“Contemporary challenges to a healthy sex drive are many: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, adrenal exhaustion, poor nutrition, prescription medications, hormonal birth control, too much stress, and too little sleep. You’re undoubtedly getting the picture. It’s a somewhat cruel irony, too. On the one hand, we’re increasingly living with these impediments, but on the other hand we’re bombarded with the marketing messages and cultural fallout of the Viagra age: we should all be happy, randy people up for an erotic rendezvous at all and any given moment. It’s simply a matter of will―and a pill if you need it.”Mark Sisson
Find me a man today who says he doesn’t want a stronger libido and you will have found me a liar. Modern lifestyles, foods, and movement patterns have caused an epidemic of low libidos, contributing to decreased productivity, unhappy relationships, bigger bellies, smaller biceps, and depression. You’ve likely seen ads that identify the problem as “Low T” (“Low Testosterone”). And yes, testosterone is indeed a big part of the puzzle. But pharmaceutical reps and allopathic doctors get things all wrong when it comes to the solution. The answer is not pills or shots: taking exogenous testosterone is a Band-Aid solution at best, and will more likely just further the very hormonal dysregulation that is at the root of low libido to begin with. Fortunately, there are a number of proven drug-free ways you can boost your libido:
1) Eat More (Not Less!) Saturated Fat & Cholesterol
You heard me right. I want you to eat more saturated fat and cholesterol. Neither are actually the boogeymen that corporations, governments, and health organizations have been trying to convince us they are for the past five decades. Both are in fact essential for a host of bodily functions, including…wait for it…creating sex hormones like testosterone.
Want a strong libido? Then that means you need to eat ample amounts of high-quality saturated fat and cholesterol. Here are a few ideal dietary sources:
- Fatty cuts of 100% grass-fed or pasture-raised meats. Make sure the meat is not from grain-fed animals raised on feed lots as toxins are stored in fat tissue, and CAFO (“Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation”) animals are exposed to a lot of toxins!
- Fats and oils from pasture-raised animals (butter, ghee, lard, tallow, etc.).
- Full-fat dairy products from pasture-raised animals (if you tolerate dairy).
- Pasture-raised eggs (if you tolerate eggs).
- Fatty wild caught fish (e.g. salmon).
Don’t worry, these foods will not clog your arteries or make you fat. The root cause of heart disease is chronic, systemic inflammation; cholesterol is simply trying to help repair the damage. Blaming heart disease on cholesterol is like blaming fire fighters for the fire they are trying to put out.
So go eat that top sirloin steak you’ve been lusting after but were told not to eat by your well-intentioned—but frustratingly ill informed—doctor, spouse, or parent. And put some high-quality grass-fed butter on it, too!
To learn more about why and how saturated fat and cholesterol became so wrongly and widely demonized, read The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicho.
2) Sprint & Lift Heavy Stuff
When it comes to increasing testosterone and improving overall health along the way, few things can beat short, intense activity like heavy weights, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and sprints. Not only do such movement patterns help boost testosterone, but they also:
- Trigger hormonal cascades that increase overall muscle mass, not just the in the primary muscles used during a workout.
- Are far more effective and efficient than traditional exercise programs, requiring less time and less equipment.
A few safety tips:
- Talk to your doctor first to make sure you are ready for intense physical activity.
- Find a skilled coach to guide you. Heavy weights are a powerful tool, but they can also be an effective way to screw up your body if you don’t use proper form.
- If you have a high body fat percentage or have knee issues, try sprinting in a pool or on an exercise bike instead of running.
For specific workouts I recommend, check out my post 3 Minimalist Workouts to Help You Get Strong With Little or No Equipment.
3) Manage Stress Through Meditation & Mindfulness
The human body evolved to deal with short, intense stressors (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!), not the endless, low-grade stressors of the modern world (email, traffic, bills, TPS Reports, etc.). Though an angry email from your boss is certainly not the same thing as facing a predator face to face, our brains and bodies often respond as if they were. Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, regardless of whether a perceived threat is digital or physical. Cortisol is neither good nor bad (you need to wake up in the morning and respond to legitimate stressors), but chronically high levels are damaging to the body (cortisol is “catabolic”, meaning it breaks down tissues). And more bad news: chronic stress can lead to a process known as the “Pregnenolone Steal”, in which precursors to testosterone are redirected into producing more cortisol instead.
So what can we do about this? Obviously, we can’t stop all the stressors in our lives (though we certainly can make choices to limit or eliminate some). A better solution is changing how we respond to external stimuli through maintaining a daily meditation or mindfulness practice. Even just a few minutes of guided meditation using the Headspace or Calm app can significantly change your state of mind, outlook, and ability to brush off things that may otherwise drive you crazy and raise your cortisol.
4) Optimize Zinc & Vitamin D Levels
Multiple vitamins and minerals are involved in producing sex hormones, but two of the most important ―and most frequently deficient among modern men―are zinc and Vitamin D. While both can be taken as supplements, it’s always best to get them as nature intended: through food in the case of zinc and through sun exposure in the case of Vitamin D.
We don’t get nearly as much zinc in our diets as we used to thanks to depleted soils and changes in the types of food we tend to eat. But there is a simple solution: oysters. Lots and lots of oysters. These tasty bivalve mollusks are packed with zinc, many times that of pumpkin seeds and far more bioavailable (i.e. easily absorbed and used by your body). I buy them in bulk on Amazon and keep a can in my bag at all times.
Regarding sun exposure, very few of us get nearly enough due to our indoor lifestyles and intentional avoidance of the sun because of overblown concerns about skin cancer. Getting sunburnt is definitely not great for you, but neither is slathering on sunscreen every time you go outside. As Mark Sisson says:
“Avoiding the sun is probably responsible for more cancer than that caused by overexposure.”
Vitamin D is created in the skin when exposed to UVB rays, which are at their height between 11 am and 2 pm during summer months and nearly non-existent during the winter (especially for those living far from the equator). Fortunately, your body can save up the vitamin to tide you over during the winter. Try to get 20 minutes a day of sun wearing as little clothing as possible; if you can find a place to go nude, all the better. If you have very fair skin, start with just a few minutes a day, and work you way up to avoid burning.
5) Ejaculate Less Often
I saved this one for last because I was worried a lot of men would stop reading and miss out on the above tips. Sorry fellas, but the inconvenient truth is that the more often you ejaculate, the lower your overall drive will tend to be. To maximize drive and focus, experts like Dave Asprey and Napoleon Hill recommend limiting ejaculations to roughly once a week. This certainly does not mean you should only have sex once a week. In fact, you may just find yourself having sex more often when you don’t orgasm.
You’re welcome, laidies.