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Testosterone helps increase muscle mass and brings you vitality. If you’ve been going to the gym regularly and feel like you’ve hit a plateau, increasing your testosterone levels may be the solution.
The good news is you can bring your hormone levels to a healthy balance without medication. If you’re looking for ways to increase testosterone naturally, we have the answers.
Eat the right foods and practice healthy lifestyle habits, and you’ll ramp up your testosterone production without resorting to chemicals. We’ve compiled the best food and lifestyle choices, as well as supplements, to boost your hormone levels and get the most out of your workouts.
Lower than optimal testosterone levels have many effects on your health. These are the most common ones:
Testosterone levels tend to drop with age, causing some additional problems due to the loss of muscle mass and bone density. It’s a natural part of the aging process in men and doesn’t necessarily require any action, such as hormonal therapies .
You can give yourself a boost to get your testosterone levels as high as possible through food and lifestyle choices, though.
Some of the best ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally with your diet include:
Garlic is also helpful for those suffering from low testosterone. In one study, this plant lowered cortisol and increased testosterone levels in rats fed with a high-protein diet .
Adding garlic to your cooking is one of the best testosterone boosters, but it’s even more potent when eaten raw. It can be more upsetting to your stomach—and those around you—raw, so take it slow .
Coffee, especially the caffeinated variety, has the potential to raise testosterone levels in men. In women, the effect is reversed: both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee can decrease testosterone .
There is one important thing to note before you start drinking a full pot every time you head to the gym. The beneficial effects of caffeine may be offset by the rise in cortisol (the stress hormone), which rises after you drink coffee .
Zinc is necessary for testosterone production and overall health. If you’re looking to stack up on this mineral, you should turn to oysters.
Red meat, especially beef, is a good source of the protein you need for muscle building and zinc. It also has cholesterol, which your testicles convert into testosterone .
Processed and high-fat meats can lead to health problems and lower male hormones, so make sure you feed your muscles with the highest quality lean cuts .
These are some of the foods you should avoid or consume in moderation if you’re looking for ways to increase testosterone levels naturally.
Some of them have a clearly negative effect on your hormonal system, whereas others are still under question.
Alcohol in high amounts is an enemy of testosterone. While moderate alcohol consumption may even increase testosterone, indulging too often causes the levels to drop by 23 percent .
In women, the relationship between the two is inverse. Alcohol consumption actually increases the estrogen level in a female body, which can lead to a higher incidence of breast cancer .
Alcohol consumption also causes a spike in your cortisol levels, which is bad news for those looking to build muscle .
The typical Western diet of bread, dairy, fried food, and sugar has been linked to higher body fat and lower than optimal testosterone levels. Diets higher in homemade foods and green vegetables, on the other hand, are related to overall healthy composition and hormonal balance 
To improve your health and boost testosterone in your body, ditch the takeout, and eat more vegetables.
The jury still seems to be out on the full effects of flaxseed on testosterone, with studies indicating both higher and lower levels of this hormone.
On the one hand, flaxseed is rich in lignans, a chemical that acts much like testosterone. Lignans can help lower testosterone and reduce prostate cancer risk .
However, in another study in rats, lifetime consumption of flaxseed led to increased testosterone, but the results depended on the timing of the exposure .
Flaxseed is, in general, a healthy addition to your diet that helps with digestion and even has the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease. Still, if you’re struggling with low testosterone levels, it may be best to eat it in moderation .
Tomatoes are rich in multiple nutrients, including lycopene. This chemical compound has numerous potentially positive effects on men, including a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Lycopene is also present in cooked and processed tomatoes, so you can enjoy your tomato as a sauce and still benefit from its cancer-fighting properties. Keep to a moderate portion and don’t pour sugary ketchup or sauces over-processed foods .
While there is a common belief that eating soy will give you higher estrogen, this is not necessarily the case.
Soy contains plant estrogens or phytoestrogens, which mimic the effects of this female hormone. However, this form of estrogen may not have a negative impact on your health.
On the other hand, soy protein concentrate has been shown to decrease testosterone levels in some studies; for this reason, it has been proposed as a possible treatment for prostate cancer. In another study, neither whey nor soy protein caused an alteration in hormone levels .
When it comes to soy, use common sense and moderation, and you should be fine.
Another common concept is that vegan and vegetarian diets will contribute to lower levels of testosterone. Still, one study found vegans to have higher testosterone levels than both vegetarians and meat-eaters .
The vegans and vegetarians in this study were younger and had a lower body weight than meat-eaters, which can affect the results. If these men were healthier in general, they would also tend to have higher testosterone levels.
Nonetheless, the study seems to prove that you can have a vegetarian or vegan diet and enjoy optimal hormonal balance and health.
Testosterone levels don’t only come down to the foods you eat, but also to your lifestyle. The best strategy for testosterone deficiency is to attack the problem from all angles, combining nutrition with sleep, exercise, and stress management.
Here are some tips for maximizing testosterone production in your everyday life:
Resistance training can also have an impact on hormone levels, especially when it’s consistent. In a 12-week study, testosterone increased after following a muscle-building program, though this effect was higher in younger men .
The effect of weight lifting is also immediate, so you can get a natural boost of testosterone whenever you hit the gym .
Getting 8 hours of sleep is also crucial for your endocrine or hormone system. Sleep deprivation is linked to decreased testosterone, but you might be surprised at how fast this problem can appear .
A week-long study showed that cutting back on sleep by three hours for one week in healthy young men reduced testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent .
Insufficient sleep is also related to cardiovascular disease, a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), diabetes, and an increased risk of car and workplace accidents .
Bodyweight and testosterone have a close bidirectional relationship, in which both affect the other. In this vicious cycle, a high-fat percentage lowers your testosterone levels, which in turn makes you accumulate more fat. It also increments the body’s inflammatory reactions and worsens insulin resistance and diabetes .
If you struggle with obesity, getting your weight under control can help you break this pattern. A surge in male hormones can help you lose weight, and a lower body fat percentage can, in turn, increase testosterone.
Chronic stress can lead to lower testosterone levels and other mechanisms that accelerate aging in the body. On the other hand, very high testosterone can cause reactions to acute stress and possibly even lead to the onset of mood disorders and substance abuse .
Stress management interventions have the potential to give you more testosterone, so handling your anxiety is not only good for your mind but also your hormonal balance .
The resultant effect on your hormones does depend on other factors, such as your normal response to stress.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a common chemical present in plastics and the linings of some metal cans. BPA-containing plastics have been linked to disrupted hormones, so it’s better to opt for glass whenever possible .
If food and lifestyle aren’t enough to increase your testosterone levels, you can also find some supplements to help you. If you’re interested in them, we made a comparison between the top testosterone boosters available. You can also read our Testogen review.
Remember that all food consists of numerous components that interact in different ways, some of them still unknown to nutritional science. Supplements will never replace all the ways a healthy diet will keep you in balance.
The herb ashwagandha is common in Ayurvedic medicine, and there’s a good reason to take it to improve your testosterone levels naturally. In a randomized trial, an ashwagandha supplement improved testosterone and overall health and energy levels .
Vitamin D supplementation has been proven to increase testosterone levels. While the best way to get vitamin D is with your body producing it from exposure to sunlight, we don’t always get the chance to do so .
You can eat vitamin D fortified foods, such as cereal or dairy products, or buy a vitamin D supplement, to reach the necessary levels in the winter.
A zinc supplement can improve your body’s natural defences to get your hormone levels back up naturally.
Zinc is an essential mineral that has many positive effects, from strengthening immunity to boosting testosterone. One study found that not only did zinc supplementation raise testosterone in older men, but decreasing zinc intake lowered the hormone in young, healthy men .
Magnesium supplementation can boost testosterone levels, but if you’re not getting enough of this mineral from foods, you can take it as a daily supplement .
Another tastier option is to include some magnesium-rich chocolate in your diet. Since milk chocolate tends to be higher in sugar and fat, dark chocolate is the way to go if you’re trying to keep your calories low .
If your testosterone deficiency is serious, your doctor can prescribe you a course of testosterone replacement therapy. Note that it’s not necessary with normal testosterone-reduction related to aging.
Testosterone therapy can help treat some conditions associated with low levels of male sex hormones, such as obesity, erectile dysfunction, and loss of muscle mass . If you’d like to find out more on this topic, you can read our detailed article on trt.
Anyhow, if you suspect you have low levels of testosterone, you should always seek medical advice.
Testosterone therapy does come with some risks, especially if the medication is administered without medical supervision or in the wrong doses. These are some of the common potential risks associated with it :
If you want to increase testosterone naturally, the best strategy is to make some healthy tweaks to your lifestyle. With hormones, you don’t want to go too high or too low. Balance is key to keeping your energy levels high, building muscle, and avoiding disease.
Eating less processed foods and sugar paired with exercise, stress management, and enough sleep will increase testosterone and maintain health.
Try to incorporate the foods on our list and supplement them with zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D to boost your testosterone.