We’ve already seen that an important part of reclaiming your masculinity is avoiding certain foods such as hopped beer and soy, which can seriously lower your testosterone.
Here, we’ll look at five foods you can eat to raise your testosterone, or to restore a more favourable balance of testosterone against other hormones such as estrogen and cortisol.
Boost Your Testosterone Levels Today
Testosterone is the hormone most associated with masculinity, and although it’s also important to women’s bodies and their health, the increased levels of testosterone in the male body are responsible for the host of traits that make men men, rather than women.
Body hair, muscle mass, bone density, strength, aggression, dominance and competitiveness – increases in all of these things are associated with increased testosterone in men.
Falling testosterone levels are a fact of life for all men as they age. After the age of 30, a man can expect to lose 1% of his testosterone every year for the rest of his life.
But the natural reduction all men can expect to suffer pales in comparison with the society-wide collapse in testosterone levels that has occurred over the second half of the twentieth and the first quarter of the twenty-first century.
Men today have considerably less testosterone than men of the same age even a single generation ago — and testosterone levels continue to plummet as lifestyles become more sedentary and food choices are increasingly “unhealthy”.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed a significant reduction in the testosterone levels of men since the 1980s. A 60-year-old American man in 2004, for example, had 17% less testosterone than a 60-year-old American man in 1987.
These findings were corroborated in a study of Danish men, who displayed a two-digit decline between the 1920s and the 1960s.
Apart from taking a blood test to establish whether you have low T, there are various symptoms you’ll experience if you have low Testosterone levels.
The main symptoms include:
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility problems (inability to conceive)
Boys with low testosterone levels may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.
In extreme cases of low testosterone, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).
Hypogonadism has a variety of causes, which include:
- Certain genetic disorders
- Pituitary disorders, including pituitary tumours and injuries
- Inflammatory diseases
- Obesity and also rapid weight loss
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Steroid use
Obesity, in particular, is an increasingly common cause of hypogonadism.
So what should you eat if you want to raise your testosterone levels?
Garlic contains the compound called allicin which can be useful for lowering your levels of cortisol, a hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland.
But what’s cortisol got to do with testosterone?
Under stress, your body produces cortisol, which has an impact on other bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. Some, but not all, of a man’s testosterone is produced in the adrenal gland, with the rest being produced in the gonads.
Cortisol also competes for the same muscular receptor sites as testosterone, and so the more cortisol you have in your system, the more competition testosterone will face at the receptor sites.
Therefore, by reducing the amount of cortisol in your system you allow testosterone to be produced more effectively by the adrenal gland and prevent it from facing so much competition to bind to skeletal muscle receptors.
So while garlic itself act isn’t a testosterone-boosting food, it reduces cortisol and as a result can help boost testosterone levels.
Garlic is most potent in its raw form. You can either eat raw cloves (skinned and chopped in half) or you can take a raw garlic supplement. In our free ebook, ‘How To Lose 20lb and Build Muscle in 12 Weeks’, we give a recipe for a potent homemade pre-workout formula using raw garlic.
While we’re on the subject of cortisol and stress, it’s worth also saying that both can lead to overeating, weight gain and the storage of unhealthy body fat around the internal organs, all of which can reduce your testosterone levels [R] [R] .
Eliminating as much cortisol and chronic stress from your life as possible, whether through your diet or through practices such as meditation and visualisation, is an essential part of restoring your natural masculine balance [R].
Bananas and pineapple
Surprised? Well, don’t be. Both of these fruits contain bromelain, a protease enzyme which has been shown to have testosterone-boosting effects.
One study of cyclists taking part in a six-day race showed that bromelain supplementation enhanced recovery and also prevented reductions in testosterone [R].
Bromelain’s power as a protease enzyme cannot be overstated; pineapple pickers are often known to have their fingerprints worn down by repetitive exposure to the fruit. Franco Columbu famously ate pineapples as part of his post-workout meals.
Bananas are also rich in B vitamins, which have also been shown to be essential in maintaining healthy levels of testosterone. A study of rats, for instance, showed that deficiencies in vitamin B6 reduced testosterone synthesis [R].
Chronic low testosterone levels also seem to be associated with chronically low levels of vitamin B12, as the following human study shows [R].
Popeye vindicated? It certainly looks that way.
In fact, after a study at a German university, scientists called for the World Anti-Doping Agency to add ecdysterone – a hormone found in spinach – to the list of prohibited substances for athletes [R] [R].
As part of a 10-week study, researchers split nearly 50 athletes into four groups to assess how ecdysterone affected their physical performance: one was a control group, another received a placebo, and the remaining groups received a daily dose of either two or eight capsules containing 100mg of ecdysterone extracted from spinach. The four groups followed the same strength training programme for the 10 weeks.
The group on ecdysterone enjoyed both increased muscle mass and strength gains. In fact, their strength gains were up to three times those of the other participants.
In another study investigating the compound’s method of action, the authors write:
“The anabolic potency of the ecdysterone was comparable or even higher as found for the anabolic androgenic steroids [dianabol and trenbolox], SARMs or IGF-1”
Ecdysterone doesn’t, in itself, appear to stimulate increased testosterone production, but rather to act on estrogen receptors, suppressing estrogen production [R].
Spinach, though, contains a great many other vitamins and minerals, some of which will directly aid your testosterone. Magnesium is one of these minerals. It helps to free up testosterone in the blood by preventing sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) from binding with testosterone. Only unbound, or free, testosterone can actually be used in the body [R].
It’s worth noting that the dose of ecdysterone given to the participants in the study mentioned earlier was equivalent to the amount contained in 4kg of spinach. Even if you can’t manage that amount on a daily basis, a decent helping of spinach each day will almost certainly help you balance your hormones and chase those gains.
Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables
Don’t forget to eat your greens!
While we don’t recommend eating chicken, rice, and broccoli ad nauseum, you should not fail to include them in your diet as they can positively affect your testosterone levels.
Indole-3-carbinol is a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables (including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale). As well as serving as a powerful antioxidant and reducing cell damage from free radicals, indole-3-carbinol serves to regulate and suppress estrogen production.
A study at Rockefeller University showed that men who took 500mg of indole-3-carbinol daily for a week enjoyed a 50% reduction in estrogen. As we’ve seen with ecdysterone, estrogen suppression is a powerful way of increasing the effectiveness of the testosterone you have available [R].
Eggs are one of nature’s most complete foods. As well as being a source of inexpensive, high-quality protein – they contain all nine essential amino acids – eggs are rich in various vitamins and minerals including selenium, zinc, iron and copper and vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, D, E and K.
But it’s a substance that has become almost a bogey-word in health circles that makes eggs a must-have food for raising your testosterone. That’s right: cholesterol – and eggs have it in abundance. One large egg contains 186mg of cholesterol, over half the recommended daily intake.
Believe it or not, there appears to be a closer correlation between cholesterol intake and lean muscle mass gain than between the latter and protein intake.
The work of Steven Riechman, for instance, has shown a linear dose-reponse between cholesterol intake and lean muscle mass increases [R].
A second study showed similar results [R].
Another study, specifically on egg consumption, showed that consumption of whole eggs stimulated more muscle growth (measured as myofibrillar protein synthesis) than did consumption of egg whites alone. This is important because it is the yolk that contains the most cholesterol [R].
The anabolic power of eggs is one of bodybuilding’s forgotten secrets. The massive consumption of raw eggs, and with them massive amounts of cholesterol, was an essential part of Vince Gironda’s legendary 36-eggs-a-day diet, which he also dubbed the ‘Hormone Precursor’ diet. Gironda, an anti-steroid advocate his entire career, claimed that an eight-week cycle of egg shakes was the closest a bodybuilder could get to taking steroids without actually taking them. We’ll examine this diet in detail in another article soon.
We’ve already examined Gironda’s steak-and-eggs or ‘Maximum Definition’ diet as a means of losing fat weight while retaining muscle mass.
The precise mechanism by which cholesterol increases muscle mass is not clear at present. It may have something to do with effects on cell membranes, inflammation or lipid raft formation and cell signalling – or all of those things.
There’s evidence from a number of studies on saturated fat, which is a building block of cholesterol, that diets high in saturated fat increase testosterone production. Low saturated fat intake is associated with reduced testosterone [R] [R].
If you’re worried about dietary cholesterol intake, there’s growing evidence that actually you really shouldn’t be. In fact, there’s evidence that most people’s consumption of dietary cholesterol has nothing to do with their blood cholesterol levels, and even the much-vaunted link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease is now being re-examined [R].
This is far from an exhaustive list of foods that can positively affect your testosterone levels. In our upcoming ebook, tentatively titled ‘Reclaim Your Masculinity and Win the War on Low T’, we will provide a comprehensive guide to increasing your testosterone levels and becoming the man you really should be.
Within the above guide, we will include a cookbook and our tips as to how you can become a high-performance, high energy man to soar above your peers. Boosting your testosterone levels is an easy and relatively cheap way to level up.
We also recommend other foods such as salmon, steak, and avocados to help raise testosterone levels — but, as we previously mentioned, the list would be exhaustive! You can check out foods you should avoid like the plague if you seek to intensify your manhood and vitality.
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We have a book on Keto Dieting that can help you realign your diet towards a model more conducive to boosting testosterone levels.
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