Boost Your Testosterone The Natural Way: Here’s How
Fellas, once you pass 40, there’s few things you can do for yourself that will feel better than to boost your testosterone, cause — odds are — your testosterone number is too low. Learn how to do it the natural way. Or the other way.
HAVE YOU ever seen his guy? His image is everywhere, and that’s because he’s different in a way that intrigues us, particularly men of a certain age.
The man is Dr. Jeffry Life, a medical doctor, and he’s about 72 years old in the picture. He hasn’t figured a way to make his face more youthful, but that body is the envy of many men of any age.
The man lifts weights and has a diet well balanced between protein, healthy fats and complex carbs (the kind that are absorbed slowly and thus don’t spike blood sugar and cause an insulin effect that promotes fat storage).
But weightlifting and a good diet may be necessary but is not sufficient (as economists are fond of saying) for that kind of lean muscularity at 72.
The relevant question then is, “what is the sufficient condition?” Or, as I like to say, “WTF… how did that happen!?”
For Dr. Life it happened by injecting bio-identical testosterone, probably into his hip or buttocks.
But you have other options, which is the gist of this blog post.
No doubt, the standard and most assured way to boost testosterone is to go to a doctor who specializes in hormone balancing, such as an endocrinologist, and choose one of four methods:
- Transdermal gels, creams or patches, each containing a prescribed amount of testosterone;
- Pellets that are surgically implanted into your skin whereby testosterone slowly leaks into your body as the pellets dissolve;
- Human chorionic gonadotropin injections in the abdomen stimulate the testicles to create more testosterone, a method less effective for those 50+; and
- Intramuscular injections done each week.
The downside with any of these methods is cost and shrinking gonads.
Well, I really don’t know if a man’s gonads are going to physically shrink, but what’s likely to happen is that those two bulbous fellas are going to reduce their production of testosterone.
What happens is that by introducing testosterone to the body from exogenous sources, the brain gets tricked into thinking that enough testosterone is being made and thereby stops sending out a hormone to the pituitary gland to stimulate secretion of luteinizing hormone, which the gonads require to produce testosterone.
This might not be a bad thing if your body is not making enough testosterone and can not be coaxed to do so by the litany of suggestions you’re about to receive. That’s because one way or another, a man needs a certain amount of testosterone, or he pays a high price, these among them:
- Declining sexual and physical energy
- Decline in the frequency of early morning erections
- Decline in the number of spontaneous erections
- Disturbed sleep
- Emotional swings, irritability, anxiety, depression
- Foggy thinking, memory lapses
- Increased cardiovascular issues
- Loss of strength
- Poor skin tone and saggy, wrinkled skin
- Reduced lean muscle, higher body fat
- Weak bones, osteopenia, osteoporosis
Given this, many men reason that they rather pay the price in coin to eliminate or improve the above cited ailments rather than pay with poor health.
If you have a gold-plated insurance plan that covers testosterone therapy, you might get away with paying $50 per month or so out of pocket for your bio-identical testosterone cream that gets absorbed transdermally. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, expect to pay in excess of $200 per month.
Of course, there is an alternative. There are supplements for everything under the sun — some effective, some not — and that includes supplements for testosterone, which I’ll address in a minute.
You impatient types can scroll down, and make sure you pay attention to Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster at the end.
Anybody still here?
Assuming yes, let’s examine what are “good” and “bad” testosterone numbers. Our look at the numbers begins with an example of two friends of mine, Sam and Mike, whose real names are here camouflaged by pseudonyms.
I’ve know both these guys for more than 30 years. They couldn’t be more different. Sam is constantly in motion, learning doing, seeing, going. Kirk goes to work and goes straight home five days a week. Weather permitting on the weekends, he’ll go for a bike ride.
Sam has started and sold two companies, does deals for a multi-billion dollar company, was married and divorced, helped raised two kids now in their late twenties, drives a porsche, teaches a graduate-level college course as an Adjunct Professor, has a once-a-week radio show, does Cross Fit thrice a week, lives with a girlfriend 24 years his junior in a large house on a meandering canal, and has a 54 foot boat tethered to the San Francisco Bay that he parties on most weekends.
Mike has worked for the local municipality most of his career, has, as he says, “the luxury of being bored”, has never married or had kids, is rarely in a relationship, lives in a small apartment, sticks to himself, and by his own assessment is very risk averse.
Which guy has higher testosterone?
I happen to know.
Sam lived with me during his divorce. When a person divorces, there’s a life assessment; you take a measure of things. He did and wanted to make some changes. We worked together on some exercise routines, diet and detox cleansing. Sam learned from a blood test that his testosterone was lower than he wanted, and so he decided to get testosterone therapy under the supervision of his doctor.
Mike has never lived with me, but we’re close and share the ongoing stories of our lives. One day he told me that his doctor had him do a blood test and he discovered that his testosterone is low. Under his doctor’s supervision, Mike got testosterone therapy. Several months later, he called to say that his testosterone is just where it needs to be.
Do you think Sam and Mike have the same testosterone aspirations?
Sam wasn’t happy with his until his hovered between 800 and 1,000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter), as indicated by blood tests evaluated by his doctor every six months.
Mike was just fine at 400 ng/dL.
What’s the Right Testosterone Number?
It depends on who you talk to, and what you want out of life. Some medical specialists, like Dr. Life, believe that bio-identical hormone therapy is safe, and there’s no reason not to dial your number up to the hallowed days of your youth. Other’s think that declining testosterone is a natural part of aging (which it it), and that you should just accept it (I don’t), as long as it stays within some average band (which you don’t have to accept).
Speaking of averages, check out this chart: (1)
Average Testosterone In Men by Age and Percentile
Sam and Mike are, respectively, 61 and 59 years old.
Sam has high expectations for himself and his performance, and thereby takes sufficient quantitative of bio-identical testosterone get him to 1,000 ng/dl, above the 95 percentile for men his age.
At 400 ng/dl, Mike is satisfied to be well below the 25 percentile for his age.
As I expressed earlier, these two individuals live very different lives in terms of energy output, and challenges undertaken. Could that be due to testosterone, at least partially?
Yes, it’s “normal” to experience declining testosterone as you age. The downward slide gets precipitous around age 30, as the graph below shows. But do we have to accept this?
Given the various options to boost testosterone, men do not have to accept its inevitable decline. If you are unconcerned about reducing the capacity of your gonads to produce whatever levels of testosterone they are outputting and you have the financial means, you can find a good endocrinologist, get a prescription and get juiced.
If you’re of my persuasion, however, you will want to find a way to coax more out of those twins. I certainly needed to. My testosterone level was unacceptably low — in the 40 percentile — and so I did something about it.
I decided not to accept the inevitable decline in testosterone with it’s associated manifestations of chubbiness, passivity and fog. But I was hell-bent not to go the bioidentical route for two reasons: I didn’t want my own bodies production of testosterone to abate faster than it would normally, and I didn’t want the expense of a pharmaceutical therapy.
What I did instead was to research the literature about which natural supplements might support my own body’s production of testosterone, the subject of the next section.
The Natural Way To Boost Your Testosterone
Doctors who don’t primarily see themselves as drug dispensers will probably suggest you do some basic things that can boost testosterone before you either get a prescription for some bioidentical stuff in whatever form rocks your boat, or start swallowing handfuls of supplements.
These are some basic suggestions bereft of prescriptions or supplements:
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
- Reduce stress
- Lose weight
- Increase strength and muscle
- Eat healthy fats
- Eat some protein at every meal
- Reduce/eliminate sugar from your diet
- Reduce alcohol consumption to one drink per day
Sleep and stress kinda go together, as one can influence the other. George Yu, MD, a urology professor at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says that, for many men with low testosterone, poor sleep is the most important factor. A lack of sleep affects a variety of hormones and chemicals in your body, which can then reduce your testosterone. (2)
Stress, if chronic — the kind made by working long hours at a job you dislike, caretaking both elderly parents and kids, and sitting each day in traffic — can result in over-active adrenal glands producing high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, affectionately referred to as the “death hormone” for good reason.
Stress can make you fitfully toss and turn all night, and together chronic stress and inadequate restful sleep messes with your testosterone. So address stress and sleep first.
The rest on the bullet list above kinda go together as well. If you eat healthy fats, eliminate sugar and increase strength and muscle by doing resistance training exercise, you’ll inevitably lose weight.
If you could achieve everything on the “no prescription/supplement list”, you’d have a very good chance of improving your testosterone number. Unless you have issues with your gonads, you should be able to get your testosterone in the 50th percentile of your age bracket, probably higher than Mike’s without the aide of testosterone therapy.
But you’re unlikely to get it where Steve’s is — at the head of the class, Summa Cum Laude. For that you either need sufficient bio-identical hormone therapy to move the needle way up there, as iterative blood or saliva tests will show, or you need a serious testosterone supplement plan.
Here’s what I’m doing to improve my testosterone:
(In addition to the above list)
- Resistance Training
- Intermittent Fasting
- Vitamin D
- Super Miraforte
- Agressive Strength Testosterone Booster
Do you know what each of these has in common, beyond having the potential to increase testosterone? They all require behavior modification; meaning, that whether you regularly condition yourself to exercise or take a pill, you must plan to do it, and then do it regularly.
Doing any of these things once in a while, or when the whim strikes will get you nowhere but frustrated and lighter in the pocket. So, before you leap for your credit card and order supplements or a barbell set, refer to the six part Functionally Fit Fast Workout series, beginning with Part 1.
Now to my “testosterone protocol”, one that I recommend for you — with one stipulation — should you wish to boost your testosterone naturally. The stipulation is that you consult with your doctor before you jump on the testosterone-pumping bandwagon. Hormones are tricky, even devious things, and you want to be careful.
With that disclaimer firmly etched on your head, here are some details about who I have increased my testosterone, and how you might too:
Resistance Training simply means pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying something (or yourself) repeatedly, consistently and progressively. Again, check out the Functionally Fit Fast Workout series.
HIIT stands for “high intensity interval training” and it will develop lean muscle tissue, dramatically increase human growth hormone and increase testosterone. The details are covered in the link above, but suffice to say here that you spend 20 minutes twice a week exhausting yourself by doing something like sprinting up stairs for 30 seconds, walk down them for 90 seconds, then repeat for up to eight sets.
Intermittent Fasting is a flexible concept that can be applied to your life in multiple ways with the intent of mimicking the biochemical longevity effects of calorie restriction, and — our favorite topic of the moment — bumping up testosterone.
You can choose to stop eating at 8 PM and not eat again till 2 PM the next day, or select one day a week to fast, or various combinations thereof.
Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones including insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), colecystokinin (CKK) and melanocortins, all of which are known to trigger testosterone production, increase libido and prevent age-related testosterone decline.
Vitamin D seems to be everyone’s favorite vitamin these days, and for good reason. Vitamin D, actually a steroid hormone, not a vitamin, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of sperm cells, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.
That said, as is typical with science, one study says “yes”, another says “no”. Could be that Vitamin D is more useful for augmenting testosterone in unhealthy males than healthy ones, says this study.
Carefully monitored sun exposure is the best way to increase your Vitamin D levels. Expose a large hunk of your skin to those golden rays (at noon is best) until it turns the lightest shade of pink. If sun exposure is not an option, and/or you really need to dial your Vitamin D to some number (the Vitamin D Council suggests 50 ng/ml is ideal) then supplement with Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 supplements are typically taken orally, and research suggests the average adult could take 8,000 IU’s per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absolute minimum for disease prevention. (3)
Zinc is a mineral that studies indicate can improve testosterone in men with low levels. (4, 5). The National Institutes of Health estimates that up to 45 percent of adults over the age of 60 may have lower than recommended zinc intakes. Whatever your age, getting adequate levels of zinc in your diet makes sense, and is easy to do. Protein-rich foods, cheese, kefir, yoghurt, beans, legumes, nuts (particularly Brazil nuts), seeds and oatmeal contain zinc. If want to supplement with zinc, don’t dose over 40 mg/day.
DHEA is an acronym for “didehydroepiandrosterone”, and it’s the most abundant circulating steroid hormone in humans, one that is a very important metabolite in the making of androgen and estrogen sex steroids. For that reason, a doctor might first suggest supplementing with DHEA before trying bio-identical testosterone; meaning, if your DHEA level is low, increasing it could also improve testosterone.
When I supplemented with DHEA, my level improved pretty quickly, so I backed off, and presently do not use it. Which leads me to the tricky part of dealing with any of your hormones, like testosterone, all by your lonesome. You need feedback, typically in the form of saliva or blood tests, and these need to be done fairly often, like every six months. Without benefit of tests, you don’t have an objective measure of your testosterone, whether it may be too high or too low. DHEA levels can quickly get too high, so if you supplement with it, get yourself tested regularly.
BCAA is the acronym “branched-chain amino acids”—leucine, isoleucine, and valine, three of the 20 amino acids that are the so-called “building blocks” of protein. BCAAs are a popular supplement for weight lifters and other sports that break down muscle tissue. They help you recover from hard workouts by reducing the protein breakdown within your muscles; they increase testosterone and growth hormone, your body’s most important fat-fighting and muscle-building hormones; and they tend to amplify the effect of cutting calories to lose weight.
Research suggests that taking BCAAs result in higher testosterone levels, particularly when taken just before, during and/or after resistance training. While BCAAs are available in supplement form, you’ll find the highest concentrations of BCAAs like leucine in dairy products – especially from quality cheeses and whey protein.
Even when getting leucine from your natural food supply, it’s often wasted or used as a protein building block instead of an anabolic agent. So to create the correct anabolic environment, you need to boost leucine consumption way beyond maintenance levels.
There is a downside to using BCCA supplements (other than its bitter taste). Using leucine as a free form amino acid can be highly counterproductive because it rapidly enters your circulation, disrupt insulin function, and thereby impairing your body’s glycemic control. Food-based leucine is really the ideal form that can benefit your muscles without side effects.
Unless you’re a bodybuilder, or strength athlete, perhaps the best way to get your BCCAs is with whey protein and grass-fed beef. Try to get 10 grams a day, but no more than 60 grams from food sources. If you’re going to use BCAA supplements, get those that are 50% leucine, 25% isoleucine, and 25% valine, and take the doses suggested on the label.
Super Miraforte is a supplement formulated by the Life Extension Foundation which contains high potencies of Chrysin and Nettle Root extract. These ingredients reduce the aromatization (conversion) of testosterone to estrogen and enhance free testosterone levels. Bioperine® (basically black pepper) is included to facilitate the absorption of chrysin (a flavonoid) into the bloodstream.
This supplement also contains Muira Puama, a rainforest herb classified in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia as an aphrodisiac. In various studies of men with decreased libido and other sexual issues, large majorities (from 51% to 100%) of those taking muira puama reported increased libido, improved sexual function and increased intercourse frequency.
A standardized lignan extract from Norwegian spruce is added to Super MiraForte which convert to enterolactone in the intestine. They are then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream where they are thought to reduce estrogen and DHT (an androgen hormone), both important for the aging prostate gland.
Adaptogens are typically herbs that can decrease cellular sensitivity to stress. There are many of them. I’ve used several over the years, alternating between a few simply to get exposure to all their plentiful benefits. Three that I want to share with you are Rhodiola Rosea, Eleuthero and Ashwangha.
Rhodiola acts like a hormone thermostat. For instance, when cortisol, one of our main stress hormones, is too high or too low, rhodiola literally helps balance the cortisol levels in your body, raising or lowering it as is needed. Moreover, rhodiola has the ability to support cellular energy metabolism. It positively affects brain function, depression, and heart health.
Eleuthero is popular everywhere. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s used for muscle spasms, joint pain, insomnia, and fatigue. In Germany, its use is approved for chronic fatigue syndrome, impaired concentration, and convalescing after illness. Western herbalists note that it improves memory, feelings of well-being and can lift mild depression.
Ashwagandha deserves it’s own section, for it will not only reduce the stress in your life — which as we noted is useful for improving testosterone — but may also pump up your testosterone directly.
Ashwagandha is a very popular Indian herb, having been liberally used in Ayuverdic medicine for thousands of years. Like Asian ginseng (another Adaptogen), ashwagandha is used to help increase energy, endurance and stamina, promote longevity, and strengthen the immune system. Today, herbalists often recommend it for people with high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and impotence associated with anxiety or exhaustion.
In addition to all that, ashwagandha enhances endocrine function, especially the thyroid and adrenals, and — dear to our hearts — this herb can also boost testosterone. A study conducted at the Indian Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University found that men taking a daily dose of five grams of Ashwagandha each day for 90 days could increase their testosterone by as much as 40%. The men had three different characteristics, each with different testosterone improving outcomes:
- The infertile improved testosterone by 15%
- Those with slow-moving sperm improved testosterone by 21%
- Those with low sperm count improved testosterone by 40%
Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster is a supplement formulated by strength coach and hormone expert Mike Mahler. This is the last on my list, and the best all-around supplement for increasing testosterone naturally. If you did only one thing mentioned here try Aggressive Strength.
I say this for three reasons:
- The most insignificant reason is that I’ve used it and it works for me. I say this is insignificant because one big truth is what works for one person doesn’t necessarily carryover to another. You need more data points.
- Hundreds of people have benefited from using Aggressive Strength, and many of these happy campers have not been shy to write testimonials extolling its effectiveness, which you can read about should you go over to Mahler’s website. These are your data points.
- Finally, the active ingredients in Aggressive Strength have been well studied and aide testosterone production in various synergetic ways. The three main ingredients are Bulbine Natalensis, Stinging Nettle Root and Mucuna.
The South African herb Bulbine Natalensis can increase testosterone by 347% and reduce estrogen by 35%. But this only happens by ingesting the exact right amount — too little and you won’t improve testosterone, and too much of it will actually reduce your testosterone. The Bulbine Natalensis needs to be of highest quality to be effective, and that’s why Mahler uses ProLensis™, the same extract used in the research that demonstrated its effectiveness.
Stinging Nettle Root is the second main ingredient. It supports “free” levels of testosterone and the much stronger sex steroid hormone, DHT (dihydrotestosterone), by unbinding both from SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). While “total” testosterone (which represents the total amount of testosterone you’re producing) is important, it’s the free testosterone levels that are accessible by the body. The more testosterone that is freed up the more benefit you will derive. Stinging nettle root helps you free up more usable testosterone.
Mucuna Pruriens (yet another Adaptogen) it the third main ingredient in Aggressive Strength. It increases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is critical for brain health. Optimal hormone production starts with a healthy brain and optimal levels of dopamine are critical for brain health. By increasing dopamine, Mucuna supports growth hormone production and reduces prolactin, a much unwanted hormone that lowers testosterone in men. Mucuna also helps testosterone production by increasing levels of messenger hormones: Luteinizing Hormone (“LH”) and Folicle Stimulating Hormone (“FSH”). These messenger hormones signal the natural production of testosterone in men.
(check out the testimonials)
If you still hunger for more ideas about how to boost your testosterone, check out AnabolicHealth.com’s 50 Foods That Boost Testosterone.
Now you know how to boost your testosterone — you either go to a doctor knowledgeable about bio-identical testosterone therapy, or you go the natural way, in which case you now have a regimen.
If you go the testosterone therapy route, choose a doctor who believes it’s beneficial to keep your testosterone levels at the high end for your age, or even at a number typically experienced by younger men, which is my goal. (I gotta catch Sam!)
If you try to boost your testosterone the natural way, you pretty much need to change your lifestyle. Look again at those long bullet-point lists. It’s not just a matter of popping pills. Fellas, you also need to move that body, reduce stress, sleep like a baby, and eat better.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, check out that picture of Dr. Life again. Too extreme? No worries, you’re unlikely to jump through all the hoops he does to get that body. That’s fine… just jump enough to get where you want to be, whether it’s Sam or Mike’s level, or your own.
The supplements mentioned are below.
Grab yourself a buddy to support you and compete with, get to it, and have some fun.