Testosterone is best known for its beneficial effects on muscular growth and strength.
However, testosterone’s function within the human body goes way beyond simple muscular performance.
Testosterone aids in regulating mood levels, cardiovascular health, sexual function, cognition and overall general well-being (1,2,3).
While testosterone is produced in greater amounts in males, it also serves a variety of functions in females too.
Therefore, athletes, anyone strength training individuals, or people simply looking to improve their quality of life, should aim to maximise their testosterone levels and keep them within the upper tier of a healthy range.
Currently, there are various sports supplements that claim to boost testosterone levels; often these supplements can be expensive or ineffective.
However, researchers have discovered various ways you can boost your testosterone levels through natural supplementation, dietary habits and even sleeping patterns.
Within this article, we will provide you with three actionable tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally!
Ashwagandha is a herb originating from traditional medicine in India. It has several nicknames including “Indian Winter Cherry” and “Indian Ginseng”.
It has been used as a form of traditional medicine for hundreds of years, which led researchers to investigate this compound more closely.
Since then, research has shown that Ashwagandha has a variety of beneficial health effects including:
- Enhanced brain function
- Nervous system health
- Improved memory
- Reproductive system health
- Improved cell-mediated immunity
- Antioxidant capacities
In relation to boosting testosterone levels directly, one study conducted on infertile men found a 17% increase in testosterone levels after taking Ashwagandha.
Another investigation took 57 young male subjects and exposed them to eight weeks of resistance training paired with either Ashwagandha or a placebo (empty pill) (4,5).
After eight weeks of training, the subjects in the Ashwagandha group saw greater increases in muscular strength on the bench press and leg press. Subjects also saw greater increases in muscle size. After analyzing testosterone levels these researchers noted improvements of up to 15% compared to baseline with no change in the placebo group (6)!
Ashwagandha is also a powerful adaptogen and even enhances the body’s resilience to stress and cortisol.
The ratio between testosterone and cortisol levels is essential to optimising the effects of testosterone (4).
Cortisol is a catabolic stress hormone that may not possess any detrimental effects at normal levels, although chronic elevations in cortisol may lead to muscle loss.
Unlike most testosterone boosters which only work in those with low testosterone, Ashwagandha has been reported to increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol levels in both infertile and healthy young men. Over time this may even result in improved training adaptations.
How to Dose:
Simply take 300-600mg daily. Ashwagandha can be easily found in your local supplement shop or online.
While it is well known and accepted that sleep is essential for cognitive function, immune system health and recovery from resistance training, it also plays a vital role in regulating hormones.
The exact amount of sleep you need will vary, depending upon individual factors such as age, gender and activities levels. However, most researchers and practitioners recommend at least 7-8 hours per night.
If you don’t get enough sleep this can have detrimental effects on your testosterone levels. One group of researchers discovered that sleep deprivation may lead to a 15% reduction in testosterone levels (7).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, another group of researchers witnessed increased cortisol levels in those suffering from a lack of sleep (8).
Thus it appears that not having consistent sleeping patterns may decrease your testosterone levels while also increasing your cortisol levels, which is the opposite of what we are looking for when working to improve body composition.
However, it should be noted that testosterone levels also increase with additional sleep.
Therefore, in order to boost your testosterone levels, make sure you get enough high-quality sleep, especially if you are performing a stressful and advanced workout regime or transformation plan (9, 10).
3. Eat More Fat
By now it should be clear that not all fats are bad.
In fact, healthy fats contain a variety of health benefits including improved skin and hair health, increasing satiety after a meal, reducing diabetes risk and even increasing HDL levels or ‘good cholesterol’.
Specifically for today, fats have also been shown to play an important role in the regulation of several key hormones, including testosterone!
One study aimed to assess the effects of diets high in extra virgin olive oil in 60 healthy men.
One group was placed on a diet high in extra virgin olive oil for three weeks. At the conclusion of the study testosterone levels increased by 17.4%.
Also, it is important to note that body weight, blood pressure and total calorie intake was not negatively affected by the high fat diet (11).
Interestingly, other research also suggests that low fat diets may reduce testosterone levels by 12% (12,13). Therefore, taken together, a diet high in healthy fats may boost testosterone levels without negatively affecting other health parameters.
If you’re worried about the calorie density of foods high in fat, simply account for them in your total calories for the given day. One way you can do this is by lowering your carbohydrate intake as you increase your fat intake at a meal or just on certain days within the week, known as ‘carb cycling’.
This will help ensure that you are consuming the adequate amount of calories and do not enter in a surplus.
Example Foods High in Healthy Fats
- Chia Seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
Testosterone has a wide variety of health benefits within the body including brain health, cardiovascular health and sexual reproduction.
Testosterone is also the primary hormone responsible for driving the positive adaptations associated with resistance training and achieving a lean and muscular physique.
Three ways you can naturally boost your testosterone levels include:
- Taking 300-600mg of Ashwagandha daily
- Getting high-quality sleep for at least 7-8 hours per day
- Increasing your consumption of healthy fats
1.) Zmuda, J. M., Cauley, J. A., Kriska, A., Glynn, N. W., Gutai, J. P., & Kuller, L. H. (1997). Longitudinal relation between endogenous testosterone and cardiovascular disease risk factors in middle-aged men a 13-year follow-up of former multiple risk factor intervention trial participants. American journal of epidemiology, 146(8), 609-617.
2.) Wang, C., Jackson, G., Jones, T. H., Matsumoto, A. M., Nehra, A., Perelman, M. A., … & Cunningham, G. (2011). Low testosterone associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome contributes to sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular disease risk in men with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 34(7), 1669-1675.
3.) Mederos, M. A., Bernie, A. M., Scovell, J. M., & Ramasamy, R. (2015). Can serum testosterone be used as a marker of overall health?. Reviews in urology, 17(4), 226.
4.) Singh, N., Bhalla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca, M. (2011). An overview on ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S).
5.) Ambiye, V. R., Langade, D., Dongre, S., Aptikar, P., Kulkarni, M., & Dongre, A. (2013). Clinical evaluation of the spermatogenic activity of the root extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in oligospermic males: a pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
6.) Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 43.
7.) Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. Jama, 305(21), 2173-2174.
8.) Tufik S, Andersen ML, Bittencourt LR, Mello MT. Paradoxical sleep deprivation: neurochemical, hormonal and behavioral alterations Evidence from 30 years of research. An Acad Bras Cienc 2009;81:521–38.
9.) GRANATA, A. R., ROCHIRA, V., LERCHL, A., MARRAMA, P., & CARANI, C. (1997). Relationship between sleep‐related erections and testosterone levels in men. Journal of andrology, 18(5), 522-527.
10.) Goh, V. H. H., & Tong, T. Y. Y. (2010). Sleep, sex steroid hormones, sexual activities, and aging in Asian men. Journal of andrology, 31(2), 131-137.
11.) Derouiche, A., Jafri, A., Driouch, I., El Khasmi, M., Adlouni, A., Benajiba, N., … & Benouhoud, M. (2013). Effect of argan and olive oil consumption on the hormonal profile of androgens among healthy adult Moroccan men. Natural product communications, 8(1), 51-53.
12.) Wang, C., Catlin, D. H., Starcevic, B., Heber, D., Ambler, C., Berman, N., … & Hull, L. (2005). Low-fat high-fiber diet decreased serum and urine androgens in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(6), 3550-3559
13.) Hämäläinen, E. K., Adlercreutz, H., Puska, P., & Pietinen, P. (1983). Decrease of serum total and free testosterone during a low-fat high-fibre diet. Journal of steroid biochemistry, 18(3), 369-370.