Article last updated: September 2018 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
I didn’t know what to answer, because saying the answer out loud would hurt too much.
I was a young guy with no drive, no ambitions, no athleticism and no experience with women.
I looked dead in the eyes.
While other guys in my high school were fit and athletic, I was that skinny-fat guy who walked around with his shoulders slouched to hide his manboobs.
Then, one day I decided to get ripped and transform my lifestyle:
- I went to the gym 3 days a week and followed a routine consistently.
- I ate a high protein diet as the bodybuilding forums advised a beginner to do.
7 months into training I still looked like I had never lifted a weight in my life.
I was discouraged and close to quit this whole fitness thing, but I didn’t because I discovered that I had low testosterone levels.
Low Testosterone Levels at Age 18
In September 2010, I decided to get my testosterone levels checked and the test came in at 297 ng/dl.
My doctor said that everything is good since I’m “in range”, but he forgot to mention that my level was in range with an 80 year old man!
In other words, I was 18 years old with the testosterone levels of an old man (and this is not uncommon today where we live in a society full of garbage food).
The blood-work explained many of my low testosterone symptoms:
- Puffy nipples.
- Lack of muscle mass.
- No response to weight training.
- High body-fat.
- Feminine fat distribution. (Hips, thighs, lower chest, lower abs).
- Very small bone structure.
- Lack of facial and body hair.
After years of research, experimentation and reading, I eventually increased my testosterone levels with 120% naturally: from 297 ng/dl to 652 ng/dl.
Unfortunately, most people who talk about increasing testosterone rarely post their blood work, but I want to show you proof that my results are real, so here you go:
The Low Testosterone Epidemic
Unfortunately, today, there’s an epidemic of low testosterone levels.
You see it everywhere.
Guys are skinny-fat with small arms and puffy chests.
Guys have bad posture and walk with their shoulders hunched over to hide their man boobs.
Guys have the energy levels of an old man and don’t get the most out of their days.
I used to be one of these guys, because just like most guys out there:
- I ate the wrong foods.
- I ate too much because the foods I ate didn’t make me full and energised.
- I was always bloated and constipated and spent a long time on the toilet.
- My body was full of inflammation.
In other words, my body was like a ticking health bomb.
You Must Eat Right To Boost Your Testosterone Levels
The key to overcome these issues starts with the fuel you put in your body:
- You have to eat high testosterone foods that your body can digest.
- You need to eat the right foods at the right time of the day to get the most out of them.
- You need to eat the right amount of food to avoid feeling sluggish and to shred excess fat.
When you do that, you will feel better, look better and perform better.
I can say without a doubt that a High Testosterone Diet is the most important aspect to boost your natural testosterone levels as much as possible.
The reasoning is that food acts as fuel for your body.
If you put the right fuel into your body, you will feel better, look better and perform better.
Your physique will become tighter.
You will feel lighter because of your improved nutrient partitioning.
Your stress levels go down.
You shred body-fat around your hips, waist and lower chest.
You find it easier to gain muscle mass and you start walking with your chest up.
The photo below shows how my body transformed after optimising my testosterone levels:
I lost 60 pounds of fat and gained 40 pounds of muscle mass after being skinny-fat most of my life.
My energy levels sky-rocketed, my posture improved, my puffy nipples pretty much disappeared, and I felt better than ever.
Testosterone Levels and Lifestyle are Interconnected
In other words, when you change your lifestyle, your testosterone levels increase, but the opposite is also true: when your testosterone levels increase, your lifestyle/behaviour also changes.
Therefore, you can “trick” your body into producing more testosterone by leading the life of a stereotypical “high testosterone guy”.
A) Lifestyle traits that are associated with LOW testosterone levels
- Poor sleep.
- Excessive stress.
- Negative mindset.
- Poor posture.
- Diet high in refined carbs such as junkfood/candy and low in solid foods like meat and eggs.
- Risk-averse personality, e.g. not approaching that beautiful girl you see smiling at you, despite wanting to.
- Under-muscled physique with feminine fat distribution (your typical skinny-fat guy).
B) Lifestyle traits that are associated with HIGH testosterone levels
- Good sleep.
- Healthy level of stress.
- Positive mindset.
- Great posture.
- Diet high in red meat, eggs and nuts and sufficient carb intake to fuel brain/muscles.
- Risk-taking/adventurous personality.
- Muscle and strength.
Imagine a scenario with two different guys. One guy is A the other guy is B.
- Guy A works a job he hates, which leads to stress. He stays up late playing computer games to escape his life which leads to poor sleep. He doesn’t exercise and eats junkfood on a daily basis which results in a skinny-fat physique. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, so instead of going out and finding one, he decides to stay home in his “safety” and watches porn.
- Guy B studies medicine which he enjoys. After a long day of studying he goes to the gym for a few hours, then goes home to eat and sleep with his girlfriend. He sleeps like a baby around 9-10 PM after a long and productive day and wakes up early excited to learn more about medicine. He doesn’t eat that often since he has no time, but when he does eat, he makes sure to fuel his body with proper, solid foods most of the time, and only eats junkfood occasionally.
Which guy do you think will have the most stress?
The guy who studies something he likes or the guy who works a job he hates?
Which do you think is happiest?
The guy who has a girlfriend he loves, or the guys who watches porn everyday?
Which guy do you think is healthiest?
The guy who eats solid meals, exercises daily and sleeps like a baby or the guy who eats a low-carb diet, exercises just 2-3 times a week and stays up late to play computer games?
Now, imagine if Guy A worked towards becoming Guy B:
- He quits the job he hates and goes to school to learn the skills needed for the job he dreams about.
- He quits porn and starts approaching real women to get a girlfriend he can spend his nights with.
- He starts exercising 6 times a week for 1-2 hours.
- He limits junkfood to Friday/Saturday night and eats 3 balanced meals a day.
- He sleeps like a baby. At the end of the day he’s so tired that he has no energy to waste on computer games.
And the results of his lifestyle transformation would be:
- Lower stress levels.
- More happiness.
- More strength and muscle mass.
- Better posture.
- Less body-fat.
- More energy.
- More drive to get work done and hit the gym.
In other words: By transforming your life for the better, you will improve your mental and physical health.
Better mental health + Better physical health = Higher testosterone levels
Therefore, over the long-term you want to transform your whole lifestyle, which will lead to better mental and physical health.
Unfortunately, it takes YEARS to go from A to B. It took me years of hard, dedicated work to make that change.
However, the good news are that you can make some essential yet simple lifestyle changes that will be responsible for the bulk of your testosterone level increases.
By implementing those simple lifestyle changes, you will see results over the short-term (2-3 months), and they will “kick-start” your transformation.
In the next section, I will deal with those separately.
How to Increase Testosterone With 120%
The truth is that you can’t just say: “I want to go from A to B this week so I can increase my testosterone levels.”
You need to start with the basics:
- Better nutrition.
- Proper exercise.
- Better sleep.
Once you start exercising regularly, eating solid home cooked meals and sleep as much as your body needs, you will develop the abundance mentality that enables you to completely transform your lifestyle by going from A to B.
I’ll deal with each separately, starting with nutrition.
Nutrition part 1: Dietary fat doesn’t make you fat
Back when I had low testosterone levels, my diet mainly consisted of lean protein sources and starches.
I was following your typical high-carb/high-protein/low-fat bodybuilding diet with 6 meals a day.
Not only was I sick and tired of this way of eating, but it didn’t improve my life or physique in any way.
Despite eating a low-fat diet and training consistently for the first time in my life, I was fatter than ever.
In September 2010 I started researching how to increase testosterone naturally, and I found that dietary fat is crucial for optimal testosterone levels.
To be specific, it’s the type of fat from animal sources such as red meat and nuts that are responsible for optimal testosterone levels.
Here’s a list of fatty foods that I eat to keep my testosterone levels high:
- Natural peanut butter.
- Red meat.
- Coconut oil for cooking.
I make sure that I consume the foods on this list on a daily basis.
If your diet is deficient in fat, you will experience enormous changes in your well-being once you start eating a proper amount:
- Mood improves.
- Less hunger throughout the day, since fat slows the digestion of carbs and keeps you full very long.
- Very high sex drive.
- Rapid recovery between workouts.
So, how much dietary fat do you need?
The requirement is individual, therefore you will need to experiment. One guy may need 20% while another one may need 40%.
A good place to start is around 30% of your total calorie intake, if you’re into counting calories.
If you’re like me and you don’t want to count calories, you can make simple changes in your diet that will ensure adequate fat intake:
- Switch out the lean chicken and turkey breast with some red meat or 88-92% beef/pork.
- Throw a few tablespoons of natural peanut butter into a smoothie or eat it with a spoon.
- Start eating whole eggs instead of just the egg whites.
Nutrition part 2: Stay away from fad diets
Diets that brand themselves as low-carb, low-calorie or low-fat often promise quick results, but those quick results come at a price that isn’t worth to pay.
As a guy into fitness you’re most likely focusing too much on protein intake, and too little on carbs and fat.
The truth is that carbs and fats are more important for performance, health and well-being than protein!
Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of calories to eat a day to stay lean. If you eat a ton of protein, you will have to limit either carbs or fats or both.
When you train most days of the week and you push yourself, then you need carbs to fuel your workouts. Hell, you even need carbs to study and do mentally demanding tasks. They’re the number one source of fuel for your brain and muscles.
Same goes for low-calorie diets used for rapid weight loss. They are the worst of all fad diets, since your body needs a set amount of calories to function properly.
When you deprive it for too long, the damage done to the endocrine system can be irreversible.
To be specific, diets that are low in something can and will most likely lead to lower testosterone levels.
There’s a reason to why we have fat, carbs and protein. Your body needs all of it to function.
Frequent exercise for increased dopamine
When you have naturally low testosterone levels, your mood also tends to be bad.
You may be depressed and/or anxious, and both of those will keep your testosterone levels low.
Therefore, you want to do a type of exercise routine that you can do EVERYDAY to release dopamine on a regular basis.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for changing the “reward system” in your brain.
For example, if you have difficulty getting your meals cooked and getting to the gym, this difficulty will decrease since you will feel more pleasure doing these simple activities.
This consistent increase in dopamine is crucial to get out of the slump you’re in with low testosterone levels, since it elevates your mood.
However, to exercise everyday you need to be smart about what you do in the gym.
To be specific, you want to keep the amount of stress that your body takes from exercise at optimal levels.
When you stress your body more than it can recover from, testosterone decreases.
When you don’t stress it enough, you don’t make progress in your training.
Stress and recovery is all about balance.
Heavy lifting (lifting in the 1-6 rep range) stresses your central nervous system (CNS) much more than light-moderate weights (7-20 reps).
After a heavy lifting session you need days to recover for your next session, therefore it’s not optimal for a guy with low testosterone.
So, what works?
They work because you can do light-moderate weights and bodyweight training everyday without worrying about overtraining.
And this in turn enables you to go to the gym everyday and get that dopamine release which is crucial to regulate your mood:
Furthermore, I want to make a note on cardio.
Cardio is great to keep your heart healthy, but you have to keep some things in mind:
- When you train with high reps and low rest between sets, your workout is similar to a cardio session.
- It’s limited how much stress your body can take, so doing a lot of intense cardio usually means doing less resistance training.
- You can do light cardio as much as you want.
In other words, I don’t have anything against light cardio, but I discourage you from doing long-duration intense cardio on a regular basis.
Finally, here’s a list of articles that I wrote about my way of training:
- Serge Nubret Pump Training
- Basic Bodyweight Training Routine.
- Calisthenics Techniques to Gain Muscle.
Sleep is one of the most underrated things in the fitness community.
By getting your sleep, you’re playing the testosterone game on “easy” rather than “hard”.
Sufficient sleep regulates appetite, improves your mood and energises you.
When I had low testosterone levels, I went to extremes to optimise my sleep.
I stopped using an alarm, and skipped early morning lectures to get my sleep.
This is the best way to get the amount of sleep your body naturally needs.
In case you do not have the option to sleep without an alarm, there are still many things you can do to optimise sleep:
- Set a reminder on your phone that says “get ready for bed” 9 hours before you have to wake up.
- Sleep and rise at the same time everyday. It’s better to sleep 6 hours each night at the same times, compared to sleeping 7-8 hours at irregular times.
- Work your mind and body everyday. If you exhaust your mind and body throughout the day, you will be tired after dinner.
Take Charge Of Your Life
To sum it up, the key to increase testosterone is to first start with the 3 basics:
- Eat a good balanced diet.
- Sufficient, quality sleep.
- Frequent exercise with light-moderate weights to release dopamine and build muscle.
You want to put all your focus on those 3 basics for the next 2-3 months until they are as natural to you as putting on new underwear in the morning.
During these 2-3 months you should see a great increase in your testosterone levels and life quality.
To give you some perspective, here are my testosterone increases after 3 months and after 2 years:
- September 2010 to December 2010: 297 ng/dl > 550 ng/dl (85% increase)
- September 2010 to July 2012: 297 ng/dl > 652 ng/dl (120% increase)
My first increase of 85% was done through diet alone. At the time between September 2010 and December 2010 I still had no clue about how to train for muscle gains, I was still depressed, skinny-fat and I didn’t get proper sleep.
My second increase from 550 ng/dl to 652 ng/dl was done through optimising my whole lifestyle with an emphasis on sleep. This is where I went from A to B.
I’m telling you this to show that you don’t have to know much about the endocrine system to get results.
The smallest changes in the right direction can boost your testosterone levels dramatically.
Forget about perfectionism.
Just eat a balanced diet, get your sleep and exercise daily to release dopamine.
This new lifestyle will slowly develop the abundance mentality that you need to work on improving other important areas of your life such as business, career, marriage and friendships.
Eventually you will wake up excited one day to eat some steak and eggs and wonder how you went from A to B.
Be proud but stay hungry,