fats have been demonized recently, healthy fats are one of the most important parts of your diet and neglecting fats won’t make you thin (it doesn’t work like that) – it’ll mean crashing your endocrine system.
Basically, fats need to make up a minimum of 10-15% of your diet to keep your body healthy and support testosterone production. There are a few key fats that you’re going to want to aim at:
- Omega-3 Fats
You need Omega-3 fats, no matter your goals. Your body can’t produce them, but they play a key role in keeping your balance between cortisol and testosterone in check (2). This means reduced stress, more testosterone, and all the benefits that we discussed.
You need to get plenty of these into your system. This is one of the biggest problems for a plant-based diet, so if you don’t eat animal products you need to put extra attention into getting your omega-3 algae oil, walnuts and flaxseed oil!
- Saturated fats (in general)
While they might have received a bad rap in recent times, saturated fats are a great way of increasing your natural testosterone production. Recent studies suggest that saturated fats, while less healthy for the heart than their unsaturated cousins, improve hormone health in men (3).
MCTs (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) are the healthiest form of saturated fat, with some positive benefits on heart health compared to other forms of saturated fat. The science even suggests that they can have a small benefit in weight loss independently of testosterone’s effects (4)!
If you’ve ever heard of MCTs before, it’s probably because they’re the main constituent of coconut oil – another great reason to replace your animal fat or corn oils with coconut oil!
Listen to your Mom: Eat your greens! Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, and we’re going to talk about one of each today. They’re the most important for your testosterone production and they’re commonly-deficient, which means you need to get your diet together.
These raw materials are key to the reactions that build testosterone and other important hormones in the body. If you’re missing out, then you’re going to need to step your game up: it’s embarrassing to be missing out on success just because you don’t like broccoli!
The most important, and difficult, vitamin. D is all about getting your sunlight and plant milks. We’ve already discussed this compound at length in our previous Vitamin D guide (which you should go read!) – it’s something you need more of and it’s great for boosting testosterone levels.
If you’re deficient (which you probably are) you’re going to be producing T at sub-optimal levels (5). This might be a time where supplementation is going to be necessary (we’ve written a whole article on supplements for testosterone), but you should get lots of vitamin D rich foods down your face-hole!
It’s not a wonder-mineral, but many people are zinc-deficient, and this deficiency has been linked to poor maturation in men. It sounds outlandish, but zinc deficiency causes stunted growth in male sexual tissues: both primary (genitalia) and secondary (muscles and body hair) (6).
Zinc deficiency is pretty common, and it can decrease circulating testosterone levels by as much as 50%. If you’re even slightly concerned that you’re in this deficient group, it’s a great choice to start eating zinc-rich foods.
This means lots of nuts and seeds, wholegrains, and pulses like lentils. These plant foods also happen to pack a bunch of other vitamins and minerals, so you’re going to cover all your bases!
Reducing Environmental Estrogens
This sounds like a tinfoil hat approach to testosterone, but environmental xenoestrogens are a key player in ruining your testosterone levels. This is one of the reasons why so many men are below baseline level of testosterone.
Estrogen isn’t bad for you, but it does play a role in reducing your natural testosterone levels. When you produce ‘too much’ testosterone, your body shuts off and converts ‘extra’ testosterone into estrogen. The estrogens in foods and other compounds you come into contact with suppress your natural testosterone.
What’s the deal with Soy?
Soy is one of the most often-quoted environmental estrogens, but this is mostly hype. While you can reduce your testosterone by eating soy, you must eat a huge quantity, or a very specific digestive environment that stores an estrogen called Equol (7). It might not be worth the risk, especially since soy is often found in heavily-processed foods which you should be avoiding anyway!
Are You Drinking Estrogen?
You’re going to run into the real problem when using certain plastics: they contain large amounts of estrogen-imposters like BPA (Bisphenol A), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and phthalates (8).
These are the science-y names for the toxic plastics that leach estrogens into their contents: they’re linked to ineffective (precocious) puberty and have feminizing effects on males (9)– worth avoiding!
Avoid bottled water and stick with BPA-free plastics for carrying your water. Glass might not be popular anymore, but glass containers don’t damage your hormones.
What About Pesticides and Fungicides?
The final place you’re likely to run into xenoestrogens is as a form of fungi-based toxin. These are often found in crops that haven’t been treated with fungicides, which are then consumed and pass on these toxins to your body.
Rising skepticism about treating crops with chemicals (such as fungicides and pesticides) and therefore eating organic has actually driven increases in mycotoxin levels in food and a reduction in male testosterone (10). This is a controversial reason to not structure your diet around pesticide-free foods!
Also, make sure to cook your wholegrains thoroughly: it reduces the effect of any mycotoxins and phytates that block iron uptake (11).
Boosting Testosterone Naturally With: Lifestyle
Your lifestyle choices determine your hormonal profile just as much as your hormonal profile will influence your mood and lifestyle success. This is a great upward spiral to start: put some time into maximizing your lifestyle and you’ll be healthier, happier, and stronger!
You knew this was coming! You’re probably already exercising since you’re reading this blog but stick with us – you might pick up some extra nuggets of knowledge…
Resistance training is a great place to start with this. It is associated with huge improvements in testosterone levels and has plenty of health and physique benefits. Resistance training doesn’t just mean weights, however: gymnastic strength training and other strength training all helps (11)!
Putting those muscles to work and building strength means more testosterone, more muscle and healthier body and mind.
Cardio exercise is great for health, but studies suggest that extensive endurance training can easily decrease resting testosterone and increase cortisol-dominance (12). This doesn’t mean you should avoid conditioning your heart and lungs, but it does mean that you need to be careful and avoid over-training.
Everybody overlooks sleep!
It’s one of the most important factors for recovery and testosterone production: you secrete most of your testosterone and other anabolic hormones while you rest, while also boosting the production of testosterone in the brain – which accounts for 5% of your total T all by itself (13)!
Sleeping more and sleeping better are going to give you the best results (14). This means that you’re going to need at least 8 hours a night (though 10 is optimal). Sleeping better is tougher: it needs you to sleep in a cool room with as little light as possible.
Screens and sleep are also important to negotiate: blue light during the daytime improves your sleep quality but at night time it can easily reduce sleep quality. As you get closer to sleeping hours, reduce your intake of screens to improve your testosterone levels and use a blue light filter in the evening!
Hydration and Sunlight
These are pretty important for boosting testosterone levels naturally. Water is obviously important for your health but having sufficient water in your body during sleep and other peak testosterone-producing times will boost your hormonal function.
Scientific research also shows that proper hydration is a great way of combating cortisol and other stress hormones that might suppress your T production. This is an easy way of improving your health and fitness, especially considering all the other benefits water has on your body!
Sunlight is another way of getting vitamin D into your body, but it also contributes to your blue-light intake mentioned above. These are great ways of boosting your natural testosterone production, reducing your stress levels, and improving your mood (15, 16)!
Relax and Boost Your T Levels Naturally
We mentioned before that testosterone is part of the anabolic hormone quartet. This group of growth- and recovery-promoting compounds is in competition with the stress compounds including cortisol and adrenaline.
If you allow yourself to develop dominance of cortisol and other catabolic hormones, you’re going to have an uphill struggle trying to improve your testosterone levels. Being stressed or training too much, without adequate recovery, can cause these catabolic hormones to break you down instead of building you up.
Therefore, one of the best ways to boost your testosterone is simply to reduce the effect of these compounds that suppress it.
What this means…
Reduce the stress in your life and allow yourself adequate recovery times.
You should also actively partake in activities and pastimes that promote relaxation and rest. You’re always rushing around with work and family, but you’re going to benefit from reducing the noise in your head and letting go of your stressors temporarily.
Yoga is one of the most popular and effective ways to achieve “active relaxation”, but there are many alternatives: mindfulness, journaling, meditation and even walking in nature (17). Anything that focuses on reducing the amount of time you spend worrying or jacked up on adrenaline will improve your testosterone levels.
Boosting Testosterone Naturally Take-Home Message
We’ve discussed how important testosterone is and why so that you know what it’s all about. This article is a crash course in boosting testosterone naturally with some simple lifestyle choices.
We’ve already hinted about how supplements play into this process and our next piece is going to give you the run-down of what you should be looking for in a testosterone-boosting supplement!
Today’s take-home is super simple: you’re in control of your own body! Your choices and lifestyle will determine what your body does and how much success you’re going to see. If you’re chasing fitness goals, remember these factors and use them to crush your goals!
Keep reading Part 3 in our Ultimate Guide to Testosterone Supplements…
Professional sport/fitness writer at ApexContent.org, weightlifter and S&C enthusiast. Liam has over 5 years experience in coaching positions, learning under the best mentors and sport coaches in Britain. At the same time developed a love for relentlessly researching and writing scientifically backed content in health, fitness and sport performance.
Liam wears many hats, but they’re unified by a love for competition, performance, and engaging writing. You can throw abuse (and questions) his way in the comments and he’ll be happy to help you!