The Testosterone Diet

Do you know the #1 way to push your body's natural testosterone production into overdrive?

Well:

It's by changing what's at the end of your fork. 

That's right.​

The building blocks of testosterone are formed by the foods you eat.

If you don't eat right, nothing else you do will matter for T production. 

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the fundamentals of manly nutrition.

You'll get:

  • A top-down overview of how to eat in a way that supports optimal testosterone levels for years to come. 
  • A list of the 31 most powerful testosterone boosting foods. 
  • A no B.S. guide to testosterone booster supplements
  • A sample meal plan of the testosterone diet in action. 

As a man, testosterone levels impact almost every area of your life and understanding how to eat right is the first step towards preserving your strength and virility well into old age. 

How To Use This Blog Post

The goal here is to help you learn how to achieve optimal testosterone levels by making the right food choices.

To do that, you need to understand five key points:

Once you know how to optimize these areas, you will be able to eat in a way that's healthy, enjoyable, easy and gives you the physical results that you want. 

A Primer On T Production

Before diving in to the nitty-gritty, it is important to understand how testosterone is produced in the first place. 

T production is a highly complex process, but I'll go over a simplified version below that will help you understand the main points. 

Step 1 - The process begins in the brain when the hypothalamus, a region of the forebrain, releases GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone). 

Step 2 - GnRH enters the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain, and stimulates the production of LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). 

Step 3 - ​Upon secretion, LH and FSH make their way towards the testes. 

Step 4 - In the testes, LH and FSH enter the testicular leydig cells.

Step 5 - ​LH triggers the enzymes that shape cholesterol molecules into testosterone and FSH facilitates the production of sperm.

Testosterone Production Process

Source: Wikipedia

​Each of these steps involve a series of hormonal interactions, which, in turn, require a variety of nutrients to complete. A lot of these necessary nutrients can only be acquired through your diet. 

Key takeaway: The nutrients your body needs to produce testosterone are mostly acquired through the foods you eat. 

How Energy Balance Affects Testosterone Levels

The Relationship Between Energy Balance And Testosterone

Men with lower body fat tend to have higher testosterone levels (1, 2, 3, 4).

This is because body fat produces an enzyme called aromatase (5), which converts testosterone into the female sex hormone, estrogen (6).

So if you're currently overweight (or skinny-fat with over 15% body fat)​, then losing your gut is the one thing that will have the most significant impact on your T. 

By decreasing body fat, you decrease the activity of aromatase and more testosterone is allowed to remain as it is. 

A necessary component of fat-loss is to be in a "negative energy balance". 

​Energy Balance = Calories Consumed - Calories Burnt

A negative energy balance, aka a calorie deficit, is when you eat fewer calories than you burn. 

A calorie deficit may lower testosterone levels in the short term (7), but this drop is immediately erased once calorie intake is brought back up to maintenance (8). 

Key takeaway: The leaner you are, the more testosterone your body will naturally be able to produce. 

How Dietary Fat Intake Affects Testosterone Levels 

How Fat Affects T

Testosterone is literally made out of dietary cholesterol (9).

This makes dietary fat intake the most critical component of testosterone nutrition.

When figuring out how to fit fats into your diet, there are two factors to consider: 

  1. The total amount of fat in your diet. 
  2. The source t​hat this fat is coming from.

How much fat should you eat to optimize T?

The Institute of Medicine recommends adults to get 20-35% of their daily calories from fats (10)

For the average 185 lb guy who eats 2000 calories a day, this means ​anywhere from 45-75 grams of fat per day. 

That's all good and well.

But what does this recommendation mean for me:​

​I'm 6 feet tall, weigh 185 lbs, and lift weights anywhere from 3-6 hours per week. I have anywhere from 15-20 pounds more muscle than the average guy of my height and weight. As a result, I also need more calories to sustain my lean body mass, around 2750 to be precise. 

If I were to apply the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine, that comes out to ​60-106 grams of fat per day. 

This is way too high and my body needs nowhere near 106 grams of dietary fat.

The problem with the recommendation from IoM is that it doesn't account for body composition differences. 

So regardless of whether you have 10% body fat or 35% body fat, if your calorie intake is the same, your fat intake recommendation will also be the same. 

​This is why I like to make the recommendation based off of the nutritional research performed by Mike Matthews:

Consume 0.3 grams of fat per pound of lean body mass. ​

This is a solid recommendation that accounts for differences in weight, body fat, and lean muscle mass. 

I'm at about 12% body fat​, and using the above recommendation, my dietary fat intake should be at around 50 grams (0.88*190*0.3). 

Key takeaway: Aim for around 0.3 grams of dietary fat intake per pound of lean body mass. 

The different types of fat and how they affect testosterone...

Fats come in a variety of forms, each varying in its effects on testosterone: 

  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods like soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, as well as some fatty fish.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like red meat, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
  • Saturated fats are found in foods like fatty beef, lamb, pork, butter, egg yolks, and whole milk. ​
  • Trans fats are mostly artificial and created in an industrial process. They are found in baked goods, fried foods, potato chips, and margarine. Try and avoid trans fats for the most part. 

The ratio between these different types of fat in your diet is what makes all the difference.

Scientists at the Centre of Sports Medicine conducted a study (11) in which they analyzed the influence of dietary nutrients on testosterone. They found that saturated and monounsaturated fat intake were the strongest predictors of T levels . Polyunsaturated fat intake, on the other hand, was associated with lower testosterone levels. 

Another study (12) mirrors these results :

  • 30 male subjects were switched from a diet providing 40% of calories from fat to a diet providing 25% of calories from fat.
  • At the end of 6 weeks, the subjects had about 15% lower T levels.

Mind you, a 15% drop is not much, but it proves the positive correlation between fat intake and testosterone.

The above data is consistent with vegan and vegetarian studies.

Vegans/vegetarians tend to have low amounts of saturated fats in their diet. As a result, they also have lower testosterone levels compared to meat-eaters (13)(14)(15).

At this point, some of you might be wondering:

"But isn't cholesterol bad for you? Isn't saturated fat intake associated with heart conditions?"

The answer to these questions are more complicated than a simple yes or no.

The in's and out's of how cholesterol affects the body are beyond the scope of this article, but overall, just know that research has debunked many of the commonly held beliefs about cholesterol. ​It is not as bad as we once thought. 

And as far as saturated fat is concerned, research (16) has found no correlation between its intake and heart disease.

Key Takeaway: Consume more monounsaturated and saturated fats to support optimal T production. Avoid trans fats like the plague. Minimize polyunsaturated fat intake.

How Carbohydrate Intake Affects Testosterone 

How Carbs Affect T

Low carb diets have gained a lot of popularity for their ability to induce fast weight-loss.

Just know that the majority of weight lost during the early stages of a low-carb diet is mostly in the form of water weight. ​

The only thing that matters for weight-loss is energy balance, as we discussed above. ​

Carbohydrate intake is a critical component of T production.

​A study (17) conducted by researchers at the University of Northern Carolina found that, when combined with regular exercise, a low-carbohydrate diet decreased testosterone levels. 

Another study (18) mirrors these results.

Carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, and not getting an adequate amount of them means putting your body under stress in the form of elevated cortisol levels (19).

Elevated cortisol levels compromise your body’s ability to produce testosterone (20).

In other words:

Higher Cortisol Levels = Lower Testosterone Levels

Recall that GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) is what triggers the production of testosterone.

GnRH is directly regulated by circulating glucose levels.

When there’s an adequate amount of glucose running through our blood, muscles, and brain, the hypothalamus releases more GnRH and the body synthesizes more testosterone. Low glucose triggers the opposite effect (21).

A lower carb intake means lower blood glucose.

Higher blood glucose levels also result in higher insulin levels.

Insulin (in the right amounts) has been shown to reduce muscle breakdown and create a more anabolic environment conducive for muscle growth (23).

All-in-all:

Low-carb diets are detrimental to T production.

Let’s take a look at the results from a study (22) published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology:

  • Subjects were divided into two groups.
  • Both groups were tested for free testosterone to cortisol (fTC) ratio before the study began.
  • Group 1 ate 60% of daily calories from carbs.
  • Group 2 ate 30% of daily calories from carbs.
  • Subjects from both groups performed three consecutive days of training. ​
  • On the fourth day, group 2 had a signficantly lower fTC ratio (-43%) while group 1 maintained their fTC ratio.

In another study (24), researchers looked at how high-carb and low-carb diets affected exercise-induced muscle damage, strength recovery, and whole body protein metabolism after a tough workout.

The group on a low carb diet ate 225 grams of carbs (which isn't really low at all) while the group on the high carb diet ate 353 grams of carbs.

Results revealed that the subjects consuming fewer carbs lost more strength, had slower recovery, and had slower muscle growth. 

In yet another study (25), researchers had their subjects depleted of glucose and then put on a high or low carb diet for 2 days, followed by a strenuous leg workout.

The subjects on the low carb diet had higher rates of protein breakdown and lower rates of protein synthesis, i.e. less muscle growth than their high-carb counterparts.

The research is abundantly clear on this:

Carbs are an essential component of a testosterone-boosting diet. 

Key Takeaway: A high-carb diet will not only be better for your testosterone levels, but also for your muscle growth, health, energy, and mood.

The Different Types of Carbs & How They Affect T

Like with fats, carbs come in different forms. How your body responds to them depends on their type.

There are two types of carbohydrates: 

  1. Simple Carbs
  2. Complex Carbs​

Simple carbs include stuff like candy, soda, and white bread. Upon consumption, they are instantly absorbed in the blood stream and quickly spike insulin levels.

Generally speaking, a spike in blood sugar leads to a drop in testosterone (26). Rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels also lead to energy crashes and fat gain.

There is a time, however, when it can be beneficial for you to experience a spike in blood sugar:

After completing a heavy workout, for example, when muscle glycogen has been depleted. If you eat simple carbs during this time they are more likely to replenish your muscles than to be taken up as fat.

Complex carbs include stuff like kidney beans, starchy vegetables, and whole-grain oatmeal. They are generally considered “healthy”, but as you’ve learned, it depends on the context.

When you’re worn out after a workout and your muscles are crying out to be replenished, complex carbs won’t do much to aid recovery.

The fiber in whole, complex carbs takes time to be broken down and enter the blood stream.

For a more in-depth look at how different carbs affect your body, check out the Glycemic Index.

The GI classifies foods based on how quickly they enter the blood stream and spike blood sugar.

Key Takeaway: Stick with consuming carbs from a complex source, unless it is around workouts. 

How Protein Intake Affects Testosterone Production

How protein affects T

Protein has enjoyed a steady rise to prominence thanks to the bodybuilding and fitness communities.

The notion being that a higher protein intake means a faster rate of muscle growth.

The flaw in this thinking is that protein does not actually stimulate muscle growth.

Lifting weights stimulates muscle growth.

Protein just has to be there to allow the muscle to repair.

And get this:

Protein is the least important macronutrient for T production.

This might come as a shock, but a high protein diet can actually be detrimental towards T.

This is because, with a fixed number of calories, an increased consumption of protein means a decreased intake of fat and carbohydrates, both of which are more important for testosterone.

To provide all of this with a scientific context, let’s take a look at the results from a study (27) that aimed to observe the influence of protein/carbohydrate ratio on testosterone:

  • One group of subjects was put on a high-protein, low-carb diet.
  • The second group was put on a high-carb, low-protein diet. 
  • Calories and fat were equal across both groups. 
  • At the end of ten days, the group on a high-protein, low-carb diet had 26% lower total testosterone levels. 
  • The group on a high-carb, low-protein diet had 40% lower SHBG concentrations, meaning that more testosterone was allowed to remain in its free form. 
  • Furthermore, the group on a high-carb, low protein diet had 37% lower cortisol concentrations. 

Does this mean that low-protein diets are the answer to higher testosterone levels?

Well, not quite.

It is important to observe the context of particular studies before jumping to any rash conclusions.

For example, the above study was done on only seven men.

This is way too small a sample size.

Also, the subjects were not put on any exercise program.

Another study (28) provides further insight towards how protein intake affects T:

  • Data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study was used to examine the relationship between dietary components and SHBG levels in 1552 males (aged 40-70 years) for whom these factors were known.
  • Researchers concluded that low-protein diets lead to elevated SHBG levels and decreased testosterone activity.

More SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) means that less free testosterone is allowed to exert its influence. 

So as you can see, the sweet spot very rarely lies on either end of an extreme.

The problem we face when trying to extrapolate recommendations from the research is that the above studies don’t actually get into the exact number of grams that classify as ‘low protein’.

So how much protein should you eat?​

To answer this, I look towards researcher and fitness coach, Eric Helms.

After analyzing and performing numerous studies, Helms recommends a protein intake between 0.8-1.3 grams per pound (1.8-2.8g/kg) of bodyweight.

As far as the source is concerned, try and get most of it from animal sources.

Protein is the final piece of the macronutrient puzzle. ​

Only after looking at the complete macronutrient profile, with fats and carbs included, can we move on to determining the quantities of each for optimal testosterone support. Download the free step-by-step checklist I created specifically for this post to help you do so. 

Key Takeaway: Aim to intake between 0.8-1.3 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

How Micronutrients Affect Testosterone Production 

How micronutrients affect T

Micronutrients are comprised of vitamins and minerals. 

They are required by your body in small amounts, but play a critical role in human development, well-being, and of course, T production.

Large portions of the US population are deficient in vitamins A, C, D, and E (35, 31, 74, and 67% respectively), calcium (39%), and magnesium (46%) (29).

Let’s look at how each of these factor in to the testosterone equation:

  1. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant. In a study of 155 twins, testosterone levels were seen to be positively correlated with vitamin A intake (30).
  2. Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to protect the testes from oxidative stress, and therefore preserve T levels (31).
  3. Vitamin D benefits us in many ways from strengthening our bones to improving our mood. As far as T levels are concerned, men supplementing with vitamin D tend to have significantly higher testosterone than men who don't (32).
  4. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. Men supplementing with vitamin E have been shown to have higher T levels (33).
  5. Calcium is important for bone health. One study showed that the increase in testosterone is greater after lifting weights when accompanied by calcium supplementation (34).
  6. Magnesium is a key mineral that has many important roles in the body. Studies have shown magnesium intake to hold a direct, positive relationship with testosterone production. (35).

Even if you're not necessarily deficient in these vitamins and minerals, merely having sub-optimal levels of them will result in sub-optimal T levels. 

Although possible, it can prove difficult to get optimal amounts of these micronutrients through diet alone. This is where supplementation can help.

A No B.S. Guide To Testosterone Supplementation

You can check out the complete guide to testosterone booster supplements for an extensive overview on this topic, but the bottom line is this:

Most of the so-called "T-booster" supplements available in the market today will do next to nothing for your T levels. 

Remember that we're not talking about testosterone replacement therapy or anabolic steroids here. 

We're talking about the test boosters available at your local GNC or supplement store. 

That being said, supplementation can help when looking to correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

For example, if you currently have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D then supplementing with it can have a significant positive impact on your T.  

 This is why I recommend a quality multivitamin as the ultimate test booster supplement. 

About half of Americans take multivitamins, yet the majority of the population still has micronutrient deficiencies. 

This is why I emphasize quality.

The 3 micronutrients most critical to testosterone are:

  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium​

The multivitamin I recommend, Triumph by Legion Athletics​, provides well over 100% of the daily recommended amounts for vitamin D, zinc, and a bunch of other key vitamins and minerals (93% for magnesium). 

Multivitamins don't provide calcium because it interferes with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals. So if you don't have much dairy in your diet, supplementing with calcium can help as well. 

Other supplements that I recommend are:

  • Protein powder (if you have trouble getting the required amount through diet).
  • Creatine (to help build muscle & strength).
  • Branched-chain amino acids (to prevent muscle breakdown during times of empty-stomach training). ​

See supplements for what they really are - something to supplement your diet with, to fill gaps in your nutrition. 

Supplement companies spend big bucks to have you believe in a "magic-pill" ​solution, but heed my words: 

It doesn't exist.

And even if it does, the negative repercussions in the long-run will far outweigh the benefits (like is the case with testosterone replacement therapy and taking anabolic steroids). 

Key Takeaway: Supplementing with a (quality) multivitamin is an easy way to provide your body with the very raw materials it needs to produce optimal levels of testosterone. 

31 Testosterone-Boosting Foods That You Should Include In Your Diet

Now that we have T-Nutrition 101 out of the way, we move on to food choices.

These foods do not contain testosterone (no food does). ​

They merely provide your body with the nutrients that support T production. 

My aim is to give you a number of options so that you start eating more of the foods that support T and, in effect, begin to crowd out the foods that don't.

1. Whole Eggs 

​Whole eggs are an all round superfood. 

Not only do they provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but they also pack-a-punch of T-boosting fats (38% saturated, 44% monounsaturated), protein, and HDL (read: good) cholesterol. 

Many misinformed "health conscious" individuals think that cholesterol is bad and that it should be avoided at all costs. These are the same people who remove the yolk and opt for egg-white omelettes. 

Whether cholesterol is "good" or "bad" for you is a complicated topic and goes beyond the scope of this article. As far as its relationship with T is concerned just know this:

Testosterone is literally made out of dietary cholesterol.

Eating the yolk provides your body with the fundamental building block it needs to produce T. 

Also, studies (36, 37) have consistently shown that regular egg consumption does not negatively impact heart health.

For a more in-depth look at how cholesterol affects the body, check this article out. 

2. ​Brazil Nuts

​Nuts are generally considered to be a healthy source of fats. 

Although Brazil nuts contain a hefty amount of monounsaturated and saturated fats, their real T-boosting ability lies in their micronutrient content.

Brazil nuts deliver a rich source of selenium, a mineral proven to support testosterone production (38, 39). 

Just 1 oz. of Brazil nuts provides your daily requirement of selenium. 

3. Avocados 

Most fruits contain carbs.

The avocado is unique in that 77% of its calories come from fat, and most of it is monounsaturated fat, i.e. exactly the type of fat that supports T.

Other than the fat content, avocados also provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals, namely:

Vitamin A, B vitamins, K2, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and copper. 

Avocados are incredibly nutritious​ and their health benefits go beyond just increasing testosterone.

Read about all of the ways avocados can benefit your life

4. Coconut Oil

There are countless studies that show coconut oil to be amongst the healthiest foods on the planet.

About 91% of the fat in coconut oil is T-boosting saturated fat.

However, unlike other common sources of saturated fat (animals, butter, eggs, etc), the fat from coconut oil is made up of MCFAs (medium chain fatty acids).

MCFAs are the perfect energy source because they are directly transported to the liver and instantly used up as fuel. ​It is near impossible for them to get stored as fat. 

There haven't been any human studies on the impact of coconut oil on testosterone, but a few rodent studies demonstrate impressive results:

​Rats who were fed coconut oil daily for 60 days had lower cortisol and significantly higher T levels compared to those who consumed olive oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, or no oil (40). 

Now, it is not for sure that this exact effect will carry over to humans as well, but it is still interesting to note. 

5. Olive Oil

Researchers found (41) that men consuming olive oil everyday for 3 weeks experienced 17% higher testosterone levels. This likely occurred due to the high monounsaturated fat content. 

Olive oil is also a proven anti-inflammatory (42) and antioxidant (43). 

When you buy olive oil, go for the extra virgin kind.

Extra virgin means that it has been extracted from the first press and is free from any added substances. 

6. Grass-fed Butter

Butter provides a rich source of saturated fats. 

On top of that, butter also provides CLA (may have positive effect on T) and a bunch of vitamins and minerals as well. 

Opt for grass-fed butter because it is sourced from cows feeding on a natural diet of grass rather than grains. 

Also, grass-fed butter has a better nutritional profile of fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.

7. Ricotta Cheese

Fermented foods, like cheese, aid testosterone by providing your body with probiotics.

Probiotics are loaded with healthy gut bacteria that aids digestion and proper nutrient absorption (44).

Ricotta cheese also provides a natural source of whey protein.

You read earlier that protein is the least important macronutrient for testosterone.

This is true.

However, whey protein intake seems to blunt the effect of the stress hormone, cortisol, during times of intense training (45).

8. Bacon

Bacon is another food packed with T-boosting saturated fat and cholesterol. 

But the catch here is that you should go for organic bacon. 

The cheap, traditional bacon that you get everywhere is sourced from pigs fed on an unnatural diet and pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and estrogenic compounds. 

9. Minced Meat

Regardless of whether you get minced beef, pork, lamb, or turkey, minced meat provides a rich source of saturated fats and animal protein. 

Although protein is the least important macronutrient for testosterone production, your body still needs it for muscle growth and recovery.

Protein coming from animal sources is far superior than it coming from any other source. ​

10. Tuna

Tuna is yet another great source of high-quality animal protein that can aid in muscle recovery and growth.

But tuna's T-boosting properties lie in its high vitamin D and omega-3 content.

Vitamin D is a crucial component in ​testosterone production and tuna is one of the best food sources to get it from. 

11. Salmon

If you don't like tuna you can opt for salmon, which delivers a similar nutritional profile. ​

In addition to the vitamin D and omega-3 content, salmon also provides a bunch of dietary cholesterol along with a hefty dose of selenium.

12. Shellfish

Whether its crab, lobster, shrimp, or prawns, shellfish provide a rich source of zinc, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin D.

All micronutrients that are associated with increasing testosterone levels. 

13. Oysters

Oysters are the quintessential T-boosting food. 

The main T-boosting ingredient in oysters is zinc; just six of them provides the recommended daily amount.

But other than the zinc content, oysters also contain magnesium, selenium, copper, and vitamin D, all of which are vitamins and minerals that have a positive correlation with testosterone. 

It is said that Casanova (the 18th century ladies man) used to eat 60 oysters for breakfast every morning. ​

Maybe he was on to something. 

14. Grapes

The skin of red grapes contains resveratrol, a proven aromatase inhibitor (46). 

Recall from earlier that aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.

By consuming red grapes you reduce the activity of aromatase, therefore allowing an elevated concentration of testosterone. 

15. Pomegranates

Pomegranate is one of the only fruits that has been directly studied for its effect on testosterone. 

In one study (47), researchers gave subjects pomegranate juice for 2 weeks, and at the end of 2 weeks, the average increase in testosterone was 24%.

In test-tube studies (48), pomegranates have been shown to have anti-estrogenic effects.

I love pomegranates and include them as an everyday part of my diet (whenever they are in season, that is). 

16. Strawberries

In addition to being delicious, strawberries also contain vitamins and minerals that aid testosterone production.

These include magnesium, vitamin C, and a bunch of antioxidants.

Higher vitamin C intake has been associate​d with lower levels of cortisol (49). 

Also, vitamin C intake is associated with a higher sperm count (50).​

​17. Bananas

Bananas are well known to be a potent source of potassium.

But banana's also deliver a little known mineral called bromelain, which has been shown (51) to support testosterone production.

​18. Potatoes

​You already know that carbohydrate consumption is critical for your body to produce optimal levels of T.

This is especially true if you are a man who lifts weights regularly. 

The problem is that many of the carbs that form the basis of the Modern American Diet come from refined grains.

The extent to which grains affect the human body is beyond the scope of this article, but just know that eating refined grains causes inflammation (52) and spikes blood sugar (53). Both of these outcomes negatively affect testosterone.  

This is why I opt for potatoes (all kinds) as one of my main carb source.

They provide me with the energy to power through my workouts while minimizing the effect of cortisol. 

19. Kidney Beans

Not only are kidney beans loaded with zinc, magnesium, and iron, but they also provide more protein than any other plant source. 

Like potatoes, beans provide an excellent source of slow-release energy without spiking blood sugar. 

I add a large can of dark red kidney beans to my turkey chili, which I eat on most days. 

20. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds provide an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin K, all of which support T. 

​Furthermore, pumpkin seeds also contain a bunch of T-boosting saturated fat. 

Pumpkin seeds are a good snack to much on in between meals. ​

21. Mushrooms

Mushrooms have powerful anti-estrogenic effects.

They contain an ingredient called polysaccharides, a proven aromatase inhibitor (54). 

Less aromatase activity means more testosterone in your blood stream.

All mushrooms have anti-estrogenic effects, but it is the white-button mushrooms that have been studied (55) to have the most powerful effects. 

22. Ginger

The active ingredient in ginger, gingerol, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects (56).

Studies have also shown gingerol to have androgenic effects (57, 58). These effects, however, have only been studied in rats.

The only human study with ginger was performed on infertile men, in which ginger supplementation over 3 months increased T levels by 14% (59). ​

23. ​Onions 

Onions are a proven anti-inflammatory (60) and antioxidant (61). 

Multiple rodent studies (62, 63) have found onion consumption to have powerful testosterone boosting effects as well​.

It is impossible to say whether this same effect carries on to the same extent in humans, but it is interesting to note. 

Onions also contain quercetin, an ingredient that has been shown (64) to have anti-estrogenic effects. 

24. Broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables, which include the likes of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, are all proven estrogen-blockers (65). 

Cruciferous vegetables contain carbinol.

Studies have shown (66) carbinol consumption to increase estrogen excretion by up to 50% in men. 

As you know, estrogen holds an inverse relationship with T:

Lower estrogen means higher testosterone (this relationship does not hold true when using exogenous forms of testosterone). 

25. Spinach

Spinach provides one of the best dietary sources of magnesium. Just one cup of cooked spinach provides close to half of your recommended daily amount. ​

​Spinach also contains B vitamins and iron, both of which are micronutrients that your body needs for optimal function. 

26. Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric. It is a proven anti-inflammatory (67), anti-oxidant (68), and possibly an anti-catabolic agent as well (69, 70). 

Although its direct interaction with testosterone production has not been studied, affecting these three areas in such a way is likely to affect testosterone positively. 

27. ​Asparagus

​Asparagus has long been considered a natural aphrodisiac.

It is loaded with B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E, and potassium.

Vitamin E has been shown to a have an important role in testosterone production (72). Magnesium, as you know, is also a crucial component. 

28. Figs​

Figs provide a rich source of manganese, iron, potassium, and zinc, i.e. all minerals that aid your body's cardiovascular health, muscular health, and hormonal production.

Figs also contain a bunch of antioxidants that can help flush your body of unwanted materials (73).  ​

29. ​Chicken Liver

Chicken liver (and all animal organs for that matter) provide a rich source of zinc, vitamin K, and saturated fats. 

You already know that zinc is crucial for optimal T.

Vitamin K has also been shown (74, 75) to affect T positively, but only in rodent studies. 

30. ​Fermented Foods

As mentioned above, fermented foods (pickles, kombucha, kimchi, yoghurt) ​ all provide an excellent source of probiotics. 

By eating fermented foods, not only will the probiotics aid digestion, but they will also allow your body to better absorb nutrients.

31. ​Grass-Fed Beef

Of course, this list would be incomplete without some good ol' steak. 

All types of red meat provide hefty amounts of T-boosting saturated fats. 

Steak has been my go to meal for a couple of years now, and the best part is that it's so easy to make. 

And, like I mentioned above, I always go for grass-fed meats. 

Animals brought into a factory farmed environment are injected with growth hormone (to make them grow as fast as possible), fed an unnatural diet (animals that are used to eating grass are fed grains), and given antibiotics (because the animals are getting sick from growing artificially quickly and an unnatural diet). 

Foods That Lower Testosterone Levels

Now that we have a pretty dense list of foods that support testosterone production, I also wanted to go over some foods to avoid. 

These foods wreak havoc on your hormones and compromise your body's ability to produce T.  

The majority of these foods fall under 4 categories:

  1. Sugar (soda, candy, cake, ice cream, etc).
  2. Refined (pasta, white bread, cereal, chips, etc)
  3. Vegetable oils (soybean, canola, sunflower, etc)
  4. Soy (tofu, soy based oils, salad dressings, etc)

1. Sugar

Eating sugar brings your blood sugar way up and then way down.

When sugar begins to make up a large portion of your daily caloric intake, these crazy blood sugar fluctuations eventually lead to decreased insulin sensitivity.

This means that your body is not responding to sugar how it should, and that more and more insulin is being released to deal with it. 

Decreased insulin sensitivity is strongly correlated with lower testosterone levels (76). In extreme cases, it can even lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

2. Refined Grains​

Refined grains, in contrast to whole grains, refers to grain products made from grain flours that have been drastically modified from their natural form.

More specifically:

Anything made from white-flour.

Refined grains are immediately converted into sugar upon entering your body.

In other words:

Refined grains have the same impact on your body as sugar. 

High grain diets have also been shown to reduce the body's ability to synthesize vitamin D​ (77), which, as you know, is critical for T. 

3. Vegetable Oils​

Around the world, most of the oils used to cook food (soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower, etc) are refined and have been extracted from processed plant sources.

You read above that fats are crucial for testosterone production.

But the types of fat present in vegetable oils are polyunsaturated, and recall from the study cited above (11), that PUFA consumption is actually associated with lower testosterone levels.

To understand how these oils negatively affect our body, it is important to understand the omega-3 to omega-6 balance.

Omega-3's are anti-inflammatories while omega-6's are inflammatories.

We need a balance of both of these acids to maintain optimal body function.

In vegetable oils, however, the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 is way off (in favor of omega-6's).

This causes massive inflammation in the body and negatively affects T.

The take home message is to replace vegetable oils with other T-friendly cooking oils like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, or butter. ​

4. Soy

How soy interacts with your hormones is not exactly clear, but one thing is for sure:

Regular consumption of soy significantly lowers testosterone levels (78). ​

The Testosterone Diet - Sample Meal Plan

Phew.

That was a lot of information.

Now it's time to put that information into action in the form of a testosterone boosting meal plan.

BREAKFAST OPTION 1: SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH SAUTÉED VEGGIES AND BACON (MAKES 1 SERVING)

BUTTER/OLIVE OIL 1 TBSP

EGGS, SCRAMBLED IN BUTTER 3 LARGE

ORGANIC BACON 2 PIECES

SPINACH 3/4 CUP 

MUSHROOMS 1/2 CUP (SAUTEÉD WITH SPINACH IN BACON GREASE)

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 652, Fat 52 g, Carbs 12 g, Protein 33 g

BREAKFAST OPTION 2: SWEET POTATO PANCAKES (MAKES 1 SERVING)

SWEET POTATO 6 OZ

OATMEAL 1/2 CUP

EGG WHITES 4

EGG 1 WHOLE

VANILLA EXTRACT 1/2 TEASPOON

CINNAMON 1/2 TEASPOON

PLAIN YOGHURT 1/4 CUP

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 508, Fat 8 g, Carbs 74 g, Protein 35 g

LUNCH OPTION 1: T-BONE STEAK WITH VEGGIES AND BAKED POTATO (MAKES 1 SERVING)

T-BONE STEAK 6 OZ

OLIVE OIL 1 TABLESPOON

BROCCOLI FLORETS 2 CUPS

CARROTS 2

ONION 1, CUT INTO WEDGES

WHITE POTATO 1 MEDIUM

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 728, Fat 27 g, Carbs 69 g, Protein 54 g

LUNCH OPTION 2: AVOCADO & SHRIMP SALAD (MAKES 1 SERVING)

SHRIMPS 6 OZ, COOKED AND PELED

TOMATO 1 MEDIUM, CHOPPED

SCALLION 1, CHOPPED

GARLIC 1 CLOVE, MINCED

LEMON JUICE 1 TABLESPOON

BALSAMIC VINEGAR 1 TEASPOON

AVOCADO 1/2, CUBED

CILANTRO 1 TEASPOON

FRESH MINT 1 TEASPOON

RED PEPPER FLAKES 1 PINCH

OLIVE OIL 1 TEASPOON

LETTUCE 2 HANDFULS

SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 398, Fat 22 g, Carbs 8 g, Protein 42 g

DINNER OPTION 1: GRILLED GREEK CHICKEN (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)

CHICKEN BREASTS 4 (BONELESS, 6OZ EACH)

BLACK OLIVES 1/2 CUP

TOMATOES 4, DICED

FETA-CHEESE 1 CUP, CRUMBLED

OLIVE OIL 1/3 CUP

GARLIC 1 TEASPOON

ROSEMARRY 1 TEASPOON

THYME 1 TEASPOON

OREGANO 1 TEASPOON

LEMONS 2, JUICED

BROWN RICE 3/4 CUP

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 552, Fat 23 g, Carbs 35 g, Protein 51 g

DINNER OPTION 2: GRILLED BLUEBERRY SALMON STEAKS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)

SALMONS STEAKS 4 (6OZ EACH)

OLIVE OIL 1 TABLESPOON

BALSAMIC VINEGAR 1/4 CUP

ORANGE ZEST 2 TABLESPOON

HONEY 1 TEASPOON

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR 1 TABLESPOON

CHICKEN BROTH 3/4 CUP 

FRESH BLUEBERRIES 1 CUP

CHIVES 2 TEASPOONS, CHOPPED

BROWN RICE 3/4 CUP

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 

Calories 476, Fat 19 g, Carbs 38 g, Protein 38 g

​Snack Ideas

  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Fruits (bananas, oranges, pomegranates, grapes, etc)
  • Greek yoghurt

Here's The Next Step:

​I wrote this article to be an all encompassing guide to testosterone nutrition, and, as such, it is coming in at over 6,000 words. 

If you want a simple, step-by-step execution plan in alignment with these principles check this out

About Mo Saleem

Mo Saleem is the founder of TripleYourT and an independent men's health researcher. His mission is to empower men with the knowledge to unlock their potential . Connect with Mo on Facebook.