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Testosterone 101: Your Guide to Increasing Testosterone

A Black man with a shaved head squats with a barbell resting on his chest to increase testosterone.
Fitness & Nutrition Editor
Undine is currently studying fitness, health, and wellness to become a certified trainer. She writes articles for foodspring about nutrition and fitness. She also creates free food programs.

Testosterone is a hormone produced naturally in the body. It’s particularly well known in the fitness industry, as it’s said to have a muscle growth-promoting function. Are you wondering how to increase testosterone in your body? Let’s shed some light!

Functions of the Hormone

Testosterone is considered the key hormone for muscles for good reason. It’s not for nothing that there are so many tips and tricks out there to try and alter testosterone levels. But does increasing your testosterone make sense at all? To answer this question, let’s take a quick look at the functions of the sex hormone:

Testosterone is one of the body’s sex hormones. It’s also generally thought of as the “male hormone.” Testosterone is also produced in AFAB bodies, though, and serves other functions beyond causing larger muscles, prominent facial features, and thicker hair and beard growth. Studies show that the hormone also influences the transport of certain neurotransmitters in our body, our cardiovascular system, and our bone health¹, to name just a few!

A testosterone deficiency is often associated with depression and mood swings. Of course, if you have too much or too little in your body, the imbalance will have your emotions on a rollercoaster! You’ll find the perfect good-mood recipe in our recipe collection, though. What do you think of a plate of Protein Pasta with Salmon and Asparagus?

avocado toast can increase testosterone

How Do You Recognize a Testosterone Deficiency?

The symptoms of a testosterone deficiency vary. They usually affect physical, mental, or sexual well-being. Depressive moods, hair loss, or a lowered libido can be the first signs of a testosterone deficiency². However, it is quite difficult for non-experts to clearly identify a hormone deficiency.

If you feel that you have a testosterone deficiency, we recommend that you consult a doctor. Your doctor will be able to measure your hormone levels accurately and tell you whether it is advisable for you to increase your testosterone levels. We always recommend that you consult with a doctor before and while you actively make any changes to your hormone balance!

How to Increase Testosterone with Natural Home Remedies

Not infrequently, men around the world hope to achieve better muscle mass growth by increasing their testosterone levels. Synthetic hormone supplements aren’t always necessary for this. Find out how you can increase your muscle growth in other ways in our article on muscle building. If you’d like to increase your testosterone level naturally, there are several methods. Here are some of the most popular and well-researched home remedies:

Avocado, Salmon, and Nuts for Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Testosterone is made from cholesterol. Therefore, a high-fat diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids can promote your testosterone production. Good fats can be found in avocados, salmon, nuts, seeds, and high-quality oils like olive oil. In general, it’s a healthier choice to eat more good fats and fewer saturated fats. Need a boost? How about our Omega-3 Capsules? They’re vegan and all natural!

Salmon and roasted vegetables in a parchment-paper parcel

Cheese, Beans, Yogurt and Fish for Zinc

Zinc is an important component of numerous enzymes and proteins. It’s involved in a variety of processes in the body, including cell growth and various metabolic processes. It’s also said to have a testosterone increasing function³. As a rule, men have a higher zinc requirement than women. In most cases, however, a balanced diet is enough to ensure that you get enough zinc. Try some cheese, beans, yogurt, meat, seafood, or nuts for your fix.

A lack of zinc can also lead to low concentration and fatigue. With our ZN:MG Capsules, you can ensure you’re getting enough zinc, plus magnesium. Completely chemical-free.

Soak Up the Rays for Vitamin D

Vitamin D promotes normal testosterone production and assists with the metabolic processes associated with it⁴. Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the sun hormone. Just 15 minutes of sunshine a day can be enough to cover your vitamin requirements. Eggs, herring, salmon, and avocado are also packed with vitamin D.

Garlic for Allicin

Garlic and other leek-like vegetables contain a relatively high amount of allicin. Allicin is a sulfur-like amino acid which is said to have antibacterial and cortisol-inhibiting properties. Cortisol is our stress hormone. It works against testosterone and can reduce its production⁵. Of course, this raises another question: Are you a big garlic fan? If not, you might want to look for another solution.

Intermittent Fasting

In addition to the right diet, a short period of fasting can increase your low testosterone levels. Having a short fasting period every day noticeably increases the testosterone level in your body, according to one study⁶. Intermittent fasting is a simple way to incorporate a short period of fasting into your everyday life. Fans of intermittent fasting schedule their fasting periods overnight. For example, you would start fasting in the evening after supper and eat again the next day at noon.

Tips how to increase testosterone: try a poke bowl with some peanut butter! Image of a poke bowl from above, with bright fish cubes, edamame, diced cucumber, radish slices, and rice

Weight Training and Interval Training

Physical activity is good for your health — this isn’t exactly a secret. But working out is also an effective booster for your testosterone production. Studies have proven that the more intense the training, the higher the production⁷. This applies to both men and women, and is why weight training and interval training are particularly suitable for noticeably increasing your testosterone levels in the body.

In contrast to conventional cardio training, interval training has the advantage of training in alternating phases of work and rest. You can do internal training with almost any sport, such as jogging, swimming, cycling, or bodyweight training. For example, you could alternate between sprinting for a few minutes and running slowly for a few minutes on a treadmill. HIIT is a well-known form of interval training.

A white woman does a plank with one hand on a ball and the other on the floor

Weight training can also help boost your testosterone⁸. If you love to lift heavy weights in the gym, stick to the basics. The advantage of these exercises is that they activate both small and large muscle groups, which in turn causes the body to release more testosterone. The basic exercises include:

  • Squats
  • Bench presses
  • Deadlifts
  • Push-ups
  • Shoulder presses
  • Rowing

To make sure you execute these with perfect form, get our muscle building guide. There you’ll find detailed exercise descriptions, pictures, and expert tips to optimize your muscle building workout. And you can try our free workouts, tailor-made based on your fitness level, goal, and how much time you’ve got to get sweaty!

Our tip: Don’t forget to give your muscles enough protein after you work out. Our Whey Protein is ideal. Each shake contains nearly 23g of protein! The protein powder dissolves easily in water, which means you can drink it anytime, anywhere. 

Hazelnut Oat Shake using hazelnut Whey Protein from foodspring

Get Enough Sleep

One of the easiest ways to increase your testosterone is to get enough good, quality sleep⁹. Our body produces a lot of hormones at night in particular. On average, a person needs 8 hours of quality sleep. So if you frequently sleep too little, you not only run the risk of not being on top of your game the next day, you can also upset your hormonal balance. Is your mind always racing when you crawl into bed? Try our hints to settle into a soothing evening routine that’ll make you ready to drop off into dreamland.

Increasing Testosterone With Medications

To increase the testosterone level in the body for both men and women, there are numerous products on the market. Before you try to increase your testosterone levels with the help of medication or dietary supplements, you should consult a professional. A doctor can examine your hormone levels closely and choose the best treatment method for you. It’s often enough to change your diet. Many micronutrients influence our hormone balance and support normal testosterone production.

Nutritional Supplements for a Boost

If you often fail to cover your micronutrients sufficiently, dietary supplements can be a useful support. In no case, however, should they replace a healthy and balanced diet. Zinc and Vitamin D are often used to increase testosterone levels. Always pay attention to the quality and manufacturer of your food supplements.

Our tip: Summer sunshine – the best way to get enough Vitamin D is in the sun! But it’s not always shining, especially in autumn and winter, so a little support can’t hurt. Our Vitamin D3K2 Drops are like liquid sunshine. High-quality Vitamin D in combination with Vitamin K. Easy dosage. Chemical-free.

a photo of foodspring's Vitamin Drops D3K2

Increasing Testosterone with BCAAs

Taking BCAAs in conjunction with a tough training program can also increase testosterone levels¹⁰. Among supplements, BCAAs are considered to be real multi-taskers for muscle mass. BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids. They include three of the body’s 9 essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These play an important role in muscle tone and provide you with enough energy during your workout.

Herbal Remedies

Besides zinc, vitamin D, and BCAAs, there are also some herbal remedies you can try. Some plants contain phytoandrogens, which are virtually the herbal version of testosterone. Increased intake of food with a high phytoandrogen content is said to have a positive effect on testosterone production in humans. This assumption is not clearly proven scientifically, however.

The following plants contain comparatively high levels of phytoandrogens:

  • Ginseng
  • Nettle root
  • Maca
  • Pine nut extract
  • Olive leaf extract
  • Pine pollen
  • Goat’s-head herb

There are several supplements that contain all of these, and we recommend you make sure any products you try are really 100% vegetable based. Ideally, you should consult a doctor you trust before starting with any of these. 

Mann trainiert mit Battle Ropes

Avoiding Testosterone Downers

We often wish we had a miracle pill for all our problems. But instead of just looking for ways to increase your testosterone levels, you should also avoid things that lower them. An unhealthy lifestyle is sometimes the cause of a testosterone deficiency. Being overweight, stressed, underslept, and consuming too much alcohol and nicotine can all have a negative influence on your testosterone production. Reducing these factors can do wonders for your health!

High Percentage of Body Fat

Various studies have shown that people who are overweight are often testosterone deficient. Increased body fat may be the reason for this, but this hasn’t been clearly proven. By the way, more chest tissue in men isn’t a clear indication of a testosterone deficiency. The causes of fat accumulation in the breast area in men vary, but, in any case, regular exercise and a healthy and balanced diet prevent an imbalance in hormone levels and also reduce one’s body fat percentage.

Our tip: Need a little help? Our Shape Shake 2.0 gives you an extra leg up to help you maintain or lose your goal weight*. And it’s delicious, too.

Alcohol and Nicotine

Excessive alcohol consumption can also have a negative effect on testosterone production. Beer in particular is anything but good for testosterone production. Allegedly, the hops in beer are one of the phytoestrogens which, in contrast to phytoandrogens, provides our body with plant estrogen. But excessive consumption of other alcoholic beverages certainly also has a negative influence on the hormone¹¹.

Smoking is not exactly good for your health – that’s no surprise either. But whether the nicotine contained in cigarettes not only harms your lungs but also has a negative effect on your testosterone level is not yet clear¹².

Stress and Lack of Sleep

Stress and its health consequences are almost the norm these days, but stress can also affect the hormone balance of our body¹³ because in stressful situations our body releases cortisol, which has a negative influence on testosterone production. Particularly when young men suffer from a testosterone deficiency, persistent stress is a common cause.

The same applies to sleep deprivation: anyone who sleeps too little over a long period of time risks high testosterone losses. Studies show that 4 hours of sleep per night compared to 8 hours can already lead to losses of up to 60 percent¹⁴. The reason for this is the lack of the REM phase – deep sleep. During this phase, our brain gives the body instructions for hormone production. If we do not get enough sleep, we no longer enter the REM phase. As a result, only a few neurotransmitters for hormone production are produced.

Therefore, always make sure you get enough sleep. On average, you should get about 8 hours of sleep a night. Resting during the day also helps to reduce your stress level. A suitable method is power napping, which is a small, short nap.

Schlafende Frau
©Daly and Newton

Measuring Your Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels are measured using a blood test by a doctor. The internationally accepted normal range of male levels is: 

Total testosterone: > 12.1 nmol/L

Free testosterone: 243 pmol/L¹⁵

The value for women is far below that. Various studies have also shown that levels decrease by about 0.4 – 1 percent per year from the age of 45 onwards. Although simply brought on by age, the decrease can be amplified by concomitant diseases or the above-mentioned factors.

Increasing Testosterone in Women

All bodies naturally produce this hormone. However, cis women might not appreciate having higher levels of testosterone. Apart from causing Olympic-level controversies, higher testosterone levels in women can lead to unwanted facial hair, a deeper voice, and not getting a period.

But too little testosterone is not good either. A deficiency can also lead to a lower sex drive, particularly during menopause¹⁶.  Treatment methods for increasing testosterone in women are still in their infancy. 

Studies have shown that the same compounds that are used for men for testosterone replacement are not similarly effective.

Our summary

Testosterone is involved in many different functions in the body. It has an influence on the physical, mental. and sexual well-being of both men and women.

You can increase your testosterone levels by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and exercising regularly. The supplementation of hormone-enhancing drugs should always be discussed with a doctor.

Excessive alcohol consumption and lack of sleep can have a negative effect on testosterone levels.

Women also need a sufficient supply. So far, however, there are only a few studies that investigate the connection between a testosterone deficiency or excess and the resulting health consequences for women.

*Replacing two daily meals with one Shape Shake 2.0 each contributes to weight loss as part of a low-calorie diet. Replacing a meal helps you maintain weight loss. The product fulfills the intended purpose only in the context of a low-calorie diet.  A low-calorie diet must also include other foods. Make sure to drink enough fluids every day. Make sure to eat a varied and balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  • Antonio Bianco (2014): Alcohol consumption and hormonal alterations related to muscle hypertrophy: a review


  • Jie Zhao et. al (2016): Cigarette Smoking and Testosterone in Men and Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies


  • Brigitte M Kudielka und Stefan Würst (2010): Human Models in Acute and Chronic Stress: Assessing Determinants of Individual Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity and Reactivity


  • Victor H-H Goh, Terry Y-Y Tong (2010): Sleep, Sex Steroid Hormones, Sexual Activities, and Aging in Asian Men


  • Ärzteblatt (2020): Testosteronmangel im Alter: Normal oder pathologisch?


  • Rabikul M Islam et. al (2019): Safety and efficacy of testosterone for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trial data


  • A S Prasad et. al (1996): Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults


  • S Pilz et. al (2010): Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men


  • Saleem Ali Banihani (2019): Testosterone in Males as Enhanced by Onion ( Allium Cepa L.)


  • S Rödjmark, A Asplund, S Rössner (1989): Pituitary-testicular Axis in Obese Men During Short-Term Fasting


  • Hiroshi Kumagai et. al (2016): Increased physical activity has a greater effect than reduced energy intake on lifestyle modification-induced increases in testosterone


  • Jakob L Vingren et. al (2010): Testosterone Physiology in Resistance Exercise and Training: The Up-Stream Regulatory Elements


  • Gary Wittert (2014): The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men


  • Mehrnoosh Bahadorani et. al (2019): Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation and/or Aerobic Exercise on Mouse Sperm Quality and Testosterone Production


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