Medically reviewed on February 15, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
The body operates with a gentle balance of essential chemicals known as hormones. Hormones do everything from supporting basic movements to controlling physical development.
There is a wide range of hormones in the body. Androgens are male sex hormones, though all genders synthesize some number of androgens. Testosterone is the main androgen, and too much or not enough testosterone can result in issues.
Testosterone can be influenced by countless personal and environmental factors. While a testosterone level test can tell you your exact levels, you should also know how to maintain them properly. Learn how to increase testosterone naturally below.
Diet has an intrinsic effect on overall health, and testosterone levels are no exception. Certain foods can potentially reduce testosterone, including:
Other foods can potentially serve as a testosterone booster for some individuals. Oysters have traditionally been considered an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. They are now a common delicacy for many romantic dinners. There may be some credence to those claims. The main component responsible for the aphrodisiac factor is zinc. Studies in rats found that supplementation of shellfish shells led to an increase in testosterone production .
The exact mechanisms may require more studies, but the research suggests that zinc may act as an effective aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is an enzyme that essentially converts hormones, like testosterone, into estrogen. By blocking that enzyme, there is a higher testosterone level in the body.
Other potential testosterone boosting foods include:
However, no singular food will make or break testosterone levels. Eating a single piece of tofu won’t cause testosterone levels to plummet, nor will eating a piece of ginger cause skyrocketing testosterone levels.
Ultimately, consume all foods in moderation. Focus on fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, and whole grains, while cutting down on refined carbohydrates, high sodium foods, and foods with added sugars. This will help to ensure that hormone levels are within a healthy range and natural testosterone is balanced. At the end of the day, a balanced diet paired with regular physical activity can help to regulate hormone levels within the body.
Stress has quickly become something of a modern epidemic. While occasional stress is harmless (and may be good for you), chronic stress can have an immense impact on physical and mental health. That constant stress can contribute to everything from sleep problems to an increased risk of heart problems.
Unsurprisingly, high stress also means low testosterone. If you desire increased testosterone levels, the main actor here is cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone the body releases in times of stress. Stress and cortisol levels are closely tied together. It’s designed to be helpful normally, putting you into fight-or-flight mode, but a constant stream of cortisol can do some major damage to the body. Cortisol may also block testosterone production and inhibit its overall effects.
Find healthy, constructive ways to deal with everyday stress. That can include yoga, breathing exercises, or spending time with loved ones.
Physical activity presents a wide range of benefits. It’s good for the heart, muscles, and mind, and it may just help with testosterone levels.
Most experts recommend resistance training and strength training specifically for boosting testosterone . Essentially, the more muscle mass you have, the more testosterone your body produces. That means lifting heavier weights is ostensibly the most optimal way to build testosterone, but if powerlifting is not your thing, don’t worry. Any and every exercise counts, whether it’s endurance training, high-intensity interval training, or simply shooting hoops.
It’s important to note that the boost in testosterone levels is short-term and occurs immediately after your workout. However, working out consistently can help to increase the flood of testosterone, especially if you are building muscle mass along the way. Most importantly, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and reduce high cortisol levels, which can benefit testosterone and overall health in the long term.
As you get busier in life, it can be easy to take sleep for granted, pushing your bedtime later while waking up earlier. However, good sleep is essential to good health. During sleep, the body repairs its cells and restores energy, and the brain stores new information and gets rid of any waste.
Studies found that cutting back on sleep dramatically affected testosterone levels. In one study, healthy men slept less than five hours for just one week. In that time, their testosterone levels dropped by an average of 10 to 15 percent, equivalent to aging by 15 years. Self-reported mood and vigor in the subjects also went down each day.
There aren’t any hard or fast rules for sleep. The ideal amount of sleep will vary from person to person, though most experts recommend that adults get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. The more important thing here is sleep quality. Make sure you sleep in a quiet, comfortable space. Avoid using your phone or other devices at least an hour before bed. Find a bedtime activity that can relax your brain and gradually get your mind into a restful state.
Heavy alcohol consumption can potentially reduce testosterone levels in several ways:
Enjoying one or two drinks is typically fine and shouldn’t have any major impact on testosterone levels. However, excessive alcohol consumption or chronic alcohol abuse can lead to serious issues, even beyond just testosterone levels. Drink in moderation and seek help if you think you need it.
While the above may help with testosterone levels, there is only so much testosterone that the body can produce if there are existing health issues that affect hormone production. Diabetes, metabolic disorders, and other health conditions can naturally contribute to lower testosterone levels. Furthermore, testosterone levels naturally go down as you get older. If you believe that you may have low testosterone that is affecting your health, consult your healthcare provider and consider the Everlywell Testosterone Test kit to determine testosterone levels from the comfort of your home.
1. Astuti P, Airin CM, Sarmin S, Nururrozi A, Harimurti S. Effect of shell as natural testosterone boosters in Sprague Dawley rats. October-2019. 2019;12(10):1677-1681.
2. Testosterone and the heart. Harvard Health. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.