Is there such thing as a ‘testosterone food’?
While no single food is guaranteed to raise your testosterone levels through the roof, you might be surprised how many common foods have been linked to higher amounts of this important hormone.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone – the ‘male hormone’ – is made in the testicles. Testosterone is responsible for typically male characteristics including sperm production, libido, muscle mass and body shape. It also has a hand in red blood cell production in men. 1
Symptoms of low testosterone include unexplained weight gain, thinning hair, low energy, low libido and low muscle mass. 2
How can I raise my testosterone levels naturally?
Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might be an option in some cases, (such as following a diagnosis by an endocrinologist – a specialist in hormones), 3 there are ways to boost your levels of testosterone naturally.
Exercise, including lifting weights and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), have been proven to increase levels of testosterone in as little as 4 weeks. 4
How to increase testosterone level by food
Try the following food for testosterone gains…
Oysters, crab, shrimp and mussels are all rich sources of zinc. Zinc is vital for healthy sperm production.
The NHS recommends 9.5mg a day for men (aged 19 to 64 years). 5 Oysters have around 5.5mg zinc per oyster – so you’d only need to indulge in a couple before you’d reached your recommended daily amount of zinc.
Did you know that a humble cereal grain could help raise testosterone levels naturally? Cereals containing wheat bran are especially good.
This is because wheat bran is high in magnesium, which is proven to raise testosterone levels, especially if you’re working out regularly, too. 6
Use wheat bran sprinkled over your usual cereal as well as in baked goods. You can also use as an addition to savoury dishes such as stew and casserole. We recommend up to 2 tablespoons per day.
Eggs, especially their nutrient-rich yolks, contain the cholesterol, protein and vitamin D you need to produce testosterone. There’s no limit on how many eggs you can eat per day, 7 but in most people 1-2 per day is a good benchmark.
Eggs also contain protein for muscle growth – great if you’re experiencing low muscle mass, a side effect of low testosterone.
Rich in testosterone-boosting magnesium and zinc, beans are also a great weight loss food. Being overweight often causes lowered levels of testosterone 8 due to fat cells turning testosterone into oestrogen. 9
Chickpeas contain around 47mg magnesium per 100g, while black beans contain around 70mg magnesium per 100g. Remember, men aged 19 to 64 years need 300mg magnesium a day.10
The juicy pomegranate is associated with female fertility, but it could also give men a higher testosterone count.
Over two weeks, participants found that pomegranate raised their testosterone levels by 24%. 11
The UK study from 2012 was based on pomegranate juice – which is handy as adding a glass of pomegranate juice to your daily diet for two weeks has to be the easiest way to raise those T levels.
Pomegranate juice is also thought to help beat impotence, 12 which in turn may boost libido. Low libido can be an undesirable side effect of low testosterone levels.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and watercress are packed with magnesium. Much like with wheat bran and beans, this healthy food can help with weight loss while delivering testosterone-raising magnesium.
Spinach boasts around 79mg magnesium per 100g, which goes a long way towards your daily 300mg.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are known to be nutritional powerhouses, thanks to their impressive profile of vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids.
They’re rich in both magnesium and zinc, the two minerals strongly linked with boosting testosterone levels. 14
Easy to carry with you wherever you are, nuts and seeds are also great for staving off hunger pangs, helping you to avoid picking up an unhealthy choice.
Ginger is loved for its fiery flavour, but it might also be able to boost testosterone naturally. Researchers believe it helps to improve the conditions inside the testicles, where testosterone is produced, among other mechanisms. 14
More research is needed, but the link between ginger and testosterone levels is a promising one. Ginger is safe for most people so there’s nothing stopping you adding it to your diet now!
Eating lots of meat, especially red meat, has something of a ‘manly’ reputation. While it’s true meat can help boost testosterone in small amounts, too much can have the opposite effect as well as coming with other health concerns.
Our verdict? It’s all about balance.
Meat is a great source of protein, which will help keep your weight down, minimising your chances of having low testosterone levels in the first place.
Red meat is high in testosterone-friendly zinc and vitamin D.
You shouldn’t eat too much meat, especially red meat, however. It’s high in saturated fat and eating too much has been linked with bowel cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The NHS recommends no more than 70g per day.15
The quality of your meat matters, too. Higher intake of processed red meat – think hotdogs, ham, bacon and pepperoni- is actually known to cause lower sperm count in men. 16
Always choose unprocessed, lean cuts and don’t eat red meat every day.
The healthy unsaturated fats found in avocadoes could replace calories from refined carbohydrates (such as white bread) in your diet, leading to a raise in testosterone levels.
A USA study from 2014 found that a diet rich in healthy fats and lower in carbohydrates increased testosterone levels among a group of 26 young men. The diet included 75% healthy fats, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. The participants were all fit and resistance trained three times per week, which could have had an effect on the results. 17
Other studies confirm that a diet too low in fat can lower testosterone levels. 18
However, a diet that high in unsaturated fat might not be right for everyone, so we suggest speaking to a doctor before proceeding.
What foods reduce testosterone?
Men who eat a diet high in fried, processed foods tend to have lower testosterone levels as a result.
One study found that men who ate a fried, processed diet had T levels which were ‘significantly decreased’. 19
It’s important to know that disruptions to your eating pattern can disrupt testosterone levels. This include excessive calorie restriction, such as with crash dieting, and regularly overeating.
Drinking too much alcohol reduces testosterone, which leads to loss of libido and a drop in sperm quantity and quality. 20
Foods containing soy, such as tofu and edamame beans, are a good source of protein and omega-3 acids, but they might not be the best foods to load up on if you’re looking to boost testosterone.
They contain phytoestrogens, which are compounds with the ability to mimic the female hormone oestrogen in the body. Some researchers believe this can lead to males experiencing a drop in testosterone and typical male traits such as body hair and a deep voice. Research is ongoing. 21
Last Updated: 9th November 2020
4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17051372/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9660159/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17051372/