Testosterone is the main male sex hormone, but females also have small amounts of it.
It is a steroid hormone, produced in men’s testicles and women’s ovaries ( 1 ).
The adrenal glands also produce small amounts.
During puberty in boys, testosterone is one of the main drivers of physical changes like increased muscle, deeper voice and hair growth.
However, having optimal levels is also important throughout adulthood and even during old age.
Here are 3 evidence-based ways to increase testosterone levels naturally.
1. EXERCISE AND LIFT WEIGHTS.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent many lifestyle-related diseases. Interestingly, it can also boost your testosterone.
A large review study found that people who exercised regularly had higher testosterone levels. In the elderly, exercise increases testosterone levels, fitness and reaction time ( 15, 16 ).
New research in obese men suggests that increased physical activity was even more beneficial than a weight loss diet for increasing testosterone levels ( 17).
Resistance training, such as weight lifting, is the best type of exercise to boost testosterone in both the short- and long-term ( 18, 19 ).
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can also be very effective, although all types of exercise should work to some extent ( 18, 19, 20 , 21, 22).
Taking caffeine and creatine monohydrate as supplements may further boost your levels when combined with a training program ( 23, 24 ).
All forms of exercise may increase your testosterone levels. Weight lifting and high-intensity interval training are the most effective.
2. EAT PROTEIN, FAT AND CARBS.
What you eat has a major impact on testosterone as well as other hormone levels ( 25).
Therefore, you must pay attention to your long-term
calorie intake and diet strategy.
Constant dieting or overeating may disrupt your testosterone levels ( 26, 27 , 28, 29, 30).
Eating enough protein can help maintain healthy levels and aid in fat loss, which is also associated with your testosterone ( 28, 31, 32).
Carb intake also plays a role, with research showing carbs can help optimize testosterone levels during resistance training ( 22, 33).
However, research demonstrates that sufficient healthy fats are also beneficial for testosterone and health ( 25,
34, 35, 36, 37 ).
A diet based mainly on whole foods is best, with a healthy balance of fat, protein and carbs. This can optimize both hormone levels and long-term health.
Don’t overeat and don’t restrict calories too much for too long. Try to eat balanced amounts of carbs, fat and protein.
3. MINIMIZE STRESS AND CORTISOL LEVELS.
Research is always highlighting the dangers of long-term stress, which can elevate levels of the hormone cortisol ( 38, 39, 40).
Unnatural elevations in cortisol can quickly reduce testosterone. These hormones work in a seesaw-like manner: as one goes up, the other comes down ( 40, 41,
Stress and high cortisol can also increase food intake, weight gain and the storage of harmful body fat around your organs. In turn, these changes may negatively impact your testosterone levels ( 43, 44, 45 ).
For both optimal health and hormone levels, you should try to reduce repetitive stressful situations in your life.
Focus on a diet based on whole foods, regular exercise,
good sleep, laughter and a balanced lifestyle, all of which can reduce stress and improve your health and testosterone levels ( 46, 47 , 48, 49, 50)
High levels of stress are bad for your long-term health and can reduce your testosterone levels.