Notes on How to Raise Your Testosterone (Doctors Hate Him)
Tips and Stories from 5 Biohackers
July 4, 2023 Edit: I’ve decided to start building a company in this space, starting with events and content creation. Please check it out — T Party!
Last week I posted my testosterone lab results on Instagram and Twitter — I took 6 tests in 2 months and raised my T from 791 to 1096 ng/dL. Since then, I’ve gotten over 110 DMs from men who wanted notes on how to raise T.
What follows are notes, tips, and stories from myself, biohacker friends, and some sources like Andrew Huberman.
Table of Contents
The Five S’s: Sleep, Sun, Sex, Squats, and low-Stress
Don’t skimp on carbs and (monosaturated) fats
Don’t skimp on micronutrients
Don’t skip leg day
Ice baths / ice balls
Magnesium — I’ve been using this for the past 5 months; started with half a pill, I used to chomp on it to break it in half and throw the other half back in the bottle; now I take 1-2 per day, typically before bed.
Vitamin D — I’ve been using for the past 5 months. I take 3 a day.
Zinc — only started using Zinc this week.
Got my testosterone levels checked and they were really low. Got on medication (enclomophine) and I feel like a different person. Biggest health change of my life I think.
190 → 350 ng/dL
It’s hard to overstate how big of an impact it’s has already, just feeling great, more ambitious, more energy, etc.
Convinced every male founder should get tested.
Eat enough. It’s easy to under-eat if you are training a lot and eating clean.
Lift weights, but don’t overtrain
Heat and especially cold exposure
Vitamin D in ADK form
Something that people don’t talk enough about: doing things that make you feel empowered
e.g. Not speaking up about something may reduce your T. The opposite is true: if you say something that might be difficult but you do it anyway, it improves your hormonal profile.
e.g. Talking to a girl you find attractive, especially if you are nervous about doing it
Don’t masturbate too much, though I’m not a semen retention maximalist guy. You probably know what too much is, i.e. if you feel depleted.
Yoga. I hate yoga but do it twice a week because it helps me sleep.
If you eat really fast, slow down. Chewing too fast will stress your body, increasing your cortisol. Food will also be harder to digest.
Many factors, gotta play around with it.
Huberman Lab: How To Optimize Testosterone & Estrogen (Ep. #14)
For more complete notes on this episode, see: https://podcastnotes.org/huberman-lab/episode-14-how-to-optimize-testosterone-estrogen-huberman-lab/
Estrogen and testosterone are pretty low in pre-pubescent females and males, respectively, but once puberty hits, they skyrocket.
Once women go through menopause, ages 45-60, estrogen drops dramatically.
Aromatase enzymes convert testosterone into estrogen.
Even testes can produce aromatase and estrogen at low levels.
The majority of males in mammalian species do not reproduce or even have sex at all.
Do women select men with high T or do men with high T compete more for sex? The latter.
Competition has a big effect on T. T increases even if you lose.
Watching sex (i.e. porn) increases T by 10%. Participating in sex increases T by 70%.
Abstinence for one week or more increases T by 400%.
T goes down by 50% for expecting fathers. Cortisol goes down by 3x. Estrogen levels 2x. Because of an increase in prolactin. Some hypothesize men add body fat in anticipation of the long nights with no sleep. So it’s a myth that men gain weight because they are watching their expecting baby mama’s eat more, and just doing the same. There are real hormonal reasons.
McClintock effect: when female species are housed together, they have the same cycle or influence each other’s cycles.
Bruce effect: a pregnant animal will spontaneously abort or reabsorb embryo if the father is removed and a novel mate is introduced.
Vandenbergh effect: female puberty can be accelerated by placing a sexually competent male in her presence.
Temperature and day length. Summer produces more T and E because of warmer temperature and more sunlight.
Cold exposure, ice baths, and cold underwear — vasoconstriction shuts down neurons in the gonads. Once they start heating up, they produce excess levels of gnrh and other carriers.
Zinc, magnesium, vitamin d
Listen to my podcast with Colton where we talk about his experience doing steroids and much more. Explicit part starts at 42:00.
Where Colton injected his T
Cialis as a pre-workout
How to avoid the bodybuilders biggest nightmare — Gynecomastia, AKA “b*tch tits”
How to create the "C*m Holy Grail"
Icing your balls
Going Gorilla Mode
Joe Rogan, Trump, Liver King, and Bryan Johnson
The Green Giant (by Bryan Johnson)
Don’t over train — recovery is very important, sleep helps a lot
Lower your stress/cortisol levels
Don’t be in a caloric deficit. EAT EAT EAT
Most important macronutrient for T levels
High mono unsaturated fats are literally goated
Don’t cut carb intake
Don’t eat too much protein, 1g per pound of lean body weight
Too much protein lowers T and increases cortisol
These foods are good for zinc, choline (betaine), carnitine, omega-3, and boron
f*cking shocking how much this does. we started eating beef liver 1 ounce a day and i swear my T has doubled
my nipples are sensitive as if i just hit puberty / on steroids 😂 (Jeff note: Colton has taken anabolic steroids before so I don’t think is hyperbole)
Spinach / broccoli
Quinoa / sweet potato
Kiwi / pineapple
Ashwagandha — helps with loser stress/cortisol
Do some fun competitions against your gym partner.
Get 10,000 steps a day
Just go on walks after meals
Gives you sunlight
Helps you digest
Try to be around attractive women
Cold showers / cold bath / ice nuts
The biggest global tip I have is to understand the optimal natural rhythm of neurotransmitter curves throughout the day as they relate to the circadian cycle.
Most of this advice is grounded in Huberman episode 80.
Morning — Train
Do adrenaline/epinephrine-boosting activities during this time. I was never a morning person, but started exercising at this time to immensely positive effect.
Morning workouts: even if you're recovering from resistance stuff, routinely do something around this time that gets your heart rate up. Even like basic warm-up things or light cardio followed by recovery (spa, sauna, stretching, etc) is great. But wake up the nervous system somehow.
Caffeine 1x daily ~90m–2h after waking.
There are other stimulating supplements to explore for the "perk up" phase of the daily cycle, DYOR and find what works for you. caffeine is tried and true
Evening — Relax
The other phase is slowing yourself down on the "back 9" of the day. Most people have a dip in alertness 7–9h before sleeping, that's the time to stop being geeked and start embracing chill.
Serotonin vs epinephrine.
Do things that calm you, massage, heat, sauna/spa, cozy vibes.
Incense, theragun, foam rolling/lacrosse ball/myo-fascial release
Hug someone you love.
Pet a dog.
Lock your sleep schedule and make sure you're getting enough then build around that.
Probably 10–11p ideal bedtime, aim for 8 hours.
One of the most important things for T is cortisol reduction.
Try not to exercise past this time in the day.
Our lordt and savior L-theanine will also light the way.
Magnesium also good (I like mg thereonate).
Sleep things (low-dose melatonin, valerian root, etc.)
Wring all the stress out of your body and get a good nights sleep.
Double the frequency of your leg days compared to everything else in your routine. Legs provide larger hormonal release in general — growth hormone, T, and cortisol.
High impact or aggressive activities. Combat sports or heavy bag.
Cold dips. If you can find a place to plunge, submersion is noticeably superior to showers IME. See Wim Hof and breathwork — www.wimhofmethod.com/elearning/10-week-video-course
If you have your basic diet figured out, add a little more fat. Do not aim for leanness during this time, if your T goes up, your body will eat and burn fat like a mf.
I like monounsaturated sources like avocado and some nuts (almond, cashew, peanut, pistachio).
Avoid trans fats, deep fried stuff, processed bs.
Red meat can be good for T, but there's the whole too much of a good thing problem there since it's bad for other things.
I'd recommend instead leaning on broths, bone or beef. You're gonna be able to have these more often in liquid form.
Eggs and fish.
Zinc. A key thing in a lot of these food is zinc. Consider supplementing.
Magnesium. Dark greens — spinach and kale. Popeye mode.
Make sure you have a complete protein profile. I haven't taken BCAAs since I was like 21, but it might be worth a close look to make sure you are intaking every amino acid.
Easy additions I swear by — ginger and garlic. Add to every food and drink you can.
Supplement, sure, but go get some sun in your eyes (early morning is good) and on your skin everyday. Be as naked as social conventions allow. You want to absorb it through your skin. Sunscreen on face and anywhere you burn too easily.
This seems really simple and almost dismissible but my subjective experience is that it is super high leverage and just completely glues my life routines together in a way I can no longer do without.
Secks gonna be good for T lol
Stress is the biggest thing.
Before — San Francisco
Investment banking in SF
Stayed up late working.
Depressed, anxious, stressed.
Mostly ordered food. When cooking at home, was optimizing for macronutrients, not micronutrients.
3 big changes:
Fixed hormone imbalance
Got serious about sleeping
Moved to Miami, started doing growth for a startup but remote.
Team was SF so had west coast hours on the east coast
Slept from 2am-11am, but very consistently
Got blood work and discovered estradial (estrogen) levels were 53 pg/mL (normal levels for men are 10-50 pg/mL).
Took anastrozole from March 2021 - March 2022, totally fixed it.
Total testosterone levels (ng/dL)
Jan. 2020 — 594 and 807 (two different tests in month)
Mar. 2021 — 917
Jun. 2021 — 1125
Nov. 2021 — 1349
Mar. 2022 — 1063
Was training 6x a week
Running in the sun in Miami regularly
Was having much more sex
Fun / Happiness / Stress
Parties 3-4 days a week (said he’s been to 40-50 parties in 2023)
“I’m a social animal”
Started DJing live sets
Partying + Music ⇒ more happiness ⇒ less stress
Miami 2023 (now)
Started a new job, now in management
Meetings, working late, stressed again
Not as much time to cook good meals
T levels at 800
If you are a 20-30 y/o male and you have your basics covered (sleep, sun, lift weights, eat good, etc.), 800-1000 ng/dL natty seems reachable.
What did I do over 2 months to increase my T?
I should preface by saying I did not try to intentionally increase my testosterone. I have never tried to increase or optimize my T before this week, and my 2/21/23 results from this year was the first time I think I’ve ever gotten my T numbers at all. Everything I did this year I was pretty much doing before then too (lifting weights, magnesium/vitamin d supplements, etc.).
It just happened that I took a bunch of blood tests for fun this year, and when I saw numba go up, I got hooked. It was consistent with me feeling better, looking better, and gains in the gym. So I figured it would be fun to add some competition spice to “beat” John.
It was only this week that I began deliberating doing things to increase my T levels, rather than doing them for general health.
What I was doing before
I try to lift 4-6x a week. I do 80-90% heavy compound movements (push/pull/lift 2x), the rest calisthenics.
I play basically any sport when it’s readily available, e.g. ski, surf, pickup basketball, yoga.
I fell off in 2022 when I was doing Athens and spent 9 months in Europe. I started lifting consistently again in October 2022.
What changed in past 2 months
The first 3 months of this year I was in SF. It wasn’t that bad in terms of sun, but it was raining a good amount in Q1. Certainly not even close to the amount I’ve gotten in LATAM the past 3 weeks.
My sleep has improved over the past 2-3 months. I’ve always been a light sleeper, but I had more trouble than usual in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023.
Started having more dates or at the very least interactions with women once I left SF. Not only that, I went to beach towns in Costa Rica,,, where the ratio is the opposite of SF’s.
I started eating a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables in Costa Rica. I think the impact is a more diverse and balanced diet with better micronutrients.
I started eating much more fish and much less pork and beef.
This was because 1) I was by the sea, and 2) my cholesterol was high from my initial tests, and I wanted to change that.
Historically speaking, I eat A LOT of meat, eggs, and cheese, but not much fish, fruit, or veggies in comparison.
I started eating much more carbs (rice, beans, fruits) and less meat in general. My glucose levels went up kinda high because of this, so I’m probably still adjusting.
What changed in the past week?
How did my T jump up 232 ng/dL in 1 week? 864 (4/10/23) → 1096 (4/18/23)
To be honest, I think the most likely reason is variance. Testing method, laboratory, and time of day can have a big impact on results (even though I did all of my tests sometime in the morning). Julio had a delta of 213 ng/dL, 807 → 594, within the month of January 2020.
That said, here are some things that changed.
I added Zinc yesterday (after the blood test, so no effect).
I went on 2 dates last weekend.
I started icing my balls by putting a frozen water bottle in between my legs (per Colton’s advice).
I went from Santa Teresa to San Jose, Costa Rica, but this was less sunlight, not more.
But I lifted more in SJ than ST.
We’ll find out in the next few weeks as I continue doing bloodwork. More data points makes up for variance.
What will I try to do in this next month?
Shoutout to monotremism for these first 3 tips:
Train my legs significantly harder. I admit that I push myself much harder on upper vs lower body, and I’m not proud that my squat is about the same as my bench.
Throw in some sprints and hit a bag 🥊
Consistently train in the morning. I never focused on doing it a specific time before, I just went whenever I could.
Be more consistent with taking my supps. Maybe dabble with tongkat ali and ashwaganda.
Continue taking sleep and stress reduction even more seriously. Stretching, massaging, reading, and electronics off and in another room 1-2 hours before bed.
Continue icing my balls (shoutout Colton).
Continue going on dates, if someone will go with me 👉👈
Disclaimers, Caveats, and Risks
Nothing in this post is medical advice. I am not a doctor or clinician. Talk to your doctor. Get blood work done (I will post reviews and more results from my blood tests soon, including a sperm test lol).
Yes, you should not unilaterally maximize T. Other biomarkers like estradiol and free T are important. No metric is perfect. No metric should ever be unilaterally, universally maximized/minimized in a vacuum in any setting, whether it’s T levels, revenue, profit margins, or GPA/SAT scores. Everything in moderation.
That said, testosterone (and sperm count) levels are dropping across the board, so it’s likely more people are suffering from low T than high T.
Anytime you are introducing new food or supplements, do your own research (DYOR) and start slowly, probably below the recommended dose. The primary risk is allergies.
The most common question I’ve gotten so far is: how do I feel?
I feel calmer, more confident, more capable, more ambitious, and more dialed in. And if I’m going to be honest, I feel a tad bit more competitive/aggressive. It’s not like I’ve gotten into any fights or conflicts — I’m not a confrontational person in general. But I just feel a bit more… like I give less f*cks :)
Send me clarification or follow-up questions, links debunking these bro science claims, personal anecdotes (maintaining anonymity of course, unless given consent), etc. I’ll run it by the biohackers, do my own research, and make a follow-up post.
I have another post on blood tests coming up soon as well, and maybe I’ll do some open analysis on my cholesterol, sperm levels, glucose levels, etc. if there’s interest.
I’ll also record a podcast and with John in a few weeks on his journey, — how he went from spending a decade on Wall Street to owning a stem cell clinic in Medellin, and what he does for health as a 40 year old man, weighing 200 lbs, at 9% body fat.
Subscribe if you want to stay in the loop!
Lastly, it seems like there is a general interest in raising T levels naturally. There’s a few product ideas I have for this, for example:
a DTC subscription box for supplements, food, blood tests, etc.
A community with lifting/T coaches, biohackers, and other guys trying to raise their T
A leaderboard with prizes and competitions for best overall health, most improved, etc.
Do let me know if this sounds interesting to you and I’d love to chat with you for 15 mins to better understand what you’d want and how much you’d pay for such products and services (if at all).