If you constantly feel tired, unmotivated, and you’re hardly ever in the mood, low testosterone (aka hypogonadism) might be to blame. This debilitating condition can cause weight gain, weak bones, mood changes, and a long list of other symptoms. Knowing how to boost testosterone naturally may help you reap the benefits of a hormone-healthy lifestyle.
Testosterone Levels by Age
Starting in their mid-30s, men lose 1-2% of their testosterone each year as part of the natural aging process. In women, vital testosterone levels drop by 50% after age 40. The good news is that by making a few changes to your daily habits, you can replenish your body’s natural reserves.
In some cases, low T may require testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). In this article, we’ll break down the latest research on how to build testosterone naturally and how to know when it’s time to speak to a physician.
“The importance of hormones can't be overstated. These natural messengers regulate our growth and development, our blood pressure, our sex drive, our sleep, and just about all our body's core functions.”- Tony Robbins, LIFE FORCE
12 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone
Making a few changes to your daily habits may temporarily increase your T levels. Getting more physical activity, managing your weight, lowering your stress, and sleeping more can help, as can avoiding BPA and phthalates and supplementing vitamin D and zinc.
Here’s how to naturally increase testosterone.
1. Get More Exercise
Exercising regularly may help you get your testosterone levels up.
Research shows that physical exercise improved testosterone levels and semen quality. In fact, increasing physical activity may have more of an effect on male T levels than losing weight does, and research has uncovered similar effects in women.
How much exercise will help? Participants in the studies averaged 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. In particular, Lifeforce doctors recommend strength training — particularly in your legs — as the best way to boost testosterone short term.
2. Manage Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) may naturally increase testosterone.
Obesity is a common cause of low T. Being overweight increases inflammation, which may suppress the hypothalamus (a brain area that produces hormones), the pituitary gland (the “master gland” that regulates testosterone production), and the adrenal gland (that produces hormones your body uses to build testosterone).
Additionally, fat cells contain an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, which further compounds the effect extra weight has on total testosterone levels.
A 2013 review of 24 studies found that weight loss correlated with an increase in testosterone. The takeaway is that exercising more and eating less may have a multiplier effect on your hormones, your libido, and your sex drive.
Managing stress may help control your levels of cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with your testosterone.
One small study concluded that artificially increasing cortisol with an injection significantly reduced circulating testosterone. Another study suggested an interesting link between cortisol, testosterone, and perceived social status in executives. High testosterone was linked to a higher number of subordinates, but only in executives with low cortisol.
Here’s how to boost testosterone naturally through stress reduction:
Do regular deep breathing exercises
Start a meditation habit
Practice mindfulness during your regular workday
Make more time for activities you enjoy
Spend more time with people you like
Learn more in our article 5 Science Backed Ways to Reduce Stress.
4. Sleep More
Getting better sleep has been shown to improve testosterone levels in men. In one study, T levels went up in sleep-deprived men who got three nights of “catch-up sleep.”
Poor sleep is associated with higher levels of cortisol — a stress hormone linked to low testosterone level. The cause/effect relationship between poor sleep and high cortisol can be bidirectional, which means poor sleep can raise your cortisol levels, and high cortisol can lower your sleep quality.
Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep at around the same time every night, preferably in a screen-free, cool, dark room.
5. Reduce Your Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
Avoiding exposure to a group of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors may improve your testosterone. Two of these — Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates — are associated with low T. Both BPA and phthalates have been shown to reduce testosterone.
You can’t completely avoid BPA and phthalates. Phthalates play a role in toys, cosmetics, and fragrance manufacture, and BPA lines the inside of metal containers and water pipes. Both can seep into your food, drinking water, and other beverages.
Here’s how to naturally increase testosterone by avoiding T-reducing compounds:
Buy foods and drinks labeled BPA-free
Eat whole foods instead of canned and packaged foods
Store hot foods and liquids in glass containers
Remove food from plastic packaging before you heat it
Try reducing phthalate exposure by:
Avoiding products that list phthalates, often masked by names like DCP (dibutyl phthalates), or DMP (dimethyl phthalate) as an ingredient. In general, limit processed foods, and do a Google search of any ingredients you don’t recognize.
Eating less fast food, which a 2016 study linked to higher phthalate exposure
6. Get Enough Vitamin D
A vitamin D deficiency can lower your testosterone. A 2019 study linked low vitamin D levels to low T in 4,254 men. In another study, supplementing vitamin D significantly increased testosterone levels in deficient men. Men who received a placebo saw no increase at all.
How to Get More Vitamin D
You can get plenty of vitamin D from many food sources, including:
Fatty fish and fish liver oils
Fortified food products, including many types of milk, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and some breakfast cereals
You can also get more vitamin D from sun exposure, though too much sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. The NIH recommends that most people get no more than 10 minutes of full sun exposure per day.
Supplements, like Lifeforce Vitamin D+K, can be another option for those who struggle to get enough of the sunshine vitamin through diet and time outdoors.
7. Supplement Magnesium
Topping up magnesium levels may boost your testosterone. Magnesium interacts with testosterone, yet your body retains less of it over time. Several studies have linked magnesium supplementation to higher T.
You can also get a healthy amount of magnesium by eating a wide range of:
Leafy green vegetables
Dairy products like milk and yogurt
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Our at-home blood test measures 40+ biomarkers including testosterone, vitamin D, magnesium, and more. All diagnostics include a telehealth visit, clinical report, and a personalized plan created by a Lifeforce physician that can show you how to naturally increase testosterone levels.
8. Optimize Your Zinc
Getting the right amount of zinc may naturally increase your testosterone.
Zinc deficiency closely correlates with low T. In one study, a daily supplement of 30 mg increased free testosterone in athletes (free T is the “active” form that the body can use more easily).
However, a 2007 study found that participants with enough zinc in their diet didn’t experience a testosterone boost from supplementing. A diagnostic blood panel can show you if you need to increase your intake.
9. Supplement DHEA
Taking a dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplement won’t directly increase your testosterone levels on its own, but it may help. Your body naturally makes DHEA, a hormone precursor that regulates testosterone production.
As you grow older, your DHEA levels naturally fall. By the time you’re 70, your levels may be as low as 10-20% of what they were when you were young. The good news: supplementation may help. Men who took a DHEA supplement had significantly higher androstenedione levels (a building block of testosterone).
It’s best to choose a high-quality DHEA supplement with a customizable dose that can be clinically monitored to optimize your results.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Learn more about how to naturally raise testosterone levels in our article: Address the Hormone Imbalance You Didn’t Know You Had
10. Take Ashwagandha
If you prefer to take the herbal route, ashwagandha may help. This herb is a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine that may reduce the body’s response to stress. It has been found to improve testosterone levels in limited studies.
In one study, supplementing ashwagandha for 16 weeks led to T levels 14.7% higher than in a placebo group. Another study saw a significant testosterone boost in infertile men.
11. Get More Healthy Fats
Optimizing your intake of healthy fats may help you boost testosterone levels naturally. A 2021 meta-review concluded that low-fat diets may risk reducing testosterone in men. Avoid heavily processed foods too, since many of these contain trans fats linked to low testosterone.
You can find healthy omega-3 fatty acids in:
Fatty fish and seafood
Seeds and nuts, including chia seeds and walnuts
Plant oils, including olive and canola oil
12. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Cutting down on alcohol may help you naturally raise testosterone. Alcohol has a negative effect on the metabolism, causes cell damage, and can interfere with your hormonal balance.
Drinking less can be a challenge. To cut down, try setting a goal for how much you’d like to lower your consumption, avoid keeping alcohol in the house, or schedule in some alcohol-free days.
Harvard Health has a helpful article that shares 11 ways to curb your drinking. If you have trouble stopping, you can call the SAMHSA helpline.
When to Choose Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Now that you know how to naturally increase testosterone levels, you can also consider testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This treatment reliably improves low T symptoms and can reverse its effects on libido, energy, sexual function, and body fat.
If you’re experiencing the physical, psychological, or sexual symptoms, a doctor may diagnose low testosterone and prescribe TRT.
Several factors can cause low testosterone, including:
Medication side effects
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Depression is also associated with low testosterone.
Managing these conditions takes time, but if they’re interfering with your body’s testosterone production, supplementing with TRT can help while you address the underlying cause.
Diagnosing Low Testosterone
A doctor can measure your testosterone levels using a simple, quick, generally painless blood test. There are two types of testosterone tests:
Total testosterone. This is the most common test. It measures free testosterone and the testosterone already bound to proteins in your body.
Free testosterone. This test measures only free testosterone. It’s less common, and is used mainly to diagnose certain medical conditions.
You can also buy home testing kits, or schedule an at-home test like the Lifeforce Diagnostic, to accurately measure your testosterone levels. A healthcare professional may also want to order further tests to rule out medical conditions that commonly occur along with low T.
How Often Do You Need Testosterone Supplements?
You can take testosterone supplements as:
Skin patches that last 24 hours
Capsules for consumption twice daily
Pellets that a physician implants under the skin
Testosterone injections every one to two weeks
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about how to naturally increase testosterone levels.
How can I raise my testosterone levels fast?
You can boost testosterone levels quickly with:
A diet that provides enough zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D
Practicing stress relief
However, levels quickly return to their baseline after a boost.
Other methods like weight management and an optimal sleep schedule may take longer to show benefits.
What foods increase testosterone most?
Research hasn’t definitively proven that any food provides a lasting testosterone increase. A balanced diet with enough nutrients to prevent deficiency is best for your overall hormone health.
Can I increase testosterone long term?
The testosterone boosters in this article raise T levels temporarily, which can have a positive effect on your sex drive, sexual performance, sperm count, sleep, bone health, muscle size, and moods. To increase your levels in a more lasting way, you may need regular testosterone replacement therapy.
You can naturally increase testosterone through exercise, regular sleep, weight management, and a nutrient-dense diet. Talk to your doctor about using TRT to improve your levels of this vital sex hormone long-term. If you show symptoms of low T and test positive for low testosterone, supplementation may improve your sex drive, erectile function, and energy, and add more spark throughout your day.
The article was medically reviewed by:
Alex Antoniou, MD, ABNM Board Certified in Nuclear Medicine