One of the most common questions asked by my students is: how can you increase testosterone levels without using steroids?
This is a valid question because we all know that testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for muscle growth, sex drive, and oftentimes overall well being in man.
No wonder guys want more of it.
What’s interesting though is the fact that there are also quite a few women who’d prefer to have higher testosterone levels. Their bodies of course also produce testosterone but in smaller amounts.
So the question then is. Are there safe strategies we can use to naturally increase our testosterone levels?
And the answer is yes, definitely.
What you have to understand, though is that these strategies have limits. Many people who ask how to increase their testosterone are beginners looking for a fast and easy way to build more muscle.
Even though the strategiesI’mm gonna talk about are proven to work they will not make you look like a bodybuilder or double the amount of muscle you can build within a month.
Much of your body’s ability to produce testosterone is limimted by your genetics. What we can try to do is to take advantage of your full potential, which will have positive impact on your muscle gains and overall mood.
But don’t think of this as a some sort of diet hack that will make you become the incredible hulk without ever having set foot into a gym. Also, what I want to make clear from the beginning is that I’m not going to talk about some sort of testosterone boosting supplement.
Because the vast majority of the supplements marketed as “testosterone boosters” simply don’t work.
None of the legal testosterone supplements will have a significant impact on your testosterone levels and/or your ability to build muscle. That’s the hard truth. Even though most sales pitches will tell you otherwise, they are mostly a waste of time and money.
With that being said, here are some legit ways to increase your testosterone level.
Number 1 is higher fat Intake
Dietary fat is extremely important for the production of hormones including testosterone. We know from various studies that diets low in fat can lead to lower testosterone levels, and diets higher in fat can increase testosterone levels.
Therefore, you want to make sure to include enough (healthy) sources of unsaturated fats in your meal plan.
How much fat should you eat per day to make sure you are getting enough?
Don’t go below 15% of your daily calories, which is the normal minimum required to maintain health. You can test things out you can go a little higher until 30% to see if you notice any differences.
Of course, that fat should still come from a good mix of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Number 2 is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one the most common supplements in the health and fitness industry. For a good reason: It’s important your immunity, bone health, mood and of course testosterone production.
Unfortunately, many Europeans and North Americans have vitamin d deficiencies especially during the winter so bringing your vitamin d level back to normal can help with testosterone production.
But how can you find out if you are deficient? Simple. Talk to your doctor and do a blood test. It might cost a bit, but it’s an investment in your health.
If you are really deficient, your doctor will tell you to take an adequate dose of Vitamin D to get your level back to normal asap.
Afterwards, you can continue with a smaller dose for maintenance to keep your vitamin D levels balanced..
Number 3 on the list is Zinc
Like vitamin D, studies have shown a link between zinc deficiencies and decreased testosterone levels.
Increasing your zinc levels through supplementation will also your testosterone levels, but only if you are truly deficient.
In case you are already getting enough zinc, supplements won’t benefit your much (at least not in regards to testosterone).
Since zinc also has a positive impact on your immunity I supplement with a fairly standard dose of 10mg per day. Alternatively, you could also increase your consumption of food high in zinc such as shellfish, beef, lamb, certain nuts and seeds, etc. but I’m not a big fan of micromanaging.
Next on the list is alcohol
as you can probably imagine Large and excessive amounts of alcohol can potentially harm your testosterone levels.
So my advice is pretty straightforward here. Try to limit alcohol. You don’t have to stop drinking entirely but when you’re going to drink, stay within the realm of “moderate” alcohol consumption and you will probably be just fine. But the more you exceed “moderate,” the more detrimental it’s going to become.
Another important factor is sleep.
Studies show an association between insufficient amounts of sleep and lower testosterone levels.
Studies where participants had to sleep less than 5 hours per night showed an immediate 10-15% reduction in testosterone levels.
Now very few people will sleep less than 5 hours of course but I know quite a few who sleep only around 6. This is usually not sufficient.
Anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night will be ideal for most people and going below this will negatively impact your testosterone levels and your overall health.
The last thing I should mention is stress.
The more stressed you are, the more cortisol will be released by your body. While short-term elevations of cortisol levels aren’t a problem, long-term elevation will hurt your overall health, well being… and also your testosterone levels.
Stress comes in many forms
Most people will be thinking of the typical stuff… issues with your job, school work, family, friends, partner etc. This kind of stress is often mental and reducing it will most likely be something that you should talk about with your therapist and not your diet coach.
But there is also physical stress. For example, not enough sleep or overtraining or the wrong kind of training. excessive caloric deficits and digestive issues also count as physical stress. These are things you can change in the short term.
This nutrition program alone should help you to avoid excessive caloric deficits and digestive issues. For the right workouts either check out my other courses or talk to a personal trainer you trust.
Simply keep in mind that whatever can do in your life to reduce stress (and thus keep your cortisol levels where you want them to be) will benefit your testosterone levels and your overall well being.