#1 Saturated and monounsaturated fat sources
We are starting with more of a food group.
Multiple studies have shown that diets that are higher in fat, (35-40% of the daily calorie intake) can help increase testosterone more than diets where fat provides less than 20% of the total daily calorie intake. (1)
However, not all types of fat will have this beneficial effect on your testosterone levels.
For example, these studies show that saturated fat and monounsaturated fat can help increase testosterone levels. Conversely, polyunsaturated fats have the exact opposite effect.
This correlation between an increased fat intake and higher testosterone levels comes as no surprise, since testosterone is synthesized from cholesterol.
Meanwhile, the reason why polyunsaturated fats lower testosterone is likely because they promote inflammation. So limit your intake of polyunsaturated fats like canola oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil.
With that said, not all saturated fat is good for you. For example, eating hot dogs to increase your saturated fat intake can be harmful.
And it definitely won’t be as beneficial as adding one or two tablespoons of coconut oil to your diet.
Egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens are also great sources of saturated fat and cholesterol.
For monounsaturated fat, one of the best sources that you can add to your diet is olive oil. One study showed a 17.4% increase in testosterone levels in Moroccan men after they enhanced their diet with extra virgin olive oil for 3 weeks. (2).
Besides dietary fats, many studies also show that a very high protein intake can lead to lower testosterone levels.
Most likely, that’s not because protein suppresses testosterone production. Instead, it’s the simple fact that if you eat way too much protein, you’re more likely to have fewer calories coming from carbs and fat, which can have negative effects on testosterone, as we’ve seen.
Remember – there’s no need to increase protein intake higher than around 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Wild ginger root is mostly used as a spice or to improve digestion, but it can also have testosterone boosting effects.
Unfortunately, most studies looking into the relationship between testosterone and ginger are performed on rodents, which don’t provide the highest level of evidence.
But rodents do have a very similar endocrine system to humans. And a 2018 review on this topic found that ginger supplementation enhances testosterone production in males. (3)
The good news is that we’re not only limited to relying on the evidence from studies on rodents anymore. There is one human study that found that treating 75 infertile Iraqi men with ginger increased testosterone levels by 17.7%. (4)
One major limitation of the study, however, is that the subjects were infertile men so there isn’t a definitive answer yet whether the same spike in testosterone would apply to fertile men.
But researchers do believe that there are few ways that ginger could have the ability to increase testosterone.
For example, it increases the production of luteinizing hormone which is essential for testosterone production.
It can also reduce oxidative stress and increase blood flow to our reproductive organs.
So if you’d like to add some ginger to your diet a great way to do it is by adding it to tea, soup, or even supplementing with it.
Shellfish, especially oysters, can be effective testosterone boosters and they’re an overall healthy food to incorporate into your diet.
They’re also one of the very few dietary sources of vitamin D which, unfortunately, about 42% of the population is deficient in.
This is definitely not ideal, because there are receptors for this vitamin in almost every cell in our bodies, including our reproductive organs.
Multiple studies show a relationship between vitamin D levels in the blood and testosterone levels.
Specifically, one large study involving 2,300 men found that those who had sufficient vitamin D levels had significantly higher testosterone than men who were deficient in vitamin D. (5)
The researchers found a very close correlation between changes in plasma vitamin D levels and testosterone.
During the warm months of the year (summertime), men had higher levels of vitamin D since they were getting more sunlight.
And sure enough during the same months, their testosterone levels were significantly higher and almost looked like a perfect reflection of their elevated vitamin D levels during those months. (6)
Now, vitamin D isn’t the only reason why shellfish can be beneficial for your testosterone. They’re also one of the world’s best sources of zinc, which is a mineral that’s essential for reproductive health.
There are multiple pieces of evidence suggesting that not getting enough zinc can reduce testosterone levels significantly. (7)
#4 Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
Cruciferous vegetables are not only full of healthy micronutrients but also contain large amounts indole-3-carbinol which can help block an enzyme known as aromatase.
This enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen. It also converts estrogen into less potent hormones which will help your body flush it out through your urine. (8)
All these effects that lead to a reduction in estrogen levels are beneficial for testosterone production. That’s because high estrogen can suppress the release of luteinizing hormone. (9)
This hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and stimulates the synthesis of testosterone.
Moreover, cruciferous vegetables are also full of magnesium which also benefits testosterone production.
Since ancient Greek times, pomegranates have been a symbol of fertility. Nowadays we know that they’re full of powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols that can improve fertility.
One study involving 60 volunteers looked at the effect of consuming pure pomegranate juice for 2 weeks.
The researchers concluded that the consumption of pomegranate juice significantly increased testosterone levels by an average of 24%. (10)
One reason why pomegranates may offer these benefits is because they also contribute to anti-aromatase activity (11) which, once again, will help your body prevent testosterone from being converted into estrogen.
Sorghum is a wholegrain that has quite an interesting effect on your testosterone levels.
There’s an enzyme in our body known as 5-Alpha-reductase whose job is to convert part of our testosterone into 5-DHT.
And 5-DHT is a form of testosterone that actually may even have higher androgenic activity. Therefore, it could have an even more powerful effect on muscle growth. (12)
This is exactly why boosting or at least not inhibiting DHT production is beneficial.
There is a potential problem, however. Most grains, and especially those containing phytoestrogens, may inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, and in turn that lowers DHT levels. (13)
A study that investigated the inhibiting effects of different grains on 5-Alpha-reductase found that sorghum actually enhanced 5-DHT by over 54.7%, (14) outperforming every other grain in the study.
You can buy sorghum in its wholegrain form at your grocery store and there are also sorghum supplements available.
Technically, this is a beverage, not food. But a small study on 9 cyclists found that chewing gum that contains caffeine during high-intensity exercise increased testosterone by around 12% compared to the placebo group. (15)
Naturally, a sample size of only nine cyclists isn’t exactly the best evidence. But another study that had a slightly larger sample size of 24 rugby players found similar effects.
They had about a 15% increase in testosterone levels after having caffeine, (16) and that’s not all.
This study also showed that the testosterone boost was entirely dose-dependent and it could reach up to a 52% increase with an 800 mg dose of caffeine.
Since caffeine can also improve exercise performance, it may be beneficial to drink some coffee before a workout.
You won’t have a problem drinking caffeine before a workout, as long as your workout is in the morning or early on in the afternoon.
But if you workout at night, the caffeine can mess up your sleeping schedule which is not only bad for muscle growth and fat loss.
Indeed, sleep deprivation is absolutely terrible for testosterone levels. So definitely make sure that you plan accordingly.
Multiple studies on rodents show that onions can help increase testosterone. (17)
One study even found that rodents who received high amounts of fresh onion juice for 20 days had testosterone levels that were more than 210% higher than those in the placebo group.
In rats, it went as far as a 300% increase in male hormone levels. (18)
Again, this doesn’t directly translate over to humans because we’re not mice and rats.
But the one human study available also found that consuming an onion extract for 4 weeks helped increase testosterone levels. Although, it wasn’t nearly as high of an increase as seen in rodents. (19)
In general, it does seem that onions can help increase testosterone levels. And unless you experience digestive issues, it won’t hurt to add them to your diet.
But more human research needs to be available to make a definitive conclusion about how much they boost T levels.
#9 Probiotic foods
Probiotic foods are rich in live bacteria that are similar to the bacteria that already inhabit our digestive tract.
These microorganisms have multiple functions for our health, including the synthesis of amino acids, short-chain fatty acids, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B12, as well as the fermentation of non-digestible carbohydrates.
Based on studies on mice, they also seem to play a role in testosterone production. (20)
One study in particular found that male mice that routinely consumed purified lactic acid bacteria increased serum testosterone levels compared to other mice of the same age that did not eat these bacteria. (21)
So, probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut may be beneficial for testosterone levels. And some of these can also help you increase your saturated fat intake which, as I said earlier, can help further.
One medium-sized banana supplies you with about 8 percent of your daily magnesium needs and 10 percent of your daily potassium needs.
On top of that, a banana is a high-quality, fast-digesting carb source. One medium-sized banana will provide you about 28 grams of carbs.
#10 White button mushrooms
While estrogen is primarily a female sex hormone men also have small amounts in their bodies.
For men, estrogen is produced when testosterone is converted into estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase.
So, preventing that conversion would result in higher levels of testosterone.
It so happens that white button mushrooms contain natural inhibitors for the aromatase enzyme.
However, there are no studies available specifically on men that directly show that white button mushrooms will inhibit the aromatization of testosterone.
Nevertheless, human studies do show that they can have such an effect based on research done on breast cancer cells.
By inhibiting aromatase, white button mushrooms have been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer tumors. (22)
That’s about it, guys. Now, keep in mind that while some foods can help increase your testosterone, many foods can have a negative effect.
Therefore, if you’re currently eating a lot of processed food and not exercising, improving your diet and beginning an exercise program can help affect the hormones in your body positively.
It’ll also help you maintain a healthy level of body fat. And that’s very important because too much body fat is also very detrimental to your testosterone levels.
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- (1) Diets higher in fats (35-40% of total calorie intake) increase testosterone levels compared to lower in fat (20% or less) & very high protein diet decreases testosterone.
See Figure 2 Graphs for both.
- (2) 17.4% increase in testosterone levels amongst Moroccan men after they enhanced their diet with extra virgin olive oil for three weeks.
See Table 3 Chart:
- (3) “Ginger supplementation enhances testosterone production in males.”
- (4) Gingers Testosterone Boosting Effect on Infertile Iraqi Men.
- (5) Men with sufficient Vitamin D Levels had significantly higher testosterone levels.
- (6) During months the men had higher levels of vitamin D (i.e., summer), their T levels were higher.
- (7) Not getting enough zinc can reduce testosterone levels significantly.
- (8) Indole-3-Carbinol converts estrogen into less potent hormones and leads to its increased excretion through urine.
- (9) Reducing the levels of estrogen are beneficial for testosterone production. That’s because high estrogen can suppress the release of luteinizing hormone (LH).
- (10) “Consumption of pomegranate pure juice has significantly increased salivary testosterone levels (average of 24%).”
- (11) Pomegranate may boost testosterone because of its anti-aromatase properties, which reduces the amount of testosterone converted into estrogen.
- (12) 5-DHT is a form of testosterone that has even higher androgenic activity and might have an even more powerful effect on muscle growth.
- (13) Most grains, and especially those containing phytoestrogens may inhibit 5-Alpha Reductase and lower DHT levels.
- (14) Researchers found that a type of grain called sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) enhanced 5-DHT by over 54.7%.
See bar graph:
- (15) Caffeine-containing gum during high-intensity exercise increased salivary testosterone by around twelve percent compared to a placebo. This also led to higher plasma testosterone levels.
See Line Graph:
- (16) After ingesting caffeine, 24 rugby players had a 15% increase in testosterone levels in saliva.
The testosterone increase is dose-dependent, and it can reach up to a 52% increase after an 800-mg dose.
- (17) Multiple studies in rodents found onion to increase testosterone.
- (18) 210-300% increase in testosterone for male rodents after 3 weeks of onion juice (lower boost for human beings).
See Table 1:
- (19) Human study also found that consuming an onion extract for four weeks increases testosterone levels.
- (20) Based on studies in mice, microorganisms in our digestive tracts seem to play a role in testosterone production.
- (21) “Male Mice routinely consumed purified lactic acid bacteria originally isolated from human milk. They had larger testicles and increased serum testosterone levels compared to their age-matched controls.”
- (22) White button mushrooms seem to have such an anti-aromatization effect based on studies done on breast cancer cells.