Have you been diagnosed with low T, or low testosterone?
Or are you curious about what happens to your body when you have low testosterone levels?
In either case, today’s guide can help.
We’ll break down all you need to know about this important hormone, such as:
To start, let’s explore why testosterone is so important.
Testosterone is a hormone and chemical messenger found in both men and women.
Surprised to learn women have testosterone too?
While most people associate testosterone with men (and for good reason), women actually produce a small amount of it in their ovaries as well.
But, for today’s purposes, I’ll be diving into testosterone levels in men specifically.
In men, testosterone is made mostly in the testicles, with a small portion being created in the adrenal glands.
During puberty in boys, testosterone is what’s behind the physical changes that surface, mainly hair growth, a deeper voice and greater muscle mass.
After puberty, testosterone is needed for healthy sexual reproduction and sperm production.
But those aren’t testosterone’s only jobs.
Testosterone also helps…
- Preserve bone density
- Produce and keep the right amount of red blood cells
- Determine your body fat distribution
- Maintain a healthy sex drive
- Balance your mood
The bad news: your testosterone levels naturally decrease with age.
Testosterone levels peak, in most men, during their early 20s.
So by the time your 30s roll around, your testosterone moves in the opposite direction and decreases about 1.5% each year[*].
That’s around a 10% decline with each decade that passes after your 30-year mark.
By the time some men reach age 45-50, their testosterone levels are just 20% of what they used to be in their 20s and 30s[*].
And, unfortunately, this isn’t the only aspect that affects testosterone levels in men. Your lifestyle plays a big role in your hormone levels too.
There are two major lifestyle factors that can reduce your testosterone to dangerous levels:
#1: Prescription and recreational drugs
Prescription drugs may bring testosterone-lowering side effects.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common testosterone killers[*]:
- Statins used to reduce cholesterol also lower other sex hormones such as testosterone.
- Beta-blockers and hypertension medications containing diuretics can also cause a drop in T.
- Opioids taken every 8-12 hours come with an added risk of lowered testosterone levels. They decrease testosterone 5x more than doses taken every four hours.
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds can also lower T levels.
- Glucocorticosteroids that reduce inflammation, such as prednisone, also cause your testosterone levels to fall.
If you’re taking any of those medications and are experiencing the signs of low T (more on this in the next section), you may want to speak with your doctor about other alternatives that won’t affect your hormones levels.
Excessive alcohol and drug usage (even legal, recreational options) can also lower your testosterone levels if you’re not careful.
#2: Estrogen-like Chemicals
Another factor that can hurt healthy testosterone levels is your exposure to xenoestrogen, or estrogen-like chemicals.
I know, you’re probably thinking, How would I know if I’m being exposed to those? I don’t even know what an estrogen-like chemical is!
The short answer is: they’re man-made, industrial chemicals that disrupt normal endocrine functioning and can lead to health defects with high exposure[*]. The most common include:
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Okay, so that establishes what they are, but how do you know if you’ve been in contact with them?
Anytime you use plastic containing bisphenol-A, or BPA, you’re increasing your exposure to xenoestrogen, for example.
But that’s not the only place you’ll find this harmful chemical.
It’s also lurking in these products[*]:
- Canned foods
- Food packaged in plastic
- CDs and DVDs (be honest, are you still using these?)
- Dental fillings
- Eyeglass lenses
Parabens, commonly found in products like shampoo, conditioner, lotions, deodorants and shaving cream, also have this same hormone-reducing effect.
So what’s the big deal about having low T?
While your natural testosterone levels shouldn’t get excessively high, they shouldn’t get too low either.
Lowered T levels can cause[*]:
- Loss of libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Diminished cognitive function
- Lower bone mineral density
- Excessive fat accumulation
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Increased risk of diseases, like osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease[*][*].
- A higher mortality rate[*]
Because this shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s crucial you know the red flags to pay attention to — especially if you suspect something is not quite right.
Current estimates report one in four men over the age of 30 experience low testosterone[*].
So if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you’re not alone:
- Decreased or non-existent sex drive
- Depressed mood
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low energy
- Difficulty remembering things and concentrating
- Lowered sperm count
- Excess fat around your midsection (aka dad bod)
These symptoms shouldn’t be brushed off as a normal part of aging. Belly fat, specifically, increases your risk of death by 2x, even if your weight is normal[*]!
Since these symptoms may be common in other health conditions, you shouldn’t resort to self-diagnosing and should get yourself tested instead.
Visit your doctor and have a full blood work panel done before you attempt to increase your testosterone levels on your own.
Your doctor may put you on a synthetic or bioidentical testosterone therapy to boost your T levels, but you may also be able to help the situation naturally.
Up next, I’ll show you how increasing your fat intake may be a possible solution to this dilemma.
There’s one more factor influencing your testosterone levels: how much fat you eat.
Turns out, low levels of dietary fat are associated with lowered levels of testosterone.
Here’s what researchers discovered:
In a small study done on 30 men, a diet consisting of only 25% dietary fat led to reduced levels of testosterone. But the condition was reversible once the participants switched back to eating at least 40% of their calories from fat[*].
Another study found a higher fat intake among a group of men resulted in 13% more testosterone than their low-fat peers[*].
Essentially, fats boost testosterone levels because they provide the building blocks for hormones.
But before you run off to eat non-keto friendly, high-fat foods, there’s one caveat:
The dietary fat studied came from saturated fatty acids — like the healthy ones found in coconuts, not Big Macs — and polyunsaturated fats such as walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Other testosterone-boosting, keto-friendly fats include:
- Olives and olive oil
- Coconut and coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Butter from grass-fed animals only
- Grass-fed meats
- Raw nuts (especially macadamia and almonds)
By increasing your intake of healthy fats or, even better, following a keto diet, you’ll be on your way to upping your testosterone levels naturally.
But since that’s just one piece of the puzzle, you’ll want to pair that with the rest of these tips to double your impact.
On top of adding more (healthy) dietary fat to your meals and snacks, tackle these 9 testosterone-boosting habits to improve your T levels:
#1: Give Intermittent Fasting a Try (Or a Second or Third Chance)
Intermittent fasting, as the name suggests, is a way of eating where you go through extended periods of fasting (not eating) mixed with periods of non-fasting (eating).
As you can see in this guide, there are several fasting styles you can choose from depending on the window of eating/fasting that works for your lifestyle.
Some people prefer to eat between 11 am and 7 pm each day while others choose to skip breakfast and start their feeding window in the afternoon.
Intermittent fasting can increase testosterone levels because this fasting and eating cycle pushes your body to make more satiety hormones, such as leptin, adiponectin, glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1), insulin, melanocortins and cholecystokinin[*].
If you’d like to learn more about this cyclical way of eating, be sure to check out this guide when you’re done here.
The next item on the list is pretty simple and straightforward, especially if you’re already following a keto diet.
#2: Eliminate Sugars & Fructose from Your Diet
In one study conducted on mice and human cell cultures, researchers discovered that consuming too much fructose and glucose (aka sugars) can turn off important genes controlling testosterone[*].
Another study done on men between the ages of 18 and 74 found that when participants ate 75 grams of sugar per day, testosterone levels dropped by 25% for up to two hours after eating it[*].
To a ketoer, 75 grams of sugar is a lot, but the average American already consumes 82 grams every day[*] — that’s over 19 teaspoons of sugar (yikes!).
Imagine what that is going to do to your already declining testosterone levels and overall health.
It’s time to ditch the sweet stuff once and for all.
While you’re at it, cut down on this next food group too.
#3: Cut Back On Grains & Carbs
Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you don’t binge on ice cream and other sweet treats your sugar intake is any better.
Even the sugar found in milk (lactose) is enough to deliver a whopping 12.8 grams of carbs per glass.
When you have high levels of blood sugar and insulin over extended periods of time, testosterone levels can drop.[*].
This is even more pronounced and common in men with diabetes[*].
Luckily, this situation can be prevented, and in some cases reversed, with a healthy diet — especially a ketogenic one.
One study showed a ketogenic diet increased insulin sensitivity by 75% in participants[*].
The takeaway here is to start eliminating sugars and excess carbs from your diet right away.
And while you’re doing that, it’s important you’re not making this next mistake either.
#4: Increase Your Low-Carb, Fiber-Full Vegetable Intake
On top of cutting out carbs from fruit and grains, it’s also vital you pay attention to the carbs in veggies.
If you’re not careful, these can quickly add up and make your body go through unwanted insulin spikes, which can decrease your T levels over time, as we’ve learned.
But instead of cutting out veggies altogether, you should do the opposite and supplement with low carb, high fiber veggies such as:
- Brussel sprouts
- Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and bok choy
By filling up your plate with veggies like these, you’ll get all the powerful micronutrients from plants while keeping your carbs low.
Studies show these foods have the power to reduce your risk of cancers and chronic diseases, so your T levels aren’t the only health marker that will improve[*]. #DoubleWhammy
The next tip on the list is a total game-changer for your T levels.
#5: Work Out Smarter
You probably already know how important it is to exercise — I don’t need to drill you on that one.
But did you know there’s a right and wrong way to exercise if increasing testosterone is your goal?
Researchers discovered long cardio sessions and prolonged, vigorous periods of exercise decreased sex drive and testosterone levels in long-distance runners and endurance athletes[*].
These types of exercises increase the hormone cortisol (aka the stress hormone), which can lower your testosterone.
That same research found it can take up to three days for your body to return to normal after one of these sessions.
So what kind of workouts are better for increasing testosterone?
Short, high-intensity workouts involving weights and resistance training, such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
In one small study, researchers had participants train for four weeks using a strength-focused program. At the end of the trial, they found a 40% increase in testosterone and a 24% drop in cortisol levels[*][*].
This means you should swap your hour-long cardio with shorter ones that involve weights and compound movements, such as[*]:
- Bench presses
- Leg presses
- Step ups
- Bent over rows
- Military presses
Those moves work different muscles and increase your fat and calorie burn, while also boosting testosterone naturally.
Another important thing is to increase the weights you use and decrease your reps to maximize your fat-burning, strength-building potential.
This next tip is also paramount for better health and higher T levels.
#6: Cut Out Stress
Cortisol, just like testosterone, is a hormone that sends signals to initiate and regulate certain processes within your body.
But when there’s too much cortisol floating around, your body prevents testosterone from being used.
And if this happens every day because you’re beyond stressed, you’ll shut down your testosterone production altogether and will be more likely to experience low sex drive and impotence as a result[*].
A few natural ways to lower your stress include:
- Taking a walk
- Practicing yoga, meditation and journaling
- Working out
- Spending time in nature (hiking, biking, etc.)
- Talking to a trained therapist
Another reason why you should get your stress under control is that it directly affects your sleep quality.
#7: Get Enough Sleep Already
If I tell you to get enough sleep each night, you might be tempted to roll your eyes and send over a yeah, yeah response.
But it’s still worth repeating, especially if low testosterone is your issue.
With high-quality sleep comes a chance to[*]:
- Recharge your brain just like you would your phone’s battery
- Repair your muscles
- Consolidate memories
- Regulate your emotions
Restful sleep can also boost your mood, memory, judgment, blood pressure and overall weight too[*].
And I haven’t even mentioned testosterone yet.
When it comes to T, just 1 week of sleep deprivation (less than 5 hours per night) can cause a 10 to 15% decrease in testosterone in healthy men, according to one study[*].
Getting the right amount of sleep each night should be a no-brainer, but so many people struggle with it nonetheless.
If that’s you, it’s time to fix this problem once and for all.
#8: Don’t Forget About Vitamin D, Other Minerals And Herbs that Can Help
Certain vitamins, herbs and minerals act as natural testosterone boosters.
The easiest ones to start supplementing with include:
- Vitamin D. Before you buy an expensive vitamin D supplement, you should know the best source is actually free of charge: the sun.
Just 10 minutes under the sun sans sunscreen is all it takes to recharge your vitamin D levels and potentially increase your T stores too[*].
- Branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs. BCAAs are another highly marketed supplement in the fitness community.
Studies have shown BCAAs can help[*]:
- Reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness
- Build more lean mass
- Aid in weight loss
Most importantly, BCAAs help increase T levels naturally[*].
Since your body can’t produce BCAAs on its own, you must get them from supplementation or your diet via these sources[*]:
- Grass-fed meat and chicken
- Wild fish
You can also get them from Perfect Keto Perform Pre-Workout, which gives you 2 grams of BCAAs per scoop, along with other vital nutrients that help improve your workout performance.
- Zinc. Researchers discovered low levels of zinc are linked to lower testosterone levels[*].
On top of increasing your T, zinc also gives your immune system a boost and helps your digestive enzymes break down the nutrients in your food.
To add a little more zinc to your keto life, eat these[*]:
- Red meat
- Seafood (especially lobster and crab)
- Ashwagandha. You may not be as familiar with Ashwagandha as some of the other supplements on this short list, but it can have the same powerful effects on testosterone levels.
In a study, scientists gave 150 men either a placebo or an Ashwagandha extract and found those who took the extract had decreased stress levels and increased testosterone[*].
For infertile participants, their condition was reversed in some cases thanks to this ancient plant.
You may not find Ashwagandha at your local grocery store, so choosing a supplement online is probably your best option here.
- Ginger. On the other hand, ginger is something you can easily find in almost any grocery store and it’s fairly simple to use.
In a similar study, researchers gave infertile men a ginger supplement and noticed it increased testosterone levels by 17% and provided a 16% increase in sperm count too[*].
When you combine all these tips with the last one on this list, you’ll start to increase your T levels in no time.
#9: Lose the Extra Weight
Just like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising and lowering your stress levels can improve your low T situation, so can losing weight.
Scientists have discovered being overweight is connected to testosterone levels that are 40-50% lower than those of men with a normal BMI[*].
That’s why it’s critical to lose the extra weight you’ve been carrying around.
Good news! The keto diet is the perfect tool to help you do that. Going keto can:
- Speed up fat loss
- Keep your weight off in the long-term
- Prevent excess weight gain
- Naturally balance your hormones — including testosterone
Researchers found lifestyle modifications such as upgrading your diet and exercising more improved testosterone levels even in prediabetic men[*].
Your Next Steps
After reading this guide, you may be convinced your testosterone levels are low and need fixing.
While that may be true, you should still pay a visit to your doctor to run blood work to confirm your suspicion. After all, you don’t want to keep adding more testosterone if your body is already producing enough of it.
On the other hand, if you’re overweight, use any of the medications I talked about earlier, and are above the age of 30, your chances of having low T go up significantly.
So if you’ve already received a low T diagnosis, discuss these tips with your doctor to see if they may be an ideal supplement to your existing plan.
With these strategies in tow, you can achieve higher testosterone levels all on your own.