Testosterone. It’s a necessary male hormone which is the reason you have facial hair, a deeper voice, and made it through puberty. Even more than that, testosterone levels have direct effects on muscle growth, strength, bone mass, sperm production, libido, fat distribution, mood, and your overall quality of life.
Unfortunately, testosterone levels decline with age, especially after 35. Total testosterone levels decline at an average of 1.6% per year, and free and bioavailable levels fall by 2%-3% per year. Low testosterone (hypogonadism) can negatively affect everything mentioned above.
That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to preserve and increase your testosterone levels, especially starting around age 35. Luckily there are many ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally, but for now let’s talk diet.
What Not to Do
If you’re struggling with your weight, resorting to extreme or fad diets may seem appealing so that you can drop weight quickly. However, there are many issues with cutting out an entire food group. Not only can it lead to issues down the line, but the chance of rebounding from restriction is higher. For most people, a fad diet or extreme restrictive diet is just unsustainable. And we don’t just want to lose weight. What happens when you get to a weight that you’re happy with? In order to maintain that weight, you can’t just go back to your previous ways of eating. So looking into sustainable diets is important. Luckily, there are some ways to increase your testosterone through your diet.
First things first. You never want to completely eliminate an entire macronutrient (protein/carbs/fats). Instead, you want to find a way of eating that is easy to follow, focuses on supporting and balancing hormones (like testosterone, estrogen, and insulin). A diet that fuels your workouts and helps boost your recovery. Usually, following a macro diet is the easiest way to do all the above.
What to Do
A key aspect of following a macros diet is making sure you get enough protein daily, and to have it spread out throughout all your meals. Hit your protein daily. As for fats, they should be a minimum. Fats are the precursor to testosterone production through cholesterol. And for carbs, let them fall as they may. When following a macros diet, you still need to ensure you’re sticking to calories, either in a deficit or in maintenance mode. This part is easy because macros make up your calories. Protein and carbs both have 4 calories per gram, while fats have 9 calories per gram. By following macros, you’ll ensure that you’re also sticking to your calorie goal.
When calculating your macros, you can do it a few ways. Either finding a macros calculator which will give you exact goals, or by determining how many calories you need then following a macro split.
A baseline split that works for almost everyone is a 40/40/20 split. Now this may not be the case for everyone, and as you learn more about yourself, you may find that you need to tweak this. So what does 40/40/20 mean? It means that 40% of your calories should come from protein, 40% percent of calories come from carbs, and 20% from fats.
Your macros allow you to have some flexibility with your food choices. Overall, a general “rule” is that 80% of your diet should be nutrient dense food, and 20% “fun” food. Keeping that in mind, you want to ensure that your carbs are coming from quality sources, that you’re getting enough essential fats, and whole proteins. Along with your macros, certain micronutrients are tied to testosterone production like:
• Vitamin D
• Omega-3 fatty acids
Now that you have a baseline of how to eat, and what nutrients are important, lets look at specific foods that will help maximize your testosterone production.
Grass fed beef
Cuts of lean, red meats such as ground beef and chuck roast are a great source of zinc, and beef liver is a great source of vitamin D.
Whole eggs are a great source of protein, cholesterol, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which aid in the production of testosterone.
Avocados are extremely rich in zinc, which is essential for testosterone production. Avocado also reduces the absorption of estrogen.
Coconut oil has been proven to boost testosterone more than olive oil, soya oil, and grapeseed oil. It is high in saturated fat, which has the ability to increase testosterone production by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH).
Canned or fresh, tuna is a heart-healthy, protein-rich, low-calorie food which is also high in vitamin D.
Raisins are very high in both boron and resveratrol, which have been shown to increase testosterone levels.
Fortified cereals not only contain vitamin D, but are also high in magnesium and zinc, which are needed for testosterone production. These are a great way to jumpstart your day.
Essentially a natural multivitamin, oysters are packed with magnesium, zing, selenium, vitamin d, and copper; all of which have been shown to increase testosterone levels in men.
White button mushrooms
White button mushrooms are abundant with polysaccharides, which have been found to block aromatase (an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen).
Lobster is high in magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and phosphorous. High in protein, low in fat, lobster is also a known aphrodisiac.
Many legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and white, black, and kidney beans are a heart-healthy way to increase your testosterone. They are high in fiber, vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium.