Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

Testosterone is a hormone which is crucial for muscle gain and fat loss, the increase of energy levels, mood improvement, making one feel confident, strong and assertive, and upholding the flame of sexual desire. Thus, boosting testosterone is something that a lot of people are trying to achieve by using testosterone supplements, steroids, and taking testosterone replacement therapies.

Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in the testicles of men and ovaries in women; men have much higher testosterone levels. Hormones are body-produced chemical substances that control certain cell or organ activities. They are vital for many biological processes, and support growth, reproduction, digestion, and metabolism, stimulating cells and organs to act in a diversity of ways. Testosterone levels also affect sperm production, red blood cell production, and bone and muscle strength. People with lower testosterone levels may experience sleeping problems, an increase in body fat, erectile dysfunction and low sex drive, muscle and strength loss, depression and mental fogginess.

So, what are the ways and possibilities for increasing your testosterone levels naturally? First, see what kind of lifestyle you lead. Think about your daily habits and about implementing some changes that will boost your overall health, but also help you maintain a normal testosterone level.

Dial in Your Diet

What you eat affects your testosterone level. When it comes to dietary fats, it is known that by switching from a low-fat to a high-fat diet, the increase in free testosterone would be only slight. It has been proven that men who get 41% of their daily calories from fat have a higher free testosterone level than men who get only 18%. Also, following a low-carbohydrate diet program and combining it with regular exercise, cortisol levels are increased, followed by a decrease in free testosterone levels. On the other hand, a high-carb diet promotes the secretion of insulin which keeps cortisol levels low. Insulin also has anti-catabolic properties, but is not anabolic like testosterone. A high-protein diet along with physical activity is very good for you, but does not increase testosterone levels.

There are testosterone boosting foods that you can get your hands on, and start working on getting those testosterone levels higher. Also, take vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D.

Overweight and obese people have lower testosterone levels. A study conducted by endocrinologists at the University of Buffalo, and published in the Diabetes Care journal, showed that 40% of obese participants had low testosterone levels. Maintaining a healthy weight will surely have a positive effect on this hormone.

Want to eat like a man? Check out the Testosterone Diet.

Get Plenty of Sleep

People with low testosterone levels may experience poor quality of sleep. Also, lack of sleep can have an effect on a variety of chemicals and hormones in your body that can make a harmful bouncing effect on your testosterone. Always make sure you have enough sleep. Stop watching late TV, rearrange your schedule, and praise your sleeping time. Professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine, and conductor of a 2011 study, Eve Van Cauter said: “Low testosterone levels are associated with reduced well-being and vigor, which may also occur as a consequence of sleep loss.”

Reduce Stress

The hormone cortisol gets released when in a state of constant pressure and stress. When cortisol levels get high, the body is less able to produce testosterone. By spending at least two hours a day on doing things that you like (but are not related to work or exercise), and cutting back on long working hours can greatly reduce stress.

Exercise Regularly

When you are physically active, your brain sends out signals for more testosterone production. It actually adapts to your body’s needs. So, if you are not getting enough exercise, or at all, start little by little. Walk rapidly at least 20 minutes every day, and build your strength by performing several sessions with elastic bands or weights every week. After a while, start with a gym training program, and keep your body in shape. Consider hiring a personal fitness trainer for getting the best results. However, do not go too far, because extreme amounts of difficult endurance exercises can actually lower your testosterone.

Pay Attention to Your Medications

Certain types of substances, such as anabolic steroids, glucocorticoid drugs (prednisone), and opioid drugs (MS Contin, fentanyl, and OxyContin) can lower your testosterone levels. Discuss the medications you are taking with your doctor to make sure that they are not the cause of your low testosterone level. If it is the case, your doctor should adjust your treatment.

Avoid Testosterone Supplements

They are popular these days, but do not believe the marketing hype. They provide a temporary or no effect at all. Most of these supplements have ingredients like ZMA (a combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6), Tribulus terrestris, and D-aspartic acid. What you need is enough calories and a good compound training.

There are no ways for a quick testosterone boost. It takes time to improve your overall health by changing your lifestyle and eating healthy. Eat plenty of nutritious foods and enough calories, stay lean, consume multivitamins, exercise regularly, and make sure you have enough sleep.