How I Doubled My Testosterone Levels Naturally and You Can Too
by Brett McKay
Art of Manliness
At last we’ve
reached the final post of Testosterone Week and based on the comments
from you all, this is the post you’ve been most looking forward
to. Today I’m going to share what I did during my 90-day experiment
in order to double my total and free testosterone levels.
I have no super cool “secrets” to share and there are no easy shortcuts
to increasing your T. If you were expecting some magical potion
or supplement or weird body hack that will instantly and naturally
increase your T levels, what follows is bound to disappoint. Despite
what some companies or websites might tell you, there’s no
single thing that will boost your testosterone naturally
for the long term.
truth is that increasing testosterone naturally simply comes down
to making some long-term changes in your diet and lifestyle. As
you’ll see, what I did to increase T largely boils down to
eating better, exercising smarter, and getting more sleep. That’s
pretty much it. But as with most things in life, the devil is in
the details, so I’ll share with you exactly what I did and
provide research that explains why the things I did helped boost
The good news
here is that while the things I recommend below will boost your
T, their effect is hardly limited to testosterone. They’ll greatly
increase your overall health and well-being at the same time.
Ready to get
While I do
have a pretty manly mustache, I’m not a doctor or a medical
expert. I’m a guy with a law degree he’s never used who blogs
about manliness. What I’m about to share shouldn’t be
taken as a substitute for qualified medical expertise. It’s
simply my experience and views on the subject. Before you make any
changes in lifestyle or diet, talk to your doctor or healthcare
provider. Be smart.
Let’s do a
quick review of what I shared in the introduction to this series.
August of last year was a tough month for me, primarily because
of a huge and grueling project we were in the midst of here on the
site. I was stressed out and my sleeping, healthy eating habits,
and workout regimen all suffered. At the end of the month I got
my testosterone levels tested and found that my total T was 383
ng/dL and my free T was 7.2 pg/mL – close to the average for an
I then began
a 90-day experiment to see how diet and lifestyle changes could
boost that number.
I started the experiment at that point is because I know a lot of
guys who live my last-August lifestyle all the time, and I wanted
to see what would happen to an “average” guy who turned things around.
At the same time, there was no “normal” time in my life which would
have been better for me to start the experiment. My stress level
and diet fluctuates throughout the year anyway, so at any point,
factors in my current lifestyle would have influenced the results.
I wanted to begin at “ground zero.”
After 90 days,
I had my testosterone tested again. My total T had gone up to 778
ng/dL and my free T had risen to 14.4 pg/mL. I had doubled my testosterone.
I know the
experiment didn’t simply bring me back to my pre-August levels because
of the fact that when I learned that the original test I took can
sometimes overestimate your T levels, I took a more accurate test
around four months after the start of the experiment (I’ve continued
the lifestyle changes made during the experiment) and my total T
had gone up again to 826.9 ng/dL.
If you’re already
healthy, making the changes I list below will probably not double
your T levels. But if you’re starting at ground zero, then you should
see pretty dramatic results.
that all out of the way, let’s talk about exactly what I did to
double my T levels in 90 days.
Our diet plays
a huge role in our testosterone production. Our glands need certain
minerals — like zinc and magnesium — to get testosterone
production started and our Leydig cells need cholesterol to make
testosterone. Some foods — like broccoli, cauliflower, and
cabbage — can help boost T levels by removing estrogens in
our body that lower our T.
change I made to my diet was increasing my fat and cholesterol intake.
There’s a reason why old school strong men would drink raw
eggs — studies
have suggested that higher fat and cholesterol consumption results
in increased levels of total T; men
eating low-fat diets typically have decreased testosterone levels.
The emphasis on increasing fat and cholesterol consumption meant
I got to eat like Ron
Swanson for three months — bacon and eggs and steak was
pretty much the staple of my diet.
But you might
be asking, “Isn’t cholesterol bad for you? Doesn’t
it cause heart disease?”
have enough time or space to cover the ins and outs of cholesterol
in this post, but overall, research is showing that popular beliefs
about cholesterol aren’t completely correct and the public
shouldn’t be as afraid of this molecule as it is.
interested in learning more about the myths and benefits of cholesterol,
I highly recommend reading these in-depth, well-written, and well-researched
articles at Mark’s Daily Apple:
For those interested,
at the end of this section, I share my cholesterol and triglyceride
levels after more than four months of eating copious amounts of
bacon, eggs, meat, and nuts.
a breakdown of what I ate at each meal:
Me All the Bacon and Eggs You Have”
weekdays, I ate what I called the “Ron Swanson Special”
— three slices of bacon and three whole eggs. Aside from being
delicious, it also provided the fats and cholesterol my body needed
to make testosterone. Nitrates freak me out, so I used nitrate-free
mornings, Gus and I went to Braum’s
— pancakes for Gus; breakfast burrito for me. That’s
one of our father/son traditions.
Sundays I typically
skipped breakfast – I usually just wasn’t hungry.
The Man Salad
I know Swanson
wouldn’t approve, but for lunch each weekday (and sometimes
on Saturday) I ate a salad. But it wasn’t just any salad, it was
a Man Salad damnit! I packed as many T-boosting foods as I could
into this thing.
Salad Mix. This was the base of my salad. I used Organic Girl
Greens from Whole Foods. Yeah, I know. The base of my Man Salad
came from a company called Organic Girl. Spinach and other leafy
green vegetables contain minerals like magnesium and zinc, which
have been shown to aid in testosterone production (study
on magnesium, and
Meat, particularly beef, provides our bodies with the protein
it needs to create muscle (more muscle = more T) and the fats
and cholesterol to make testosterone. My meat topping of choice
was sliced up chuck steak. I grilled two of them on Monday and
it lasted me until the next Monday. Every now and then I’d
slow-cook some ribs or brisket to use as my meat topping. My philosophy
was the fattier, the better.
Usually a handful of Brazil nuts or walnuts. Nuts are little fat
bombs that provide the cholesterol that Leydig cells need for
T production. One
study suggest that the selenium in Brazil nuts boosts testosterone.
Just don’t go crazy with them. Too much selenium is no bueno.
Avocados and olives are a great source of the good fats we
need for healthy testosterone production.
Every now and then I’d throw some broccoli into the
salad. Broccoli contains high levels of indoles,
a food compound that has been shown to reduce the bad estrogen
in our bodies that sap testosterone levels.
Oil. I topped my Man Salad off with lots of olive oil. Research
suggests that olive oil helps your Leydig cells (which produce
testosterone) absorb cholesterol better. And as I’ve mentioned
a few times, our Leydig cells need cholesterol to make T. More
cholesterol absorption = more testosterone.
Vinegar. Mostly for taste. It’s also supposed to
help keep your insulin in check.
I bought most
of the ingredients for my Testosterone Salad at Whole Foods. For
those curious, I added up all the ingredients and divided by six
(I typically ate six of these salads in a week). The cost per salad
was roughly $5. That’s about the price many folks pay every
day for a crappy fast food meal. If you’re on a budget, I’m
sure you could get the ingredients at Walmart and bring the cost
per salad down even more.
This is what
I ate for breakfast and lunch almost every single weekday during
my 90-day experiment, and it’s what I continue to eat every weekday
more than four months after my experiment began. And I don’t mind
at all. I guess I am a pretty boring dude.
day I tried to snack on testosterone-healthy foods like nuts, pumpkin
seeds, and broccoli. I’d throw in some dark chocolate every
now and then too.
An added testosterone
benefit of my high fat and balanced protein and carb diet was that
it probably helped me lose some body fat (I went from 18% to 12%
body fat). Studies show that high fat diets actually contribute
to increased body fat loss. And as we discussed earlier, as you
lose body fat, your T production ramps up. Virtuous cycle for the
Whatever (in moderation)
I just ate
what the family was having: chili, chicken and rice, enchiladas.
Whatever. I wasn’t worried too much about carbs. I just watched
my portions and tried to stop eating as soon I was full.
With the exception
of increasing my fat and cholesterol intake, my diet wasn’t
that unconventional. I didn’t follow a strictly low-carb or
Paleo diet because recent research
has suggested that a diet high in protein and low in carbs actually
causes T levels to decrease. With that said, I was judicious
with the carbs. I tried to get most of my carbs from veggies and
fruit, but I didn’t freak out if my wife made us spaghetti
I tried to
be really strict with my diet during the week and relaxed it on
the weekends. Life’s short. I want to be able enjoy a Triple
Stack Sandwich or taquito from
QuikTrip every now and then.
lifelong teetotaler, so alcohol wasn’t on the menu. Some
studies have shown that beer can lower your T levels in a few ways,
but I imagine it would be fine as a weekend indulgence.
you don’t have to follow my exact meal plan. The goal is simply
to eat more high-fat foods.
did all that eggs and steak do to your cholesterol levels?
I was curious
what my cholesterol levels would be after following a diet high
in cholesterol and saturated fat, so I got a full lipid screening
a little more than four months after I began my experiment. Here
are the results:
Cholesterol: 202 mg/dL (Just barely out of the desirable range
of < 200 mg/dL.)
- HDL Cholesterol
(“Good” Cholesterol): 77 mg/dL (Optimal range
is > 60 mg/dL — my HDL levels were great!)
- LDL Cholesterol
(“Bad” Cholesterol): 112 mg/dL (This put me in
the near or above optimal range of 100-129 mg/dL.)
65 mg/dL (< 150 mg/dL is considered normal; < 100 mg/dL
is optimal — mine were downright stellar.)
the raw numbers, overall my lipid screening was pretty dang awesome.
was a bit high, but most doctors agree that total cholesterol isn’t
a good indicator of heart disease risk.
more interesting when you look at the ratios that doctors use to
determine a patient’s risk for heart disease.
cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 2.6:1 (Normal is < 5:1; optimal
is < 3.5:1. Mine was optimal.)
Ratio: .68:1 (Normal is > .3:1; optimal > .4:1. Mine
Ratio: .84:1 (Optimal is < 2:1. Mine was optimal.)
pounding back bacon, eggs, whole milk, and steak for four months,
I still had healthy cholesterol levels.
the rest of the article
© 2013 The Art of Manliness