Many a yarn has been spun about boosting testosterone, even I am guilty of doing so. “Boosting testosterone” is a hot topic for men young and old, fit and fat, tall and short, so it’s hard to not want a piece of the pie. It also sounds a lot more glamorous than “reducing estrogen.”
Nevertheless, unless you are taking a cycle of some anabolic steroids (not something I am personally interested in), or getting some hormone replacement therapy (which you can’t get unless your testosterone is abnormally low) you aren’t likely to be able to literally boost your testosterone above and beyond your natural healthy limits.
You can, however, tweak your lifestyle and your diet to help your body remain in a more optimal androgen-responsive state, which has essentially the same effect as boosting your testosterone, minus the gyno and mood swings. So in a way, it’s better than boosting your testosterone.
The following are my science-esque (read: my armchair opinion based on my experiences) suggestions for tipping the balance toward favoring androgens if you are a male. This post features some lifestyle recommendations you are probably following already, but it also contains my personal estrogen-reducing stack and a couple of other supplement recommendations. This is Pill Scout after all.
Cut out the junk food (as if you needed to be reminded)
In 2016, if the bulk of your calories are still coming from corn, wheat, rice, sugar, and other simple carbohydrate forms, you’re screwing up. Switch to more protein, fiber and fats.
Whether you are skinny or fat, learn about slow carbs to keep those energy levels stable and steady throughout the day. Unless you’re a vegan it doesn’t matter if these macros are from plant or animal sources. Paleo, keto, Nourishing Traditions, whatever paradigm you want to follow, if it sticks to the above then I think you’re good to go.
Clean food is best obviously (lots of xenoestrogens in plastics and factory farmed meats), but think pragmatically: go with what you can afford rather than giving up altogether.
High glycemic carbs on their own as the bulk of a diet can create a cascade effect on your body hormones, causing your body’s SHBG to “drop” testosterone and pick up the insulin you’ve secreted. Once in a while this isn’t too dangerous, but over a long period of time it can be relatively damaging.
This effect becomes much worse if you have poor insulin resistance and have a significant amount of body fat. This bodily environment creates a runaway feedback loop that makes you crave more of those same simple carbs that are killing you.
Yes, you can find plenty of fit people who are able to nearly gorge on junk because their anabolic, high testosterone body is able to make short work of it. If you aren’t one of those people, stick to the guidelines until you become one of those people.
Here’s some of the slow carb sources you might want to throw into your diet:
- Steel cut oats
- Sweet potato
- Brown rice
- Lentils, beans and peas
You can look online for low glycemic food lists as well. Generally, the lower the number, the less quickly the food will spike your blood sugar. Typically you can get away with small quantities of higher GI foods with little ill effect.
The Estrogen “cleanse” estrogen-reducing stack
“Cleanse” and “detox” have become nearly meaningless cliches, but there’s not really a better way to describe the following protocol. It partly deals with your liver, which is your body’s detoxifier (clearing out certain hormones), and deals partly with how your hormones are formed. In case you didn’t know, testosterone can very easily become estrogen, and this is not what we want when we try to increase our testosterone activity.
You’ll need each of the following:
So what’s all this stuff, and what do these things do?
Calcium D-Glucarate is the talk of the town, as it helps the liver to excrete hormones that can be problematic in excess, such as estrogens.
DIM is a natural aromatase inhibitor.1 To keep things simple, aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen. Naturally, a tiny bit of aromatase and estrogen is okay, but more than that is bad for a healthy male. Thus, DIM is desirable to anyone who wants to decrease their natural estrogen production created by lifestyle factors and whatever else. (Don’t take too much, this one can actually increase aromatase if you overdo it.)
Sulforaphane is a sulfur compound found naturally in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts, which is why it’s sometimes sold as “broccoli sprout extract.” It’s actually a great anti-cancer compound and can help inhibit estrogen and support testosterone and sperm production in men.2
Combining all 3, you have a powerful tool to clear a path for those androgens.
A good regimen to start with:
- Calcium D-Glucarate (100 mg or so) 2 or 3 times daily (perhaps with a meal)
- DIM (100 mg) just one time per day
- Sulforaphane (250 mg – 5 grams) through the day as you wish. (More may be better here.)
You can take this stack indefinitely, eventually dropping the calcium D-glucarate when you run out and continuing with DIM + sulforaphane. I have made capsules of the DIM with sulforaphane and ashwagandha and I have been taking it daily as of two months ago.
I’m not sure if this is desirable or an indicator of androgen activity, but beard growth has increased and body hair has become more dense and dark where before it was sparse.
Quit jerkin’ it
Do I need to say more? You need to quit it if you want to bathe in your own androgens and respond to them properly. You might feel virile when browsing YouPorn and rubbing it out constantly, but frequent orgasm and arousal will downregulate your androgen receptors which has the same net effect as having reduced testosterone, not to mention reduced energy. It’s difficult, I know. I’m not saying it’s inherently bad, but know that like with narcotic drugs, it comes with a small cost that we’re not yet willing to admit exists. No free lunch.
Herbal/Nutritional Androgen Boosting Supplements
TestoJack 100 contains tribulus, tongkat ali (longjack) and the ZMA blend (Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6). I take one capsule in the morning and one in the evening, and it works around the clock. A good indication that you are responding to a supplement is morning wood. I’m dead serious. When I take this stuff regularly, I wake up every morning with a full woody, and my voice is deepened. Tribulus is a known androgen receptor enhancer3 and longjack has anti-estrogen and libido enhancing abilities.4
Ashwagandha is another herbal godsend for men. It has the dual effect of being a minor anxiety reducer while also reducing prolactin: the chemical you end up secreting tons of whether you’re a lactating mother or just constantly beating off. Unfortunately prolactin puts the brakes on dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward motivation and male virility. Reducing prolactin means driving up dopamine and indirectly forming a good environment for testosterone, which is what ashwagandha is great at.
Another prolactin counteracter would be mucuna pruriens, AKA velvet bean. I’ve written about it before for both sexual purposes and mood purposes. It’s a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, and is also an effective androgen supporter.
Do sprints or high intensity interval (HIIT) workouts
I’m no fitness expert, but if you want my two cents, here it is: sprinting is amazing.
Sprinting, in its myriad forms, features some of the benefits of strength training and cardio combined, yet it is far more anabolic and fat-burning than either form of exercise alone.
Basically, you go all out, balls-to-the-wall as fast as you can muster for about 30 seconds (sprint interval), then drop down to a rest or slow jog for about a minute (rest interval). Then repeat 4 or more times (or until you’re just about dead.) Some programs call for an extended rest interval of 4 minutes; this may be better but I couldn’t tell you from my experience yet.
When most people think of sprinting, they might think of runners traveling a short distance as quickly as humanly possible. That’s one way to sprint, but sprinting can be done with any number of exercises that can involve power.
I’m not against sprints on foot if you have the space, but at the gym it’s easier (I find) to sprint on the spin machine (it’s basically a stationary bike with a heavy flywheel) because you can change the resistance as needed to make it challenging enough for yourself. Pull ups and muscle ups can also be done in this manner. Nearly any exercise, within reason of safety and practicality, can be performed as a “sprint.”
In my experience you really only need to do these sprints maybe once or twice a week, minimum. Some programs call for a dedicated week to HIIT exercise.
But what are all the benefits to all of this? If you’re fat, your body will be using up its energy stores long after your sprint sessions, which is what you probably want it to do. All that fat and any food you eat later on will be feeding your muscles instead of going back to fat. If you’re skinny, your body won’t have much fat to turn to, so sprints will give you an appetite like no other (this has always been my experience), and you can rest assured that it’ll go toward feeding that muscle you probably want.
Now, a warning: sprinting is quick, but it’s not exactly easy. During and after your sprint session, if you’ve really pushed yourself, you have to be ready to be on the verge of puking and feeling like your heart is actually a chestburster from the Alien films. If this happens, rest some more. Sprinting is all about pure power and results and is not for the meek. However the benefits are tremendous. After a couple of good sprinting sessions, you will crave the next session, and it actually feels great.
The End! Some Parting Words
All of the above is what I’ve found to work for me in my years of experimenting with these supplements and substances. One day I’ll see if I can’t cycle off these, and see whether these tips make any improvements in actual blood testosterone and estrogen levels. Nevertheless, I stand by these recommendations as I use them myself. Try it, apply it. See if it doesn’t work for you too.