Check out Dr. Aaron Swanson's latest video, L Shaped Handstand - Half Handstand. Interesting variation and novel approach to stability, core work, lower posterior chain mobility and upper posterior chain mobility/stability.

L Shaped Handstand - Half Handstand

Testosterone is the main male sex hormone, but females also have small amounts of it.
It is a steroid hormone, produced in men’s testicles and women’s ovaries (1).
The adrenal glands also produce small amounts.
During puberty in boys, testosterone is one of the main drivers of physical changes like increased muscle, deeper voice and hair growth.
However, having optimal levels is also important throughout adulthood and even during old age.
In adults, healthy levels are important for general health, disease risk, body composition, sexual function and just about everything else (1234567).
Additionally, increasing your testosterone levels can cause rapid gains in muscle mass and vitality in only a matter of weeks (8910).
Interestingly, it also plays an important role in female health and sexual well-being (111213).
The research is pretty conclusive: both genders should ensure they have healthy levels of testosterone, especially as they age (1314).
Here are 8 evidence-based ways to increase testosterone levels naturally.

1. Exercise and Lift Weights

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent many lifestyle-related diseases. Interestingly, it can also boost your testosterone.
A large review study found that people who exercised regularly had higher testosterone levels. In the elderly, exercise increases testosterone levels, fitness and reaction time (15,16).
Fit Young Man Lifting Weights
New research in obese men suggests that increased physical activity was even more beneficial than a weight loss diet for increasing testosterone levels (17).
Resistance training, such as weight lifting, is the best type of exercise to boost testosterone in both the short- and long-term (1819).
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can also be very effective, although all types of exercise should work to some extent (18,19202122).
Taking caffeine and creatine monohydrate as supplements may further boost your levels when combined with a training program (2324).
Bottom Line: All forms of exercise may increase your testosterone levels. Weight lifting and high-intensity interval training are the most effective.

2. Eat Protein, Fat and Carbs

Plate of Fish, Potatoes and Broccoli
What you eat has a major impact on testosterone as well as other hormone levels (25).
Therefore, you must pay attention to your long-term calorie intakeand diet strategy.
Constant dieting or overeating may disrupt your testosterone levels (2627282930).
Eating enough protein can help maintain healthy levels and aid in fat loss, which is also associated with your testosterone (28,3132).
Carb intake also plays a role, with research showing carbs can help optimize testosterone levels during resistance training (2233).
However, research demonstrates that sufficient healthy fats are also beneficial for testosterone and health (25343536,37).
A diet based mainly on whole foods is best, with a healthy balance of fat, protein and carbs. This can optimize both hormone levels and long-term health.
Bottom Line: Don’t overeat and don’t restrict calories too much for too long. Try to eat balanced amounts of carbs, fat and protein.

3. Minimize Stress and Cortisol Levels

Research is always highlighting the dangers of long-term stress, which can elevate levels of the hormone cortisol (38,3940).
Unnatural elevations in cortisol can quickly reduce testosterone. These hormones work in a seesaw-like manner: as one goes up, the other comes down (404142).
Stress and high cortisol can also increase food intake, weight gain and the storage of harmful body fat around your organs. In turn, these changes may negatively impact your testosterone levels (434445).
For both optimal health and hormone levels, you should try to reduce repetitive stressful situations in your life.
Focus on a diet based on whole foods, regular exercise, good sleep, laughter and a balanced lifestyle, all of which can reduce stress and improve your health and testosterone levels (4647484950).
Bottom Line: High levels of stress are bad for your long-term health and can reduce your testosterone levels.

4. Get Some Sun or Take a Vitamin D Supplement

Bottle of Vitamin D Capsules
Vitamin D is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular vitamins.
Research has shown that it has various health benefits, and may also work as a natural testosterone booster (515253,5455).
Despite its importance, nearly half of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, and an even higher percentage has sub-optimal levels (5657).
A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25% (54).
In the elderly, vitamin D and calcium also optimized testosterone levels, which led to a reduced risk of falling (58).
To boost testosterone and reap the other benefits of vitamin D, try to get regular exposure to sunlight or take around 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement daily.
More information on vitamin D here: Vitamin D 101 — A Detailed Beginner’s Guide.
Bottom Line: Vitamin D3 supplements may boost testosterone levels, especially in the elderly and people who have low blood levels of vitamin D.

5. Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Young Man with a Pill and a Glass of Water in Hand
Although the benefits of multivitamins are hotly debated, specific vitamins and minerals may be beneficial (59).
In one study, zinc and vitamin B supplements increased sperm quality by 74%. Zinc also boosts testosterone in athletes and those who are deficient in zinc (606162).
Other studies also suggest vitamins A, C and E can play a role in your sex hormone and testosterone levels, although more research is needed (25636465).
Out of all the vitamins and minerals available, the research on testosterone shows vitamin D and zinc supplements may be best (546667).
Bottom Line: Vitamin D and zinc have the strongest evidence as testosterone boosters. Other micronutrients may also have benefits, but require further research.

6. Get Plenty of Restful, High-Quality Sleep

Silver Alarm Clock
Getting good sleep is just as important for your health as diet and exercise (686970717273).
It may also have major effects on your testosterone levels.
The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, but one study found that sleeping only 5 hours per night was linked to a 15% reduction in testosterone levels (73).
One long-term study observed that those who slept only four hours per night had borderline deficient levels (46).
Other long-term studies support this. One study calculated that for every additional hour of sleep you get, testosterone levels rise 15% higher, on average (7475).
Although some people seem to do fine with less sleep, research suggests around 7–10 hours of sleep per night is best for long-term health and your testosterone.
Bottom Line: Make sure you get plenty of high-quality sleep to maintain healthy testosterone levels and optimize your long-term health.

7. Take Some of These Natural Testosterone Boosters

Bottle of Herb Capsules
Only a few natural testosterone boosters are supported by scientific studies.
The herb with the most research behind it is called ashwagandha.
One study tested the effects of this herb on infertile men and found a 17% increase in testosterone levels and a 167% increase in sperm count (76).
In healthy men, ashwagandha increased levels by 15%. Another study found it lowered cortisol by around 25%, which may also aid testosterone (7778).
Ginger extract may also boost your levels. It is a delicious herb that also provides various other health benefits (79808182,83).
Most of the research on ginger has been done in animals. However, one study in infertile humans found that ginger can boost testosterone levels by 17% and increase levels of other key sex hormones (8084).
Other popular herbs that are supported by some studies in both animals and humans include horny goat weedMucuna pruriensshilajit and tongkat ali.
Yet it’s important to note that most of the positive research has been conducted in mice or infertile humans with low testosterone levels.
If you have healthy testosterone function and normal levels, it is unclear whether you will benefit much from these supplements.
Bottom Line: Several herbal supplements are a natural way to boost testosterone for those with infertility or low levels.

8. Follow a Healthy Lifestyle and Avoid Estrogen-like Compounds

BPA Free Logo
There are several other factors that may affect your hormone levels.
A healthy sex life plays an important role in regulating your sex hormone and testosterone levels (8586).
High exposure to estrogen-like chemicals may also affect your levels, so try to minimize daily exposure to BPAparabens and other chemicals found in some types of plastic (868788,89).
It’s probably no surprise that excess alcohol or drug use, whether it’s medical or recreational, can also decrease testosterone levels (909192939495).
In contrast, laughter, happiness and success may help boost your health and testosterone levels — so make sure they’re a part of your daily life (96979899).
Bottom Line: Reducing exposure to estrogen-like chemicals, alcohol and drugs can positively affect your testosterone levels and health.

Why Do Testosterone Levels Matter?

From the age of 25–30, a man’s testosterone levels naturally start to decline.
This is a problem because strong research shows a link between low testosterone and obesity, increased disease risk and premature death.
Healthy testosterone levels are also important for women, along with other key hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
Therefore, everyone should take the necessary lifestyle steps to optimize testosterone levels. You will improve your health and body at the same time.

Excess belly fat is extremely unhealthy.
It’s a risk factor for diseases like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer (1).
The medical term for unhealthy fat in the belly is “visceral fat,” which refers to fat surrounding the liver and other organs in your abdomen.
Even normal-weight people with excess belly fat have an increased risk of health problems (2).
Here are 12 things that make you gain belly fat.

1. Sugary Foods and Beverages

Many people take in more sugar every day than they realize.
High-sugar foods include cakes and candies, along with so-called “healthier” choices like muffins and frozen yogurt. Soda, flavored coffee drinks and sweet tea are among the most popular sugar-sweetened beverages.
Observational studies have shown a link between high sugar intake and excess belly fat. This may be largely due to the high fructose content of added sugars (345).
Both regular sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are high in fructose. Regular sugar has 50% fructose and high-fructose corn syrup has 55% fructose.
In a controlled 10-week study, overweight and obese people who consumed 25% of calories as fructose-sweetened beverages on a weight-maintaining diet experienced a decrease in insulin sensitivity and an increase in belly fat (6).
A second study reported a reduction in fat burning and metabolic rate among people who followed a similar high-fructose diet (7).
Although too much sugar in any form may lead to weight gain, sugar-sweetened beverages may be especially problematic. Sodas and other sweet drinks make it easy to consume large doses of sugar in a very short period of time.
What’s more, studies have shown that liquid calories don’t have the same effects on appetite as calories from solid foods. When you drink your calories, it doesn’t make you feel full so you don’t compensate by eating less of other foods instead (89).
Bottom Line: Frequently consuming foods and beverages high in sugar or high-fructose corn syrup may cause belly fat gain.

2. Alcohol

Glass of Beer
Alcohol can have both healthful and harmful effects.
When consumed in moderate amounts, especially as red wine, it may lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes (10)
However, high alcohol intake may lead to inflammation, liver disease and other health problems (11).
Some studies have shown that alcohol suppresses fat burning and that excess calories from alcohol are partly stored as belly fat — hence the term “beer belly” (12).
Studies have linked high alcohol intake to weight gain around the middle. One study found that men who consumed more than three drinks per day were 80% more likely to have excess belly fat than men who consumed less alcohol (1314).
The quantity of alcohol consumed within a 24-hour period also appears to play a role.
In another study, daily drinkers who consumed less than one drink per day tended to have the least abdominal fat, while those who drank less often but consumed four or more drinks on “drinking days” were most likely to have excess belly fat (15).
Bottom Line: Heavy alcohol consumption increases risk of several diseases and is linked to excess belly fat.

3. Trans Fats

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Trans fats are the unhealthiest fats on the planet.
They’re created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats in order to make them more stable.
Trans fats are often used to extend the shelf lives of packaged foods, such as muffins, baking mixes and crackers.
Trans fats have been shown to cause inflammation. This can lead to insulin resistance, heart disease and various other diseases (16171819).
There are also some animal studies suggesting that diets containing trans fats may cause excess belly fat (2021).
At the end of a 6-year study, monkeys fed an 8% trans fat diet gained weight and had 33% more abdominal fat than monkeys fed an 8% monounsaturated fat diet, despite both groups receiving just enough calories to maintain their weight (21).
Bottom Line: Trans fats increase inflammation that may drive insulin resistance and the accumulation of belly fat.

4. Inactivity

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest risk factors for poor health (22).
Over the past few decades, people have generally become less active. This has likely played a role in the rising rates of obesity, including abdominal obesity.
Fit vs. Fat Man with Text
A major survey from 1988-2010 in the US found that there was a significant increase in inactivity, weight and abdominal girth in men and women (23).
Another observational study compared women who watched more than three hours of TV per day to those who watched less than one hour per day.
The group that watched more TV had almost twice the risk of “severe abdominal obesity” compared to the group that watched less TV (24).
One study also suggests that inactivity contributes to the regain of belly fat after losing weight.
In this study, researchers reported that people who performed resistance or aerobic exercise for 1 year after losing weight were able to prevent abdominal fat regain, while those who did not exercise had a 25–38% increase in belly fat (25).
Bottom Line: Inactivity may promote an increase in belly fat. Resistance and aerobic exercise may prevent abdominal fat regain after weight loss.

5. Low-Protein Diets

Bowl of Cooked Spaghetti
Getting adequate dietary protein is one of the most important factors in preventing weight gain.
High-protein diets make you feel full and satisfied, increase your metabolic rate and lead to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake (2627).
In contrast, low protein intake may cause you to gain belly fat over the long term.
Several large observational studies suggest that people who consume the highest amount of protein are the least likely to have excess belly fat (282930).
In addition, animal studies have found that a hormone known as neuropeptide Y(NPY) leads to increased appetite and promotes belly fat gain. Your levels of NPY increase when your protein intake is low (313233).
Bottom Line: Low protein intake may drive hunger and belly fat gain. It may also increase the hunger hormone neuropeptide Y.

6. Menopause

Gaining belly fat during menopause is extremely common.
At puberty, the hormone estrogen signals the body to begin storing fat on the hips and thighs in preparation for a potential pregnancy. This subcutaneous fat isn’t harmful, although it can be extremely difficult to lose in some cases (34).
Menopause officially occurs one year after a woman has her last menstrual period.
Around this time, her estrogen levels drop dramatically, causing fat to be stored in the abdomen, rather than on the hips and thighs (3536).
Some women gain more belly fat at this time than others. This may partly be due to genetics, as well as the age at which menopause starts. One study found that women who complete menopause at a younger age tend to gain less abdominal fat (37).
Bottom Line: Hormonal changes at menopause result in a shift in fat storage from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen.

7. The Wrong Gut Bacteria

Doctor Listening to Belly With Stethoscope
Hundreds of types of bacteria live in your gut, mainly in your colon. Some of these bacteria benefit health, while others can cause problems.
The bacteria in your gut are also known as your gut flora or microbiome. Gut health is important for maintaining a healthy immune system and avoiding disease.
An imbalance in gut bacteria increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases (38).
There’s also some research suggesting that having an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria may promote weight gain, including abdominal fat.
Researchers have found that obese people tend to have greater numbers ofFirmicutes bacteria than people of normal weight. Studies suggest that these types of bacteria may increase the amount of calories that are absorbed from food (3940).
One animal study found that bacteria-free mice gained significantly more fat when they received fecal transplants of bacteria associated with obesity, compared with mice that received bacteria linked to leanness (40).
Studies on lean and obese twins and their mothers have confirmed that there is a common “core” of shared flora among families that may influence weight gain, including where the weight is stored (41).
Bottom Line: Having an imbalance of gut bacteria may cause weight gain, including belly fat.

8. Fruit Juice

Orange Juice
Fruit juice is a sugary beverage in disguise.
Even unsweetened 100% fruit juice contains a lot of sugar.
In fact, 8 oz (250 ml) of apple juice and cola each contain 24 grams of sugar. The same amount of grape juice packs a whopping 32 grams of sugar (424344).
Although fruit juice provides some vitamins and minerals, the fructose it contains can drive insulin resistance and promote belly fat gain (45).
What’s more, it’s another source of liquid calories that’s easy to consume too much of, yet still fails to satisfy your appetite in the same way as solid food (89).
Bottom Line: Fruit juice is a high-sugar beverage that can promote insulin resistance and belly fat gain if you drink too much of it.

9. Stress and Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone that’s essential for survival.
It’s produced by the adrenal glands and is known as a “stress hormone” because it helps your body to mount a stress response.
Unfortunately, it can lead to weight gain when produced in excess, especially in the abdominal region.
In many people, stress drives overeating. But instead of the excess calories being stored as fat all over the body, cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly (4647).
Interestingly, women who have large waists in proportion to their hips have been found to secrete more cortisol when stressed (48).
Bottom Line: The hormone cortisol, which is secreted in response to stress, may lead to increased abdominal fat. This is particularly true in women with higher waist-to-hip ratios.

10. Low-Fiber Diets

Sliced White Bread
Fiber is incredibly important for good health and controlling your weight.
Some types of fiber can help you feel full, stabilize hunger hormones and reduce calorie absorption from food (4950).
In an observational study of 1,114 men and women, soluble fiber intake was associated with reduced abdominal fat. For each 10-gram increase in soluble fiber there was a 3.7% decrease in belly fat accumulation (51).
Diets high in refined carbs and low in fiber appear to have the opposite effect on appetite and weight gain, including increases in belly fat (525354).
One large study found that high-fiber whole grains were associated with reduced abdominal fat, while refined grains were linked to increased abdominal fat (54).
Bottom Line: A diet that is low in fiber and high in refined grains may lead to increased amounts of belly fat.

11. Genetics

Genes play a major role in obesity risk (55).
Similarly, it appears that the tendency to store fat in the abdomen is partly influenced by genetics (565758).
This includes the gene for the receptor that regulates cortisol and the gene that codes for the leptin receptor, which regulates calorie intake and weight (58).
In 2014, researchers identified three new genes associated with increased waist-to-hip ratio and abdominal obesity, including two that were found only in women (59).
However, much more research needs to be conducted in this area.
Bottom Line: Genes appear to play a role in high waist-to-hip ratios and storage of excess calories as belly fat.

12. Not Enough Sleep

Turquoise Alarm Clock
Getting enough sleep is crucial for your health.
Many studies have also linked inadequate sleep with weight gain, which may include abdominal fat (606162).
One large study followed over 68,000 women for 16 years.
Those who slept 5 hours or less per night were 32% more likely to gain 32 lbs (15 kg) than those who slept at least 7 hours (63).
Sleep disorders may also lead to weight gain. One of the most common disorders,sleep apnea, is a condition in which breathing stops repeatedly during the night due to soft tissue in the throat blocking the airway.
In one study, researchers found that obese men with sleep apnea had more abdominal fat than obese men without the disorder (64).
Bottom Line: Short sleep or poor-quality sleep may lead to weight gain, including belly fat accumulation.

Take Home Message

Many different factors can make you gain excess belly fat.
There are a few you can’t do much about, like your genes and hormone changes at menopause. But there are also many factors you can control.
Making healthy choices about what to eat and what to avoid, how much you exercise and how you manage stress can all help you lose belly fat.