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Ask the expert Testosterone
Last updated January 16, 2020. 2 minute read

What can I do to improve my testosterone level?

“There are natural ways to boost testosterone, and there are synthetic ways. Natural ways include focusing on our lifestyles. These have a really a profound effect on testosterone.”

Dr. Tracy Gapin, MD

Tracy Gapin, MD, is a board-certified urologist with over 20 years of experience; he specializes in prostate cancer and men's health and is the founder of Smart Men's Health in Sarasota, Florida.

Reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH

Q. What can I do to improve my testosterone?

A. There are natural ways to boost testosterone, and there are synthetic ways. Natural ways include focusing on our lifestyles. These have a really a profound effect on testosterone:

Burn fat. Studies show that high-intensity interval training, as well as strength training, are critical for boosting testosterone. These burn fat, which can result in weight loss. One of the biggest problems I see in middle-aged men with low testosterone is obesity. And especially visceral obesity (or visceral adiposity), the fat around organs that shows up as the fat around the waist—the beer gut. That fat is turning the testosterone they’re producing into estrogen, and the estrogen tells the brain not to make any more testosterone. 

Work out this way. I recommend strength training in combination with interval training and strength training. You specifically want to work the big muscles: the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Focus not on intense aerobic exercise but on sprinting with interval training, then strength training like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. A lot of this can be bodyweight exercise you can even do at home. I would say guys need to exercise at least five days a week. I recommend a 30-minute workout with sprinting. You don’t want to just get on a treadmill and run. There are studies looking at marathoners and triathletes, and those guys have crummy testosterone levels from long-term intense cardio exercise.

Get vitamin D. Micronutrients also come into play. Many men are deficient in vitamin D, so replacing those levels is really important.


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Eat healthy fats. Some men are on low-carb diets or low-fat diets. Testosterone is ultimately produced by cholesterol. So if you eat an incredibly low-fat diet over the long term, that’s going to cause problems with your steroid pathway production. You need good healthy fats in your diet. That includes polyunsaturated fats, especially the omega-3s.

Get enough sleep. Sleep and stress are big factors. I really emphasize that guys get good quality sleep—and it’s not just the length of sleep. Be sure that you’re getting enough REM sleep, as well as deep sleep. Your metabolic systems need that time to recover. Studies show that sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep decreases testosterone production.

Reduce stress. Chronic stress elevates cortisol levels, which wreaks havoc on testosterone production. I work with guys on mindset coaching, stress mitigation, and stress resilience, using various tools like meditation and breathing exercises. 

You can make a big impact by just focusing on those things alone. But some guys will do all the natural strategies and still can’t get their testosterone levels up to an appropriate level. That’s when we start looking at testosterone therapy. There’s injectable testosterone, topical testosterone, and pellets placed under the skin. All those require a doctor to regulate, monitor and help you work through that.