Hormones are chemical messengers that interact with organs and tissues in order to carry out specific functions.
There is an array of key hormones within the body that help to regulate functions such as metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, appetite, body temperature, and sleep cycles.
One particular hormone plays a vastly important role in both male and female health – testosterone.
This article will provide information on the hormone, its functions, and benefits. It will also highlight a number of methods that may increase testosterone levels naturally.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced by both men and women.
This steroid hormone is primarily produced by the testes in men and the ovaries in women (1). The adrenal gland also produces small quantities of testosterone.
Women only produce a small amount of testosterone in comparison to men who produce a large quantity.
The amount of testosterone produced by the body is influenced by a number of factors including diet, exercise, sleep, and stress.
Why Is Testosterone Important?
Testosterone plays a crucial role in men’s development during puberty. The hormone is responsible for deepening the voice, increasing muscle size, and causing hair growth.
However, maintaining a good level of testosterone is important for men to maintain health and function.
Studies also suggest that having low levels of the sex hormone can interfere with body composition and disease risk.
One study determined that low levels of this hormone lead to a decrease in muscle size and an increase in fat mass. (2)
Low testosterone levels have been associated with a number of other negative effects in men including:
- Low Libido
Although females only produce a small amount, testosterone has been found to promote women’s health too (5).
Research clearly indicates that maintaining a healthy level of testosterone is vital for the health and function of both sexes. This is of even greater importance as we age.
Benefits Of Enhancing Testosterone Levels
Boosting testosterone levels has been linked with a number of positive changes. This section will briefly highlight five key benefits of increasing testosterone.
1. Improved Body Composition
As highlighted, testosterone is a key hormone for muscle building. Therefore, by increasing levels of this steroid hormone, muscle size will increase.
Additionally, research indicates that boosting testosterone levels leads to a greater reduction in fat mass while preserving muscle mass (6).
To maximize improvements in body composition, it is recommended to perform regular strength training.
2. Enhanced Cognitive Abilities
Research suggests that testosterone influences cognitive abilities such as memory and processing speed (7).
Furthermore, a second study suggests that men with low levels of testosterone may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (8).
Therefore, boosting testosterone levels may reduce the risk of developing cognitive diseases.
3. Better Heart and Blood Health
Healthy levels of testosterone are associated with improving heart health and reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
One large scale study found that increasing testosterone reduced the risk of a heart attack by 26% and strokes by 36% (9).
Testosterone also facilitates the production of red blood cells within bone marrow. Increasing red blood cell production may improve general health and performance.
4. Stronger Bones
As well as having a positive impact on the cardiovascular system, testosterone also influences bone mineral density.
As we age, bone density will begin to decrease. This increases our risk of fractures and bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
However, studies have found that enhancing testosterone levels can maintain good bone density and promote bone health (10).
5. Greater Libido
Considering testosterone is a sex hormone, boosting levels of it will increase one’s libido and sexual activity (11).
However, as highlighted, testosterone levels gradually decline as we age which can negatively interfere with libido and sexual function.
Therefore, to maintain good sexual health it is important that testosterone is kept at a healthy level.
Six Ways To Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally
This section will cover six lifestyle-based changes that can help to boost testosterone levels naturally.
1. Consume A Well-Balanced Diet
Our daily nutrition can have a big impact on hormone production. Therefore, if we wish to optimize testosterone levels it is important that we look to establish a healthy, nutritious diet.
Therefore, look to consume a healthy amount of calories, fats, carbs, and proteins each day.
Overconsumption of calories leads to weight gain. Studies have determined that overeating and being overweight can negatively impact testosterone levels (12).
One of the primary roles of fat within the body is to produce hormones. Therefore, it is critical that we are consuming healthy fats on a regular basis to maximize testosterone production (13).
Carbohydrate intake also appears to be important for testosterone production. One study concluded that carbs helped to optimize testosterone levels during strength training (14).
Since protein plays an important role in weight loss and management, it can also help maintain healthy testosterone levels (15).
2. Exercise Regularly
There are several well-known benefits associated with regular exercise.
Studies on exercise suggest that regular activity positively impacts testosterone. Those who exercise frequently appear to have higher testosterone levels than those who don’t (16).
Another study investigating obese individuals concluded that, in terms of boosting testosterone, exercise was more effective than weight loss diets (17).
While all exercise is beneficial, there are specific types that have been found to be particularly effective for increasing testosterone.
3. Improve Sleep Quality
Ensuring that we get enough good-quality sleep is vital for maintaining our health and wellbeing. It may also have an impact on hormone levels.
Studies on sleep have indicated a relationship between poor sleep and a reduction in hormone production.
One particular study found that sleeping for five hours per night caused testosterone levels to reduce by 15% (20).
A second study determined that, on average, for every additional hour of sleep, testosterone levels increase by 15% (21).
While sleep needs vary from individual to individual, the recommendation for an adult is seven to ten hours per night.
4. Boost Micronutrient Intake
Consuming a wide range of micronutrients on a daily basis is important for general health. There are also specific vitamins and minerals that may have an impact on testosterone.
Boosting intake of vitamin D and zinc may be most beneficial for increasing testosterone production.
Studies suggest that boosting vitamin D directly impacts testosterone levels (22). Considering that many people are vitamin D deficient increasing intake is recommended.
Research on athletes also concluded that zinc effectively increased testosterone and improved athletic performance (23).
While more research is required, it is thought that vitamin A, B, C, and E may also boost levels of testosterone.
5. Use Supplements
There are several testosterone boosting supplements that may increase levels of the hormone.
These supplements tend to contain specific testosterone-boosting substances such as ashwagandha and ginger extract.
For more about testosterone boosting foods and supplements, be sure to read the following articles:
As highlighted previously, it may be beneficial to take a multivitamin supplement. This is especially true for those who struggle to consume enough nutrients through diet alone.
Taking training supplements such as caffeine and creatine monohydrate may also be beneficial when used in combination with physical training.
6. Decrease Stress Levels
Stress has been found to increase levels of a hormone known as cortisol. This is a stress hormone that has been found to inhibit testosterone production.
Consequently, we should do all we can to reduce stress and the consequent increase in cortisol.
By consuming a balanced diet, exercising frequently, and prioritizing sleep, may help to reduce stress thus optimizing testosterone levels.
Additionally, considering that testosterone is a sex hormone, having a healthy sex life is also important for regulating hormone levels.
What is testosterone and what does it do?
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone.
It plays a key role in the growth and development of males during puberty. It is also believed to influence libido, fat mass, muscle mass, bone density, and red blood cell production.
What foods increase testosterone the most?
Foods that contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals may be most beneficial for increasing testosterone production.
The best advice is to focus on consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet that contains healthy sources of carbs, fats, and proteins.
What foods reduce testosterone?
While more research needs to be conducted, specific studies have found certain foods to detrimentally impact testosterone levels.
Soy, licorice, mint, vegetable oil, flaxseed, alcohol, and processed foods have all been linked with reducing testosterone.
What is the best vitamin for boosting testosterone?
Do testosterone boosting supplements really work?
Testosterone boosters are growing in popularity. These supplements contain a number of ingredients that claim to naturally increase testosterone levels.
While these supplements may indeed have a positive effect, more research is needed to confirm this.
Which supplement is best for increasing testosterone?
With so many different types of testosterone boosting supplements available, it can be difficult to know which one is best.
To help give further guidance, check out our curated list of the best testosterone booster supplements currently on the market.
While testosterone is the primary sex hormone for men, women also produce a small amount.
A healthy level of testosterone is critical for maintaining health and function in both men and women. However, it is specifically important for men, especially as they age.
Boosting testosterone has been found to have a positive impact on the body in a number of ways.
It has been associated with improving body composition, cognitive function, heart and bone health, and libido.
Focusing on improving nutrition, exercise, and sleep can help to naturally boost testosterone levels. Furthermore, there are a number of supplements that may have a beneficial effect.
However, before making any drastic lifestyle changes, it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional.