Are you looking to increase your DHT level in a way that makes a significant difference? If so, here is a list of ways you can start improving it this week.
What Is DHT?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is considered the master hormone that makes men the beasts that we can be. It’s the very thing inside our body that makes us alpha and yes, it’s more manly than plain old testosterone. Both have similar functions but unlike testosterone, DHT is immune to estrogen conversion via the aromatase enzyme, ((Swerdloff, R. S. & Wang C. (1998). Dihydrotestosterone: a rationale for its use as a non-aromatizable androgen replacement therapeutic agent. Bailliere’s Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 12(3):501-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10332569)) ensuring its effect concentrates purely on what makes us male. In fact, DHT is considered super testosterone since it can do what testosterone does but better.
DHT is responsible for the following:
- Body hair growth ((Leonard, S. M. (2004). 5α-Reductase: History and Clinical Importance. Reviews in Urology, 6(Suppl 9): S11–S21. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472916/))
- linear beard growth
- Boosting mood, energy, and confidence ((Ly, L. P., Jimenez, M., Zhuang, T. N., Celermajer, D. S., Conway, A. J., & Handelsman, D. J. (2001). A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of transdermal dihydrotestosterone gel on muscular strength, mobility, and quality of life in older men with partial androgen deficiency. The Journal of Medical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 86(9):4078-88. DOI: 10.1210/jcem.86.9.7821))
- Increasing cAMP levels in tissue which in turn stimulates lipolysis (fat burning) and enhances thyroid function.
- Promotes strength and nervous system function. ((Hamdi, M. M. & Mutungi, G. (2010). Dihydrotestosterone activates the MAPK pathway and modulates maximum isometric force through the EGF receptor in isolated intact mouse skeletal muscle fibres. The Journal of PSychology, 588(Pt 3):511-25. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.182162))
- Responsible for all masculine body and facial characteristics (wide jaw, broad shoulders, etc.)
- Increased DHT levels are strongly linked to higher brain GABA-levels, ((Frye, C. A., Park, D., Tanaka, M., Rosellini, R., & Svare, B. (2001). The testosterone metabolite and neurosteroid 3alpha-androstanediol may mediate the effects of testosterone on conditioned place preference. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 26(7):731-50. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11500254)) promoting that calm “alpha male” relaxation in any situation
- Even more potent than testosterone at promoting libido and erection quality ((Kunelius, P., Lukkarinen, O., Hannuksela, M. L., Itkonen, O., & Tapanainen, J. S. (2002). The effects of transdermal dihydrotestosterone in the aging male: A prospective, randomized, double-blind study. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 87(4):1467-72. DOI: 10.1210/jcem.87.4.8138))
With all the benefits provided by DHT, only around 5% testosterone is converted to this superior form so naturally, the best way to increase DHT is to first increase testosterone. Here are a few scientifically proven ways to boost your testosterone and in turn get your DHT growing exponentially!
1. Burn All the Body Fat
When it comes to maximizing DHT, you really have to get your body ripped. We’re not talking about insane single-digit levels but try to get it down to 15% if you want to maximize DHT production. Having a low-fat percentage may also help prevent the extra adipose tissue won’t convert most of that T into estrogen by increased aromatase activity.
It has been well-documented that fat men have significantly lower testosterone levels than lean men according to several studies (((Mogri, M., Dhindsa, S., Quattrin, T., Ghanim, H., & Dandona, P. (2013). Testosterone concentrations in young pubertal and post-pubertal obese males. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(4):593-9. doi: 10.1111/cen.12018)), ((Camacho, E. M., Huhtaniemi, I.T., O’Neill, T. W., Finn, J. D., Pye, S. R., Lee, D. M., … EMAS Group. (2013). Age-associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: Longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology, 168(3):445-55. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0890)), ((Luconi, M., Samavat, J., Seghieri, G., Iannuzzi, G., Lucchese, M., Rotella, C., … Mannucci, E. (2013). Determinants of testosterone recovery after bariatric surgery: Is it only a matter of reduction of body mass index? Fertility and Sterility, 99(7):1872-9.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.02.039)), ((Saboor, A., Kumar. S. & Barber, T. M., (2013). The role of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the development of male obesity-associated secondary hypogonadism. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(3):330-7. doi: 10.1111/cen.12092)) and not surprisingly accompanied with elevated aromatase activity. ((Cohen, P. G. (2001). Aromatase, adiposity, aging and disease. The hypogonadal-metabolic-atherogenic-disease and aging connection. Medical Hypotheses, 56(6):702-8. DOI: 10.1054/mehy.2000.1169))
And hey, if you got less fat you’ll also look sexier and prevent the worst thing any guy could have: manboobs.
2. Increase Your Testosterone!
As mentioned earlier, the amount of DHT you have is heavily dependent on how much testosterone you have. Therefore logically, as your increase testosterone production, so does your DHT production.
Testosterone replacement therapy is one direct way of increasing testosterone in the body. Studies show promising results when it comes to serum testosterone levels as well as DHT levels. (((Ahmed, S.R., Boucher, A. E., Manna, A., Santen, R. J., Bartholomew, M., & Demers, L. M. (1988). Transdermal testosterone therapy in the treatment of male hypogonadism. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 66(3):546-51. DOI: 10.1210/jcem-66-3-546)), ((Nazem, B., Saad, A., & John, E. M. (2009). The benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy: a review. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 5: 427–448. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701485/)), ((Wang, C., Alexander, G., Berman, N., Salehian, B., Davidson, T., McDonald, V., … Swerdloff, R. S. (1996). Testosterone replacement therapy improves mood in hypogonadal men–a clinical research center study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 81(10):3578-83. DOI: 10.1210/jcem.81.10.8855804))
3. Lift Heavy Weights
The benefits of resistance training are without question but we just have to mention how great it is for a guy’s testosterone levels whatever their current condition. The boost each lift gives is more than enough to improve DHT levels. ((Moradi, F. (2015). Changes of Serum Adiponectin and Testosterone Concentrations Following Twelve Weeks Resistance Training in Obese Young Men, 6(4):e23808. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.23808))
4. Don’t Jog, Sprint!
Any type of exercise that promotes explosiveness is healthy for testosterone and DHT. A study shows DHT levels go through the roof after a good sprinting session. ((Smith, A. A., Toone, R., Peacock, O., Drawer, S., Stokes, K. A., & Cook, C. J. (2013). Dihydrotestosterone is elevated following sprint exercise in healthy young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 114(10):1435-40. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01419.2012)) Another study notes all anabolic/androgenic hormones skyrocket with sprints, but it has to be an all-out spurt to actually stimulate DHT production. ((Sato, K., Iemitsu, M., Katayama, K., Ishida, K., Kanao, Y., & Saito, M. (2016). Responses of sex steroid hormones to different intensities of exercise in endurance athletes. Experimental Physiology, 101(1):168-75. doi: 10.1113/EP085361)) That means running at your absolute maximum to get accelerated benefits not found with other intensities of exercise.
5. Wear a Mask
Not just any mask but one of those funny-looking altitude masks. These masks help get your body adjusted to a low-oxygen environment but why would you want to simulate suffocation during training? As it turns out, intermittent hypoxia or short-term low-oxygen exposure promotes testosterone production through speeding up cAMP and other testicular enzymes. ((Hwang, G.S., Chen, S.T., Chen, T. J., & Wang, S. W. (2009). Effects of hypoxia on testosterone release in rat Leydig cells. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, 297(5):E1039-45. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00010.2009)) Low-oxygen states also boost testosterone-DHT conversion in the skin and hair. ((Sawaya, M. E. (1991). Steroid chemistry and hormone controls during the hair follicle cycle. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 642:376-83; discussion 383-4. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1809093))
6. Eat Enough Quality Calories
Starving yourself (outside the context of intermittent fasting) is really bad for your DHT as in the case of bodybuilders who want to have that really veiny/dried up look. That involves extremely low-calorie meals + excessive amounts of exercise and often results to terrifyingly low levels of testosterone.
But you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to get extremely low levels of testosterone. A 7-year study (yes, it can really get that long) monitored two groups of men where one maintained a calorie-deficit diet and the other ate normal amounts. Unsurprisingly, long-term caloric restriction resulted in significantly lower testosterone levels than the normal calorie group. ((Cangemi, R., Friedmann, A. J., Holloszy, J. O., & Fontana, L. (2010). Long-term effects of calorie restriction on serum sex hormone concentrations in men. Aging Cell, 9(2): 236–242. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2010.00553.x)) And low T = low DHT.
7. Maintain a Stable Carb Level
I’m a fan of the ketogenic diet but it’s not as foolproof as it’s made out to be. A study noted higher carb intake (with a 2:1 carb-protein ratio) is associated with higher testosterone and reduced cortisol and low carb diets like ketogenic diets definitely don’t have this perk. ((Sawaya, M. E. (1997). Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal Of Applied Physiology, 82(1):49-54. DOI: 10.1152/jappl.1918.104.22.168))
This is the reason why it’s important to cycle low carb diets or at least eat foods rich in testosterone-boosting vitamins and minerals during a low-carb cycle.
8. Moderate Your Protein
Protein is the cornerstone of our bodies but it’s one of those nutrients that fitness enthusiasts can take too much of. Sure, good amounts of protein are required to build and maintain muscle mass which is great for testosterone and consequently, DHT but too much ((Kappas, A., Anderson, K. E., Conney, A. H., Pantuck, E, J., Fishman, J., & Bradlow, H. L. (1983). Nutrition-endocrine interactions: induction of reciprocal changes in the delta 4-5 alpha-reduction of testosterone and the cytochrome P-450-dependent oxidation of estradiol by dietary macronutrients in man. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 80(24): 7646–7649. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534397/)) can wreak havoc on your hormones too. ((Volek, J.S., Kraemer, W.J., Bush, J. A., Incledon, T., & Boetes, M. (1997). Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal Of Applied Physiology, 82(1):49-54. DOI: 10.1152/jappl.1922.214.171.124))
9. Get Plenty of Healthy Fat!
Several studies show increased amounts of dietary fat results in elevated levels of testosterone – and as to be expected – higher DHT levels too. ((Li-Qun, C., Julianne, I. M., & Yuan-Shan, Z. (2006). Regulation of prostate 5α‐reductase‐2 gene expression and prostate weight by dietary fat and caloric intake in the rat. The Prostate, 78, 2, (152-163), (2017). doi: 10.1002/pros.20397 )) ((Hämäläinen, E., Aldercreutz, H., Puska, P., & Pietinen, P. (1984). Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, 1984,20(1):459-464. doi: 10.1016/0022-4731(84)90254-1)) The types of fat you should be eating are saturated fat and monounsaturated fat. You should definitely avoid polyunsaturated fat as it has deleterious effects on testosterone.
Your fat sources should come from eggs, grass-fed butter, red meat, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados. Reduce the number of vegetable oils (especially hydrogenated ones) since these are mostly polyunsaturated in nature.
10. Drink Good Coffee
No, we’re not pulling your tail. Coffee has been shown to be beneficial to testosterone and DHT. One rodent study notes a 57% DHT increase when they used human equivalents of 2-4 mg/kg caffeine. ((Sarobo, C., Lacorte, L. M., Martins, M., Rinaldi, J. C., Moroz, A., Scarano, W. R., … Felisbino, S. L. (2012). Chronic caffeine intake increases androgenic stimuli, epithelial cell proliferation and hyperplasia in rat ventral prostate. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 93(6): 429–437. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2613.2012.00843.x))
Supplements To Increase DHT
We love to eat nutritious substances but sometimes the food is just not available or too expensive for the amount we get. This is where supplementation comes in when you want to increase DHT.
We’re not going to list a lot, only the top 6 supplements you should consider buying even if you have T-boosting ingredients in the fridge. We’ll focus mostly on studies that show testosterone boosting as high testosterone leads naturally to higher DHT.
1. Tongkat Ali
Tongkat ali is a popular supplement traditionally used for its benefits on erections, and according to a study, it could raise testosterone by as much as 37%. ((Talbott, S. M., Talbott, J. A., George, A., & Pugh, M. (2013). Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2013; 10: 28. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-28)) The good thing is this supplement is as common as vitamins and minerals and you only really have to watch out for quality as well as the standardization of the extract.
Creatine is the number one supplement when it comes to fitness benefits and the number of studies. ((Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with a specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2012; 9: 33. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-33)), ((Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 13(2):198-226. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12945830)), ((Chilibeck, P. D., Kaviani, M., Candow, D. G., & Zello, G. A. (2017). Effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscular strength in older adults: A meta-analysis. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 2017; 8: 213–226. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S123529)) Granted you can get good muscle without supplementing creatine but even the guys at the Paleo group admit creatine supplementation is good if done correctly.
For testosterone, creatine has been cited to increase testosterone levels in several studies, and it does so even at rest, without even needing the exercise-induced testosterone stimulation to actually be effective.
Plain creatine monohydrate should do as even the more expensive ones have more or less the same benefits.
Boron isn’t exactly your everyday supplement but many multivitamins and mineral products are now including it in their roster due to its hormonal benefits especially for men. Boron optimizes T-helpers magnesium and vitamin D while fighting “T-killers” estradiol and sex hormone binding globulin. Research shows taking 10 mg Boron significantly raised blood testosterone levels in only one week. ((Naghii, M.R., Mofid, M., Asgari, A. R., Hedayati, M., Daneshpour, M. S. (2011). Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. Journal of Trace Element in Medicine and Biology: Organs of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements, 25(1):54-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2010.10.001))
Look for Boron available as an amino acid chelate, it’s more bioavailable and could boost testosterone at smaller doses.
4. D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)
This sex hormone supercharger signals for testosterone raw material delivery sparks testosterone synthesis and boosts T-helper hormones. Human research shows 42% testosterone increase in just 12 days. ((Topo, E., Soricelli, A., D’Aniello, A., Ronsini, S., & D’Aniello, G. (2009). The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 7:120. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-7-120))
The form D-AA-CC is what you want but even plain DAA shows solid results.
Zinc is concentrated in the testes, where it triggers testosterone synthesis, serves as a testosterone building block & neutralizes testosterone restricting prolactin. ((Gill-Sharma, M. K. (2009). Prolactin and Male Fertility: The Long and Short Feedback Regulation. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2009: 687259. doi: 10.1155/2009/687259)) Zinc Citrate is great and it’s not as expensive compared to Zinc Picolinate.
6. Vitamin D
The vitamin from the sun! While nothing beats natural sunlight, taking vitamin D supplements will still benefit your testosterone. ((Pilz, S., Frisch, S., Koertke, H., Kuhn, J., Dreier, J., Obermayer-Pietsch, B., … Zittermann, A. (2011). Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men. Thieme Hormone and Metabolic Research, 43(3): 223-225. DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854)) The best form you can take is D3 or cholecalciferol which mimics the natural form we get from the sun. D2 is up to three times less efficient than D3 so should be avoided unless the better form is not available.