6 natural ways to increase testosterone for more energy and a higher sex drive

Patrik Giardino/Getty ImagesDoing aerobic exercises, like running, may help boost testosterone.
  • You can increase testosterone by eating more healthy fats, getting enough vitamin D, and cutting back on drinking alcohol.
  • You can also boost testosterone levels by doing aerobic exercise at least three times per week, like running or walking.
  • You should also be sure to reduce stress and get enough sleep, as relaxation can lower cortisol levels, which helps boost testosterone.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

About 40% of men aged 45 years and older have low testosterone levels, and symptoms include a low mood, energy, and sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.

While it’s important to check in with a doctor to determine if you need testosterone replacement therapy, there are also many proven ways to boost testosterone levels naturally.

Increasing testosterone can improve your mood and energy, boost your libido, and help with muscle mass and bone density, says Kevin Codorniz, MD, chief of endocrinology for Loma Linda University Health.

Here are 6 ways that you can naturally increase testosterone production.

1. Exercise regularly

Exercising is beneficial for naturally boosting testosterone levels, says Mary Samplaski, MD, urologist with Keck Medicine of USC. She says that the most recent research surrounding exercise and testosterone is based on one hour of cardio, or aerobic exercise, such as running or brisk walking, three times a week.

A small 2016 study showed that in overweight men, increased physical activity by way of aerobic exercise training was effective in raising testosterone levels. It also showed that increased physical activity was more effective than dietary changes at increasing testosterone. Additionally, a 2012 study showed that men who were physically active had higher levels of testosterone than men who were sedentary.

There has also been research tied to testosterone and resistance or strength training. Codorniz says there may be an acute, or short-term, increase in testosterone concentrations immediately after resistance exercise, like weight lifting or using resistance bands. However, moderation is key. Codorniz warns that excessive exercise may actually lower testosterone levels.

2. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D

When vitamin D levels are low, testosterone levels are often low, too, says Samplaski. In these cases, when you supplement with vitamin D, testosterone levels will likely rise.

Samplaski says vitamin D may act as a building block for testosterone, although the relationship between vitamin D and testosterone is not totally understood by researchers.

A 2011 study involved giving 200 men either a placebo or 83 μg (3,332 IU) of vitamin D daily for a year. At the beginning of the study, vitamin D levels were in the deficiency range, and testosterone levels were relatively low. After the year of vitamin D supplementation, there was a significant increase in testosterone levels, compared to no significant increase in the placebo group.

3. Eat healthy fats

Samplaski says some people try to cut fat out completely from their diet in order to become healthier, however, this can backfire if you’re looking to raise testosterone levels, since fat is a precursor to testosterone.

In a small 2013 study, participants were given either virgin argan oil or virgin olive oil. After three weeks of consuming these healthy fats, testosterone levels increased significantly in both groups. There was a 19.9% increase in those who consumed virgin argan oil and a 17.4% increase in those who consumed the virgin olive oil.

Overall, Samplaski says it’s important to consume healthy fats in moderation. To add more healthy fats to your diet, eat foods like:

  • Seeds such as flaxseed and chia seeds
  • Nuts such as walnuts
  • Seafood such as tuna, salmon, and sardines

4. Drink less alcohol

Codorniz and Samplaski both say that drinking alcohol excessively can decrease testosterone. In fact, a 2019 review on substance abuse and testosterone highlighted previous research in which testosterone levels dropped 30 minutes after consuming alcohol.

People who are very heavy drinkers are most at risk for low testosterone, Samplaski says, since other hormones such as luteinizing hormone (LH) that signal the release of testosterone are affected and thrown off with heavy drinking. If you are looking to increase your testosterone levels, Samplaski suggests limiting yourself to three drinks per week.

5. Get enough sleep

Codorniz says that a lack of sleep, especially sleep deprivation, or getting less than five hours of sleep, can decrease testosterone concentrations. A small 2015 study showed that men who slept for five hours had 10% to 15% lower testosterone levels compared to when they slept for eight or more hours.

It’s not just the amount of sleep that’s important, it’s also the consistency of the sleep schedule. Samplaski says erratic sleep schedules, such as those of shift workers, can throw off testosterone production. However, the relationship between sleep and testosterone is not totally understood, and research is ongoing.

6. Reduce stress

Chronic psychological stress leads to higher levels of the hormone cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone, Codorniz says. Cortisol and testosterone have an inverse relationship. As cortisol goes up, testosterone goes down.

Therefore, it’s crucial to minimise stress if you want to raise your testosterone levels. A large 2005 study stated that high cortisol levels and low testosterone levels are key indicators of chronic stress, which can also increase your risk for long-term conditions like heart disease.

Insider’s takeaway

If you think you might have low testosterone, you should visit your doctor for an evaluation. Low testosterone symptoms may overlap with symptoms for other conditions that are easily treatable, so it’s best to get a professional medical diagnosis first, Samplaski says.

Regardless, all of the above-mentioned lifestyle changes — exercising, getting vitamin D, eating healthy fats, drinking less alcohol, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress — will help increase your testosterone levels and boost your overall health. If these natural methods do not increase testosterone levels, you may need to discuss options such as testosterone replacement therapy with your doctor.

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