Got Testosterone?

Testosterone. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s THE sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular growth, densification of bones and hair growth. From a muscle-building perspective, testosterone greatly aids in protein synthesis, which helps grow and repair muscle fibres after exercise. Low testosterone is also associated with higher mortality rates in men. 

But without resorting to injectible steroids (supraphysiological levels of T can do as much harm as too low of levels), what can be done to raise your levels naturally?

  1. Resistance Exercise: Weight lifting is a stimulant of testosterone production. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy (for you).
  2. Limit Stress: Sleep is hugely important here, as is limiting external stressors. Stress leads to cortisol increases, which is in direct competition with testosterone (it’s OK at times, but bad things happen when it’s chronically elevated). Obsessive, chronic bouts of cardio can elevate cortisol levels, and when cortisol is active for long durations, testosterone is diminished. If you do cardio, keep it short. I prefer hill sprints, bike intervals, car pushes and the like. Short and intense.
  3. Eat Fat: Saturated fat (the right type in moderation) and the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K it contains are hugely important for mineral and protein metabolism, production of sex hormones (i.e. testosterone) and thyroid function. If animals are not consuming green grass, they will be lacking in Vitamin A and K, while at the same time an animal raised in confinement without sun exposure will be lacking vitamin D. Get a vitamin D test, as a diet lacking in vitamin D is tough to compensate for through sun exposure alone, especially if you have a desk job and live in a winter climate. A good rule of thumb is 2,000IU/day by way of liquid gel cap supplements, but get tested on your next checkup to see where you stand. preferably you’ll meet your needs through dietary sources, but this is a tough one. Vitamin D is pre-cursor for testosterone production – don’t neglect it!  Food sources of good fats and the above minerals include organic butter (yes, butter), whole eggs, grass-fed beef, virgin oils (red palm, coconut and olive oil) etc.
  4. Cholesterol is King: The dogma suggesting eating cholesterol leads to bad cholesterol is outdated. Cholesterol is a parent molecule to so many adrenal gland hormones. Whole organic free range eggs are my preference here. You’ll know a good yolk from a bad one – it’ll be a more vibrant orange colour. The darker orange the better. Add in quality eggs consistently every day and you’ll feel better, stronger and your HDL (good cholesterol) will go up. Try to get your eggs from a farmer in your area that you know are raised on pasture – not confined to a cage. Check out for a farmer near you.
  5. Eat Food Sources of Zinc: Seafood, red meat, wheat germ. Here’s a complete list
One final statement of caution: If you think you can short change on your diet and get these vitamins in supplement form, you are asking for trouble. There is mounting evidence suggesting the body can’t recognize and process micronutrients via pills the same way it can from food sources, and liver and kidney stress is a real concern depending on dosages. Read a recent report on the risks here


Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.