It was dawn in the beautiful Filipino village of Anilao. As in every day, ‘Mama’ cooked the foods that I had bought in the morning’s market in our little comfortable arrangement: I’d buy food for everyone and Mama would cook it, thus saving me time. This evening, the table was laden with a whole kilogram of wild tuna and a massive pile of leafy greens and organic eggs. It was dinner. Earlier that same day, I had a whole headless chicken, a few Filipino potatoes, some spicy pork sticks and even a bag of cooked peanuts and some fruits. And I didn’t even mention breakfast.
This was just a typical day in a month dedicated fully to a self experiment. I wanted to test how extreme doses of cholesterol and saturated fats can affect my libido. You see, I was a vegan for a little less than two years – eating mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. During this time, I gradually saw myself losing a lot my built muscle mass, the energetic mood I was known for, and even the sexual libido I used to brag about before. The lack of testosterone and sex drive was infiltrating every area of my life. My ambition. My manhood. My happiness. The vegan diet was destroying me.
I owe this experiment to Sophie, a sex-crazed Belgian nympho I shared a room with in Manila while the city was under a heavy typhoon, leaving us both stuck there for two days with dozens of small candles and no electricity. Frustrated with my sexual stamina, Sophie told me she never met a twenty-something man with such a low sex drive, causing me to rethink the efficiency of the vegan lifestyle I used to praise dogmatically.
Fast forward to Anilao.
I could not believe what happened within three days of beginning this experiment. All the infected wounds I brought back from Burma? Completely recovered, and those were wounds that I carried for weeks, trying to futilely heal them by a cruel nightly ritual of alcohol rubbing. My overall feeling? Beyond amazing. I felt… ALIVE. I seemed to attract the local chicks into my orbit by the sheer power of my intoxicating pheromones. Wolverine could only be jealous of my virility and sexual prowess.
Welcome to Wonderland.
So let’s dive right in to the point. How to increase testosterone naturally without supplements and achieve the same Wolverine feeling?
Testosterone is the main anabolic hormone in the human body. Hypertrophy (muscle cells growth), hair growth, libido levels, bone density, aggression, dominance, physical strength – all those are directly affected by testosterone as you know. It’s responsible for all traits characterized as ‘manly’.
Men produce approximately ten times more testosterone than women, which is the reason why females can never gain manly amounts of muscle mass naturally. But don’t be fooled and think that testosterone is not important for women too – it is, very. Both sexes need it for a proper sexual and physical function. We men produce it mainly in our testicles while women in their ovaries.
Testosterone also plays a crucial role in the synthesis of protein and helps rebuild muscle tissue from amino acids. It’s also crucial for maintaining that same tissue. So if a healthy, strong, ripped and sexual life is something you’d like to be proud of, you’ll do yourself a great deal of favor by getting your testosterone levels optimized.
How to Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally
Many countries around the world feast on testicles. In Spain, for example, you’ll find the testicles of bullfighting beasts in top restaurants. Even if you go to the U.S, you can find bull testicles often by the name of ‘Rocky Mountain oysters’. They serve them with a cocktail sauce dip. Heck, there’s a restaurant literally five minutes away from me right now, and they serves turkey’s testicles in a wrap, Israeli-style.
Regardless of the geographical location, anywhere testicles are sold you’ll hear local tales over how they can fix impotence, increase your strength and boost your virility and vigor. Without even knowing what testosterone actually is, traditional cultures have always known sexual prowess lies in the balls.
Luckily for you, there’s no real reason to feast on these intimate organs. Testosterone is only produced in the testicles, not stored in it. So we’ll go for the much-more delicious and much-more effective alternatives. Beautifully, all it takes are little tweaks in lifestyle. Worldwide brothers, here’s how I did it, and how you too can increase testosterone naturally:
LIFT HEAVY, AVOID CARDIO
This is the primary reasons that I always preach for multi-jointed, heavy compound exercises over isolated ones. High intensity workouts not only produces more testosterone, but they also help the production of other anabolic hormones, mainly insulin and growth hormone.
So forget about those bicep curls, ab crunches and leg extensions. Go and master the techniques of the heavy weapons. The squat. The deadlift. The bench and shoulder presses. The rows. They will spike your T-levels to the roof, and given enough nutrition, transform you into a massive beast of muscle, strength and sexual prowess.
If you aren’t a gym rat, make sure you lift heavy stuff on a regular basis. All-out bursts of sprinting are also very effective. What about cardio? While it can be a nice addition to your lifestyle, it’s certainly not necessary for proper heart health. If you do infrequent high-intensity workouts, your heart will have the elasticity it needs to keep in good shape. The problem with cardio is how easy it is to overdo.
Take this into account: Men who consistently run long distances have lower testosterone levels than regular non-athletic Joes. So my advice? Do a little bit of cardio only if you enjoy it. For testosterone purposes, count on short outbursts of power, like high-intensity workouts and sprinting routines. In Anilao, I used to go to the gym two times a week and indulged in a ten minutes high-intensity workout. That seemed to do wonders to my incredible recovery rate and skyrocketing libido.
EAT SATURATED FATS AND CHOLESTEROL
Did you know that testosterone and all other sex hormones are made out of cholesterol? Even though the body does produce cholesterol naturally, you can boost your testosterone levels by consuming more cholesterol and saturated fats. The best scientists today agree: The previous hypothesis in which animal fats cause heart disease is total hogwash.
Stay away from low-fat diets, they will almost always lead to a dramatic decrease of testosterone levels, as happened to me in my vegan days. Science constantly shows that diets with high saturated fat content show more testosterone levels than high-carb, low-fat diets. Those are all good news, because it means you’re going to indulge in a fatty, delicious, enjoyable lifestyle.
Retinol (Vitamin A from animal sources) stimulates testosterone production, and vitamin K2 is also tightly related to testosterone levels. Combined together with enough sun exposure (vitamin D), this A+K2+D combo produces impressive testosterone results. A great source for vitamin K2 is grass-fed butter and egg yolks. A great source for retinol, cholesterol and saturated fats? Internal organs. My favorite is liver and brain. They give you the whole package in one food.
Another great source of saturated fat is coconuts/coconut oil. In Anilao, I was feasting daily on coconuts, whole eggs and meats. On an interesting note, rate who were fed coconut oil daily for two months had lower stress levels in their testicles than rats fed olive oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, or no oil at all. The coconut rats ended up with significantly higher levels of testosterone.
When it comes to food, by the way, I also highly recommend eating your whole daily intake in a window of eight hours, even less if you can manage it. What I do, is skip breakfast and eat only huge dinner and lunch. This is called Intermittent Fasting (IF). One study found that obese men increased their T-levels by 180% by adopting a similar IF structure of eating. Rates fed an IF diet also had higher T-levels than a normal or calorie-restricted group. The evidence is there.
OPTIMIZE YOUR SLEEP AND AVOID UNNECESSARY STRESS
Bad sleep elevates cortisol and blunts testosterone production. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, that is – a hormone that breaks down tissues. Your brain pumps it when you’re under stress. And in a lifestyle constantly drizzled with tight deadlines and traffic jams, our best bang for the buck would be to first optimize our sleep and relax.
Overtraining and excessive aerobic activity might also become counterproductive and hurt testosterone levels and the reproductive systems. Always make sure you’re fully recovered before working out heavy.
One of the best things you can do to your testosterone production is to get quality sleep, and a lot of it. First, the vast majority of testosterone in your body is produced when you’re asleep, especially when you’re in full REM episodes. Most people need about 8-9 hours of deep, quality sleep every night. Regardless of the exact amount, if you sleep properly, you’ll wake up in the right time.
By sleeping properly I mean going to sleep in the right environment and the right consistency. First, an environment fully dedicated to sex and sleep is an environment that your brain is conditioned to relax in. You’ll want to eliminate any kind of artificial lighting in your bedroom and make sure that it’s pitch-black. The artificial, blue light produces melatonin that tricks your body into thinking that it’s day time. So by sleeping in a completely dark room, you maximize testosterone potential, and it does make a big difference. I also keep F.lux on my Mac. It gradually adjust the screen to adopt warmer tones of light when it’s dark, so that there’s no sleep-inhibiting blue light when you go to sleep.
Second – our bodies, like most processes in nature, work in a day-night circadian rhythm. Going to sleep when the sun is down and waking up when it’s up is ideal, and that’s actually how I spent my month in Anilao (the village goes completely dark after sunset). If you can’t reach this natural cycle, at least make sure that you’re going to sleep and wake up in the same time.
Also, avoid coffee before noon if caffeine seems to affect your sleep. And by all means nap if you feel that your body needs it. Sleeping is awesome.
AVOID TOXINS AND ESTROGENIC FOODS
As a general rule of thumb, avoid anything that comes in a commercial box. It almost always contains toxins and other processed chemicals. To have a healthy body and optimized hormone levels, you’ll want to get clean, healthy nutrition. Processed junk comes packed with hormone disruptors and immune-suppressing substances.
Take grains, for instance. Bread contains gluten, lectin and phytates, substances that can wreck havoc on your gut, decrease the absorption of nutrients and indirectly affect your hormonal balance. Grains and sugars also spike glucose levels in your blood. What does it have to do with T-levels? Researchers in Washington found that testosterone levels dropped by approximately 25% in people with or without diabetes after consuming a drink of 70g of glucose, and this effect lasted even two hours after the glucose was absorbed.
There’s also the problem of soy and other estrogenic foods. Estrogen competes with testosterone and dramatically weakens its effect on the cells. I’s safer to completely stay away from estrogenic products because they decrease testosterone levels in healthy men.
When it comes to meat, I recommend consuming only grass-fed, organic produce. Commercially farmed animals regularly contain large amount of dioxin, a toxic substance used in many industries. The bad news? Dioxin may damage your reproductive system and testosterone production. It’s accumulated in fat, so even if you do buy non grass-fed meat, make sure you don’t touch it’s fat.
Grass-fed organic animals that were raised ‘freely’, without any chemical, antibiotical or hormonal intervention is optimal, and for me the higher price tag is worth the extra health and ethics. Prevention is best medicine, and medicine is expensive. This is why I loved Anilao so much, the fish there are all wild-caught, and the animals are all raised in conditions the west had long forgotten.
When it comes to alcohol, I rarely drink, but when I do it’s almost always red wine. Beer is the worst kind of alcohol you can consume, because it has the most estrogenic substance of the phytroestrogenic family: 8-Prenylnaringenin. In other words, beer boosts estrogen and decreases testosterone. It also has the drawbacks of grains themselves since it’s made out of them. In Anilao, I didn’t drink at all.
On a related note: Beer, grain and excessive alcohol consumption also damage your guts and can substantially reduce the efficiency of your intrinsic factor, a protein in the stomach that break down vitamin B12.
Also, I recommend trying to rid your house of as many plastic and chemical products as you can. Many of those contain hormone disruptors that mess up with your system. The most prominent one is Xenoestrogen, which is a class of petroleum based chemicals that act like estrogen and substantially decrease testosterone levels. You can minimize your exposure by using Dr. Bronner’s All In One Magic Soap as a detergent, soap and cleaning agent. Use Tom of Maine’s toothpaste. I personally use baking soda as a deodorant and it works great. Also, use glass instead of plastic whenever you can.
GET ENOUGH SUNLIGHT
In Anilao, I used to walk shirtless under direct sunlight for a good chunk of the day. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to the sun, and you shouldn’t be afraid to expose yourself. There are two things you should be worried about: Sunscreen, because it’s toxic (ironic, huh?) and getting burned. As long as you don’t get burned, you’re good.
Vitamin D intake is associated with increased testosterone production, even with artificial supplementation. I’m almost always in a hot climate, either in Israel or in tropical countries when I travel, so vitamin D is never a problem for me. But if you’re from Canada, Scandinavia, U.S, Germany or other cold climates, a vitamin D supplement can actually be a very good idea. A daily supplementation of 3,332 units of vitamin D has been shown to significantly increase total testosterone, bioactive testosterone and free testosterone.
This is the main reason I’ve updated this guide. Recent advances in science teach us that testosterone don’t just drive you to be aggressive, but that aggressive behavior itself drives testosterone to go up. That means that if you adopt the body language or state of mind of an aggressive, manly figure – let’s say James Bond – your testosterone levels go up. And it’s actually substantial. Take a look at this great TED talk:
On the same token, go and do manly stuff. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Thai boxing. Any full contact sport really. Anything that imposes a more manly state on your mind will drive your testosterone. Join the military. Carry a knife. Handle challenges and don’t avoid conflicts so easily. Don’t defer to everyone like a wimp. Approach a beautiful girl. Find something that works for you. Engaging in any risk taking, dominance-oriented, manly endeavor will cause your body to produce more testosterone.
In my new book, where you can read more about the testosterone experiment in “Two Girls, One Cock” chapter, I sometimes encourage you to stop for a moment and mold your psyche if you find yourself a little down in any social context. Usually, I reminisce about high quality sexual conquests from my past. And whenever I do it, I feel a sudden rush of confidence. Now I know why.
Villages in the Philippines don’t even have hot water. In my Testosterone Experiment month in Anilao, I took cold showers every day. There’s a lot of research about the immune benefits and inflammation reduction of cold immersion. World-class athletes do it all the time. And it boosts testosterone levels too. So if you can manage to take cold showers, by all means do.
WHAT ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS?
Vitamins and minerals in natural food work in this elegant synergy that supplements can’t yet match. So before you consider any supplement, make sure your nutritional foundation is sound. Also, supplements for a lot of people is a lazy way not to change their habits and think that their problem is taken care of. This is never the case. The only supplement I can recommend is vitamin D, and only if you live in a cold climate. (if you’re a dark skinned person in a cold climate, even more so)
Another useful supplement can be omega 3 pills. Omega 3 decreases SHBG and increases Luteinizing Hormone, resulting in increased testosterone. But again, if you can consume enough wild-caught fish, the better.
BONUS: YELLOW PINE POLLEN
Yellow pine pollen, originally introduced to me on a foraging trip through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, doesn’t just act as a precursor to testosterone. It is testosterone. Several species contain not just androstenedione (Remember Mark McGwire?) but also DHEA and testosterone itself. Combine it with a fat steak and all sorts of mischief is possible.
This is it, fellas. Those are the primary ways to increase testosterone levels naturally without supplements. Keep your T-levels optimal and you shall enjoy a happy, satisfying and productive life. Or as our biblical proverb says:
“…thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore…”
T-Levels to shoot for: 700+ ng/dL. Danger zone: Under 500ng/dL.
Free T-levels to shoot for: 100+ ng/dL. Danger zone: Under 60ng/dL.