Summary: There are three main pathways to increase testosterone: Increase production in the body, manage other hormones, and increase androgen receptor expression.
This post is to increase testosterone naturally. AAS and TRT are easier and more powerful avenues to go about this, and if that's the route you choose to take that's fine by me.
Increase Natural Production of Testosterone
Lift: I had to start with this. There’s a reason lifting is the #1 piece of advice given here. It has a litany of benefits, including increased testosterone. It’s intuitive but here’s a study that shows weighted jumping increased testosterone 7.5% over 11 weeks. Another study for resistance training.
If you’re new to lifting check out BB.com’s Big Man on Campus workout regime. Pretty solid beginner with videos, diet tips, etc.
If you’re more advanced I like Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred for HIIT or his Shortcut to Size.
Keep your balls cool:Sleeping naked is its own hygienic question - but studies show that keeping your balls cool will increase your testosterone production. Cold Showers might be one way to do this, I'm having trouble finding a solid study that finds one solely on cold showers and test, but the logic follows. There are other reputed benefits, too, such as an abetted immune system, decreased anxiety and more.
Sleep Well: There are many studies that correlate more sleep with higher testosterone levels. While you’re sleeping, your body is producing test. Keep your room dark, curtains are preferable to blinds. Up the AC - cooler sleep is better sleep. Use free sleep apps such as Sleep as Android and modify eating times/ stimulant use/ behaviors to maximize deep sleep.
Get F.lux a free program for you computer that filters out blue light, the type of light that can throw off the circadian rhythm, making it difficult to sleep. Bluelight filters are also available for your phones.
Melatonin: The ideal dosage of melatonin for sleep is 0.6 milligrams, so 1mg is probably ok. 3mg is excessive for sleep, but note that melatonin has additional benefits for brain health as well (powerful antioxidant, can cross the blood-brain barrier, seems to ward of dementia if taken in the early stages of the disease), which might justify high doses.
Also, melatonin entrains the circadian rhythm, so take it about 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. Secondly, take it at the same time each day.
Magnesium: citrate, glycinate, or malate. Magnesium Oxide is poorly absorbed and the most common form, avoid it. Some individuals may not tolerate magnesium well as it is a laxative, especially in high doses.
Consume Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Eating or supplementing bioavailable forms of vitamins and minerals that are integral to testosterone production is an easy way to raise your test. This is only true if you’re are currently lacking sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals - a blood test can show you pretty easily.
Zinc is most notable for bringing T levels up to par. Many of you are familiar with ZMA for testosterone. Skip the ZMA and go for the proper dose of bioavailable zinc, a 30mg dose of Zinc Picolinate. If using for an extended period of time consider taking a copper supplement at a different time of day as zinc depletes copper and outcompetes it for absorption. I believe that zinc only needs to be supplemented with copper (1-2 mg) if your dosage exceeds 100mg per day.
Vitamin D is a more common deficiency, especially if you’re not outside with your shirt off often. The RDA is 400 IU, that’s to prevent rickets, not optimize testosterone. Examine.com the best resource in terms of compiling and analyzing studies notes a 3000IU per day supplement in deficient men improved testosterone significantly. Get the D3 form, skip D2 as it can be harmful.
Most men can take 5000-10000 IU daily and end up with levels in the 50-70 range, which is considered optimal. Best option here is to work with your doctor to test your levels periodically. Note, it is possible to overdose on D3 and it can be fatal, so be careful (50,000 IU per day for 2 months is enough to cause overdose in men).
Magnesium, great for sleep, also correlates with high testosterone as this study found.
Cholesterol is a building block of all hormones, and eating cholesterol does not lead to increases in cholesterol in the body. I wouldn’t suggest supplementing this (I don't know that such a supplement is even available), but eat it from healthy sources. Sardines, oysters and eggs are good sources of cholesterol that also contain solid amounts of zinc, D3, and a litany of other micronutrients.
Don't ejaculate alone: Several commenters mentioned not masturbating and the subreddit nofap has a cult like following. This study shows increases in testosterone in combination with ejaculation abstinence. Having sex likely increases testosterone [need citation].
Intermittent Fasting (IF): Short-term overnight fasting jacks testosterone up to 180%. This one is simple; don’t eat for 16-24 hours. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Adopt a Ketogenic Diet (KD) (Controversial suggestion - there is plenty of evidence FOR carbohydrates to increase testosterone. Do your research on this one, at the very least, it’s an easy way to shed fat fast.)
This diet is high-fat, low carb, moderate protein. (80% fat, 5% carbs, 15% protein. This is a more serious lifestyle change and the science is not as explored as it could be. Anecdotally it amps my energy and clarity of thought. YMMV Check out the keto subreddit for more information or Peter Attia’s blog - an expert on the subject.
Mechanisms for increasing testosterone include:
Decreases fasting glucose levels leading to healthier gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) cells thereby increasing the natural release of testosterone.
Increases consumption of cholesterol, a component necessary for the body to create testosterone, as a side effect of the diet (e.g. eggs, bacon, fish, cheese which are high in protein and fat and virtually no carbohydrates.)
Increases consumption of saturated fat which is positively correlated with testosterone. Saturated fat is important in moderation as studies consistently show that this does raise cholesterol.
Decreasing estrogen is important because estradiol, an estrogen, can bind to androgen receptors. Moreover fat cells contain the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen; estrogen then increases body fat. Which increases estrogen. Then body fat. You get the picture - therefore it’s imperative to lower your estrogen, to decrease body fat and maximize testosterone.
Lower your body fat, see previously mentioned points about intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet for quick ways to do so.
Eat cruciferous vegetables. Kale. Cauliflower. Broccoli. They contain Diindolylmethane (DIM) which in moderate doses lowers estrogen and converts existing forms into less powerful forms.. A mechanism DIM prevents is aromatization, the process whereby testosterone is converted into estrogen. Stay away from high doses, however, as more isn't better, and can reverse the effects of DIM. A couple servings of greens such as broccoli or kale per day is advisable.
Limit exposure to BPA: BPA is excreted quickly, but a common source is the lining of canned foods, and also storing fatty foods in plastic containers.
Avoid parabens: in your soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.
Avoiding synthetic fragrances and dyes: in detergents and soaps.
rpscrote's post on specific endocrine disruptors to avoid here
The Seychelle Water Bottle which user 333i suggested, filters out pretty much everything in your water, including estrogens.
I'm going to give our very own TRP produced post by rpscrote a shout, his post Optimize your Testosterone to Cortisol ratio for mental and physical gains goes really in-depth.
In short there is a relationship between cortisol and testosterone, lowering C and maximizing T go hand-in-hand. A preview of his post:
Adding on to his post:
He mentioned that meditation decreases cortisol: aim to meditate once a day for 5-10 minutes and build on that. HeadSpace is a solid and easy place to start.
His post mentions Ashwagandha something I use and can't recommend more. I get mine from PowderCity because bulk powder from there is pretty cheap.
Chewing gum decreases cortisol and anxiety
Increase androgen receptor (AR) expression: This is important because even if you have sky-high testosterone, it won't matter if you don't have any place to express it. Essentially, by increasing AR expression you'll be better utilizing the testosterone you already have, whether it's by acting more alpha through AR receptors in the brain, more hair growth, or easier muscle maintenance.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate up-regulates androgen receptors, making them more numerous throughout your body.
Iodine is a risky suggestion, proceed with caution and do your research. I haven't found solid enough evidence, but theoretically it is used to detoxify androgen receptors by ridding them of toxic halides. See more here.
Lessons Learned: Testosterone is influenced by a plurality of different factors and there are a number of strategies, lifestyle changes, and supplements that can help us increase it.
I've personally implemented every suggestion and one point or another, feel free to ask specific questions.
edit: s/o to /u/riding_stoned for their insightful comment on melatonin, D3, estrogenic products and zinc. I've added it to the full body pretty much verbatim.
And another shout to rpscrote - I linked his testosterone/cortisol post previously and have now added his post on a couple endocrine disruptors to avoid, again he goes further in detail than I have.
edit2: Seeing as this post has gotten popular do not buy me reddit gold I do not support reddit. If you appreciate this content and you want more feel free to donate at this bitcoin address 13qRaHfWwrYPe3d99sgxGjSWBWG885iSUx
I am continuing to update this post. I will be writing a post on the ketogenic diet and another on the optimal pre-workout supplementation, and some donations would definitely motivate me to get those in. Either way expect them in the coming weeks.