For millennia, men have used food to boost their libido and perceived “manliness”. We know that oysters were used by the Romans as an aphrodisiac and also by Casanova to boost physical stamina. Modern research has revealed some truth to these claims and the science behind the hormonal effects of these foods may surprise you.
What Nutrients Increase Testosterone?
It’s no mystery that proper nutrition is key to looking and feeling your best, but providing your body with the right dietary components is also central to testosterone production. Testosterone synthesis is a complex process that requires many different nutrients to run smoothly.
Zinc is fundamental to many physiological processes within the body–it helps us to heal, protects us from pathogens, and encourages growth at the cellular level. Besides these functions, there’s evidence that zinc is involved in T production and influences sex drive. Clinical data shows that zinc supplements can raise T levels both in men who have a history of hypogonadism and those with zinc deficiency.
D-Aspartic Acid, an amino acid in meats and animal by-products, is shown to encourage the secretion of T and regulate the production of T and it’s precursors. D-aspartic acid is often listed as an ingredient in protein shakes and testosterone boosting supplements for this reason. Studies show that increasing levels of this simple amino acid can boost both testosterone and sperm production.
Some studies show that supplementing with vitamin D creates “small but clinically significant” increases in T levels, though other similar studies aimed at recreating the experiments failed to achieve the same results We know that the biologically active form of vitamin D is able to interact with the steroidal hormone receptor and that a large number of vitamin D receptors are concentrated in the scrotum. These facts lead many experts to believe that Vitamin D plays a role in T production, though what that role is unclear.
Planning a Testosterone-Boosting Diet
Implementing a T-boosting diet is easier than you’d think if you know how to shop and what to look for. Below are some of the top foods to maximize natural T production and help you meet your nutritional needs too.
Sweet potatoes are packed full of complex carbohydrates which are important for the regulation of blood sugar and circulating levels of T. This tubular also is an excellent source of plant-based protein with an impressive 2 grams per serving.
Studies show that an unproportionate ratio of carbohydrates to protein can cause T levels to fall since both protein and carbs are required for T synthesis. Adding sweet potatoes to your meal plan is a simple way to ensure you get plenty of these macronutrients and a ton of vitamins and minerals too.
Tuna is a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is not only excellent for brain health but is also shown to improve serum testosterone levels in animal models. One serving of this high protein fish contains a quarter of your daily recommended value of Vitamin D and almost no fat. Mackerel, salmon, and sardines have similar nutritional composition if you aren’t crazy about skipjack.
Fortified Milk and Cereal
Fortified milk and cereal are other great sources of vitamin D. Before you dash to the breakfast aisle, keep in mind that not all cereals are created equal. Scan the nutrition labels to make sure your boxed breakfast is fortified with iron and vitamin D before throwing it in your cart. Try to steer clear of brands with long ingredient lists of things you can’t pronounce–those are usually highly-processed and probably won’t do much for your T levels either.
There are many kinds of fortified plant and nut milk available for those who can’t have dairy. Almond, cashew, and oat milk are all great alternatives, but be sure to avoid soy if you’re concerned about T levels.
Egg yolks have gotten a bad rep in the past due to their high cholesterol content. The truth is, the yolk is the most nutritious part of the egg, packing in tons of zinc, folate, and iron. Yolks contain a high concentration of vitamin D3–the steroidal form of vitamin D involved in T production.
Besides being high in protein, beef is also an excellent source of D-Aspartic Acid, which has regulatory and secretory effects on hormone production.
Shellfish and Oysters
Oysters and shellfish are terrific for hormonal and sperm health, thanks to their high zinc content. Eating oysters also triggers a release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which is associated with an increase in libido for some.
Beans are super nutrient-dense and one of the cheapest forms of protein available! One cup of legumes have an average of 15 grams of protein and contains a large percentage of the recommended daily value for calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D!
Foods to Avoid
Men with concerns about T levels should avoid soy products since these can function as weak estrogens and may lower T levels further. Products like tofu, soy milk, edamame, and textured vegetable protein are rich in phytoestrogen, a plant-based estrogen, which can bind to androgen receptors in place of T.
Soy can be particularly hard to avoid since it’s incorporated in many processed foods and goes by many different names when listed on nutritional labels. The best way to avoid soy is to stick with whole foods like raw meats, vegetables, and opt for lightly-processed, whole-grain bread and cereals.
But Testosterone Growth Needs More Than Diet
While following a healthy diet and exercise plan will surely make you feel better, you have to manage your expectations. Adding T-boosting foods can only do so much, and while they may create a slight increase in levels, the results probably aren’t going to be miraculous. The same goes for exercise. Strength training is shown to create temporary spikes in hormone levels, though these effects typically subside within an hour after the workout.
Starting a testosterone-boosting diet early on may help your testosterone levels stay consistent, but it probably won’t correct already low T. A lot of men with low T find success with testosterone replacement therapy, which is currently the only FDA-approved treatment for this condition. If you would like to learn more about how TRT may benefit you, please contact Renew Vitality to schedule a consultation.
This content was reviewed by Dr. Gary Kawesch. Dr. Kawesch graduated from Yale University, getting his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He then got his medical degree at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at USC’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and his ophthalmology residency at the UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. For over 18 years, Dr. Kawesch was one of the foremost ophthalmic surgeons in the US and has consulted with and was a team doctor for seven professional sports teams in California. He continues to work with the Oakland Raiders. He trained with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and helps men increase their vitality, lifespan and overall healthspan.