Testosterone, DHT & Beard + 14 Ways to Boost Both

Testosterone, DHT & Beard + 14 Ways to Boost Both

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Can you naturally increase testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels? Also, does this have significant effects on your beard growth rate?

The short answer is yes.

Testosterone (T) and its more potent down-stream metabolite called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are two of the main male hormones that trigger beard growth.

Higher levels of testosterone and DHT ensure thicker and faster rate of natural facial hair growth.

Here’s how facial hair growth takes place and 14 ways to increase the hormones involved.

How Testosterone and DHT Stimulate Beard Growth

shirtless man looking proud with a beardSome men have the gift of growing very thick beards.

Other men struggle to add even few hairs to their chin.

Lack of beard growth is often explained by genetics without further discussing the reasons.

Well here are two examples:

You are genetically prone to producing higher amounts of testosterone and DHT, and your body is more responsive towards these hormones and can utilize them well.

These men will be genetically able to grow a thick beard.

You are genetically prone to producing low amounts of testosterone and DHT, and your body has a hard time utilizing the hormones in the receptor sites.

Making you genetically unable to grow a beard.

You see testosterone and DHT trigger beard growth.

Take this study for example, which says:

“T and DHT may have independent roles in the control of male facial hair growth, in example T for hair follicle priming and DHT for the promotion of linear growth.”

Ever wondered why women to male transgender people could grow a beard?

Simple, these women get prescribed testosterone injections and gels lifting their blood levels to the same as a non-transgender male with normal to high testosterone levels would have.

So if you’re wondering if testosterone pills or testosterone injections would grow you a beard, the answer is yes.

Can you Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally?

man sitting on a chair with full beard in red backgroundYou most certainly can and should.

The side-effect of exogenous testosterone injections or gels is that it shuts down your natural production.

Making you dependent on the use of synthetic testosterone.

When you naturally optimize your testosterone levels, you will be maximizing the brain hormones GnRH and LH

The hormones that trigger your body to produce testosterone naturally in the testicles.

This way your body will not shut down its production, and the higher hormone levels produced by your body will still increase your facial hair growth rate.

However, How do You Increase Testosterone & DHT? Here are 14 Proven Methods

1. Fix Your Diet

the testosterone chef cookbook coverStudies have shown that what, when, and how much we eat, directly impacts our hormone levels.

Some would say that even if the World would be near the brink of destruction people would still argue about what diet is the best.

Keto vs. carnivore, plants vs. animals, the blood type diet?

When it comes to how to eat for optimal hormone production, I’d like you to completely forget what you’ve been preached before about the evil carbs and the insulin boogeyman.

Instead, let’s look at four key factors of any diet.

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Fatty-acids
  • Total caloric intake.

1.1 Protein

Protein has been shown to raise testosterone levels in people who are chronically malnourished in the macronutrient.

Only up to a certain point though (after which too much protein can end up lowering testosterone).

Minimally processed animal proteins also seem to be pro-testosterone (meats, gelatin, eggs, milk).

Many plant-based protein sources (soy and other legumes) and highly-processed meat products can hurt the big T (although the science on this is mixed).

In studies looking at different ratios of protein and carbohydrate, it seems that diets high in protein and low in carbohydrate can suppress testosterone, and vice-versa.

graphs from two studies on protein and testosterone levels

The optimal protein intake for testosterone lands somewhere between 15-25% of daily calories. Giving you plenty of protein to maintain & build lean mass, but not too much so that it would suppress hormone production.

1.2 Dietary Fat

Fats are also crucially important for testosterone synthesis, but what’s most important about them is to focus on the type of fat you’re consuming.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which you find in most vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, and fast-foods can significantly lower testosterone.

Whereas monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids (MUFAs and SFAs) commonly found in meats, olive oil, argan oil, coconut oil, butter, and lard have a positive effect on testosterone, and thus also on beard growth.

two graphs from studies on testosterone and fatty acids

If we go by the evidence, 20-35% of daily calories would be somewhat optimal for testosterone production and beard growth.

1.3 Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, although demonized lately in the media, also have great importance in a testosterone boosting diet.

In a study by Anderson et al. the researchers found that a diet with 10% protein and 70% carbs resulted in much higher testosterone production than a diet consisting of 44% protein and 35% carbs.

The group with lower carbohydrate intake also had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

As you also saw above on the protein section; a study by Volek et al. found similar results.

Higher protein to carbohydrate ratio had a testosterone suppressing effect.

Lane et al. also came to a similar conclusion on subjects doing intense training with 30% vs. 60% carbohydrate intake.

Free-testosterone was higher, and the stress hormone cortisol was lower on subjects who consumed more carbohydrate.

graphs from studies on carbohydrates and testosterone

50-70% of your daily calories should be coming from carbohydrates; potatoes, fruit, pressed fruit juice, and berries if the goal is to increase testosterone levels.

1.4 Caloric Intake

The amount of food you consume is also substantial, as the production of testosterone is – of course – impacted by the amount of energy you consume on a daily basis.

Strict low-calorie dieting reduces testosterone levels, whereas eating caloric maintenance or slight surplus will keep your testosterone production stable (source).

Following the above paragraphs, you should be able to see a drastic jump on your testosterone production, which should boost your beard growth rate and thickness as well.

2. Fix your Micronutrient Intake

Thorne Research multivitamin supplementGetting the right amounts of the critical vitamins and minerals is necessary for maintaining high testosterone.

The best way to make sure you’re getting everything you need is to eat a diet rich in real foods.

On top of this, supplement with a high-quality multivitamin supplement, such as the one on the image; Thorne’s 2/Day Multivitamin.

Testosterone aside, micronutrients also have several mechanisms to aid naturally in stimulating hair follicles and sprouting out new beard hairs

(I wrote about that in one of my earlier articles here.)

Here are some reasons to have plenty of micronutrients:

Sure, the best way to get all your micronutrients is to eat a nutritious diet, but this can be extremely hard with the current state of soil depletion and increased food processing.

↓ My go-to micronutrient stack ↓

3. Fat Mass ↑ Testosterone ↓

obese man with facial hair eating chipsFat men generally have lower testosterone levels than lean men.

It’s a harsh but simple truth, demonstrated by several studies.

(Like this one on young boys and this one in old men).

Why is being fat so bad for testosterone production you say?

Well, there’s this thing called the aromatase enzyme, which converts testosterone into the “female hormone” estrogen.

The easiest way to skyrocket your aromatase enzyme levels and the testosterone-to-estrogen conversion is to gain a lot of fat mass.

Obesity stimulates the production of aromatase and not only does gaining fat reduce your testosterone levels and therefore beard growth potential, but extra fat mass also suppresses DHT by converting it to weaker metabolites.

Since DHT is almost on par with testosterone in how crucial it is for facial hair growth, one can only conclude that losing weight and staying lean is exceptionally beneficial for stimulating new beard growth and keeping your testosterone and DHT levels high.

4. Sleep More

man with beard sleeping on bedYou wouldn’t think that you can manipulate something, as granted as sleep, for massive results.

Everyone knows how lethargic and inefficient we become with sleep deprivation.

However, what you can’t immediately see is the impact that the lack of zzz’s can have on your testosterone levels.

Leproult et al. saw that in young men, restricting sleep time to 5h/night can result in a 15% drop in testosterone levels.

Penev et al. found that that on average, the men who sleep for ~4 hours per night have their testosterone levels at 200-300 ng/dL.

Whereas men who sleep for ~8 hours per night had their levels closer to 500-700 ng/dL.

A study by Gov et al. noticed that in 531 Chinese test subjects, one extra hour of sleep led to an average of 15% more testosterone.

graphs from sleep and testosterone studies

5. Avoid Parabens, BPA, Triclosan & Co.

household cleaning products and chemicals on a tableAs the World develops in technology and chemistry, more and more chemicals aiding our daily lives are synthesized.

Most of these have a legit use, but some do sadly posses health hazards when we end up exposed to them through skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is perhaps the most notorious when it comes to lowering testosterone levels.

This chemical is used to harden certain plastics, in the ink of grocery store receipts, and as lining in aluminum & tin cans.

BPA has hormone-like effects, can lower testosterone levels, and cause erectile dysfunction.

Then there are the Parabens that come in many forms (methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, propyl).

Parabens are commonly found in cosmetics like sunscreens, moisturizers, shaving gels & creams, and shampoos.

Parabens are classified as xenoestrogens and have a weak affinity to the human estrogen receptors in the body.

Triclosan and Triclocarban are antibacterial agents that thankfully are leaving the production due to being banned in multiple states of the USA and the European Union.

However, you can still find these in some soaps, hand lotions, sanitizers, and other “antibacterial” products.

There has been lots of research as of late showing that not only were the antibacterial properties questionable from the get-go, triclosan and similar compounds also directly suppress the production of testosterone.

Some other questionable chemicals that lower testosterone production includes: benzophenones, phthalates, PCBs, atrazine, and glyphosate.

6. Competition & Success

man looking at business graph from computer and smart phone with pen in handTestosterone is one of the essential hormones that drive competition between men.

Men that have higher levels of T are on average more successful, hold better-paying jobs, and have an aspiration for social dominance and showing off.

More surprisingly, competition, winning, and success in multiple aspects can further fuel the production of testosterone.

These surges in testosterone take place in

Perhaps the most exciting study from the above is the one with the day-traders, these young guns could drive up to 78% increases in their testosterone production by merely getting the rush of big profits.

However – on the flip side – higher testosterone made them more willing to take bigger and bigger risks, potentially causing them to lose it all in hours.

7. Alcohol ↑ Testosterone ↓

glass filled with alcoholic drink and iceIn low doses, alcohol doesn’t hurt hormones in any significant manner.

When we start talking amounts like three drinks and more, this is when you start heading to low-T town.

There’s mounting pile of evidence from rats to humans suggesting that chronic alcohol consumption, as well as just one night of binge drinking, can be crushing to testosterone production.

In the long run, this could start seriously suppressing your beard growth rate and facial hair quality.

Alcoholics also tend to have higher estrogen levels, be it because their livers tend to be in worse condition (thus, limited estrogen clearance).

Or through the aromatase enzyme increasing effects of alcohol.

Some mechanism of how alcohol lowers testosterone include:

  • Suppressed coenzyme NAD+, a crucial part of steroidogenesis.
  • Increased beta-opioid endorphins, which suppress testosterone.
  • Increased oxidative stress & cortisol, indirectly lowering T.
  • Increased aromatase enzyme, which converts T to estrogen.

8. Limit Testosterone Lowering Foods

a cup of assorted English licorice candies on a tableSome foods – through a couple of different mechanisms – can end up lowering testosterone output.

Most vegetable oils and margarine do this because they are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)

PUFAs quickly go rancid in the body through a process called lipid peroxidation.

Lipid peroxidation boosts oxidative damage and cortisol, resulting in suppressed testosterone.

Then there’s soy, which although heavily debated, does contain phytoestrogens and equol.

both that seem to have some anti-testosterone effects.

(although again, note that there’s mixed evidence about this).

Licorice is one of the more surprising, yet, it’s incredibly potent at reducing testosterone levels because it contains a powerful T-suppressant, glycyrrhizic acid.

In one study, men consuming just a measly 14 licorice candy tablets (7g glycyrrhizic acid) ended up going from the average of 740 ng/dL testosterone down to 484 ng/dL.

Mint products also have distinctive testosterone lowering abilities in animals and women battling with hirsutism (excessive body and facial hair growth).

It’s likely that men would see similar results, though there is no evidence of that yet.

Lastly, flaxseed products can reduce free-testosterone and DHT through something called; lignans, which increase SHBG (a binding protein, rendering the hormone inert) and reduce 5-a enzyme (which is needed to create DHT).

Flax is also pretty high in PUFA, which may partly explain why some studies see it disrupting testosterone levels.

9. Train Explosively

label of the thor training programSome say that movement & exercise are good for the mind, body, and soul.

The same is also true for testosterone and hormonal health.

Resistance-training, in general, can increase testosterone levels short-term.

It happens through a combination of hypoxia, androgen receptor stimulation, muscle fiber activation, lactate production, and many other mechanisms.

Moreover, it can also increase your baseline testosterone levels over long-term, through something called neuromuscular adaptation.

(which means that your body “adapts” hormonally to a new normal).

A Good example of neuromuscular adaption is a Spanish study, where men following a pretty standard resistance training program for 4-weeks, had an average of 40% higher baseline testosterone levels after the program was over.

One excellent method to force neuromuscular adaptation and activation of androgen receptors (which further stimulates testosterone & DHT, the critical beard growth hormones) is to be explosive and utilize movements that require you to use multiple muscles in rapid succession.

Some examples of this include:

  • HIIT (sprints and all-out cycling)
  • Weighted chin-ups
  • Box jumps & Squats
  • Weighted Dips
  • Deadlift

Neuromuscular adaptation is a thoroughly complex topic to explain in a short subheading, if you are interested in specific training routine & information about neuromuscular adaptation, check out this program.

10. Daily Activity

man walking away with dark sneakersNot all testosterone boosting exercise has to include intense, all-out effort.

Regular activities and recreational stuff like a game of football with the lads, some wood chopping, or just an evening walk can be enough.

Whatever kind of activity fits your bill. Just make sure you’re not sedentary all-day-everyday.

The present study shows that there are differences in semen and hormone values of physically active subjects and sedentary subjects. Physically active subjects seem to have a more anabolic hormonal environment and a healthier semen production.European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012

Perhaps the best example of this is a study from the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition.

The researchers put 41 obese and overweight men into a 12-week exercise and diet plan, after which they looked at their data.

(Food logs for how much they ate and pedometer data for steps taken).

After this, they divided the men into four categories to examine the effects.

  • High calories, high activity
  • High calories, low activity
  • Low calories, high activity
  • Low calories, low activity

What the researchers found was that it was not so much the caloric intake, but the increased activity and daily steps that resulted in increased testosterone levels.

graphs from study of physical activity and testosterone

We found a significant positive correlation between the changes in serum testosterone levels and the number of steps Kumagai et al.

Some other similar studies are linking higher levels of activity to the increased production of testosterone, In Tsimane tribesmen, for example, 1-hour of chopping wood led to a 46% increase.

11. Limit Excessive Endurance Training

man running in red shirt with tiles on backgroundRegular physical activity and short explosive bouts of movement raise test levels.

One can’t still claim that all exercise is good for hormonal health.

Excessive and prolonged endurance training is one example of this.

Just comparing sprinters to marathoners, you can see that there’s something very different going on in their hormones.

Endurance cyclists & runners, male distance runners, casual runners, and ultra-marathoners all seem to have lower than average testosterone levels.

This type of training puts the body under extreme stress and catabolism, causing chronic elevations in the stress hormone cortisol, which can suppress testosterone.

However, there seems to be this claim online that you should never run if you want to preserve your hormonal health.

I don’t think its right, running can be an excellent way to keep active and cut down body fat, and some – quite frankly – love doing it.

It’s when you start approaching 50+ miles per week of running that things begin to get alarming hormonally.

12. Ashwagandha for a Nice ~15% Boost

bottle of ashwagandha supplementAshwagandha or Withania Somnifera is what is often called the Indian ginseng.

Like with most herbs that make it mainstream, it’s used heavily in Ayurveda, the Indian herbal medicine.

It belongs to the category of “Adaptogens” claimed to help with hormonal balance and stress reduction.

In their books, like any other herb, the benefits will seem almost magical.

In reality, there is “no conclusive clinical evidence” that ashwagandha is effective for treating anything.

That doesn’t mean that the herb wouldn’t do anything at all though, it’s just that you shouldn’t expect it to be a stand-alone treatment for any illness.

there’s lots of studies suggesting it to be fairly good in increasing testosterone levels, fertility, and sleep quality.

For one, 300mg’s of water-extracted KSM-66 ashwagandha given for human subjects for two months resulted in 27% lower cortisol levels.

Another study showed 14% lower levels of the stress hormone, while the third one showed 32% reductions in cortisol with the use of 5g/day powdered root extract (source).

Mainly due to its high amount of antioxidants, ashwagandha also significantly increases sperm quality and testosterone levels in men frequenting infertility clinics (1540%).

The surge in testosterone is one of the reasons why I included ashwagandha in my list of possible beard growth-boosting supplements.

(as we all know by now, testosterone ↑ beard growth ↑).

The testosterone benefits of Withania Somnifera are not limited to older infertile men.

In 2015 a non-sponsored, double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed study of 57 exercising young men, showed that 600mg/day of KSM-66 water extract increased testosterone levels by 15% on average.

It may not seem like that of a significant increase, but going from the average of 630 ng/dL to 726 ng/dL just with one over-the-counter supplement is pretty impressive and should make a noticeable difference in your beard growth rate as well.

13. Sexual Activity ↑ Androgens ↑

man and woman hugging by a wallThere’s evidence that women tend to rate bearded men as “good romantic partners.”

This increased chance of having more sex would then make their already bushy beards thicker due to increased testosterone levels.

Wait? What?

Yes, you read it right, increased sexual activity, as in either:

Have all been shown to increase testosterone as well as dopamine (the hormone of pursuit, pleasure, and addiction).

It’s none of my business how you utilize this information, but a fair word of warning: doing it alone in the dark in front of a computer screen with your hand as a partner probably won’t cause similar surges in test production.

14. Mucuna Pruriens

mucuna pruriens beans on the ground with green leafMucuna Pruriens (velvet bean) is another herb that shows promising results for testosterone.

It contains the active ingredient levodopa (L-Dopa), which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter/hormone dopamine.

After ingestion, pure L-Dopa quickly converts to dopamine in the body.

When the levodopa comes from Mucuna Pruriens beans as extract or powder, the conversion to dopamine is slower, but the effect is also longer in duration.

So what can mucuna do to testosterone production then?

It has been shown to raise testosterone levels, suppresses cortisol, and reduce prolactin in infertile men, while also significantly improving the quality of their swimmers.

This effect seems to be not only due to its antioxidant activity but also through some direct stimulation of the HPT-axis since the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) increased.

Some of the results from various studies include:

What about the dosage and type of mucuna to use?

Most benefits seem to come from a 300-900mg dosage of water-extracted mucuna per day.

Conclusion on Testosterone and Beard Growth

Boosting testosterone is not rocket science, you can get some fantastic results with a few simple methods mentioned above.

I have been writing and reading about hormonal optimization for little over five years now, and through trial & error managed to significantly increase my levels, which has resulted in a myriad of benefits, one of them being thicker and faster rate of natural beard growth.

beard progress image from 4 years

If you want to learn how to optimize hormonal health for faster beard growth and thicker facial hair, the best place to start would be the TestShock course, after which you might want to learn more about boosting DHT through this course.

You don’t have to though, just following the 14-steps above should give you significant results alone.

Ali is a men's health author and serial entrepreneur from Finland. He loves writing about hormonal health and beards. To date, his articles have been read over 15 million times.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes I heard testosterone help stimulate beard growth, but I just got to know that the number of egg I eat, milk I drink, affect my beard growth. Also i take only few glasses of rum but almost everyday, is that very bad for my beard and health?

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize that my diet was such a factor in my beard growth! I should’ve figured that out for myself because I used to eat really healthy and work out all the time and my beard always looked amazing. Now that I no longer do that my beard has really been lacking and definitely does not look like it used to. Do you have any resources for where we can find good recipes and foods that follow the special diets you mentioned in the article?

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