How to Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels: 18 Proven Lifestyle Hacks
Average testosterone levels in men have declined by anywhere from 25-30% over the past few decades (1). That's a HUGE dip.
So you’re probably wondering:
“How can I naturally increase my testosterone levels without gels, pills, pellets, or injections?”
Well, today I’m going to make it easy for you.
The following are 18 of the best ways to ramp up your body's natural testosterone production and move towards more energy, health, and virility.
1. Skip Breakfast
We’ve been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
We’ve been taught that eating many small meals throughout the day is the key to a fast metabolism and burning fat.
These notions, however, are quickly being laid to rest as the benefits of intermittent fasting have become too many to ignore.
There are two methods you can use to get started with intermittent fasting:
Method #1 - Simply skip breakfast and push your first meal back 4-6 hours after waking.
- If you wake up at 8.am. this means having your first meal between 12-2 p.m.
- If you get hungry in between, drink some black coffee. Caffeine suppresses appetite (6) and boosts metabolism (7).
Method #2 - Fast for 16 hours and eat all your meals within an 8-hour window.
- For example, you can have you first meal at 10 a.m. and your last one before 8 p.m.
- Choose an 8-hour window that best suits your schedule and keep it consistent.
- For more on 16/8, check out the Leangains Guide.
By skipping breakfast, Terry Crews is able to maintain a lean and muscular physique year round:
2. Practice Powerful Body Language
Amy Cuddy and her team at Harvard University did a study on how “high power” and “low power” body language affected the hormone concentrations of 42 students.
They found that the students who assumed a “high power” pose for just two minutes had significantly higher testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels (8).
Cortisol is nicknamed the “stress hormone” and it holds an inverse relationship with testosterone:
More Cortisol = Less Testosterone.
High power posing is a one-two punch that increases confidence and improves your ability to deal with stress by causing an instant spike of testosterone.
Here's how to implement power posing into your life:
Step #1 - First thing in the morning (after brushing your teeth and using the toilet) stand like this:
Step #2 – Inhale deeply to a count of 4, hold for 2, and exhale for 6.
Step #3 – Repeat 10 times.
In just 120 seconds you will have increased your T levels to the point of becoming more energized, relaxed, and ready to take on the new day.
Listen to Amy Cuddy talk about the importance of body language:
3. Ditch the Cardio
A study out of the British Journal of Medicine found that men who ran long distances had lower testosterone levels in the long-term than even the non-athletic control group (9).
Traditional steady state cardio elevates cortisol and is not as effective for fat-loss as once thought.
Maybe you’ll burn 300 calories from 30 minutes of jogging on the treadmill, but what about the other 23 and a half hours of the day?
Most of the calories you burn in a day are not from activity but from metabolic rate.
And the best way to increase metabolic rate is by increasing your lean muscle mass.
An Alternative to Traditional Cardio:
Instead of long steady-state cardio, make walking a regular part of your day.
Looking at the biomechanics of the human body, it's evident that we've been uniquely tailored (through evolution) to walk in an upright position (10).
Research points to the fact that we have evolved to get a minimum of 3-5 miles of walking per day (11). This is why so many people have gotten amazing results with the 10,000 steps per day program (10,000 steps = 5 miles).
Walking 10,000 steps per day is a good number to reach, but you don’t have to start there.
Any activity beyond what you’re currently doing will benefit your health.
Start with a 5 minute walk around the block and work your way up from there.
Walking is not about burning calories so much as it is about stimulating blood flow, flushing oxygen, and balancing your endocrine, digestive, and neuromuscular systems.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT has been shown to have a positive impact on testosterone (12).
HIIT is a proven way to burn more fat (13).
To get started with HIIT, perform intervals of 15-second sprints followed by 45 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
HIIT can also be performed on a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical.
Marathon runner vs. Sprinter
Regardless of the equipment you use, the essence of it remains the same:
Cycle short bouts of high intensity work with longer bouts of recoup.
Jumping rope is another great form of HIIT.
4. Lose Your Gut
The wider your waist, the lower your testosterone levels (14).
In other words:
All that extra fat around your belly is literally making you more feminine.
The only rule of fat-loss is to consume fewer calories than you burn in any given day.
Here's how to determine how many calories you should eat to lose weight:
Step #1 - Estimate your body fat percentage by referring to the image below:
Step #2 - Calculate your lean body mass (LBM):
- LBM = Body Weight - (Body Weight x Body Fat Percentage)
Step #3 - Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) with the Katch-McArdle Equation:
- BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM in kg)
- (LBM in lbs / 2.20462) = LBM in kg
Step #4 - Determine your activity level multiplier:
- Sedentary = 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
- Lightly active = 1.375 (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/wk)
- Mod. active = 1.55 (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/wk)
- Very active = 1.725 (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/wk)
Step #5 - Calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE):
- TDEE = BMR x Activity Multiplier
Step #6 - Determine your calorie goal (CG):
- Example: CG = TDEE - 500
- A deficit of 500 calories per day will allow you to lose 1lb a week.
5. Lift Heavy Weights
Testosterone is the primary hormonal driver of muscle growth (14).
In a study out of Spain, subjects experienced a 37% increase in testosterone levels after just 12 workout sessions (15).
More Muscle = More Calories Burned At Rest = Lower Body Fat = Even Higher T.
Lifting heavy weights will also help you live a longer and more virile life:
Two studies out of the British Medical Journal tell us that muscular strength is inversely associated with death from all causes (16) and that objective measures of physical capability are predictors of all cause mortality (17).
The foundation of your training should be centred around gaining strength in the six key lifts:
- Bench Press
- Over-head Press
- Weighted Pull-Ups
- Barbell Row
I refer to these as the Super Six Exercises because your muscle and strength gains can be directly tied back to the amount of weight you are able to lift for each of them.
Here's how to lift very heavy weight over time:
Step #1 - Keep a training journal using a good old notebook and pen, or take notes on your smartphone.
Step #2 - Every time you're in the gym, write down how much weight you lifted for how many reps, for each exercise, and how you felt afterwards.
Step #3 - Refer to your previous weeks stats and aim to get either 1-extra rep or increase the weight by the next increment.
By following this 3-step process, you will never be second guessing yourself with what weights you should choose and always have an eye on improvement.
After a certain point, training plateaus become more of a mental construct than a physical one. By tracking your lifts, you always know how many reps to shoot for and are usually able to crank out that one final rep when it means making gains.
Tracking is a proven way to get better at something.
When we track our steps in a day, we walk more.
When we track our food, we make healthier food choices.
When we track our workouts, we get stronger and stronger and stronger.
For a complete guide on this, check out the complete guide to anabolic response training.
6. Soak Some Sunshine
The sun provides a natural source of vitamin D.
There is no exact recommendation for the amount of time you should spend outdoors because the amount of vitamin D produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live, and your skin color.
A general recommendation is to:
Stay in the sun for about half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink.
The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D is produced.
Supplementing With Vitamin D
If spending more time outdoors isn’t an option, then consider supplementation.
Supplement with 4,000-6,000 IU of vitamin D3 upon waking until you reach blood levels of 55 ng/mL.
I use this vitamin D3 supplement. It is the best as far as value for money is concerned.
7. Eat a High(ish)-Carb Diet
Given the low-carb craze of recent, this tip may come as a surprise to you.
But carbohydrates are essential for optimal T production, and this is especially true when you’re lifting weights (23, 24, 25).
Eating a high(ish)-carb diet allows you to train hard and heavy without paying the price of elevated cortisol levels taking a hit on testosterone (26).
So how many carbs should you eat?
Well, that depends on whether you are physically active and lift weights or sedentary and overweight.
Sedentary and overweight people will do better on a low-carb diet when attempting to lower body fat.
Either way, first you’ve got to figure out whether your primary goal is to gain muscle or lose fat.
How Many Carbs to Gain Weight?
When looking to gain muscle, aim for 2 grams of carb intake per pound of body weight.
If you’re gaining excess fat, then decrease carb intake to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
If you’re not gaining muscle as fast as you’d like, increase carb intake to 2.5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
The key is in keeping track of progress and adjusting your approach as you move along.
How Many Carbs to Lose Weight?
When looking to lose fat, start with 1.25 grams of carb intake per pound of bodyweight.
The #1 rule of fat-loss is to consume fewer calories than you’re burning.
As an intermediate lifter, carbs will help minimize cortisol response as well as maintain T levels and muscle mass as you attempt to cut fat.
As a beginner lifter, carbs will give you the energy to power through workouts and gain muscle while losing fat.
The most important thing is to track your progress and adjust along the way.
If you aren’t losing fat as fast as you’d like, check in with your calories.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all carbs aren’t created equal. Opt for carbs from foods like beans, oatmeal, and brown rice rather than candy, soda, and burgers.
8. Hop In to a Cold Shower
When you lift heavy weights, it causes tiny microscopic tears in the muscle fiber and inflammation in the target muscle tissue. Cold water immersion counteracts both of these things (27).
This is why athletes regularly take ice baths.
The direct link between cold showers and higher T levels, however, is inconclusive.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
A big reason there isn’t any evidence is because no research has been done in this field.
Well, because cold water is not really a marketable product; it’s cheap and most everybody already has access to it.
Research is largely driven by financial incentive.
This is when anecdotal evidence becomes important, and there is no shortage of that.
How to Get Started with Cold Water Therapy:
Step 1 – Start off with hot water so that you can ease your way into the shower.
Step 2 – Wash shampoo into your hair.
Step 3 – When you’re ready to rinse, turn the water to cold. You don’t have to turn it all the way, but colder than you’re used to.
Step 4 – Let the cold water wash out your hair and soak down your back.
Step 5 – Stay in the water as long as you can.
Step 6 – End the shower after spending at least 5 minutes in the cold water.
The first step is usually the hardest.
If you’ve never taken a cold shower before, it can be extremely uncomfortable and take some getting used to.
But over time, work your way towards making the water colder and staying in the shower longer.
I remember the first time I took a cold shower, my whole body got red. This was 3 years ago, and I'm still not fully comfortable with them, but I have learned to enjoy the discomfort. Plus, there is nothing quite like the natural high you get afterwards.
9. Kick the Sugar Habit
Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates are found in everything from breakfast cereals to pasta. Consuming these foods spikes your blood sugar and decreases your body’s insulin sensitivity.
Lower insulin sensitivity is strongly correlated with lower T levels (30).
In extreme cases, decreased insulin sensitivity can lead to obesity and diabetes (31).
How to Kick Your Sugar Habit:
Step 1 – Know what to look for.
- Added sugar goes by many names and usually ends in ose, e.g. lactose, maltose, sucrose
- Refer to this list for all of the names sugar goes by.
Step 2 – Scan ingredients.
- If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients, don't eat it.
- Ingredients are listed by weight, i.e. the ingredients listed first make up a bigger portion of the product.
Step 3 – Add it up.
- Divide total grams of sugar by total calories.
- If the number is more than 0.025, don't eat it.
Step 4 – Opt for fruit.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit to reap the added benefits of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Pomegranate is a fruit that happens to also have a positive correlation with testosterone (32).
*Bonus tip – Time it right.
- What is life without a little bit of indulgence every now and then.
- The best time to eat your favorite ice cream or chocolate is right after lifting weights.
- This is when muscle glycogen is depleted and an insulin spike is actually desirable because the calories are more likely to be directed towards muscle rather than fat.
10. Eat a Yolk (or four)
One large egg provides about 186 milligrams of cholesterol, with 184 of those milligrams coming from the yolk.
Testosterone is literally made out of dietary cholesterol (33).
The common warning against eating egg yolks is that they raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
But this is simply not true.
In fact, eating the yolk actually improves your cholesterol profile by raising HDL (read “good”) cholesterol (37).
Eat 3-4 large, whole eggs within 3 hours of bedtime.
Why before bed?
The majority of your body’s testosterone is produced while you sleep (between 4-6am).
By eating whole eggs before bed, you are providing your body with the fundamental building blocks it needs to produce more T.
11. Avoid Plastics
Plastics contain chemicals that mess with our hormones (38).
It is impossible to completely avoid plastics, but we can take steps to reduce our exposure to them.
How to reduce your exposure to plastics:
Step 1 – Drink water out of a stainless steel or glass cup (like this one).
- Water in plastic bottles is full of phthlates (43).
Step 2 – Replace plastic cooking utensils with stainless steel alternatives (like these).
Step 3 – Stop buying processed foods packaged in plastic.
Step 4 – Replace Tupperware with eco-friendly alternatives.
12. Drink In Moderation
But this doesn’t mean that you have to quit drinking.
The key is to drink in moderation and drink the stuff that has a minimal effect on your endocrine system.
Drink within 0.3 grams of alcohol per pound of bodyweight no more than 2 times per week.
A “standard” drink in the United States is about 14 grams of pure alcohol. If you weigh 185 pounds, that would mean a maximum of 4 drinks (185*0.3/14), no more than twice a week.
If you drink hard liquor, drink it on the rocks or with a diet soda. Other than the effects of the alcohol itself, hard liquor has no further negative effects on testosterone.
Beer contains an ingredient called hops. Hops has strong estrogenic effects on the body. So strong, in fact, that it is being used in research to help women with menopause issues (48).
Red wine is the best, hard liquor is okay, and beer is the worst.
Red wine contains resveratrol, an ingredient that actually increases testosterone (47).
13. Spark Up Your Sex Life
Sexual activity affects testosterone more than initial testosterone affects sexual activity (49).
In fact, participating in sexual activity can increase testosterone by as much as 72% (50).
60 year old men who have higher levels of sexual activity have significantly higher T levels (51).
Sexual activity with another person (rather than with your hand) involves interpersonal touch, feelings of dominance, pheromones and other factors of the sort that all contribute to increasing testosterone. Rubbing one out does not have the same effect.
How to spark up your love life is beyond the scope of this post, but check this out for ideas.
14. Opt For Grass-Fed Beef
Animals brought into a factory farmed environment are introduced to:
There is no conclusive evidence that links the consumption of factory farmed meat to lower T (or any other health problems).
But keep in mind that most of the research done in this area is funded by the food industry giants themselves.
Why Opt For Grass-Fed:
How to Buy Grass-Fed Beef:
1) The best option is to get it directly from a farmer. The other option is to buy it at a local food or grocery store.
- If you go for the second option, beware of misleading labels. Here's the complete guide to interpreting meat labels.
2) Don’t make it more expensive than it needs to be.
- Try out cheaper cuts or ask your farmer about a meat CSA.
3) Grain-fed beef is better than no beef.
15. Take a Breather
When you’re stressed, your body elevates cortisol production and suppresses testosterone.
Cortisol, like testosterone, is a steroid hormone that requires dietary cholesterol as a building block.
During times of stress, the cholesterol in your system is more likely to be converted into cortisol rather than testosterone.
7-Step Beginner's Guide to Meditation
Getting started with meditation can be as simple as focusing on your breath for 5 minutes.
Step 1 – Locate a place where you will not be disturbed.
Step 2 – Choose a comfortable position. Decide whether you want to sit on a seat (sofa, chair) or on the floor (crosslegged).
Step 3 – Maintain a straight but relaxed posture.
Step 4 – Check the time and set an alarm for 6 minutes later.
Step 5 – Keep your hands on your knees and roll your shoulders back.
Step 6 – Breathe in deeply through your nose and close your eyes gently as you exhale.
Step 7 – Breathe in to a count of 4, hold for 2, and exhale for 6. Repeat until the alarm.
The above method is exactly how I got started with meditation 2 years ago.
These days, I meditate for 20 minutes everyday using a guided meditation app called Headspace.
Headspace is a paid application for your smartphone, but you can use this free 3-month voucher to check it out. (I meditated for 90 days straight and they gave me this voucher. I do not get paid by Headspace, even if you decide to buy later on).
16. Play (or watch) Competitive Sports
Men are competitive by nature and testosterone is what fuels our desire to win (61).
Even just watching competitive sports increases T (64).
How to Make Competitive Sports a Regular Part of Your Life
Step 1 – Go to meetup.com.
Step 2 – Sign up for an account.
Step 3 – Type the sport you want to play into the search bar.
Step 4 – Browse through the meetups.
Step 5 – Choose the meetup that suits you.
17. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
I have always found it difficult to include more vegetables in my diet, until I started juicing them.
Juicing vegetables removes their indigestible fiber and allows more nutrients to be absorbed compared to eating them whole.
Plus, I add an apple and lemon into the mix so it doesn’t taste all that bad.
How to Make an Anti-Estrogenic Shake
- 1 cucumber
- 1 lemon
- 1 green apple
- 4 leaves kale (or spinach)
- 3 stalks broccoli
- 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger
- Process ingredients through a juicer.
18. Sleep Deep
If you do everything else right, but fail to get enough sleep, your testosterone results will be severely limited (68).
The majority of your testosterone is produced while you sleep (69), and a lack of sleep inhibits its production (70).
Sleep deprivation is also associated with higher levels of body fat (71, 72). This relationship holds true even after controlling for demographic, lifestyle, work and health related factors (73).
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
It’s not only the quantity of sleep that matters but also the quality.
Testosterone production peaks during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep (74).
4-Steps to Waking Up Fresh and Energized Every Single Day
If you’ve ever woken up feeling extremely groggy and tired it’s probably because your alarm went off while you were in the middle of a deep REM sleep cycle.
Each sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes. The first 30 minutes of a sleep cycle is light sleep.
Step 1 – Figure out how many sleep cycles you need.
- I aim for 5 sleep cycles (7.5 hours of sleep) most nights.
- If I have to get up early, I adjust to 4 sleep cycles (6 hours of sleep) and make up for it on the weekends with 6 sleep cycles (9 hours of sleep).
Step 2 – Figure out what time you should be in bed.
- If you're aiming for 5 sleep cycles and have to wake up 8 a.m., then be in bed by 12 a.m., allowing 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Step 3 – 2 hours before you go to bed, cut off any highly stimulating activities.
- Don't workout, don't watch an intense movie, don't smoke cigarettes (nicotine is a stimulant). etc.
Step 4 – Never snooze.
- Put your alarm away from your bed so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
- This process ensures that your alarm goes off towards the end or start of a sleep cycle during light sleep. Plus, you’ll be aiming for a specific quantity of sleep as well.
+ Pro Tips:
Download the free f.lux application on your computer to reduce its blue light emission
Also, enable night shift mode on your smartphone:
Each of the above methods are scientifically proven to increase testosterone. Carve out a few minutes and implement at least one of these strategies. Move towards more energy, health, and well-being. Improve the quality of your life.