Overcoming Testosterone Deficiency with Diet 

Overcoming Testosterone Deficiency with Diet 

By:

Dr. Fred Edwards, MBBS, FRACGP


Testosterone is necessary for your overall health and not just your sexual wellness. It also helps when it comes to physical fitness which is why men tend to find ways to boost it as much as they can. Some resort to administering steroids on their own, which can lead to problems, which is why we have created this comprehensive guide on how to naturally amplify your testosterone production through diet. 

It’s also critical for those who have testosterone deficiency as just making shifts in their diet can significantly impact their treatment. While diet is just one part of the formula, knowing what food to consume will be a great help on your journey to reach optimal testosterone levels. 

Foods that Boost Testosterone 

To ensure that men can sustainably maintain a testosterone-friendly diet, we have selected the best foods for testosterone that are also staples in a variety of dishes while also boasting a good nutrition profile for a balanced diet. Here are our top picks for foods that promote high testosterone: 

  • Red Onion
    Red onions are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6 which help with testosterone production. Vitamin C is linked to an increase in testosterone levels while an older study in vitamin B6 assists in testosterone synthesis. Since red onions are filled with antioxidants, it protects testosterone producing Leydig cells from oxidative stress or damage caused by free radicals.

    Red onions also contain quercetin, a flavonoid that also helps with testosterone synthesis and even lowers blood sugar helping diabetic patients who suffer from hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction (ED). Onions also increase the secretion of the luteinizing hormone (LH) which signals the Leydig cells to produce testosterone.
  • Garlic
    Just like onions, garlic also has considerable amounts of vitamin B6. A 2015 study on garlic also showed its restorative qualities on testicles where the Leydig cells that produce testosterone are located. Garlic is also loaded with bioactive compounds that help protect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that regulate testosterone while also having antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity properties.

    Since garlic contains the compound allicin and increases nitric oxide, it also promotes good circulation for better erection by relaxing the penile blood vessels. Garlic has also been shown to help in sperm production which means that it also boosts fertility for males. A lot of dishes sauté to enhance the flavor which means that there are lots of options for men when incorporating onion and garlic in their diet. 
  • Olive Oil
    One cannot sauté without the most critical component which is oil, and you can consume it as is as a salad dressing. But did you know you can boost your testosterone levels just by using olive oil? A study on Moroccan males found a 17.4% increase in LH and 42.6% increase in testosterone concentration among men after using extra virgin olive oil in an intervention.

    Olive oil is also abundant in monosaturated fats, a “good” fat, and contains saturated fats which are linked to higher androgen levels. Note that the perspective on saturated fats being harmful has shifted over the years according to Harvard but it’s still best to prioritize the “good” fats for your overall health. 
  • Oysters
    Apart from being an additional source of healthy fats, oysters have a high nutritional density particularly with zinc and the B vitamins. A recent study has reconfirmed that zinc increases testosterone concentration in the body. The B vitamins also enhance testosterone supply and help form blood which is needed to have an erection.

    Oyster also contains lots of selenium, a trace mineral associated with thyroid metabolism and fertility. Not only does selenium promote overall semen health and prevent erectile dysfunction, it also frees testosterone by separating it from sex-hormone binding globulins (SHBG) in males. While oyster is fantastic for zinc, be wary of consuming too much if you don’t want to throttle your copper or iron levels. 
  • Eggs
    Yet another versatile ingredient, eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein for men who love working out which boosts your testosterone. But did you know that egg directly impacts your testosterone? Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, and zinc, all of which have studies that show a positive correlation to testosterone.

    While eating either egg whites and whole eggs both increase testosterone, whole eggs provide greater benefit presumably because vitamin D is contained in the yolk. Eggs are also no longer perceived as alarming for health based on Harvard because it is low in saturated fat which is what the liver needs to produce cholesterol. But if you’re wary of cholesterol, you can opt to only eat egg white. 
  • Sardines
    Did you know that it’s safe to eat canned sardines despite being processed food? This is because there are no preservatives to your sardines. Instead, it is sterilized by heat. Sardines are also lower in mercury compared to other fishes. The only catch is that it’s high in purines which is bad for those with gout and kidney diseases, but you can lower that by skinning and boiling it.

    This easy to access and affordable fish is also nutrient-dense with vitamin B12 and vitamin D which are directly proportional to testosterone levels. Vitamin D is important for erectile health and is critical for those with ED. Sardines also contain omega-3 which helps keep the heart healthy ensuring sufficient blood flow during arousal.
     
  • Spinach
    Remember how Popeye, the cartoon character, used to eat spinach before fighting the bad guys? Well, he was right because spinach does help you become stronger as it contains ecdysterone and nitrates. This means that just like eggs, spinach would be good for men who are trying to build muscle or doing resistance training which provides the highest testosterone boost out of all forms of exercise.

    Spinach also contains lots of vitamin C. It also has iron which is critical for blood production and your energy levels. It’s also a useful source of magnesium which is positively correlated with testosterone. If you don’t have access to spinach, you can simply swap it with another dark leafy green vegetable. Just make sure to check the nutrition profile for a better fit to your dietary needs. 
  • Avocado
    When people think of avocado, they usually associate it with weight loss because of its high fat (the good ones too!) and low-carb composition. This means that this is especially good for males who are experiencing hypogonadism or ED in conjunction with obesity and diabetes. Not only that, men who suffer from testosterone deficiency are advised to avoid low-fat diets.

    Avocados are also a reliable source of vitamins B and vitamin K which have been shown to be beneficial in testosterone. It also contains the mineral boron which has been showed to increase testosterone in both men and women after supplementation. Boron also helps protect against vitamin D deficiency and aids in the absorption of magnesium which are also important for testosterone production. 
  • Pomegranate
    While pomegranates are known as a symbol of fertility, it’s also an aphrodisiac for men because it increases testosterone levels. Pomegranates also come with vitamin C, vitamin K, and magnesium. Pomegranate is especially good for your circulation because not only does it promote good blood flow, it also protects against atherosclerosis.

    Pomegranates are also abundant in antioxidants which means it protects from oxidative stress. This means it helps protect testosterone-producing cells from oxidative stress so that their function does not get impaired. Additionally, an older study also showed a direct increase in the salivary testosterone of its participants and an improvement in their mental well-being. 
  • Dark Chocolate
    Have you ever been told to eat chocolate when you feel down? This isn’t just because chocolates are delicious. It’s also because chocolates help manage your stress by lowering your cortisol levels. Cortisol and testosterone are inversely related which means that the lower cortisol there is in your bloodstream, the higher the testosterone levels. Note that dark chocolate is specifically recommended because of its low sugar content.

    Cocoa, which is the main ingredient for creating chocolates, contains a good amount of magnesium and antioxidants. Just like red onions, it also has quercetin and another flavonoid called apigenin. Apigenin has been shown to increase testosterone levels and help delay the decline of testosterone due to age. But don’t binge on dark chocolate just yet if you have diabetes, check with your doctor if you are allowed. 
  • Ashwagandha
    Some think that ashwagandha became famous worldwide due to ayurveda, a traditional medical practice in India. While this may be true, this Asian herb is on par with superfoods because of the host of benefits that it provides. Ashwagandha also seems to be more beneficial for men because of how it improves both athletic and bedroom performance.

    There are also multiple recent studies conducted directly on humans that show how Ashwagandha increases testosterone in men. For instance, this 2019 study showed an increase of 14.7% in testosterone and 18% in dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), an androgen that’s even more potent than testosterone, among older men. 
  • Tongkat Ali
    Another famous herb with strong associations to sexual health originating from Asia is tongkat ali. In fact, Tongkat Ali means “Ali’s Walking Stick” which alludes to how it can help men get hard. Studies also support how tongkat ali can help with ED specifically as indicated by a 2015 meta-analysis.

    Tongkat ali also contains eurycomanone, a chemical compound that is the namesake of tongkat ali’s scientific name Eurycoma longifolia. Eurycomanone protects against testosterone deficiency by preventing testosterone from being converted into estrogen. Tongkat ali also helps fight against infertility by improving sperm quantity and motility

Extra Tips for Your Diet 

While incorporating any of these foods into your diet can make a positive difference in your testosterone concertation, it’s important to be flexible in your diet. Remember, a balanced diet is necessary. Here are our other tips so that you can safely enhance your testosterone without sacrificing your overall health: 

  • You can eat alternatives. If you are allergic to any of these or don’t like its taste, simply search for alternatives for the food (e.g. spinach alternatives). You can also search for alternatives in terms of the nutrient that you are targeting. For example, you want to eat spinach because you want to increase your magnesium intake. Just search “food rich in magnesium.” If spinach is part of a dish you are cooking, you might want to change it to “vegetables rich in magnesium” as there is a higher chance that it will give an ingredient that is compatible with your dish. 
  • Avoid dietary “conflict of interest.” What does this mean? Even if an ingredient is recommended for good testosterone, if you have an underlying condition like an allergy, it’s best to not consume it. Another example is if you have diabetes. While cocoa has benefits related to testosterone, it might be counterproductive since eating a lot of chocolates can worsen your diabetes. In the end, not only will it put your health in danger, but it will also sabotage your attempts to boost your testosterone. 
  • Take care of the entire system that is related to testosterone production. Your testicles aren’t the only thing that is responsible for your testosterone. Both your brain, courtesy of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, and kidneys, courtesy of the adrenal cortex, are also involved in testosterone production and maintenance. This means, take dietary measures to protect these organs. For example, protect your kidney by regulating your salt and sugar consumption and drinking lots of water. 
  • You can combine all of these. While you can consume these ingredients alone or only select some of them, you can eat them all in one day as part of a meal plan. Here is a sample meal plan utilizing all our suggested foods:
    Breakfast - Baked Avocado Egg or Avocado Egg Salad and Ashwagandha Tea
    Lunch - Pan-seared Salmon and Spinach (can sauté with onion and garlic) and Pomegranate Juice
    Dinner - Oyster Stew with either Dark Chocolate as a dessert or a Glass of Chocolate Milk

Takeaway 

A healthy diet is one of the cornerstones of preventative healthcare which is why making tweaks in what you eat can improve your testosterone levels and the other key areas of your health. Still, it is important to remember that diet alone will not solve your testosterone deficiency which means that you need to incorporate other lifestyle best practices like getting enough rest and exercising. By consuming any of these foods (in moderation), you are already one step ahead in your recovery from testosterone deficiency.

Want more meal plans that are tailored to your testosterone deficiency and underlying conditions? Men’s Health Clinic (MHC) has dietitians that can help you take your diet to the next level. What’s more, since we use a multidisciplinary approach, we also have other experts like psychologists and doctors that are ready to help you say goodbye to hypogonadism. Just book an appointment with us to check all your treatment options. 

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