Exercise is the original testosterone booster, and it’s one of the most powerful full-body hacks around. Men see a sharp increase in both testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) after lifting weights, and the boost is greater with shorter rest time between sets (1 minute rest outperforms 3 minutes rest) . With the shorter rest time, women also get a large boost in HGH.
In my late 20’s, I visited an anti-aging doctor who was one of the pioneers of what we now call functional medicine. I got a full hormone test. Shockingly, my testosterone was lower than my mother’s. No wonder I felt crappy and was overweight. My other sex hormones were out of whack too, especially my estrogen levels. They were high because the little testosterone I did make my body converted into estrogen. I went on a mix of topical replacement testosterone cream, plus small doses of pharmaceuticals like clomid and arimidex in order to keep my other sex hormones functioning properly.
The potential downside of this positive feedback loop, Coates argues, is that testosterone levels can eventually surge past optimal levels and have the opposite effect – leading to overconfidence and poor decision-making. When this happens to animals, Coates, observed, they “go out in the open, pick too many fights [and] patrol areas that are too large…Risk taking becomes risky behaviour.”
In many of the studies we found, those who saw the most improvement in health, testosterone, or muscle gain were those with existing nutrient or vitamin deficiencies. This means that some gains may be due more to dietary changes and generally restoring nutrient and vitamin levels than any one magic ingredient, but also that making sure your diet includes healthy amounts of nutrients should be your first step.
Vitamin D is arguably the most important vitamin when it comes to testosterone. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology examined the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and testosterone levels in men. The authors found that participants with higher levels of vitamin D had significantly higher levels of free testosterone compared to those with insufficient levels of vitamin D.8 Based on these study results, it appears vitamin D has a strong relationship with testosterone levels.
“What on earth do you mean?” Well, I don’t literally mean taking it to the compound. What I mean to say is that you should be incorporating the three most important compound exercises into your routine: bench press, squats, and deadlifts. In case you didn’t know, by training large muscle groups your body releases more testosterone. When you do these three lifts, and perform them properly, then you’ll reap the benefits of not only muscle gains, but also that of an increased release of testosterone and growth hormone.
Zinc is little more of a nice-to-have ingredient than a must-have. It’s on our radar as an ingredient that possibly boosts testosterone levels, and while we couldn’t find enough supporting evidence that taking zinc would increase natural testosterone, low zinc levels have been connected to infertility. A low zinc level is also possibly a sign of hypogonadism. The closest support we found is in a study which found that people recovered from nutritional deficiency-related problems more quickly if they took a zinc supplement than those who did not. Zinc is available in many foods, such as oysters, fortified breakfast cereals, and red meat.
Ashwagandha: One of the hottest herbs out there right now, this adaptogen packs a one-two punch. First, it helps the body fight off stress: According to one Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine study, ashwagandha has a cortisol-lowering effect—a major benefit to anyone who wants their body to be more T-friendly. And, second, it can also support your T-boosting training efforts. One Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study, for example, found that men who supplemented with ashwagandha saw significantly greater strength and T gains after eight weeks of resistance training than those who took a placebo.
It may also become a treatment for anemia, bone density and strength problems. In a 2017 study published in the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), testosterone treatments corrected anemia in older men with low testosterone levels better than a placebo. Another 2017 study published in JAMA found that older men with low testosterone had increased bone strength and density after treatment when compared with a placebo.