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7 Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels

testosterone moleculeBoth men and women need optimal testosterone levels. While the average male has ten times more testosterone than a female, females are much more sensitive to the hormone. Whether you’re a man or woman, testosterone is responsible for many of the body’s functions. A very short list of these include:

  • sexual desire
  • bone strength
  • mental and physical energy
  • protein synthesis
  • hair growth
  • muscle growth
  • fat loss

With testosterone being such an important hormone, you should be doing everything you can to keep this powerful androgen at optimal levels. How do you do that? The following are 7 ways you can naturally boost testosterone levels.

Lift Heavy Weights

Lifting those pink 5 pound dumbbells isn’t going to cut it. You need to be using heavy weights with compound movements that recruit maximum muscle fibers. Exercises like bench press, squats, and deadlifts should be staples in your exercise routine.

Push yourself hard in the gym and try to keep your rest intervals around 90 seconds or so. Studies have shown that resistance training coupled with short rest intervals boost testosterone and growth hormone production.

Read more about the best 3 exercises to build muscle and get instructions on how to do them.

Do Sprints

In my opinion, sprints are one of the best full body fat burning exercises. No other exercise puts your entire body at 100% intensity for an extended period of time. All the lactic acid that is produced from sprinting is correlated with testosterone production. That burning sensation you get in your muscles when you are lifting weights – lactic acid.

When your demand for energy is high (such as when sprinting), your levels of lactate rise faster than your body can remove it. This causes lactic acid levels to rise. This lactate production is a sure sign that you are working out with enough intensity to boost testosterone production.

Eat Fat

Fats, especially saturated and monounsaturated fats have been shown to be correlated with testosterone levels. Healthy fats like those in nuts and seeds aid in the production of testosterone. Essential fatty acids also need to be ingested through your diet. If you aren’t getting enough, consider supplementing with an omega-3 oil.

And yes, even saturated fat plays a vital role in our bodies. It’s the trans fat that you need to avoid. A diet consisting of 20-30 percent fat seems to be the sweet spot to boost testosterone levels. Make sure you are eating fat. Eating fat does not make you fat! Eating too many calories and processed foods will.

Eat Enough Food

When you don’t eat enough food, your body’s starvation mechanisms start to show themselves. When your body senses famine ahead, it has no need to reproduce, and as a result, it shuts down testosterone production. Make sure you are eating enough calories.

This is one of the top reasons diets fail. Once you start cutting calories too low, it causes a cascade of negative reactions in the body, none of which are beneficial to your fat loss goals. Eat at least 10 calories per pound of body weight. There really is no reason to go below this number unless you are either morbidly obese, or you’re not exercising.

Read more about why you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight.

Make Sure You Rest and Recover

Rest and recovery are probably the most overlooked aspects of a fitness program. In order to be successful, you need to place equal importance on your diet, exercise, and recovery. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and that you are going to sleep at similar times every night.

Studies have shown that circulating testosterone levels can drop by more than 40% as a result of under-recovering. If you are lifting heavy, give your muscles enough time to recover. Soreness is usually a good sign that you need more rest.

Here are 10 muscle recovery tips for improved performance.

Eat Low Glycemic Foods

Research has shown that blood sugar levels are tied to testosterone production. High levels of blood sugar can cut circulating testosterone by as much as 25%. So how do you keep your blood sugar levels low? One way is to not eat any carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the ideal scenario for most people. Carbohydrates (glucose) are needed to fuel high-intensity exercise, brain function,  and resistance training. And as you already read, heavy weight lifting and sprints, both of which use carbohydrates as fuel, are two ways to effectively increase testosterone production.

The other way to keep your blood sugar “low” is to eat low glycemic carbohydrates. These foods are digested slowly, and they produce a nice steady drip of glucose into the bloodstream. Eat whole foods with plenty of fiber, and you should be on the right track.

Lower Your Body Fat

Your body fat levels are inversely correlated with testosterone levels. What this means is that as your body fat rises, your testosterone levels decrease. Fat cells produce estrogen. The more fat you have, the more estrogen is produced, and the more testosterone is suppressed. You need to make sure you are working towards a goal of having a lower body fat percentage. The more fat you put on, the more of an uphill battle it becomes to lose fat.

I recommend this cheap pair of body fat calipers to measure your body fat levels.

Use these 7 ways to boost your testosterone naturally. You’ll notice that they all seem to have something in common – they all have to do with your diet and exercise. Nearly every hormone in your body can be manipulated through diet and exercise. If you have low testosterone levels, and you don’t have a medical condition, more than likely your problem stems from a lack of optimizing one of the 7 tips listed above. Use as many as you can, you have no reason not to.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Shirocp Shiro Campos (

    Great article, very useful & helpful. Thanks!

  • Jeannette Laframboise

    It is good to know that we have a few things we can do to naturally maintain optimum testosterone, especially as women. I did know that women also had testosterone but was pretty much scared to death of it thinking I would grow facial hair or something. I know my husband wishes I had a bit more of that lovely hormone and I don’t think I need to explain why…;-) Thanks so much for the info.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Jeannette, unless you’re taking endogenous testosterone, your body is going to keep you within your genetic limitations for hormone levels, so you have nothing to worry about. We could all use a little more testosterone.

  • Donna B.

    I have the opposite problem – my levels are too high :( Great article though so I know what I need to avoid so I don’t accidentally boost my levels.

  • Gilbert Collins

    That is a great article indeed. I have been concentrating on lifting light weights in the gym but it has just dawned on me that I should try the heavy workouts.

  • Chris Collins

    Helpful article, however, I will have to disagree with your comment about sprinting. Sprinting is a maximal effort exercise which constitutes the body’s reliance on predominantly carbohydrates and not fat. The fast catabolism of carbohydrates causes the lactic acid build up. The maximal exercise will actually not burn any fat but will boost testosterone levels. Also, the exercise can produce increased muscle mass, which can increase resting energy expenditure. Since your body burns predominantly fat at rest this can indirectly help you lose fat weight. If a person wants to become more efficient in metabolizing fat and lactic acid, they should focus on long duration (greater than 30 minutes) and low to moderate intensity exercises (~20-60% MHR)

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Chris, I agree with just about everything you said except for the last sentence. High intensity exercise has the unique ability to improve both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Training at or near your anaerobic threshold is also a great way to train your body to be a better fat burner during exercise.

      20% MHR is practically just leisurely walking. It’s not what I would consider an efficient way for training energy pathways.

  • Karim

    Hey there I have been searching the internet for scientific papers on whether sprints actually raise testosterone, anything you might happen to know?

    • http://www.facebook.com/roger.mathews.73 Roger Mathews

      Sprints are actually discussed above in his 2nd method/solution.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danbradster Daniel Brady

    Good tips except that you missed staying hydrated. If your urine is yellow enough to be showing minor dehydration, your testosterone production is being limited. ( Source: http://www.sportsscience.co/nutrition/the-importance-of-hydration-for-bodybuilders/ )

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      Thanks for the add and the source Daniel.