The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.1 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it2 -- and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.3
Exercise boosts testosterone in two important ways. First, specific types of exercise actually cause our body to produce more testosterone. We’ll talk more about those in a bit. Second, exercise helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. As we’ve discussed previously, adipose tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. The less fat we get, the more T we have.
The first of the natural testosterone boosters is intermittent fasting. One of the biggest intermittent fasting benefits? It’s been shown to increase testosterone by nearly 200 percent or even up to 400 percent. (4) In addition, a study by the University of Virginia Medical School noted that growth hormone levels increased 2,000 percent over the baseline in men who ate no calories for 24 hours, and growth hormone levels are correlated with testosterone. (5)
‘Testosterone boosting’ products - found online, or in health food or body-building shops, these products claim to boost testosterone levels if you buy them. The majority of these products will not have the effect you want and are not worth spending money on. Any of these products that do have a real effect may have a form of prescription medication in which is both dangerous and illegal.
These results have been echoed in clinical trials. A meta-analysis of 24 RCTs looked at weight loss caused by diet or bariatric surgery: In the diet studies, the average 9.8% weight loss was linked to a testosterone increase of 2.9 nmol/L (84 ng/dL). In the bariatric-surgery studies, the average 32% weight loss was linked to a testosterone increase of 8.7 nmol/L (251 ng/dL).
Decreased testosterone production in men with rheumatoid arthritis is a common finding (Stafford et al 2000), and it is now generally recognized that androgens have the capacity to suppress both the hormonal and cellular immune response and so act as one of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory agents (Cutolo et al 2002). This known anti-inflammatory action of testosterone has led to studying the effect of testosterone therapy in men with rheumatoid disease. Although not all studies have reported positive effects of testosterone treatment (Hall et al 1996), some studies do demonstrate an improvement in both clinical and chemical markers of the immune response (Cutolo et al 1991; Cutolo 2000). This observation would go along with more recent evidence that testosterone or its metabolites protects immunity by preserving the number of regulatory T cells and the activation of CD8+ T cells (Page et al 2006).
Studies have demonstrated reduced testosterone levels in men with heart failure as well as other endocrine changes (Tappler and Katz 1979; Kontoleon et al 2003). Treatment of cardiac failure with chronic mechanical circulatory support normalizes many of these changes, including testosterone levels (Noirhomme et al 1999). More recently, two double-blind randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment for men with low or low-normal serum testosterone levels and heart failure have shown improvements in exercise capacity and symptoms (Pugh et al 2004; Malkin et al 2006). The mechanism of these benefits is currently unclear, although a study of the acute effects of buccal testosterone given to men with chronic cardiac failure under invasive monitoring showed that testosterone increased cardiac index and reduced systemic vascular resistance (Pugh et al 2003). Testosterone may prove useful in the management of cardiac failure but further research is needed.
Opioid substances are in common use both licit and illicit. Opiates are potent analgesics but they are also highly addictive. They are frequently prescribed for both acute and chronic pain and when used chronically, often induce opiate dependence in the user. Pain clinics regularly use narcotic agents in many of their patients. Methadone, in particular, is regularly prescribed to opiate addicts who have entered a program aimed at reducing narcotic dosage and ultimately weaning the patient off it altogether. Most men who are on chronic high doses of an opiate become hypogonadal. This was first recognized in the 1970’s when heroin addicts were found to have suppressed levels of testosterone (Brambilla et al 1977). Also suppressed were LH and FSH pointing to a probable inhibition of GnRH release.
The natural production of DHEA is also age-dependent. Prior to puberty, the body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.
Longjack, also known as Tongkat ali and pasak bumi, is a shrub hailing from Southeast Asia purporting to improve libido. It’s gaining traction in the scientific community for potentially increasing testosterone levels, and researchers at South Africa’s University of the Western Cape found that longjack improved testosterone levels and muscular strength in physically active seniors (a population with typically low testosterone).
The University of Connecticut recently published findings stating that those who supplemented with whey protein produced less cortisol, a stress hormone, than those who did not supplement. Cortisol lowers production of sex hormones and is also responsible for belly fat formation. Ricotta is an excellent source of natural whey protein and amino acids, both of which are essential to muscle growth and avoiding the spare tire.
When we face stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol to prepare our bodies and minds to handle the stressful situation — the primal fight-or-flight response. In small dosages, cortisol is fine and even useful, but elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods can do some serious damage to our bodies and minds. One area that seems to take a hit when cortisol is high is our testosterone levels. Several studies have shown a link between cortisol and testosterone. When cortisol levels are high, testosterone levels are low; and when testosterone levels are high, cortisol levels are low.
If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant, gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. These are hormones that signal the body to produce more testosterone. This may increase the sperm count. Hedges also describes implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which several pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months. Injections and nasal gels may be other options for some men.