Diet plays a big role and affects hormone levels big time. What you put in is what you get out. There are foods that increase testosterone, foods that increase DHT, foods that increase growth hormone, foods that lower estrogen, foods that lower cortisol, foods that lower SHBG, and without a doubt there are foods that increase free testosterone.
Free testosterone is simply testosterone that is free; free and unbound from binding globulins such as SHBG and albumin. Free testosterone accounts for about a 1-2% of total testosterone, the 98-99% rest of testosterone is bound to SHBG mostly and to a lesser extent albumin. The upsides of testosterone come from the small and free % of testosterone.
6 Greatest Foods That Increase Free Testosterone
- Cocoa butter
- Palm kernel oil
- Coconut oil
- Beef spleen
Cocoa Butter, Palm Kernel Oil, and Coconut Oil
Cocoa butter, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil are three great foods that increase free testosterone by a lot.
The mechanism is simple – saturated to monounsaturated fats ratio. The ratio of these two fats impacts free testosterone and SHBG a lot, a higher ratio resulting in more free testosterone. Ideally you want an overall saturated:monounsaturated fats intake ratio of 2:1 or more for maximum free testosterone production.
This experiment done on 315 men looked at the effects of oleic acid and linoleic acid on SHBG production.
The experiment found out a couple things:
- SHBG was significantly higher in men using olive oil for cooking compared to men using sunflower oil.
- Monounsaturated fats were independently associated with SHBG and impacted SHBG by 20.4%.
- Oleoyl-CoA increases SHBG production.
- SHBG levels correlated positively with serum phospholipid monounsaturated fats.
- SHBG levels correlated negatively with phospholipid saturated fatty acids.
- There was no correlation between SHBG and polyunsaturated fats.
- SHBG levels significantly correlated with the ratio of oleic to stearic fatty acid.
Palm kernel oil is just as good as coconut oil if not better; about 90% being saturated fat. Coconut oil tends to stimulate the thyroid and that results in more SHBG production. However coconut oil makes up for this with a crazy saturated:monounsaturated fats ratio, about 95% of coconut oil is saturated fats. Cocoa butter has a perfect saturated:monounsaturated fats ratio of 2:1. On the flipside, palm kernel oil and cocoa butter have no effect on the thyroid and cocoa butter is about 60% saturated fat and 30% monounsaturated fat.
Looks like palm kernel oil takes the crown when it comes to foods that increase free testosterone – palm kernel oil and coconut oil top cocoa butter by fat profiles. Palm kernel oil has almost the same saturated fat dominance as coconut oil but unlike coconut oil palm kernel oil doesn’t stimulate the thyroid and cause more SHBG production. On top of all that palm kernel oil is high in vitamin E and vitamin K as well.
Cocoa butter – in 100g of cocoa butter 60g is saturated fat, 33g is monounsaturated fat, and 3g is polyunsaturated fat. High in vitamin K as well.
Palm kernel oil – in 100g of palm kernel oil 81.5g is saturated fat, 11.4g is monounsaturated fat, and 1.6g is polyunsaturated fat. High in vitamin E and vitamin K as well.
Coconut oil – in 100g of coconut oil 86.5g is saturated fat, 5.8g is monounsaturated fat, and 1.8g is polyunsaturated fat.
Good old cheese is a potent food at increasing free testosterone.
- Cheese has a saturated:monounsaturated fat ratio of 2.5:1.
- Cheese is real high in calcium, which increases free testosterone.
- Cheese has a good amount of protein, which in moderation decreases SHBG.
- Cheese, when compared to butter, has less estrogen since estrogen is stored in fat and cheese is half fat half protein while butter is all fat.
“Positive correlations between free androgen index and calcium and negative correlations between SHBG and calcium and SHBG and zinc.” – experiment.
Beef spleen is one of the highest foods in iron and iron being positively correlated with free testosterone levels makes beef spleen one of the foods that increase free testosterone.
100g of beef spleen packs 39.4mg of iron (219% DV). Beef spleen is a good source of protein as well. On top of all that beef spleen is high in vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, and cholesterol.
In this experiment…
- Men with a testosterone deficiency had lower levels of iron and magnesium
- Men with a free testosterone deficiency had lower levels of iron
- There was a positive correlation between testosterone and iron and magnesium
- There was a positive correlation between free testosterone and iron
“Our research indicates a positive relationship between the concentrations of magnesium, iron and zinc and endocrine system in aging men.”
Buckwheat is another potent food at increasing free testosterone.
- Buckwheat is high in carbs, which are essential for free testosterone.
- Buckwheat has a good amount of protein.
- Buckwheat is one of the highest foods out there in magnesium, which potently increases free testosterone.
- Buckwheat can pass as a multivitamin.
100g of buckwheat packs 71.5g of carbs and 13.2g of protein. Buckwheat is high in magnesium, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and buckwheat has a good amount of selenium, zinc, potassium, iron, and pantothenic acid.
In this well-known experiment there are 2 groups of men that do resistance training. One group is eating a low-carb diet though (30% of total calories) and the other group is eating a high-carb diet (60% of total calories).
The results were – free T to cortisol ratio decreased some in the low-carb group, but where it gets interesting is free T to cortisol ratio decreased a lot in the low-carb group while at rest (not training / off days).
- Free T to cortisol ratio decreased by 43% in the low-carb group.
- Throughout the training sessions resting free testosterone decreased by ~3.6 pg/ml in the high-carb group and by ~7.9 pg/ml in the low-carb group.
Then this study concluded that supplementation with magnesium increases free and total testosterone levels in sedentary men and in athletes. The increases are higher in those who exercise than in sedentary individuals.
There you have it – some of the greatest foods that increase free testosterone.