The term “steroids” is usually associated with bodybuilders, performance-enhancing drugs, synthetic injections, fake muscles, and whatnot.
But there are more to the term than most people realize. Steroids are produced naturally in the body and certain foods trigger their production.
These natural steroids are used to sustain various body functions and they are created all day long.
The natural steroids in the human body include:
But there is another type of steroids that is rather dreadful: synthetic steroids.
These steroids are similar to those that are naturally produced in the body, only they come in synthetic form.
And by synthetic, it means they are chemically produced in a laboratory.
There is no reason to put these fake hormones in your body when you can get the effects you want from natural sources.
It also contains ecdysteroid, a plant steroid that is similar to testosterone in structure (6).
A study by Cinar et al. (2011) investigated the effects of taking magnesium supplement on sedentary men and athletes (5).
Both groups saw a boost in their testosterone levels, though the increase was higher among the athletic group.
This suggests that magnesium and regular exercise can be a powerful combination for raising testosterone levels.
Another study that researched the influence of ecdysteroids on human cell structure saw that it can enhance protein synthesis and reduce protein degradation at the same time (9).
Be sure to meet your daily magnesium requirement by eating spinach and taking supplements.
You may also add other magnesium-dense foods to your diet, such as chard, kefir, yogurt, and pumpkin seeds.
Celery contains high levels of vitamin K, which helps maintain peak testosterone levels (10).
This superfood is also packed with plant flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, which are both powerful anti-estrogenic compounds.
This helps balance overall hormone levels, making sure you maintain a healthy testosterone to estrogen ratio (13).
Nibbling on celery stalks makes you burn more calories, thus can also be a good snack option if you’re on occasional fasting.
We all know greens, like asparagus, are good for our body.
But apparently, asparagus is also beneficial for anyone looking to build more muscle.
With these combined ingredients, it has been used as a natural aphrodisiac in ancient Greece as early as the 2nd century.
The plant has steroidal saponins and ecdysteroids to further stimulate testosterone production (19).
Besides, asparagus is a rich source of zinc, calcium, and dietary fiber for better overall health. It helps increase energy levels, which in turn will motivate you to train harder.
Bananas boost testosterone levels and sex drive, and it is owing to its potassium, bromelain, and B vitamin content.
Bromelain enzyme is commonly found in both the fruit and stem part of pineapples and used as a meat tenderizer.
But, according to a study by Shing et al. (2016), this enzyme also has an ergogenic testosterone protective benefit (24).
The study involved 15 elite cyclists who were grouped into two: one group received 1,000mg of bromelain daily while the other received a placebo pill.
Typically, testosterone significantly drops after endurance training and that’s what happened to the placebo group.
Whereas the participants that took bromelain saw no reduction in their testosterone levels after six consecutive days of elite-level cycling.
So, if you’re someone who does a lot of high-intensity or endurance exercises, eating bananas (or pineapples or taking bromelain supplements) is the way to keep your testosterone levels up.
Fava beans—also called broad beans, fava beans, bell beans, or tic beans—are an uncommon food but they can be a great addition to your anabolic diet.
These beans contain high levels of L-dopa, one type of natural steroids that increases naturally-occurring growth hormone and stimulates dopamine production, which in turn can boost testosterone levels (25, 26, 27, 28).
According to a research study, 0.5 gram of L-dopa can increase levels of growth hormone an hour after ingestion (29).
Some animal studies also suggest correlations to luteinizing hormone and increased testosterone, but more human studies are needed to know this for sure (30).
Additionally, fava beans are a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Choose fava bean sprouts as they have been shown to contain 10 times more L-dopa amino acid than unsprouted ones.
Quinoa was one of the staple foods of the Incas of South America, dating back to 300-400 centuries ago.
This super grain contains a large amount of ecdysteroids, which, as we know, are natural steroids (33).
50g of quinoa provides more than 15mg of 20-hydroxyecdysone (a plant steroid), and that is greater than the amount found in some supplements (34).
Since it is rich in protein, it is an ideal post-workout food for faster recovery, as well (32).
Raw quinoa is also dense in several testosterone-boosting vitamins and minerals such as folate, zinc, arginine, and magnesium, which are also essential for optimal health.
Saponins give the plant a bitter taste. Many recipes advise that you rinse quinoa thoroughly but doing so will strip it of its natural steroid content.
Quinoa is gluten-free and can be a great alternative to regular grains.
Now there are even more reasons to love avocados and guacamole!
Besides being beneficial for heart health, avocados contain abundant amounts of various vitamins such as vitamin A, B complex, C, and K1—all of which are instrumental for testosterone production (37).
Avocados, which many people regard as “nature’s butter”, contain 35 percent more potassium than bananas.
A medium-sized avocado has 3g protein and 9g fiber that can keep you feeling fuller for more extended periods.
Further, it had certain compounds that kill or inhibit oral cancer cells (46).
Eggs are must-haves in an anabolic diet.
Egg whites are a great source of protein, which is crucial for developing muscles (47).
A study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine shows that egg has the highest biological value, a measure of protein quality (48).
Egg yolks, on the other hand, are a highly effective option for nutritional fats and cholesterol, which is another kind of natural steroids and a precursor for various steroid hormones in the body (49).
Cholesterol previously had a bad reputation, but scientific research has proven it is beneficial for raising testosterone levels and for enhancing overall health (50).
Cholesterol is also considered a primary source nourishment used by the brain and heart for energy.
Many bodybuilders even eat eggs raw, which proves to be healthier and more effective.
A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovers that fat consumption can stimulate testosterone synthesis (51).
Another study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that after taking 100g of fat for 2 weeks, the male participants had less sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which helps increase free testosterone in the blood (52).
Moreover, eggs are rich in aspartic acid and calcium, and they are cheap and available everywhere—even more reasons to add them to your daily diet!
Everyone knows that oats are perfect for breakfast but only a few are aware of their anabolic benefits.
Wild oats release bound testosterone and increase luteinizing hormone levels (55). They also contain steroid saponins which are also instrumental for stimulating testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels (56).
Oats are known for their rich fiber content that will keep you feeling satiated for a longer time.
They go great with eggs and together they make a healthy T-boosting breakfast.
Like quinoa, wild oats are best consumed unrinsed so that they retain their high saponin content.
Always choose wild-growing organic oats and avoid refined oats and other similar versions.
100 grams of oyster provides 16.6mg of zinc, and that is already more than recommended daily intake.
Eating oysters can indeed keep your zinc levels at the maximum (59).
Getting adequate zinc is particularly beneficial for those who sweat a lot, like athletes and bodybuilders (60).
Figs are ideal for making a healthy and tasty snack that boosts your workout performance at the same time.
Pine pollen deserves a good spot in this list as it is one of the few that contains bio-identical testosterone in its natural composition; most of the foods listed here only contain components that stimulate testosterone production (70).
Pine pollen is made up of natural steroids including androsterone, androstenedione, Brassinolide, dehydroepiandrosterone, and epitestosterone (71).
The testosterone found in the pollen from pine trees is the same as the type present in human bodies.
What’s more, it contains essential fatty acids, 22 amino acids, 15 vitamins, 30 minerals, and more than a wide variety of enzymes.
It is undoubtedly a superfood in many classes, more amazingly so because it’s only a pollen from a pine tree!
Pine pollen can be consumed by using an alcohol-based pine-pollen tincture. Administer it under your tongue and the testosterone will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Pine pollen is the most ideal natural alternative to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Munching on certain nuts can also boost your testosterone count.
Be mindful though that different types of nuts impact testosterone levels differently.
Some types of nuts have been found to raise SHBG levels, making testosterone inactive and reducing androgen bioavailability.
Many nuts are also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which can reduce testosterone levels.
Nuts that have been proven to have anabolic effects include macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and tiger nuts.
Macadamia nuts are rich in testosterone-boosting monounsaturated fats; brazil nuts have high levels of pro-testosterone micronutrients such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, and boron; and tiger nuts have been found to increase testosterone levels (this test, however, was carried out on rodents and thus needs more research to know for sure; mechanism as to how tiger nuts increase testosterone is unknown) (72, 73).
They are also rich in fiber, contain beneficial amino acids such as arginine, and are good sources of several vitamins and minerals (79).
Include nuts to your anabolic diet by adding them to your desserts and salads or eating them as snacks.
Truffles are another natural source of androgens. They contain slight amounts of androstenol and testosterone and have been shown to stimulate testosterone production.
A few animal studies show that when you sniff truffle extract, the aroma enters the androgen receptors in the nasal cavity, which then induces the olfactory system to stimulate the release of GnRH from the brain’s hypothalamus. This, in turn, encourages testosterone production.
A patent about using truffle cites a study involving ten human males who were given a small quantity truffle extract.
The extract was administered on the upper lip every day for two weeks to see its effects on testosterone.
Surprisingly so, the results show that it did stimulate testosterone production in the male participants.
While promising, truffle extract does not come cheap. A 4oz bottle costs over $150, so if you’re more on the economic side, this may not be the best option for you.
Onions have many other health benefits: it has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a blood thinner, it helps protect against prostate cancer, and reduces the risk of blood clots, and lower blood pressure.
But, little does everyone know, this gem positively impacts testosterone production as well (80).
In an Iranian study conducted in 2009, one group of rats received 1g of onion juice per kilo of bodyweight and another group received a placebo. The study lasted 20 days.
The onion group saw a 314 percent increase in testosterone and a good boost in luteinizing hormone (81).
Those antioxidants are selenium compounds and phenols such as isorhamnetin and quercetin. Onions also contain various flavonoids that contribute to testosterone boost.
If you don’t like the sound of eating whole raw onions, you can slice them up thinly and mix them with tuna and lemon (or any other food of your choice) and the effects will be the same.
Parsnips are vegetables that somewhat look like a cross between carrots and witch’s nose.
But beyond the unfamiliar name and look, parsnips are natural steroids that will boost your testosterone and increase your manhood (86).
This vegetable contains the male hormone androstenone, as well as vitamins C, E, and K, and magnesium, which we’ve learned to be hyper-beneficial for testosterone health. It is fat-free and also has fiber and folic acid (87) (88, 89, 90).
Another meal/snack idea that is also a useful testosterone-boosting tool!
Coconut oil and olive oil are some of the healthiest oils out there.
Know what else they can do?
Coconut oil contains saturated fats which boost T production and it also has medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) fatty acids (100).
Olive oil, on the other hand, is an excellent source of beneficial fats (monounsaturated fats).
A study by Derouiche et al. (2013) found that males who consumed virgin argan oil and virgin olive oil every day for 3 weeks showed a 19.9% and 17.4% increase in their testosterone levels respectively (101).
When buying your supply of beef, be sure to get grass-fed, not grain-fed.
Grain-fed cattle are fed primarily with GMO-laden corn and soy. As a result, their meat isn’t as rich in nutrients compared to those that were grass-fed.
According to a study, grass-fed beef has 4 times more vitamin K2, 5 times more omega 3 fatty acids, and 2 times more CLA than grain-fed. It also contains higher amounts of phosphorus, zinc, potassium, vitamin A, and B vitamins (106).
Eating beef as your primary source of protein is thus a great idea not only for boosting T production but for improving overall health as well.
Another reason to stay away from grain-fed beef is that it contains hormones which were used to make the cattle grow faster.
It is often a combination of growth hormone and estrogen, which you don't want to consume if you’re looking to increase your testosterone.
It can also reduce the stress hormone cortisol and SHBG to give you more free-circulating testosterone (111).
Henkel et al. (2014) found that Tongkat Ali is an ergogenic supplement in a sample of 13 male and 12 female aged 57-72 years. They were supplemented with 400 mg of Tongkat Ali extract every day (for 5 weeks).
“Treatment resulted in significant increases in total and free testosterone concentrations and muscular force in men and women.”
Tongkat Ali is typically taken in tonic form but it has also been made available in the form of a pill.
Suma is an herb originating in South America. It is regarded as an adaptogenic herb, belonging in the same class as Rhodiola and ginseng.
It is alternatively called Brazilian ginseng and Pfaffia paniculata.
Suma root can boost both your physical and mental performance.
Suma root is packed with nutrients, including electrolytes, minerals, amino acids, and germanium, a rare mineral that acts as a cell oxygenator. It is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K2, B vitamins, as well as glycosides and steroidal saponins.
Overall, Suma root is an excellent addition to athletes’ and bodybuilders’ regimen.
Many other foods and herbs are considered natural steroids. They can help increase your testosterone levels and improve physical performance.
Our honorable mentions are:
- Goji berries
- Citrus fruits
- Smoked fish
The Bottom Line
So, there you have them!
Our top 20 natural steroids that have been proven to benefit your health in more ways than one.
Some might think that going all-natural limits their progress towards their physique goals and that using synthetic steroids are the fastest way to success.
While people on steroids appear to be perfect specimens, more often than not, they are developing dangerous health conditions on the inside.
By going natural, you can enjoy the benefits of longevity, healthy sexual function, and the pleasure of not cheating, among others.
Stay safe and know that real success comes from hard work and not from harmful drugs you take into your body.