One year ago, I embarked on a testosterone boosting mission.
My question was simple…
“By exclusively using science-backed, natural methods, can I double my testosterone levels, without using any drugs, steroids, SARMS, or any other questionable methods that produce long-term damage or dependency?”
I enlisted the help of multiple professionals (a medical doctor, a naturopath, and a health coach), spent more time digging into medical abstracts than at any other point in my life, and invested thousands of dollars into my year long experiment.
So… why even do this? Why care to boost my testosterone levels in the first place?
Was this merely a vanity project?
Would I soon become a quick-tempered, sex-obsessed rage monster with huge muscles and shrunken testicles?
In short, I wanted to see if science-backed, natural means of testosterone boosting were a whole bunch of bullshit, or if I could in fact naturally raise my T levels without the use of any harmful drugs.
And so, with a baseline testosterone test under my belt, the mission began.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that is primarily made by the testicles in men, and primarily made by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women.
It affects things like sex drive, mood, bone density, muscle mass, how easily you lose fat, and your vocal range (among other things).
The typical range of testosterone levels in adult males is between 250 to 1,100 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dL).
At the beginning of this journey, I did some blood work and my free testosterone levels tested at 329 nanograms per decilitre, with my T levels at 20.2. Which is a relatively low level that is technically within the range of what I should be at for my current age (30 years old)… but with much room for improvement.
(According to some testosterone range charts, free testosterone levels in the low 300’s is healthy for a 90 year old man… so wow, fuck me, right?)
What Having Low Testosterone Feels Like
For men 30 years old and older, testosterone levels tend to drop by about 1% every year (which is a slow, cumulative process). And, since testosterone is an anti-aging hormone, this isn’t the best of news. And it’s also why the internet is always ablaze with advice on boosting testosterone levels via some new supplement that pitches empty promises.
Men who suffer from low testosterone are negatively impacted in a variety of ways.
– Decreased sexual desire
– Decreased frequency of erections
– General erectile dysfunction / difficulty in getting or maintaining sufficient erections
– Increased body fat
– Poor sleep
– Persistent fatigue/chronic tiredness
– Brain fog
– More prone to depression
In a word, the clients that I have had who have struggled with excessively low testosterone often describe it as a chronic state of listlessness. They don’t feel passionate or lit up about their lives. They don’t particularly feel motivated to make love to their significant others. They feel flat, dull, and tired.
Benefits Of High Testosterone
Having healthy testosterone levels can positively impact your life in a number of ways, including but not limited to:
– High sex drive (because horny equals healthy)
– Healthy heart and blood (because testosterone helps red blood cell production via the bone marrow)
– Easier time putting on muscle and losing fat
– Bone density
– Improved mood and overall quality of life
– Increased energy and overall levels of productivity
At this point in time you might be asking yourself… can your actions affect your testosterone levels or are they exclusively genetically pre-determined?
I will say right now, unequivocally, that yes, your actions impact your testosterone levels. It is not a matter of being 100% about genetics. It is a case of nature and nurture.
Just like you can affect your overall health and mood by shifting your lifestyle in certain ways, your hormonal health can also be impacted by the things that you do on a consistent basis.
Alright, enough of the pre-amble…
Let’s get into what you can start doing, today, to start increasing your testosterone levels naturally.
There are seven major steps. Food, sleep, exercise, vitamins, minerals, and supplements, and then three more fringe-y testosterone hacks that will have you waking up with morning wood on a daily basis.
Implement just a few of these testosterone tricks and you will be feeling a difference in no time.
How To Affect Your Testosterone Levels With Your Food Choices
I’m going to keep this section short and sweet. Instead of linking to every study I’ve found on which foods positively impact your testosterone levels the most, just trust me when I say I’ve done my research on this.
Avoid simple sugars (especially fructose), drugs, alcohol, and over-processed foods.
Eat an ample amount of nutrient-dense, whole foods with a focus on getting tons of colourful, organic vegetables into your diet. Monster sized salads (spinach, mixed greens base) with protein (chicken, tuna, salmon, turkey) and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil) are your friend. Also, drink lots of water every day. Hydration is key.
In terms of specific foods, consume a generous amount of avocados, dark leafy green vegetables, potatoes, grass fed beef and lamb, wild salmon, pastured organic eggs, grass fed butter and/or grass fed organic ghee, olive oil, red onions, brazil nuts, and raw and organic cacao and dark chocolate.
Yes, many of these foods have a high degree of saturated fat and cholesterol in them. Cholesterol is a necessary precursor to testosterone production. So, just in case you’re operating on old dieting advice, dietary fat is good for you. Your body needs it (in general, but especially for boosting your testosterone levels).
In terms of the timing of your meals (which I will get into more near the end of this article), eating bigger meals less frequently is more beneficial to your testosterone levels than eating a snack every two hours throughout the day. That’s because every time you eat something, your testosterone levels momentarily plummet… regardless of whether you’re eating fat, carbs, or protein. (study, study, study). So, to put it in somewhat extreme terms, eating two big, caloric, nutrient-dense balanced meals per day is better than eating six small meals per day. In other words, you do not need to be following the typical hard-gainer advice of eating 5-6 meals per day… even though this advice gets passed around on tons of health and wellness sites (especially when people are googling ways to put on overall muscle mass).
Everyone’s body responds differently to different eating cycles/meal times, but, personally, I always feel the most sexually supercharged when I have larger, more infrequent meals, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, fats, and lean proteins.
How Your Sleep Affects Your Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is primarily produced while you are asleep. So it would naturally follow that ensuring that you’re getting enough quality sleep is imperative for optimal testosterone levels.
You should be aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis… with a focus on deep, quality REM sleep.
Here are a few simple, straight forward things you can do to ensure a good night’s sleep:
– Go to sleep at a consistent time each night (ideally around or before 10pm)
– Aim to get some form of exercise during your day, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk. Ensuring that you move your body, with some form of exercise, every day will make it easier to fall asleep.
– If you have control over it, sleep in a slightly cooler than room temperature room
– Offload your thoughts into a journal, or talk with a friend or loved one before bed to help you get out of your head and into a more relaxed state
– If, after doing all of the above, you’re still struggling to fall asleep at night, try experimenting with magnesium and/or melatonin as a mild, natural sleep aid
– Try progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or T.R.E (trauma release exercises) exercises as part of your mental cool-down exercises right before going to bed (you likely had a wind down routine when you were a kid… so why not keep it up?)
– If you can’t get to sleep within 20-30 minutes of lying down on your bed, get out of bed and do something calm and distracting in another room (reading fiction, playing a musical instrument, journaling out your thoughts, talking to a friend, etc.) for a little while until you feel tired again
How To Exercise For Better Testosterone Levels
When it comes to exercising for testosterone levels, not all forms of exercise are created equally.
For example, if you do ample amounts of exercise that tricks your body into thinking you’re in a nomadic, tribe-moving mode (i.e. walking at a leisurely pace for hours every day) then your testosterone levels will drop.
The best forms of exercise you can do all tend to come down to heavy weights and explosive power.
Some of the best things you can incorporate in your training regime are:
– Kettle bell swings
– Leg press
– Bench press
– Shoulder press
Always have your focus be on utilizing explosive power, with perfect form. And if you’re looking for the 80/20 exercise hack of testosterone production, I would recommend that you predominantly focus on sprints and squats. Specifically, hill sprints and goblet squats should do the trick.
Best Vitamins, Minerals, And Supplements For Naturally Boosting Your Testosterone
While the importance of your food and overall dietary choices can not be overstated, I would be remiss if I didn’t also talk about the micronutrients that optimize your testosterone levels.
The most important micronutrients for testosterone production are zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins D3 and K2, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
In terms of the best additional supplements you can take to optimize your testosterone levels… ashwagandha (kills your stress levels, especially in conjunction with vitamin C), magnesium bisglycinate, curcumin, pine pollen, maca powder, beetroot extract (for blood flow), elk velvet antler, and tongkat ali. You can also take a high quality multi-vitamin to make sure that your body has all of the micronutrients it needs (to fill in the gaps that your diet might be missing on a daily basis).
Personally, whenever I have an impending sexy weekend away with my partner (or a big workout day ahead of me that I want to feel pre-emptively jacked up for) and I want an on-the-spot testosterone boost, I take a cocktail of maca powder, pine pollen, elk velvet antler, beetroot extract and I’m as horny as can be. Seriously, I wash this stuff down with some liposomal vitamin C and water, and I turn into the Hulk in matter of minutes.
But, as always, everyone responds to these supplements differently. Try them out, one at a time, and see which ones work the best for you and your body.
Three Weird Tricks To Naturally Boost Your Testosterone
Now, while all of the above methods are effective (and some, like sleep, are absolutely essential) there are a few testosterone boosting hacks that I found to consistently be the least heard of and the most effective in bumping up my sex drive.
Some of these are a bit more costly than the aforementioned tips, but I wouldn’t include them unless they were ridiculously effective.
On days when I did all three of the following techniques, I could feel the testosterone and sexual energy surging through my body. In fact, the ONLY days that I thought about easing back the stack of things I was doing to optimize my testosterone levels was when I did the following three things PLUS a leg workout all in one day. I would become so horny that I could barely think straight without having sex. So… you’ve been warned. These next three tips are highly potent.
1. Intermittent fasting
It’s a well documented fact that intermittent fasting (and/or time-restricted eating) helps increase testosterone and growth hormone levels.
For at least one or two days per week, aim to eat all of your meals within an eight hour window. For example, eating all of your food between 11am and 7pm. In other words, simply have a late breakfast and cut out your late night snacking.
Personally, during these testosterone boosting months, I always aimed to eat within a nine hour window (10am until 7pm) whenever possible, for five days per week.
This trick works better for some people than others. If you engage in intermittent fasting and you feel light headed, low energy, and crappy, then stop it immediately and start eating throughout the day more. Conversely, if you feel like a clear headed, energetic, potent super hero, then you might be one of the people that responds well to it (in which case, carry on).
Some testosterone boosting people even go so far as fasting completely one day per week (no caloric intake for a full 24 hour period). I’ve never been one of those people, as I feel out of it after the first 20 hours, but hey, to each their own.
2. Positive stress using heat and cold (cryotherapy, ice vests, cold showers, and infrared saunas)
We live in very comfortable times. And comfortable men don’t need high levels of testosterone to trek out into the world to hunt their next meal.
Over the last few years there has been a massive surge of interest in therapies that put positive stress on your system via various methods of hot and cold immersion.
Granted I run in some fairly health obsessed social circles, but I feel like I can’t go a week without seeing a new article about the positive benefits of cryotherapy tanks, near infrared saunas, cold bath immersions, cold showers, and ice vests.
During this multi-month testosterone boosting experiment, I aimed to do 10-20 minutes of red light therapy daily (more on this soon), 1-2 hour long infrared saunas on a weekly basis, daily cold showers for at least one minute, and either two to three hours per week of wearing an ice vest on my chest and upper back or doing cryotherapy tank sessions.
The overall intention was to put hot stress and cold stress on my body at least every other day in one way or another, to induce the health benefits that come from forcing your body to produce cold shock and heat shock proteins.
I found the overall experience much more relaxing and grounding than I would have anticipated. And the science checks out.
3. Red light (directly applied to the chest and testicles)
If you’re new to my writing, then this one might be a bit of a shocker to read about.
There have been hundreds of human studies done on the positive benefits of red light therapy, and near-infrared light therapy.
The gist of the findings is that using red light therapy and NIR light drastically aid in skin rejuvenation, wound healing, scar tissue healing, acne scar healing, fine line and wrinkle reduction, and a whole host of other benefits.
And while there’s more proven research about surface level (i.e. skin) benefits, there’s early research about boosted testosterone levels when red light of a specific power and frequency is applied directly to your chest and testicles.
Of all of the things in this entire list, this is one of the habits that I was by far the most consistent on. Two of my health mentors swear by this device, and so I decided to give it a fair shot.
Because I value time efficiency and I wanted the highest quality option on the market, I went with the Joovv model that combines both LED red light and near-infrared technology simultaneously. It has become a staple in my daily routine (5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes at night) and I now swear by it.
Within the first two weeks of using it I noticed obvious improvements in my skin and energy levels.
Of all of the factors that I would most contribute my testosterone bump to, this is one of the things that I give the most credit to (since I was just so damn consistent with it).
The 80/20 Rule Of Increasing Your Testosterone Levels Naturally
If I had to summarize all of my most potent advice on naturally increasing testosterone levels into a one minute spiel, I would say this:
Eat real food (especially steak, pastured eggs, and greens), eat enough, sleep well, do weighted squats once per week, don’t do too much cardio, reduce your general stress levels, be cold every now and then, and shine red light on your balls for five minutes every other day.
I’ll say it again… as always, check with your doctor before undergoing any significant changes to your health, fitness regime, dietary habits, blah blah blah I’m not a doctor. And this was the furthest thing from being a scientific test since I was implementing so many of these testosterone boosting hacks simultaneously (as opposed to introducing one new thing at a time and getting a blood test done monthly).
Oh, and as for my test results at the end of this experiment? Within 3-6 months (in a cumulative sense) my sex drive more than doubled. When I started I wanted sex with my partner maybe 1-2 times per week, and by the end of six months I was raring to go at least every other day (3-5x/week).
I also experienced a 50% bump in my testosterone levels in just under a year. I went from 329 nanograms per decilitre of free testosterone to 490. Not too shabby. I’m feeling more alive, productive, and sexually charged than I have in years… and I credit the above seven strategies for how I got here so quickly.
I wish you the best of luck in your testosterone boosting journey.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed reading this article, you will also love checking out:
– The Joovv red light therapy box
– The Better Sex Diet: Exactly What I Eat Every Day
– Supercharge Your Sex Life (video series for men)
– The Best Sex Toy For Men, Ever
– Man Milk: The Ultimate Libido Boosting Cocktail For Men
– The 6 Best Herbs And Supplements For Boosting Sex Drive
– Boosting Testosterone Naturally with Ben Greenfield (hour long video interview)
Pps. Extra special thanks for the mentors that inspired me and encouraged me along on this path (mainly Ben Greenfield and Anabolic Men).