Before you jump on the replacement therapy for low testosterone levels, try these 10 tips to try improve testosterone and libido levels, naturally.
1. Eat more saturated and other healthful fats
Studies have shown that healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats help your body create more testosterone and also help control the hormones that work to counter testosterone. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting plenty of plant-based fats such as avocado, olives, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, as well as animal-based fats. Although you usually want to keep your intake low, studies have shown that a diet containing less than 40 per cent fat can actually lead to a drop in testosterone.
2. Eat less sugar
Research has shown that testosterone levels drop almost immediately after you eat sugar. Eating sugar triggers the release of insulin, which is one of those anti-testosterone hormones mentioned above. If you really need to bring up your testosterone, skip refined sugar and starchy foods and limit your fruits and vegetables to mainly very-low-glycemic choices.
3. Watch your stress levels and get regular, restful sleep
Stress stimulates an almost immediate and steady release of cortisol, which produces an almost equal drop in testosterone. Those two hormones are like a seesaw; one of them is always dominant. Testosterone tells your body to use calories as energy and build muscle; cortisol tells it to do the opposite and store the calories as fat. Lack of sleep also stimulates the release of cortisol; plus, your body produces and synthesises testosterone during sleep, particularly during the first few hours. Commit to getting to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep, and do what you can to go to bed in a restful state, ready to sleep.
4. Get enough vitamin D
Many people don’t realise that vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone. It increases the amount and viability of sperm cells, and it also increases testosterone. If you don’t get a lot of sun or dairy, look into supplementing your vitamin D.
5. Get enough zinc
Research has shown that increasing zinc for as few as six weeks can result in a dramatic increase in testosterone, and numerous studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can result in a dramatic drop in it. You can get it from raw dairy, such as raw milk, cheese, yoghurt and kefir, but if you don’t eat dairy, you can also get plenty of zinc by eating lots of legumes.
6. Incorporate HIIT into your exercise program
High-intensity interval training is an extremely effective means of boosting metabolism and fat loss and training your alactic energy system. In addition, it can do a lot to boost testosterone. There’s plenty of evidence that short, intense bursts of exercise boost testosterone, while long, moderate- to high-intensity work actually trigger the release of cortisol.
7. Eat early, and eat often
Hunger not only stimulates more cortisol, but it also messes with your insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels, causing more problems with testosterone release. Eat breakfast or juice some vegies and fruits as early as possible after you get up, and then eat frequent, balanced snacks and meals throughout the day.
8. Go for intensity in your training
Just as with HIIT, high-intensity lifting sessions stimulate more testosterone release. That said, high-volume training done for too long a duration will increase cortisol.
9. Try a natural test-booster supplement
A 2007 study found that tribulus extract appeared to have an aphrodisiac effect due to its androgen-increasing property. There are many test- and libido-boosting supplements on the market, such as Gen-Tec’s Ultimate Male Fuel, Next Generation’s Megamass Forte and Bulk Nutrients’ Booster Combination.
10. Time your caffeine properly
Drinking too much coffee leads to a drop in testosterone, but a recent study found that having a moderate amount, like a cup, right before your workout can actually increase testosterone temporarily.
Aswar, U., et al. (2010). Effect of furostanol glycosides from Trigonella foenum-graecum on the reproductive system of male albino rats. Phytotherapy Research. 24(10):1482-8.
Steels, E., et al. (2011). Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytotherapy Research. Published online February 10.
El-Tantawy WH, et al. (2007.) ‘Free serum testosterone level in male rats treated with Tribulus alatus extracts.’ International Brazilian Journal of Urology. 2007 Jul-Aug;33(4):554-8; discussion 558-9.