I’m going to show you the 20 best testosterone-boosting food sources that will have the most powerful impact on increasing low T levels. These foods are also highly recommended if you are on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Any good testosterone diet should have most of these foods in them.
If you’re like me who initially didn’t know I could increase my testosterone with foods, I’m here to share the good news with you that it’s possible. And that it can make a huge difference.
Side effects of low testosterone levels:
- Reduced muscle tone (and muscle mass) and impaired muscle growth
- Little to no vascularity and
- Increased weight gain (R)
- Muscle weakness, impaired balance (R)
- Low confidence, depression, no motivation, little competitiveness (R),
- Emotional instability (R)
- Low energy levels
- Greater remorse (R)
- Poor cognitive function (R)
- Unrealistic goal-setting and self-defeating behavior (R)
- Low libido and sex drive and small testicles (R)
- Erectile dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- 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
- Reduced overall health and many undesired health issues
Who’s ready to get higher testosterone levels?!
Let’s dive in.
Suet is the fat surrounding the kidney of an animal. The best suet comes from beef and lamb dietary fat.
The reason why suet is so good is because it’s high in healthy fats, namely saturated fat, specifically stearic acid.
Research has found that saturated fats and monounsaturated fats increase testosterone, whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) lower testosterone.
- Increases P450scc (which is the rate-limited step at transporting cholesterol into the testes for steroidogenesis) (R).
- Promotes mitochondrial fusion (which makes mitochondria bigger and more effective). The reason why this is so important is because smaller mitochondria produce less energy (ATP), whereas bigger mitochondria produce more ATP and less reactive oxygen species (ROS).
- And palmitic, directly increases pregnenolone and DHEA production, while inhibiting cortisol production (R, R).
PUFA (found in high amounts of vegetable oils and peanut butter) has the opposite effect as SFA. Instead of stimulating testosterone, they impair it.
Research in rats shows that feeding them a very low PUFA diet, doubled their testosterone compared to the normal group (R).
Egg consumption can increase testosterone. This study found that consuming 3 whole eggs (compared to consuming 6 egg whites) for 12 weeks increased testosterone by 240ng/dl vs 70 in the egg white group (R).
That’s quite significant.
It also shows that all of the goodness is in the egg yolks. The yolk is full of cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K), choline, etc.
My favorite testosterone-blooding smoothie recipe is:
- 250-500ml milk
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 banana
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 very heaped tbsp collagen
Also, don’t worry about getting high cholesterol. Our bodies are very good at regulating cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol production and absorption and enhancing cholesterol excretion. If you want to be cautious non-the-less, then keep an eye on total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, lp(a), fasting glucose and fasting insulin.
Oysters are a powerhouse with testosterone-boosting nutrients. It’s rich in zinc, iodine and specific peptides that boost testosterone levels.
Iodine for testosterone
Iodine has been shown to:
- 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).
- Protect the testes and testosterone from free radicals and oxidative stress.
- Increase receptor sensitivity of T and DHT (R).
- Regenerate damaged Leydig cells (cells in the testes where testosterone is made) (R).
Zinc and testosterone
Zinc is a mineral that’s very needed for testosterone & DHT production. In infertile men with low levels of testosterone, zinc supplementation increased T and DHT significantly (R, R, R). Zinc also increases 17β-HSD (which synthesizes DHEA), and lowers cortisol, prolactin, and estrogen.
In this study, researchers induced a zinc deficiency by feeding men a low zinc diet, and it dropped their testosterone 4 fold (R).
Red meat and dairy are also good sources of zinc.
As a side note, although pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, it’s also rich in polyunsaturated fats (which creates oxidative stress, promote the stress response and even activate the aromatase), lignans (which are estrogenic), and anti-nutrients that will lower the absorption. So don’t try to get your zinc from pumpkin seeds. Be a man and eat your meat!
But don’t just go crazy and supplement with lots of zinc. This 2023 review discusses that: “the effect degree of zinc on serum testosterone may vary depending on basal zinc and testosterone levels, zinc dosage form, elementary zinc dose, and duration. In conclusion, serum zinc was positively correlated with total testosterone, and moderate supplementation plays an important role in improving androgen.” (R)
Sleep is the most important healthy lifestyle modification you should dial in to optimize your testosterone. Testosterone goes up during the night, as you sleep, and then slowly declines during the day. The better your sleep, the greater your testosterone surge. The worse you sleep, the worse your testosterone surge will be, and this can start to cause hypogonadal symptoms.
Sleeping only 5 hours per night for 1 week was shown to decrease testosterone by 15% in young men (R). Just imagine how much testosterone will continue to drop if someone continues with that kind of bad sleeping habit…especially if they aren’t young anymore.
Kiwi is one of the best fruits for improving sleep quality so that you can get enough sleep. Consuming just 2 before bed has been shown to dramatically improve sleep quality. I like the gold ones more than green kiwi, but both are effective.
Aromatase is the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. The use of aromatase inhibitors in hypogonadal men has been shown to dramatically increase testosterone.
Mangosteen is a delicious fruit with aromatase-inhibitory effects.
Four (namely garcinone D, garcinone E, α-mangostin, and γ-mangostin) of the twelve xanthone constituents found in the mangosteen fruit has shown to inhibit the aromatase in a dose-dependent manner. Of these 4 xanthone compounds, γ-mangostin is the most potent in inhibiting the aromatase (R, R).
Cocoa can help to lower stress and inhibit testosterone detoxification in the liver by inhibiting UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase (UGT). Thus enhancing how long testosterone stays in the body.
Stress (cortisol) lowers testosterone production and stimulates the aromatase, so cocoa can help you stay chill and prevent a drop in testosterone when you’re stressed (R). Just 40g of dark chocolate (yielding 15-30mg of epicatechin) daily is enough for this benefit.
Gelatin/collagen is an incomplete protein source, but that’s what makes it so beneficial. It’s very low in tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin.
95% or more of serotonin is created in the gut and excess serotonin lowers testosterone.
Serotonergic drugs, such as the anti-depressant SSRI drugs, lower testosterone production and increase aromatase, thus increasing the estrogen-to-testosterone ratio (R, R, R). Even pro-serotonin herbs, such as St Johns Wort, lowers testosterone and inhibit 5 alpha-reductase (R). Tryptophan & 5-HTP, which are the precursor to serotonin lowers testosterone levels as well as thyroid function (R, R).
People with gut inflammation have a lot more gut serotonin. Giving them lots of gelatin reduces the amount of consumed tryptophan, thus lowering serotonin and gut inflammation.
I have about 40g of collagen on a daily basis.
If you don’t like coffee or if it makes you feel off or disrupts your sleep quality, you don’t have to consume it. Optimizing how you feel as well as your sleep is more important than consuming something that can potentially increase your testosterone.
#9 Beef liver
Beef liver is probably the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. It is an abundant source of highly bioavailable nutrients necessary for testosterone production. A few of them include vitamin A, vitamin B6 and copper.
Vitamin A for testosterone
A vitamin A deficiency leads to significantly low testosterone and growth hormones, as if in a state of castration (R). Retinoids (the active form of vitamin A) 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).
Vitamin B6 for testosterone
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.
Copper for testosterone
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 (R). The human equivalent dose would be 11.4mg for an 80kg man, although such a dose used daily over the long term would quickly lead to copper excess.
So keep an eye on ceruloplasmin and serum copper levels when supplementing that high of a dose.
Beef liver is pound for pound the richest dietary source of vitamin A, B6 and copper. If you have a deficiency in one of those nutrients, then you can have 4oz daily for 30 days and then scale back to 4 oz every other day, and then 4 oz only twice a day.
#10 Bone marrow
Bone marrow is extremely rich in vitamin E and K2, higher than any other dietary source.
Vitamin E and testosterone
Vitamin E is:
- Important for steroidogenesis and was known as the fertility vitamin back in the day.
- Needed for normal testicular function, and a deficiency will result in inadequate testosterone production as well as less responsiveness to LH in the testes.
- An estrogen antagonist in high doses, inhibits the aromatase, and lowers prolactin. Both estrogen and prolactin lower testosterone production.
Vitamin K2 for testosterone
There are multiple animal studies showing that vitamin K (specifically MK-4) boosts testosterone production by increasing StAR, which is the rate-limited step in transporting cholesterol into the mitochondria for conversion to pregnenolone.
In this study, rats were given 75mg/kg MK-4 for 5 weeks and their testosterone increased significantly. (image)
MK-4 is the predominant vitamin K form present in the testes.
The increase in testosterone is independent of LH secretion as LH remains unchanged with vitamin K2 administration.
As the study concluded: “expression of CYP11A, the rate-limiting enzyme in steroidogenesis, and phosphorylation levels of protein kinase A (PKA) and the cAMP response element-binding protein were all stimulated by the presence of MK-4” (R).
#11 Pork chops
Pork chops are very rich in 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) will powerfully stimulate testosterone production.
In another rat study, vitamin B1-supplemented rats had higher testosterone (R).
Whole milk is the lifeblood of newborns and it contains all the essential nutrients they need for optimal growth, such as protein, carbs, fats, cholesterol, natural steroids, vitamins (B1, B2, B5, B12) and minerals (zinc, iodine, potassium & selenium).
Research shows that people that consume the most calcium have the highest testosterone. Milk proteins also contain potent anti-stress peptides and can help you keep calm.
Two reasons why milk is awesome is due to high levels of calcium and highly bioavailable magnesium.
Calcium for testosterone
Magnesium for testosterone
One recent meta-review study concluded that 80%+ of people in the Western world suffer from some level of magnesium deficiency.
This is bad because magnesium is a cofactor in many steroidogenic enzymes and pathways, such as cAMP, StAR, CYP450scc, 3β-HSD and 17β-HSD. It also directly 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 is very easily lost through sweat, through the urine during hypothyroid, or due to malabsorption. Stress also greatly depletes the great mineral.
The reason why I don’t list spinach or cocoa as a good source of magnesium is because those foods are rich in phytic acid, which binds to magnesium, reducing its bioavailability. The bioavailability of magnesium from milk is >75%, whereas from plants it’s 40% at best (R).
If you don’t tolerate cow’s milk very well, try goat or camel milk. Additionally, most people tolerate A2 milk much better than A1 milk, so be sure that you’re getting A2 milk. If you still have an intolerance, try lactose-free milk or just cheese as some people might react negatively to the whey fraction of the milk protein. Other dairy products are also good, but milk is the best by far.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin C, similar to vitamin E, is an antioxidant and protects testosterone from oxidative stress in the testes (R). Vitamin C prevents the decline in androgens due to hyperglycemia and excess of free radicals (R). In this rat study, vitamin C increased androgens in normal mice (R).
Another fruit with powerful anti-oxidants that can increase testosterone is pomegranate juice.
Giving infertile men with lower testosterone levels a daily ginger supplement, a significant reduction in serum MDA (53.7%) & a significant increase in serum glutathione (26.7%). There were significant increases in serum FSH (17.6%), LH (43.3%) & testosterone (17.7%) levels (R).
MDA is a marker of lipid peroxidation and glutathione is the master anti-oxidant defense system in the body. You can use ginger as capsules, tea, in a smoothie, juice it or use it in a dish.
Beef or lamb kidney is one of the richest sources of bioavailable selenium. Just 3 oz of beef kidney will give you 108% of your daily requirements of selenium.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that increases thyroid hormone conversion, T4 to T3. It’s also important for boosting glutathione, which will increase immunity and lower free radicals to keep testosterone safe (R).
Selenium enhances testosterone production in the Leydig cells by activating 2 steroidogenic enzymes, namely StAR and 3β-HSD (R).
Selenium is needed for proper steroidogenesis, although, if you already consume enough selenium, more will not further increase steroidogenesis.
Dried parsley is by far the best source of apigenin.
Apigenin is a natural flavone that increases the activity of StAR (one of the rate-limited enzymes in testosterone production), by lowering inflammation. This also dramatically increases the sensitivity of the Leydig cells to LH and cAMP, which stimulate StAR (R).
Here’s a quick review of someone that started using 200mg apigenin before sleep: “Here is a little feedback: I have my total testosterone measured and I have never seen it so high: 44 nmol/l, the last two times I measured my T a few years ago the values were 30 and 37 nmol/l. In terms of feeling I find that I have better energy than usual and more deep sleep.” (R)
Clams are the highest in the amino acid taurine.
Giving rats taurine significantly increased their GnRH, LH, and testosterone significantly (R).
They also found that in aged rats, taurine significantly improved the health and function of their testes.
On top of it all, taurine is a fantastic anti-oxidant that reduces testicular oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.
Potatoes can help to increase testosterone since it’s rich in potassium. Adequate 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 leafy greens are great sources of potassium.
Garlic supplementation in rats was able to significantly increase nitric oxide (better blood flow and erections) testosterone and decrease cortisol levels (R). The result seems mainly due to its active ingredient, diallyl disulfide. No need to supplement with garlic, but if you enjoy it, have some in your food.
#20 Olive oil
Olive leaf contains a good amount of oleuropein aglycone, which 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.
10 most important fundamentals for high testosterone
Boosting testosterone is easy.
- Eat foods that increase testosterone.
- Remove foods (and other things) that lower testosterone.
For more natural ways to increase your testosterone, check out this article.
>1000ng/dl Testosterone: My Step-by-Step Guide on How I Do It Naturally!