In the world of naturally boosting testosterone, most of the attention is falsely given to magical supplements that promise 400% increases in testosterone levels but can’t deliver. If you’re trying to naturally increase your testosterone levels, the focus should be your body fat (get under 15%) and your sleep (get at least 7 hours of good sleep), but there are testosterone booster foods that should get more attention than those expensive supplements.
What follows is a list of testosterone booster foods that should be a staple of your diet. None of them are expensive. All of them are available at your local grocery store, but most men aren’t aware of the fact that they are testosterone booster foods by either helping us produce more testosterone naturally, lower cortisol which is necessary for testosterone production, or block aromatase which is a precursor to estrogen, also a testosterone inhibitor.
Add these testosterone booster foods to your pantry or fridge and make sure you’re consuming each of them daily.
Coffee is an interesting one because it also increases cortisol levels. Cortisol, of course, opposes testosterone, so you don’t want high cortisol levels. That said, coffee has been shown in numerous studies to naturally increase testosterone levels in men, especially before a workout.
To add to that, a cortisol rise in the morning isn’t necessarily a bad that, as your body will counteract the cortisol level at night, helping you produce more melatonin and get a better sleep.
How does coffee increase testosterone if it also increases cortisol? The theory – or a possible explanation – is that coffee inhibits the PDE-4 enzyme, which breaks down cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a messenger between cells and hormones, thus, higher cAMP levels in cells may increase testosterone levels.
Much in the same way zinc blocks aromatase, preventing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, coffee may prevent the breakdown of cAMP, which may be the reason studies show increases in testosterone even alongside increases in cortisol due to coffee intake.
On a side note, drink more coffee, not tea, especially green tea, as it increases estrogen levels in men.
I was on the low carb side for years, always seeing the benefits of fats for testosterone (though at a certain point those benefits stop yielding returns, which is why you want to cap your daily fat intake at around 30-40% of your daily calories coming from dietary fat), while seeing carbohydrates as bad, as being responsible for people being fat.
The truth is that both carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, are all necessary for testosterone production.
The right carbohydrates are great testosterone booster foods because of how they suppress cortisol. Forget about the caffeine example above, if your cortisol levels are high, your testosterone levels are low or at the very least, impeded.
One of the ways we measure testosterone is in relation to cortisol. Carbs suppress cortisol levels, allowing your testosterone levels to thrive. If you’ve ever eaten a bunch of them, you’ll experience fatigue and sleepiness afterward as well, which makes potatoes a great addition to your dinner.
Lower cortisol, don’t contain gluten, packed with minerals that help T production.
Nuts (Brazil and Macadamia only)
Saturated and monounsaturated (MUFAs) fats are ideal for testosterone production, while polyunsaturated (PUFAs) and trans fats aren’t. Most nuts are comprised primarily of PUFAs, but the make up of both Brazil and Macadamia nuts, with their high saturated fat content, make them perfect testosterone booster snacks.
On top of the saturated fat content, Brazil nuts also are very high in selenium, which has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men, as well as zync and boron, both of which have been shown to increase testosterone in men.
Avoid most other nuts.
Eggs contain almost a perfect breakdown of amino acids for human consumption. They’re one of the best foods and protein sources you can possibly consume. Their fat make up is also pretty close to ideal with 38% saturated fats, 44% monounsaturated fats, and only 18% polyunsaturated fats.
Eat eggs. They’re also filled with vitamins and nutrients making them one of the most perfect foods you can consume as a human.
For those worried about cholesterol, read this article that will put your mind at ease – second, cholesterol is THE building block of testosterone, so don’t listen to people that tell men to stop eating so much cholesterol.
Raw cacao is rich in antioxidants, that protect cells and hormones, as well as minerals like iron and magnesium. Not only is cacao good for your testosterone levels, acting like a natural mineral vitamin, it’s great for clarity, focus, and energy.
Animals (beef, bison, elk, venison)
Red meat, along with eggs, is probably the most complete and beneficial food source for humans. Numerous studies have shown that saturated fats are idea for testosterone production (1). You also need protein to maintain a good body composition, lean and muscular, as fat holds estrogen in men.
This makes meat ideal, but there’s more to meat than the proteins and fats. Meat can also contain high amounts of bioavailable zinc (lamb and veal), and carnitine.
Carnitine is important for the brain, but also possibly for your testosterone levels as it increases the density of androgen receptors that help your body actually use the hormones it produces more effectively.
Olive oil (raw shot)
Cooked heated olive oil and room temperature, raw olive oil are two different animals. Don’t actually cook your food with olive oil, but by all means take a shot of it in the morning and at night for a very reliable boost in testosterone.
In one Moroccan study men had extra virgin olive oil as their main source of fat leading to testosterone increases of 19.9% and 17.4%. Not bad. It’s likely due to the fact that olive oil is an anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, and has a great fat ratio for testosterone production of 73% MUFAs, 14% SFAs, 13% PUFAs.
Again, take it as a shot, use coconut or avocado oil or butter as your cooking fat.
Like olive oil, avocados have almost a perfect fat ratio for testosterone production with 71% monounsaturated fats, 16% saturated fats, and only 13% polyunsaturated fats.
Having an avocado helps you quickly get to the 30%-40% of your calories coming from the right kinds of fats for testosterone production.
White button mushrooms
Polysaccharides, which have been found to block aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, are abundant in white button mushrooms.
At the beginning of the article I mentioned that testosterone booster foods either help with testosterone production through their fat content, lower cortisol, or block the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. White button mushrooms is high on the list for estrogen-blocking foods that you should eat a lot of.
Raisins are very high in both resveratrol and boron, both of which have been shown to increase testosterone levels in men in multiple studies.
I don’t even like raisins, but I include them in a fruit and yogurt bowl that I have every second day along with blueberries (which are also on this list next).
Antioxidants protect cells, reduce inflammation and oxidative damage that takes place in your body. While blueberries aren’t a typical ‘testosterone booster food’ in the sense that they’re not packed with the right fats and they don’t block estrogen, the insanely high antioxidant content in blueberries should result in increased testosterone production along with the protection of the testosterone molecule.
Let’s not forget, they’re also a great carbohydrate, which lowers cortisol. A cup or two of blueberries per day with any meal, or in a shake, is highly recommended for your testosterone levels, but also your overall health.
Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats – which are, again, ideal for testosterone production, so brush off any claim that you shouldn’t eat saturated fats – and has also been shown to boost testosterone (study).
Finally, oysters, which are essentially a natural multivitamin as they’re packed with magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin d (which free’s up testosterone from being bound to a protein so it can do what testosterone does), and copper, all minerals that have been shown to increase testosterone levels in men.
On top of that, oysters have high quality protein and amino acid content.
They’ve been known as an aphrodisiac throughout history, and we’re now seeing why. They’re one of the most potent testosterone booster foods you can find.
What to Do Next
If you want a full list of foods that are testosterone boosters, but also a diet to help you naturally increase your testosterone levels, training tips and best practices, how to clean out your house of chemical estrogens, and a fool-proof plan to optimize your testosterone levels in 3 weeks, pick up a FREE copy of my new book, the Man Diet (grab your copy here).
Non Linked Studies:
Volek J, Kramer W. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology. http://jap.physiology.org/content/82/1/49. Accessed February 12, 2017.
Forget about what typically comes up from Google searches about boosting testosterone naturally for men, or ‘how to boost testosterone‘, or ‘how to eat to boost testosterone‘, or even, ‘testosterone diet for men‘. Most of the content will focus on a gimmick, a quick fix, a pill, powder, or potion, that may temporarily improve your testosterone levels but won’t have the sustained, permanent effect on your testosterone levels that you want.
The goal should be to naturally increase testosterone forever, not for a minute or a moment. And if you’re going to produce high testosterone levels, it will start with your lifestyle, your training, and maybe even more importantly, with your diet.
In the Man Diet – my best-selling book that you can get a free copy of here – I go into greater detail about how to boost testosterone from a diet, training, and lifestyle perspective. You come out with a full plan that will help you create optimal testosterone levels. In this article, we’ll focus on diet, using me as an example, but also giving you all the resources you need to create a good meal plan that will help you increase your testosterone levels.
You have to eat foods that help with your testosterone levels, not foods that hurt them. There are a number of foods that increase estrogen that you just shouldn’t consume, things like flax and soy, mint, black licorice, alfalfa, and others. Foods that increase estrogen, just like plastics and toothpaste and deodorants and soaps, that contain chemicals that increase estrogen in men, should be avoided.
2. If you’re over 14% body fat, cut fat first.
This will mean cutting calories. It will also mean increasing your protein intake while you’re cutting fat. So why is cutting fat so important? Well, you quite literally cannot have thriving testosterone levels if you’re fat.
Estrogen hides in a man’s body fat and that’s where our bodies turn testosterone into estrogen (not something we want to do). That’s where our body converts testosterone to estrogen, a process we do not want to happen. So first and foremost, cut body fat.
3. Cycle your cut to avoid a cortisol increase.
It’s better to dramatically cut calories for a week or two, then get back to a maintenance, than to stay at a caloric deficit (where you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming). For a few reasons…
For one, by getting back to a maintenance every couple of weeks, you keep your metabolism healthy. Second, by getting to a caloric maintenance every couple of weeks, you avoid a cortisol rise that can occur with prolonged starvation – which is essentially what a caloric deficit is.
Cortisol is a real enemy of testosterone. We want to do everything we can to lower our cortisol levels and to keep them in check. Part of this is consuming the right amount of carbs (up to 45% of your calories should come from carbs – 35-45% range).
Finally, from a supplement aspect, there’s one primary thing you can do that’ll help, and that’s a supplement I created that’s a double-dose of Organic Ashwagandha (which has been shown to lower cortisol by 27%). This isn’t some magic, synthetic supplement. It’s just a herb that tastes horrible, so it’s not nice to eat, plus it’s hard to find.
4. Calculate your TDEE (Today Daily Energy Expenditure)
Your TDEE is your today daily energy expenditure. It’s not 100% exact, but it’s close. And what you’re after is close. If you’re not trying to cut fat, eat your TDEE. If you need to cut fat, eat about 500 calories less than your TDEE. This is the simple part because I have a calculator here for you to figure this stuff out. Just plug your info in and get the number below.
5. Find the Food.
The next part is finding the right food. We’ll use my day as an example day. I like starting light and ending heavy. I also workout in the morning, then have the shake. The end meal just knocks me out for sleep time, plus it gets the majority of the calories in there.
You won’t find ingredients that increase estrogen. You will find animals, fruits, and vegetables. When you first start a meal plan, make 1 or 2 days, then alternatives for each protein type and carb and fat. Keep it simple. As you get used to eating this way, you’ll be able to intuitively know how much to eat and it will get a lot easier.
At the begining, however, do the work.
My Meals Today
Goal: 2,900 calories
Goal Macros: 35% of calories from carbs, 35% of calories from fat, 30% of calories from protein.
Pineapple and oranges both block aromatase which is the precursor to estrogen.
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, water
Meal 2: Chicken Salad
1 Cup Chicken (shredded)
1 Cup Spinach
2 Medium Tomatoes
2 Cups Carrots
2 Stalks Celery (good for libido)
Add olive oil and mix.
Meal 3: Steak + Potatoes
Steak 12 ounces
1 Potato Baked
2 Large Hardboiled Eggs
Alternatives: Game meat (preferable), Brazil nuts.
Adding More Meals
Sometimes I’ll make it 3 meals and a shake, other times, just 2 meals and a shake. You can make your meal plan however you like it. But it’ll take time. That’s why I prefer to have two meals and a shake.
And that shake, sometimes I’ll train on an empty stomach, other times I’ll have half of the shake before the workout and half after.
The key components are your macros, understanding your TDEE (how much you energy you expend in a day), and your goal. Meal plans help because more often than not we don’t actually know what we should eat or how much we should eat.
As you can also see, creating a good meal plan that has the right foods (which you’ll learn after reading the Man Diet) takes time, and time is money. Though it is worth it, 100%, especially if you’re trying to cut fat, it takes a heck of a lot of time.
So, if you want to get the most from your training, your hormones, and if you want to visibly see results in the mirror, I can set you up with a custom meal plan that fits your schedule and your goals, just click here to learn more about how to work with me and my team to get a custom meal plan that you’ll actually stick to.
Quickly, I’m still working on the full nutrition article that’ll help you create your Man Diet Approved meal plan to cut fat, increase testosterone in men, and gain muscle, so I should have that for you by tomorrow.
Why is sleep important?
Every extra hour of sleep you get up until 8 hours helps you see a jump in testosterone of about 15%.
Think about that…
Your T levels will increase by 60% if you get 8 hours of sleep vs 4 hours of sleep.
Cortisol – along with estrogen – is one of the biggest obstacles you face in trying to create optimal testosterone levels. Sleep helps you dramatically lower your cortisol levels.
On top of that, we produce the vast majority of our testosterone levels when we sleep (primarily in REM sleep, or ‘deep sleep’).
So how do you get more REM sleep?
Well, I’m the perfect guy to write this email because for YEARS I suffered from insomnia. I’ve visited dozens of sleep doctors, tried nearly everything, and over the years I’ve created routines, habits, even diets that have helped me get great sleeps.
So, here’s what I’ve come up with thus far that has helped me sleep from years of research but also a ton of trial and error.
How to Get an EPIC Sleep (Routine)
1. Coffee in the morning.
Coffee is awesome, it helps with energy levels, clarity, and focus. It tastes great. 2 cups before a workout helps increase testosterone levels during said workout. It also increases cortisol levels, which isn’t bad while we work, and that helps us lower our cortisol levels later in the evening.
When your body works to lower your cortisol levels, it increases melatonin, which helps us sleep.
2. Morning workout.
A few studies have shown that training in the morning helps you sleep. So, I’ve been training in the morning for a while now, and it helps.
Compared to not-exercising at all, working out will help you sleep no matter when you do it, but the effect of a workout in the morning is greater than afternoon or evening.
3. Your last meal.
I consume a hefty amount of carbs in my last meal – which occurs at round 5 or 6. Carbs help lower cortisol levels, which helps us relax, be calm, and get sleepy. It isn’t immediate, but a few hours after that last meal I’m fading.
I take ZMA (zinc, magnesium) an hour before bed, along with ashwagandha.
It lowers cortisol by 27%, which is a lot. That final cortisol reduction really helps with sleep quantity and quantity, which is one of the main reasons why I created VIKING. I’m a fan of ashwagandha, and with VIKING we give you an overdose (which is good).
5. Brain dump/reflection.
At the end of every work day I reflect on the work done, set up the next day, write something I’m grateful for, and close the book on that work day.
If I don’t do this, my mind races, I don’t reflect on the day so I’m continually thinking about what I should’ve done or have to do tomorrow. This is vital.
Every evening (mostly every evening) I’ll throw on an episode of the Office or Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, and laugh.
I love to laugh. I need it. Does it help me sleep? I think so. Watching the news has the opposite effect, and actually so does reading a good book.
At night, when we’re tired, we’re irrational. The logical part of our brain doesn’t work the same. So thinking about deep, important topics isn’t advised.
Laughing, again, lowers cortisol, which helps you relax, produce more melatonin, and sleep better.
Give that little list a shot.
The sleep QUALITY is important. Not just the quantity, so lowering your cortisol levels at night is vital.