If you’re looking for ways to boost your testosterone level, start by looking at your daily habits. “I never prescribe testosterone alone without talking to men about their lifestyle,” says Martin Miner, MD, co-director of the Men’s Health Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I.
Some changes that are good for your overall health could also provide benefits in helping to maintain a healthy level of this important male hormone.
1. Get Enough Sleep.
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. This, in turn, can have a harmful impact on your testosterone.
Make sleep a priority, aiming for 7 to 8 hours per night, even if it means rearranging your schedule or dropping your habit of late-night TV. Prize your sleep, just like you’d prize a healthy diet and active lifestyle. It’s that important.
If you’re having problems getting good sleep on a regular basis, talk to your doctor.
2. Keep a Healthy Weight.
Men who are overweight or obese often have low testosterone levels, says Alvin M. Matsumoto, MD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
For those men, losing the extra weight can help bring testosterone back up, he says. Likewise, for men who are underweight, getting your weight up to a healthy level can also have a positive effect on the hormone.
3. Stay Active.
Testosterone adapts to your body’s needs, Yu says. If you spend most of your time lying on the couch, your brain gets the message that you don’t need as much to bolster your muscles and bones.
But, he says, when you’re physically active, your brain sends out the signal for more of the hormone.
If you’re getting little exercise now, Miner suggests starting by:
Walking briskly at least 10 to 20 minutes a day.
Building strength with several sessions of weights or elastic bands each week. Work with a trainer to learn proper form so you don’t injure yourself.
Don’t go overboard. Extreme amounts of endurance exercise — working out at the level of elite athletes — can lower your testosterone.
Our diet plays a huge role in our testosterone production. Our glands need certain minerals — like zinc and magnesium — to get testosterone production started and our Leydig cells need cholesterol to make testosterone. Some foods — like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage — can help boost T levels by removing estrogens in our body that lower our T.
The biggest change I made to my diet was increasing my fat and cholesterol intake. There’s a reason why old school strong men would drink raw eggs — studies have suggested that higher fat and cholesterol consumption results in increased levels of total T; men eating low-fat diets typically have decreased testosterone levels. The emphasis on increasing fat and cholesterol consumption meant I got to eat like Ron Swanson for three months — bacon and eggs and steak was pretty much the staple of my diet.
But you might be asking, “Isn’t cholesterol bad for you? Doesn’t it cause heart disease?”
Answer: It’s complicated.
I don’t have enough time or space to cover the ins and outs of cholesterol in this post, but overall, research is showing that popular beliefs about cholesterol aren’t completely correct and the public shouldn’t be as afraid of this molecule as it is.
If you’re interested in learning more about the myths and benefits of cholesterol, I highly recommend reading these in-depth, well-written, and well-researched articles at Mark’s Daily Apple:
The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol
The Straight Dope on Cholesterol Part 1
The Straight Dope on Cholesterol Part 2
For those interested, at the end of this section, I share my cholesterol and triglyceride levels after more than four months of eating copious amounts of bacon, eggs, meat, and nuts.
Now here’s a breakdown of what I ate at each meal:
Breakfast – “Give Me All the Bacon and Eggs You Have”
eggs and bacon for breakfast on plate raise testosterone
During the weekdays, I ate what I called the “Ron Swanson Special” — three slices of bacon and three whole eggs. Aside from being delicious, it also provided the fats and cholesterol my body needed to make testosterone. Nitrates freak me out, so I used nitrate-free bacon.
On Saturday mornings, Gus and I went to Braum’s — pancakes for Gus; breakfast burrito for me. That’s one of our father/son traditions.
Sundays I typically skipped breakfast – I usually just wasn’t hungry.