Do you want to be a man, or a dude?
Maximizing your natural production of testosterone will turn you from a dude into a man.
Testosterone and DHT are the center of manly hormones that will improve the quality of your life dramatically.
Testosterone is heavily involved in your personality and that is why I wrote a whole article on it: “The High Testosterone Personality“.
Furthermore, testosterone aids in:
- Building muscle
- Deepening of the voice
- Tanning of the skin (R), which will help give you that nice dark, golden bronze skin color.
- Maturation of bone, which would lead to a narrow waist, broad shoulders and a wide, strong jaw bone. Although the effect of testosterone is strongest during puberty, small chances can keep on occurring into your 40s.
- Promote beard growth
- Aids in muscle growth
- Better mood
- Confidence & feeling less intimidated. I used to feel intimidated by big and tall men, but after maximizing T, I feel so calm and secure in myself.
- Improving your outlook on life – optimistism
- Making you more determined
And the list goes on and on.
If you really want to enjoy life and feel like a man, optimizing testosterone is one of the first places to start.
Let’s geek out a little
Testosterone is mainly synthesized in the testes, whereas a small amount of adrenal steroids (such as DHEA) contributes to the overall testosterone levels. Cholesterol is transported into the testes via the rate-limited enzyme steroid transport regulatory protein (StAR), which is then converted to pregnenolone via the cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc or CYP11A). Pregnenolone then gets further converted all the way down to testosterone through a series of enzymes.
Testosterone is then bound to albumin or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), that prevents detoxification of testosterone and transports it around in the blood.
Testosterone binds to androgen receptors to exert its anabolic effect. Testosterone is also a weak cortisol antagonist, which is anabolic.
Furthermore, testosterone can be converted to estrogen via the aromatase (CYP19A1) or to DHT via the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, which is a much stronger androgen than testosterone. Read my article on boosting DHT if you want to maximize it as well.
Side effects of low testosterone:
- Reduced muscle tone, little to no vascularity and increased fat (R)
- Muscle weakness, impaired balance (R)
- Low confidence, depression, no motivation, little competitiveness (R),
- Emotional instability (R)
- Greater remorse (R)
- Cognitive impairment (R)
- Unrealistic goal setting and self-defeating behavior (R)
- Low libido, small testicles (R) (excess estrogen may promote libido)
- Insulin resistance (R)
- Higher pitch voice with an uneven tone (R)
- Brittle bones (R)
- Causes dry skin and rapid skin aging
- Elevated inflammation
- Reduced glycogen stores
- Impaired exercise performance
And again, the list goes on…
Testosterone is really an amazing hormone to have maximized for overall well-being and reaching the great goals you have set for yourself.
In this article I’m going to show you how to increase your testosterone and I’m going to start with the simple and easy things you can, or rather, must do on a daily basis and then I’m going to go over a few proven supplements you can use and then finally I’m going to discuss a few supplements that might increase testosterone, but haven’t been proven to do so yet in humans.
Here we go, please enjoy, my personal go to guide/manual for boosting testosterone!
We should all know by now that exercise is good for us. But we don’t have to slave away in the gym for hours just to get the benefit. On the contrary, training too much can actually lower testosterone and have no extra benefit. A short 15-30 minutes heavy and explosive weight training session will suffice to boost testosterone levels. A longer workout up to 90 minutes will also be effective, but the benefits seem to drop off from there. So there is a bell curve; at one point, you need about 15+ minutes for a proper stimulus and then on the other end, benefits drop of at 90 minutes.
Incorporating exercises such as muscle-ups, cleans, box jumps, jump rope, kettlebell swings, into your workout will have a very potent effect at boosting testosterone, but the other regular exercises, such as the squat, bench, military press, deadlift and so on will also be very effective.
Short, explosive and hard sets appear to be the best to maximize testosterone levels.
Keep in mind that the temporary increase in testosterone from a workout is just that…temporary. We want to train in a way that will maximize testosterone chronically. Training heavy and explosive and then adding in a few sets of moderate to high reps is the way to go to achieve that.
Also, adding in too much cardio to your training will have a negative effect on your recovery ability and testosterone levels.
I like to sprinkle a little exercise, such as rope jumping, burpees, kettlebell swing, etc., out during my day to prevent excess sitting and to promote some cardiovascular fitness gains without doing long exhaustive sessions.
#2 Eat healthy fats
And when I’m saying healthy fats, I’m not talking about canola oil, avocado oil, safflower oil or any other vegetable, seed or nut oil.
I’m talking about fats that are high in saturated fat.
Fat sources such as beef, buffalo, bison, lamb, goat, game, lean fish, dairy, coconuts and eggs.
The fats found in these sources will have the greatest testosterone boosting effect, because saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are positively associated with testosterone, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are more or less neutral whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are will lower testosterone.
PUFAs might increase your LH in the short term which might seem like a good thing, but long term studies show that PUFAs lead to testicular shrinkage and dysfunction. Elevated LH is actually a sign of dysfunctional testes.
There appears to be a misunderstanding about saturated fat and some people/experts put all the saturated fats into the same category, but there are many different saturated fats, each having its own function.
For example, longer chain saturated, such as palmitic- and stearic acid (found in animal fat and cocoa butter) are more androgenic and anabolic than shorter fatty acids, such as MCT oil and lauric acid (found in coconut oil).
Stearic acid increases P450scc (which is the rate-limited step at transporting cholesterol into the testes for steroidogenesis) (R). Palmitic and stearic acid directly increases pregnenolone and DHEA production, while inhibiting cortisol production (R, R).
Although the longer chain fats more anabolic, shorter chain saturated fats also seem to be pro-androgenic, as shown here that caprylic acid, a medium-chain fat found in MCT oil, is an androgen receptor agonist (R).
The shorter chain fats are burned very quickly for energy, whereas longer SFAs will be incorporated into cell membranes and will make cells more stable. More stable cells, which are less fluid and more structured, are more resilient to stressors, produce less inflammation, are more insulin sensitive, produce more energy, testosterone, etc.
Research shows that animals fed a very low PUFA diet has double the testosterone of the group that was fed a higher PUFA diet (A).
On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats not only lower testosterone production, but it also inhibits androgens from binding to their receptors (R) and inhibits DHT formation by blocking 5-AR.
Eliminating PUFAs are impossible apart from eating a laboratory-made diet and who wants to do that? (I actually know a few lol).
Sticking to natural foods that are high in saturated fat, such as those mentioned above, and staying away from man-made foods will dramatically help to lower the intake of rancid oil (PUFAs).
Foods to stay away from include:
- Salad dressings
- All baked and fried goodies
- Canned food in oil
- Packages food (a lot of them are coating with vegetable oils)
- Peanut butter and other nut butter
#3 Don’t make protein intake too high
There is some myth going around that protein shouldn’t be too high or it will lower testosterone. Very high protein diet does lower testosterone, but a moderately high protein diet doesn’t. For example, eating a low protein diet (1-1.4g/kg/d) compared to a high protein diet (>2g/kg/d), shows no difference in testosterone levels (R).
Also, getting 30% of total calories from protein doesn’t see to affect resting testosterone any more than a lower protein diet (R), but a higher protein diet, >44% of total calories from protein, does lower T.
This is most likely due to a reduced ratio of carbs to protein and because of an excess of inflammatory amino acids such as methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan. If you eat a high protein diet for building muscle purposes, consume 2 tablespoons of gelatin for every 100g of animal protein consumed, which will help balance the inflammatory amino acids with anti-inflammatory amino acids such as glycine.
Bottom line, a high protein diet is ok, as long as it’s not at the expense of carbs. A 2:1 ratio or more of carbs to protein is best for testosterone production and muscle building purposes. Adding in gelatin/collagen will also help negate the negative effect of excess protein.
#4 Eat cholesterol
Testosterone is directly created from cholesterol. Although your body can produce its own cholesterol, testosterone & DHT is positively correlated with cholesterol consumption. Eggs are the best natural source of cholesterol (next to beef brains), followed by kidney and liver. Eating a diet rich in saturated fat (especially palmitic acid), keeping thyroid hormone production optimal and eating fructose and vitamin A will ensure that cholesterol is high and steroidogenesis is optimal.
Vince Gironda said that eating 2-3 dozen eggs per day is similar to a (weak) steroid cycle and eggs were the “secret weapon” of many bodybuilders in the olden days.
#5 Maximize sleep
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health, androgens, recovery, muscle growth, brain, etc.
Research shows that accumulative sleep loss, sleeping less than 7 hours per night repeatedly, lowers testosterone and increases serotonin and cortisol.
Sleep loss leads to catabolism of the whole body and the tissue that is deteriorated first is the brain, kidney, thymus, spleen, adrenals, muscles and bone. Deterioration also happens in the pancreas and liver, which leads to type I & II diabetes, liver disease, indigestion, bowel disorders, etc.
To prevent rapid aging and castration induced by sleepless nights, we need to maximize sleep duration and quality of those hours spent sleeping.
A few tips to improve sleep are:
- Sleep in a completely dark room. Get blackout curtains, or a very good eye mask.
- Sleep in a completely quiet room. Get a white noise device if there is too much noise going on at night or wax earplugs.
- Block blue light at night. Get f.lux on your computer/laptop and a blue light blocking app on your phone. Wear blue light blocker glasses at night. Stick True Dark stickers on any light source that shines blue light.
- Do deep tissue massage before bed. Kelly Starret recommends rolling on a basketball/soccer ball on your gut before bed. Deep tissue smashing will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote sleep. Or alternatively, let your spouse massage you.
- Get morning sunlight on your eyeballs (not through glass).
- Sleep in a cool room. Body temperature needs to drop for you to sleep peacefully.
- A cold shower 10-15 minutes before bed can help induce faster and better sleep.
- Having an AC on is very helpful.
- Sleeping on an Ooler/chillipad has been life changers for many people.
- Listen to BiNeural beats to activate delta brain waves.
- Turn all wifi and power off in the house to eliminate EMF and dirty electricity.
- De-stress before bed by doing yoga or Tai Chi
- Write everything down that’s on your mind (e.g. things you have to get done the next day) so that your mind can be cleared and relaxed so that it can “shut down”. Having a lot on your mind before you go to bed keeps your brain on “standby mode” and will have your mind repeating everything you have to do so that you don’t forget it.
- Be active during the day. I’ve found that when I sprinkle activity, such as 30-60 sec intense rope jumping through my day, my energy, focus and sleep is better.
#6 Inhibit the aromatase & lower estrogen
The enzyme aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen in the body and estrogen is one of the most potent negative regulators of testosterone. Estrogen lowers GnRH and reduces testosterone production.
- 30 Potent Ways to Lower Aromatase
- Increase estrogen detoxification through the liver
- 14 Ways to decrease and inactivate estrogen receptors
#7 Lower Prolactin
Prolactin inhibits hCG-stimulated steroidogenesis and cAMP accumulation, possibly by increasing phosphodiesterase activity (R). Prolactin also lowers 5-alpha reductase and lowers DHT.
# 8 Lower stress
Stress is so prevalent these days and seems almost impossible to avoid apart from moving to the mountains and staying out of society. But that is definitely not an option for most of us, or not that we even want to do that, so we have to look at other options to keep stress at bay.
Stress stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol and catecholamines, such as noradrenaline and adrenaline, all of which are pretty beneficial and harmless if it only happens acutely.
But chronic stress is very harmful to the body and will lower the metabolism, testosterone production and increase the aromatase.
A few simple ways to de-stress are:
- Breathe. Breathe deep and slow through your diaphragm and let your stomach expand to the front and to the side and don’t let your chest rise. Short shallow breaths induced by stress, low energy and hunched over posture activates the stress cascade and sitting or standing erect with shoulder back enables you to breathe deep and calmly. Breathe in for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. After 4 or so breathes you feel much calmer. While breathing, focus on something positive.
- Do yoga or Tai Chi
- Listen to music
- Learn something. This is not something you can do in the moment of a stressful event, but it’s a great de-stress tool in general. Learning something activates the right brain and dopaminergic system and will help you get rid of stress.
- Take a walk somewhere, preferably in nature.
- Do 20 burpees or intense rope jumping. Sometimes just getting that frustration out helps a lot.
- Zinc, vitamin C, inosine, salt and sugar will help to lower excess catecholamines.
#9 Don’t drink too much
Acute alcohol ingestion causes a spike in androgens and also free androgens (lower SHBG), as it prevents the liver from detoxifying it, which increases the time in circulation (R).
However, chronic alcohol consumption has an adverse effect on the testes and alcohol consumption lowers testosterone levels significantly. Even moderate, but chronic alcohol consumption lowers testosterone (R).
Check out my Facebook post on how to negate some of the negatives of drinking.
#10 Improve insulin sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that signals energy intake and increases testosterone production. Insulin is needed to transport glucose into the cells for oxidation to produce ATP needed for steroidogenesis. Glucose is the most insulinogenic monosaccharide, and some amino acids are also highly insulinogenic. Don’t consume any protein alone (as per the 2:1 rule mentioned above), as the insulin will cause hypoglycemia and glucagon and cortisol will increase to pick blood glucose back up.
Although, getting hyperinsulinemia is not the goal, but for insulin to exert it’s pro-steroidogenic and anabolic actions, we need to be insulin sensitive.
Here are a few ways to improve insulin sensitivity:
- Lower cortisol
- Lower excess free fatty acids with niacinamide and aspirin. Use 500mg niacinamide and 300mg aspirin per high carb meal.
- Do 30 seconds of intense exercise before a high carb meal. I like to do some intense jumping with the jump rope.
- Walk 10-20 minutes after a meal.
- Avoid excess vegetable oils
- Avoid junk food in general
- Get optimal sleep
#11 Stay lean
Fat cells are an endocrine organ where currently there are 15 steroidogenic enzymes known to exist in adipose tissue. The effect is mostly bad though, as fat cells increase the aromatase, which lowers testosterone and increases estrogen. Enzymes in fat cells also increase the production of cortisol and break DHT down, via 3β-HSD.
The simplest ways to lose fat is to:
- Eat 30 grams of protein in the first 30 minutes of waking (Tip from 4-hour Body by Tim Ferris)
- Eat a high protein diet
- Get lots of sunlight. Sunlight suppresses appetite.
- Don’t overtrain. Doing high volume training increases hunger. Short training sessions are superior.
- Do a Tabata HIIT session after you wake up.
- Do cold thermogenesis. 2-5 minutes is the sweet spot. More than 10 minutes can start to have negative stress effects.
- Be active during the day.
- Avoid snacking.
- Have a set meal plan or routine
#12 Avoid fasting
There is research that shows that fasting increases sensitivity to GnRH and LH, long term intermittent fasting has the potential to lower testosterone levels over time (R). I’ve seen too many guys that crash and deteriorate after doing intermittent fasting for a few months, so this is not something I’d recommend. If you’re doing IF and show no sign of crashing, then there might be no reason to stop, but for the rest, be careful.
There are a lot of experts of there that do fast and recommend doing fasting, but keep in mind they do a lot of other things as well that promote the metabolism, lower stress, lower inflammation, live a clean life, and so on, so fasting will not have nearly a stressful effect on them as it would on someone that can’t optimize they lifestyle as dramatically as these experts.
#13 Inhibit testosterone detoxification
Cocoa and caffeine inhibit testosterone detoxification in the liver by inhibiting UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) (R). Milk thistle, cranberry, garlic, valerian and green tea extract also inhibits UGT (R).
#14 Use natural products
Chemical products, such as hand wash, shampoo, shaving cream, aftershave, deodorant, lotion, etc., all have endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
There are literally thousands of these chemicals and all of them have the potential to disrupt normal cellular function and testosterone production.
A few alternatives are:
- A natural bar soap, such as a coconut oil bar soap, for washing your body and hair, and even using it for shaving. If you use a shaving brush you could whip up a great lather to shave with.
- Castile soap for washing your hands, body, hair and even clothes.
- Alcohol spray with essential oils for deodorant.
- Lanolin, cocoa butter or mango butter for moisturization.
#15 Eat natural & organic foods
Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides all have gut altering, health-harming and testosterone lowering properties.
To check for safe fruits and vegetables, you could use the ”Dirty Dozen” and ”Clean Fifteen” lists that get updated yearly on the Internet.
Also, natural foods such as cocoa powder, fruits (berries, prunes, apples, pomegranates, oranges, guavas, etc.), raw milk, will lower oxidative stress, inflammation and promote steroidogenesis. Just be eliminating all kinds of junk food, and sticking to only whole healthy natural foods, will lower oxidative stress significantly.
#16 Stay away from plastics
Plastics are another major source of endocrine disruptors. The environment is getting more and more polluted with plastics, so avoid them is becoming more and more important. These plastics is not just in plastic products, but also in the air we breathe, the water we drink or shower and bath in and perhaps even in the food we eat, because the soil is getting polluted with the plastics.
The first thing you can do is to stop using plastics. Plastic bottles, plastic Tupperware, plastic wood wrapping, plastic utensils, etc.
Next on the list is to buy purified water free of plastics and get yourself a good shower filter to filter not only the plastics, but also heavy metals and other junk and impurities found in municipal water.
#17 Use safe cooking pots, pans and utensils
Most people use non-stick pans these days, and I’m sorry to tell you but all of them release one or another kind of toxin into the food. They are best avoided completely.
Secondly, avoid all plastic utensils and use either stainless steel or wooden utensils. I personally really like the wooden ones.
Stainless steel pots and pans are the safest. The stainless steel pots type to which a magnet can stick, so be sure to take a magnet with you when going pot and pan shopping.
#18 Lower serotonin
Serotonergic drugs, such as the anti-depressant SSRI drugs, lower testosterone production and increase the aromatase, thus increasing the estrogen to testosterone ratio (R, R, R). Even pro-serotonin herbs, such as St Johns Wort, lowers testosterone and inhibits 5 alpha reductase (R). Tryptophan & 5-HTP, which are the precursor to serotonin lowers testosterone levels as well as thyroid function (R, R).
Serotonin also increases cortisol (R) and prolactin, so it would be a good idea to keep it as low as possible. Avoid high tryptophan foods, such as whey and egg whites and consume two tablespoons of gelatin for every 100g of animal protein you consume. That should help balance out the inflammatory amino acids in the protein.
#19 Increase dopamine
Dopamine, which quite the opposite of serotonin actually increases total and free testosterone levels (R, R). High dopamine is associated with creativity, exploration, happiness, open-mindedness, kindness, etc.
#20 Optimize thyroid function
Thyroid hormones are essential for testosterone production. In a hyperthyroid state testosterone and especially DHT production is significantly increased.
Here are a few tips on how to increase thyroid function and thyroid hormone production:
If you want an immediate solution for a slow thyroid, take a thyroid supplement in the meanwhile while you’re working on optimizing the rest. Here are a few options:
- TyroMax – a very high-quality glandular product
- TyroMix – 3mcg T3 & 6mcg T4 per drop, 360 drops. Take 2 drops per meal to gauge the effect.
Or sometimes you just need selenium, which is very important for converting T4 into T3.
#21 Increase ATP production
ATP is a highly energized molecule that regulates intracellular energy transfer. Steroidogenesis depends on optimal ATP production (R, R). That is why cAMP inducing substances such as caffeine and forskolin increases steroidogenesis, because it increases ATP production. Lowering cortisol, optimizing thyroid function, increasing glucose availability, improving insulin sensitivity, etc, will all improve ATP production.
But sometimes there might be a defect at the electron transport chain (ETC) which handicaps energy production even in the presence of enough carbs and fats. In the case of a defective ETC, the cocktail 5mg methylene blue, 1g vitamin C, 5mg vitamin K2 (MK-4) and 100mg succinic acid taken 2-3 times daily will dramatically increase ATP production.
Other substances that increase ATP production include pentadecanoic acid, inosine, pyroglutamic acid, B-vitamins, creatine and Ancient Peat.
- Cardenosine – contains inosine, ATP, pyroglutamic acid, vitamin B6 and succinic acid. Goes synergistically with methylene blue and B-vitamins.
#22 Eat a nutrient dense diet
Minerals and vitamins are essential for all processes in the body. The foods these days are so refined and devoid of nutrients, so no wonder people get all kinds of issues and low testosterone.
Eating a highly nutrient-dense diet might make supplements completely absolute, especially if all the other lifestyle factors are also dialed in.
The most nutrients dense foods include:
- Organ meat, such as liver, kidney and heart.
- Leafy green vegetables
- Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Starches, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, etc.
- Grains such as oats and quinoa
- Fruits such as bananas, oranges, guavas, pineapples, etc.
#23 Get lots of sunlight
Vitamin D is directly involved in steroidogenesis, by binding to vitamin D receptors (VDR) as well as to VDR/RXR (vitamin A) receptor complexes to upregulate steroidogenic genes (CYP11A1, HSD3B2, CYP19A1, CYP3A4 and SRD5A1) (R). (Vitamin D works in synergy with vitamin A in steroidogenesis).
Vitamin D is positively associated with total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (fT) and lower SHBG (R, R, R). Increases seen for TT are between 17.8% to 25% and 20% to 22% for fT depending on BMI, nutrition status, vitamin D level and supplemental dose (R, R).
Vitamin D further enhances the actions of androgens (e.g. DHT) by inhibiting their deactivation from androgen receptors by inhibiting the glucuronidation (a mechanism that inactivates and eliminates substances) of DHT, resulting in an accumulation of DHT to exert a more powerful effect (R).
Sunlight is super valuable not only for testosterone, but also for general health.
#24 Enjoy some coffee
#25 Improve leptin sensitivity
Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full as you have eaten. Like insulin, it also boosts testosterone production. The secretion of testosterone is directly mediated by the leptin receptors that are present in the Leydig cells of the testes (62). However there as an inverse relationship between thyroid hormones and testosterone and leptin, but a positive relationship between leptin and estrogen, cortisol, hyperinsulinemia, and inflammation. When you are leptin sensitive, leptin levels will be low, and steroidogenesis will be in full force.
High protein intake (30% of total calories) and a high carbohydrate diet might increases leptin sensitivity (R, R). Lowering estrogen, inflammation and cortisol will also help to improve leptin sensitivity. Losing weight and improving insulin sensitivity will also help to improve leptin sensitivity.
Smokers have higher total and free testosterone than nonsmokers (R). If you’re a smoker just take some vitamin C and γ-tocopherol daily to quench the free radicals created by smoking. You can always rather invest in nicotine gums or patches instead of smoking as smoking can have some detrimental effects on your health.
#27 Weed/grass/Marry Jane/Hashish/Doobie
Marijuana smokers had higher levels of testosterone within the same range as cigarette smokers (R), however testosterone drop after quitting weed (R). I’m not endorsing you to go and slap the bass (smoke the bong) or roll a joint or anything…I’m just showing what the science found.
#28 Avoid opioids
Opioids, both endogenous (beta-endorphins and canabinoids, such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) and exogenous (weed, beta-casomorphins (found in casein), gluten, kratom, menthol, opium, heroin, morphine, methadone, dihydrocodeine, tramadol, etc.), modulate gonadal function primarily by acting on opioid receptors in the hypothalamus (R). Opioids are occasionally reported to increase prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinaemia also, through opioids, tonically inhibits the secretion of GnRH. Opioids also reduce serotonin transporters, thus potentiating the effect of serotonin (R).
Coffee (not caffeine) and amentoflavon are potent natural opioid antagonists.
#29 Balance histamine
Histamine is the neurotransmitter that is involved in allergies, wakefulness, alertness, motivation, drive, etc. Histamine binds to 4 receptors, H1 to H4. H1 is mostly responsible for the allergic reaction and energizing effect. H3 is an autoregulatory receptor, and inhibiting it will increase histamine levels.
H2 activation is largely responsible for the stimulation of steroidogenesis, while H1 activation is required for inhibition of steroid synthesis (R). To use histamine to boost testosterone production, you could use small doses of cyproheptadine to block the H1 receptor, but use an H3 receptor antagonist such as Pitolisant, Kutaj Bark (conessine) or betahistine to keep histamine levels high to act on the H2 receptor.
H4 stimulation inhibits steroidogenesis (R), and its antagonist is anti-itching, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthma, and pro-steroidogenesis. Currently, there isn’t much known about H4 antagonists, but Lactobacillus rhamnosus downregulates H4 receptor expression (R).
Histamine can also increase serotonin synthesis by increasing TPH1 and nitric oxide, which further inhibits steroidogenesis (R).
However, histamine and thyroid hormones are inversely correlated and thyroid is the main inducer of steroidogenesis, so optimizing thyroid function should be the first priority.
#30 Avoid heavy metals
#31 Don’t go too crazy on the nitric oxide boosting foods and supplements
Electrotherapy causes electric stimulation using a 1 Hz current directly on volunteers meridian points significantly increased the subjects’ concentrations of total testosterone and DHEA-S (R). is induced by a machine with electrodes. This therapy is also very effective at increasing androgen receptors in the muscles (R).
#33 Red light…on the testes
Red light significantly improves energy production and cellular function. There are some studies indicating that shining red light on the crown jewels is able to increase testosterone levels (R). But please be careful with this. Maybe start at 2 minutes and work up to 10 minutes if shining the light close to the goons.
That’s it for the diet & lifestyle changes, let’s talk supplements
Forskolin supplementation, more commonly used as a fat burner, is also able to increase testosterone levels slightly, but increases free testosterone more significantly.
As seen in this study (R), individuals ingested 250mg of 10% forskolin twice a day (50mg extract daily) and increased their total testosterone slightly and their free testosterone by 16% after 12 weeks, while the placebo group saw no change.
This adaptogenic herb contains alkaloids, saponins and steroidal lactones (withanolides, withaferins) that might improve your gym experience (hypertrophy and strength gains) and helps you cope with stress better.
Taking 300mg ashwagandha twice daily for 8 weeks increased testosterone by 96.2ng/dl vs placebo, which only experienced an 18ng/dl increase (R).
Zinc is a mineral that’s very needed for testosterone & DHT production. In infertile, low T men, zinc supplementation increased T and DHT significantly (R, R, R). Zinc also increases 17β-HSD (which synthesizes DHEA), lowers cortisol, prolactin, and estrogen. However, zinc has other benefits from just increasing androgens.
Zinc is also easily lost via sweat so an active individual might need more than the RDA than an inactive individual. Foods rich in zinc include red meat and oysters.
#4 Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of many hormones and neurotransmitters, including testosterone and dopamine. With adequate B6, testosterone synthesis is optimized, steroid clearance is reduced and the recycling of receptors from the nucleus back into the cytosol after initial translocation is increased (R). So basically vitamin B6 is essential for steroidogenesis and it also potentiates its effect. However, too much B6 will reduce androgen sensitivity.
I advise to take only 6-10mg daily, but supplementation isn’t even needed if lots of vitamin B6 is ingested via the diet. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include pork, poultry, red meat and organ meat such as liver and kidney.
Magnesium is a cofactor in many steroidogenic enzyme and pathways, such as cAMP, StAR, CYP450scc, 3β-HSD and 17β-HSD, and boosts testosterone production (R, R, R). Magnesium is also one of the most important minerals for ATP production, and ATP is the most important factor for steroidogenesis.
Magnesium also binds to SHBG, making T more bio-available (R).
One recent meta-review study concluded that 80%+ of people in the Western world suffer from some level of magnesium deficiency so it might be a good idea to take some magnesium.
Magnesium is very easily lost through sweat, through the urine during hypothyroid or due to malabsorption. Stress also greatly depletes the great mineral.
- Oral magnesium (glycinate) – (Amazon, iHerb)
- Topical magnesium – (Amazon, iHerb, IdealabsDC (product: Magnoil))
#6 Vitamin D
As mentioned above, sunlight is very healthy for you and will increase testosterone production.
If you are not getting enough sunlight, use a vitamin D supplement to boost your levels to around 50ng/mL.
Caffeine stimulates cAMP, which promotes StAR and increases the synthesis of pregnenolone and testosterone. As mentioned earlier, coffee drinkers enjoy higher testosterone than non-drinkers. I enjoy drinking coffee when relaxing and working and when I’m in a hurry and don’t have a lot of time to sit down and drink a coffee, a double espresso hits the spot perfectly. Alternatively, if you’re not much of a coffee drinker, caffeine supplementation will also boost testosterone levels.
#8 Vitamin A
Retinol (the animal form of vitamin A) is such a powerful testosterone and growth promoter, that when vitamin A and iron are given as a supplement during puberty in short stature boy, they have the same growth results as when given testosterone oxandrolone (a steroid) after 12 months (R).
A vitamin A deficiency leads to significantly low testosterone and growth hormones, as if in a state of castration (R). Retinoids also play a role in the maintenance and regulation of Leydig cell function and are able to stimulate testosterone synthesis and also increase LH receptor density and sensitivity (R).
Beef liver, dairy fat, eggs are great sources of retinol. Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, etc., are all good sources of beta-carotene, which is the precursor to retinol, with the strength of about 12:1. So you’ll have to eat 12 times as much beta-carotene to get the same amount of retinol if all conversion enzymes are working optimal, but that isn’t guaranteed also.
# 9 Boron
Boron supplementation is able to significantly increase in androgen levels. Boron supplementation, 10g+, significantly increases testosterone and free testosterone levels, while decreasing estrogen levels. In some studies boron increases estrogen, but which might be due to boron antagonizing manganese. Manganese is then excreted from cells and enters the circulation and then raises estrogen. I don’t think you have to worry about it being too estrogenic as many studies show that it effectively lowers estrogen. Doses of 10mg are needed for this androgenic effect (R, R, R). Dried fruit such as raisins and dates are also high in boron.
A cheap source of boron is Borax powder. Start with a 1/8th of a teaspoon.
Low iron is associated with lower testosterone as iron is needed for testosterone, thyroid hormone and dopamine production. However, too high iron can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. Before you jump on a supplement, get a full iron panel (ferritin, transferrin, iron saturation, serum iron, hemoglobin, ceruloplasmin and copper). Copper is essential for iron metabolism, and sometimes ferritin is low but hemoglobin is normal which indicates that iron levels is fine.
Doctors usually only test ferritin and then put someone on an iron supplement, whereas ferritin can be suppressed due to infection and inflammation.
But if you do want to get a supplement, use ferritin pyrophosphate or iron biglycinate.
People who consumed the highest levels of calcium had the highest testosterone, free testosterone, and the lowest estrogen (R, R). Calcium intake suppresses parathyroid hormone (PTH), which inhibits thyroid function, is inflammatory and catabolic.
Dairy, eggshell calcium and some leafy greens are great sources of calcium.
#12 Mucuna Pruriens
Supplementation increases testosterone significantly in infertile men (R, R). Mucuna is better known for increasing dopamine and significantly lowering prolactin. High dopamine levels promote steroidogenesis, whereas serotonin inhibits it.
3mg D-aspartate induces an enhancement of LH and testosterone release in healthy men in the hospital during a 12 day period (R). However, in this study (R), a dose of 3g didn’t increase testosterone and a dose of 6g actually reduced testosterone in healthy active men. The effect mainly lasts two weeks before it loses its effect and it also induces prolactin release in the anterior pituitary gland, activates NMDA and activates the aromatase (R).
The only reason I added this supplement is to show you it’s useless.
#14 Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus Terrestris supplementation increases testosterone, DHEA, DHT, androgen receptors and dopamine levels, and also lowers cortisol and prolactin significantly (R, R, R). It mostly boosts testosterone and DHEA in infertile men, but increases DHT, dopamine, androgen receptors and lowers cortisol and prolactin in everybody. Very useful and powerful herb.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an adrenal steroid, which is then converted to testosterone, DHT or estrogen. Although DHEA only contributes minorly to total testosterone, it mainly converted to DHT, which is the most potent androgen. Magnesium, exercise, vitamin C, sunlight, sleep, wine drinking will all impact adrenal health and DHEA production (R). During hypothyroid and hypometabolism the majority of DHEA will be converted to estrogen via the aromatase, but when the metabolism is optimal, the DHEA will be converted to DHT. It’s also best to stick to small dosages of 5mg three times daily, as more might easily be converted estrogen.
10 days of aspirin supplementation (800mg twice daily) lowers cortisol concentration significantly and greatly boosted testosterone concentration (R).
A quote from the study:
“In fact, after ASA treatment, four volunteers showed individual plasma T concentrations slightly higher than the upper level of the reference range for their age (e.g., 30.67, 30.81, 35.15, and 39.48 nmol/L, respectively) (Fig. 3). On these bases, the observed higher mean plasma T concentration after ASA treatment, although above the limits of statistical significance (p = 0.052), has to be considered of clinical relevance”.
Aspirin works similarly to apigenin, but more upstream, where apigenin inhibits the thromboxane A2 receptor, aspirin inhibits COX2 and prevents the formation of prostaglandins and thromboxane.
I used 2g aspirin for 3 weeks and it completely abolished intimidation and gave me a very calm confidence feeling.
Levetiracetam, a not so common nootropic, used at a dose of 500mg twice daily increased testosterone levels by 16% and free testosterone by 19% (R). According to the study, the mechanism of the testosterone boosting effect was simply by reducing the aromatase.
Shilajit is a pale‐brown to blackish‐brown exudate that oozes from sedimentary rocks worldwide, largely in the Himalayas. Shilajit is said to carry the healing power of these great mountains. Traditional uses of Shilajit primarily focus not only on diabetes and diseases of the urinary tract, but also on edema, tumors, muscle wasting, epilepsy and even insanity. Shilajit also helps to detox heavy metals, improve cellular function and energy production.
Treatment with Shilajit (250mg twice daily) for consecutive 90 days revealed that it has significantly increased total testosterone (6.82% by day 30, 3.09% by day 60 and 20.45% by day 90), free testosterone (19.14% by day 90) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) (R), but they had very low T (154ng/dl) to begin with.
Oxytocin is the love and bonding hormone, which has been shown to significantly increase testosterone synthesis due to dose-dependent stimulatory effects on 3β-HSD activity and increased expression of STAR, LH-receptor (LH-R) and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone receptor (GnRH-R) proteins in the testis (R).
So, it appears that acute administration of oxytocin stimulates testosterone production, particularly in young animals, whilst more prolonged exposure to oxytocin results in a decline in testosterone concentrations but an increase in DHT production (R).
If you’re interested in this supplement, use it at most two times per week.
Most people know of androstenedione, but few know of androstenetrione. Androstenetrione is an effective aromatase inhibitor and is relatively effective at increasing testosterone and very effective at increasing free testosterone and DHT (R).
#21 Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali (TA) at doses of 200mg/day, when given to stressed individuals, decreased their cortisol by 16% and increased their testosterone by 37% (R). The effects of Tongkat Ali in restoring normal testosterone levels appear to be less due to actually “stimulating” testosterone synthesis, but rather by increasing the release rate of free testosterone from its binding hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG) (R). TA is also a good aromatase inhibitor.
Now let’s talk about supplements that have the potential to boost testosterone, but hasn’t been directly studied in humans for that purpose.
#1 Vitamin C
Vitamin C, similar to vitamin E, is an anti-oxidant and protects testosterone from oxidative stress in the testes (R). Also, the adrenal gland accumulates high levels of ascorbate. Ascorbic acid is a cofactor required both in catecholamine biosynthesis and in adrenal steroidogenesis and stress greatly depletes vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents the decline in androgens due to hyperglycemia and excess of free radical (R). In this rat study, vitamin C increased androgens in normal mice (R).
#2 Vitamin E
Vitamin E is very important for steroidogenesis and is known as the fertility vitamin. α-tocopherol is the most studied so far and has shown to have the greatest effect on steroid hormones, whereas γ-tocopherol is much better at quenching free radicals. I recommend taking a mixed tocopherol for the best results, with a high α-tocopherol content such as wheat germ extract.
Vitamin E is needed for normal testicular function, and a deficiency will result in inadequate testosterone production as well as less responsiveness to LH in the testes.
Vitamin E is also an estrogen antagonist in high doses, which inhibits the aromatase, and it’s very effective at lowering prolactin (300mg doses).
#3 Vitamin B1
An interesting rat study indicated that a combination of pyruvate (end breakdown product of glucose) and thiamine pyrophosphate (the active form of thiamine) exhibited a strong potentiation of steroidogenesis in presence of cyclic AMP (R). When there is enough glucose, vitamin B1 and cAMP (promoted by forskolin and caffeine) present in the testes, the testes can powerfully stimulate testosterone production. In this rat study, thiamine supplemented rats had higher testosterone (R). Furthermore, vitamin B1 lowers serotonin and this will automatically increase testosterone.
Vitamin B1 is also rapidly depleted during stress which dramatically increases your requirements for this vitamin.
- Vitamin B1 – (Amazon, iHerb)
Iodine reverses the effects of hypothyroidism on the testicles. Thyroid hormones increase testosterone synthesis, and inadequate T3 will lead to low testosterone and testosterone receptor sensitivity (R, R).
Iodine will protect the testes and testosterone from free radicals and oxidative stress, however, when there’s too way too much iodine in the testes, without enough cofactors, it can actually increase reactive oxygen species and lower testosterone via down-regulation of varies enzymes.
Iodine also binds/interacts with nucleus/steroid receptors and helps to increase receptor sensitivity of T and DHT (R).
Iodine administration is also able to regenerate damaged Leydig cells (cells in testes where testosterone is made) (R).
Selenium is a very important mineral for the enzyme deiodinase 2, which converts thyroid hormone T4 to T3.
Iodine can also be directly applied to the testes for more direct actions.
There is a significant reduction in serum MDA (53.7%) & a significant increase in serum glutathione (26.7%) in infertile men after treatment with ginger as compared with before treatment. There were significant increases in serum FSH (17.6%), LH (43.3%) & testosterone (17.7%) levels in infertile men after treatment by ginger as compared with before treatment (75).
MDA is a marker of lipid peroxidation and glutathione is the master anti-oxidant defense system in the body. Use ginger as capsules, tea, in a smoothie, juice it or use it in a dish.
Milk contains precursors and hormones such as LH, testosterone, DHT, and IGF-1. Drinking milk will boost your androgenic and anabolic hormones. Grass-fed raw milk would be the best choice. Many strong men of old drank at least a gallon of milk a day, although 500ml to 2L per day would also have a great effect.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that increases thyroid hormone conversion, T4 to T3 and also increases glutathione, which will increase immunity and lower free radicals to keep testosterone safe (R). Selenium can also enhance the testosterone production of Leydig cells by activating StAR and 3β-HSD (R). Selenium is needed for proper steroidogenesis, although, if you already consume enough selenium, more will not further increase steroidogenesis. Beef kidney is one of the best sources of selenium.
In this rat study, 1000 mcg/kg/day of copper significantly increases testicular steroidogenic enzyme activity and stimulates testicular spermatogenesis along with rising in serum testosterone and LH levels (78). The human equivalent dose would be 11.4mg for an 80kg man, although such a dose used daily would quickly lead to copper excess.
So keep an eye on ceruloplasmin and serum copper levels when supplementing.
Beef liver, cocoa, oysters and kale are great sources of copper.
Apigenin is a natural flavone that increases the activity of StAR. Studies showed that apigenin blocks the thromboxane A2 receptor and interrupts the signaling through the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2)-thromboxane A synthase-thromboxane A2-receptor pathway, resulting in an increase in StAR gene expression. This pathway also dramatically increases the sensitivity of the Leydig cells, with a sub-threshold level of cAMP being able to induce maximal levels of StAR protein expression and steroid hormone production (R). Although research is still only in vitro, apigenin shows lots of promise, also as an aromatase inhibitor.
Apigenin is found in many fruits and vegetables, but parsley, guava, celery, celery, and chamomile tea are the most common sources.
#10 Geranylgeraniol (GGOH) & vitamin K2 (MK-4)
Geranylgeraniol is an isoprenoid found in plants. It boosts testosterone by increasing cAMP and PKA (protein kinase A) (R). Researches found that if they applied vitamin K2 (MK-4 and not any other form) on cells, it increased testosterone in vitro and in vivo. They then looked at what was causing the increase in testosterone and found that it was the tail (GGOH) of the MK-4 molecule that had the effect. You can simply apply vitamin K2 (MK-4) directly in the testes for an increase in steroid synthesis or supplement with phytol (discusses below).
Phytol is present in plants and is converted to phytanic acid in mammals. So if we eat animal fat, we’re ingesting phytanic acid, but it’s not the same as phytol. However, humans can still absorb phytol (when supplemented) and use it to increase testosterone synthesis. The same researchers (as mentioned above with GGOH), also tested phytol with GGOH on the effect on steroidogenesis. At 30nM concentrations, it was slightly better than GGOH at increasing StAR and testosterone production. 30nM can be achieved in the body by ingesting 100mg phytol daily.
- Gonadin – contains 100mg phytol per serving
#12 Horny goat weed & Icariin
Horny goat weed and the icariin in it is able to boost testosterone (almost triple) in rats at a dosage of 200mg/kg of a 40% extract (80mg/kg Icariin). The human equivalent dose is 28.6mg/kg for HGW and 11.4mg/kg for Icariin, which would be 2288mg HGW for an 80kg man or 914mg Icariin (R).
#13 Pine pollen
Pine pollen contains testosterone, epitestosterone and androstenedione, androstenedione, androsterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in Scots pines pollen (R). For its full effect, take 5g pine pollen with a fatty meal at night.
Taurine is a very important amino acid for health and a lot of us don’t make enough of it in our bodies and surely do eat enough of it. Taurine is abundant in male reproductive organs, and that taurine levels decline with age, and age is related to a decline in androgens. In this study (R), rats were given taurine, and their GnRH, LH, and testosterone increased significantly. They also found that in aged rats testicular, SDH and G6PDH activities (marker enzymes of testes), serum testosterone, testicular 3β-HSD, and 17β-HSD mRNA expression levels were significantly increased by taurine treatment.
Taurine also decreases testicular oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation and can as an antioxidant, a testosterone secretion stimulator, a sperm membrane stabilizer and motility factor, and an anti-apoptotic agent (R).
There are two ways you can go about this. One is to use a big dose, 10-15g, of taurine for a month and then stop for 3 months as stores will remained topped off for that long. The other method is to use a low dose, 500mg-1g, chronically.
Intracellular potassium is essential for steroidogenesis (R). Optimal thyroid function, magnesium, calcium, and sodium intake and low PUFA intake help to keep potassium inside the cell. Milk, orange juice, potatoes (and other tubers) and green leafy vegetables are great sources of potassium.
Garlic supplementation in rats was able to significantly increase testosterone and decrease cortisol levels (R). The result seems mainly due to its active ingredient, diallyldisulfide. No need to supplement with garlic, but if you enjoy it, have some in your food.
#17 Olive leaf extract
Olive leaf extract (oleuropein aglycone) significantly increased testosterone levels and decreased cortisol levels in rats fed a high protein diet (R). Olive leaf extract is a great tonic for the kidneys, and it lowers oxidative stress and inflammation and might even aid in fat loss.
Vitamin B3, especially niacinamide, boosts NAD levels and the NAD to NADH ratio. A high NAD ratio is essential for proper steroidogenesis. Niacinamide also lowers excessive free fatty acids and lipid peroxides which will boost testicular function and testosterone production. A relatively high dose of niacinamide is very effective at lowering serotonin and increasing GABA. Many people report a great mood-enhancing effect from even 500mg.
As always, thanks so much for reading my article. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. And if you found this article to be insightful and helpful please like and share so this information can help others as well.
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