An important thing to do when growing your beard to its potential is to increase testosterone and DHT produced in your body. Since these androgens are the fuel that grow your facial hair, getting them to higher levels is only a positive.
In this article we’ll cover various ways of getting your androgen levels heightened. This will allow the body to have plenty of these hormones to utilize — particularly for those whose follicles are not metabolizing them in the way we want.
Remember, scalp hair and facial hair are not the same: what works for the scalp is not likely what works for the beard. In fact, what works for the scalp can actually hinder beard growth. This is the reason why you should stay away from scalp-related products and even a lot of beard companies’ “beard growth” formulas.
- PSA: Stay Away from Most Beard Oil Products
- Understanding the Importance of DHT for Health and Beard Growth
Foods that increase testosterone and DHT
The foods we consume can have effects on our hormones and health. While the most important thing you can do is to simply eat healthy, organic foods (i.e. not processed), there are some foods that are better than others. At least in terms of growing the best beard your genetics can allow.
All three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) are important for your hormones. In that sense, diets such as low-carb and keto may not be the best to follow.
Eating too often can lower your testosterone level, as eating will spike hormones such as insulin and cortisol. One tells your body to store fat, the other keeps you feeling hungry. Those two things combined are not great for you, as having more body fat will lower your testosterone (more on that in the exercise section of this article).
Like most things in life, it’s all about having balance.
Some of the foods you should consider consuming more of, to increase testosterone
Eggs, particularly egg yolks, have a large density of nutrients. As you’ll come to learn in a later section, nutrients play a major role in maintaining your hormone levels. Importantly, it has a good amount of vitamin D. It also has plenty of protein, while at the same time being low in calories.
Abundant in vitamin D and zinc, beans are nutrient dense. For vegetarians and vegans, they offer plant-based protein and can help protect your heart.
Good cuts of beef have a healthy nutritional makeup while boosting testosterone. As it’s known, those that eat meat have more growth factor I, which means that eating meat is anabolic. Remember, however, that you should be eating organic and healthy meats, such as from grass-fed animals. Meats of lesser quality can actually lower your testosterone.
Sorghum increases 5-alpha reductase activity (in one study by 54%), which is the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. The more DHT you have, the better progress your beard will have. As well, DHT is an antagonist of estrogen, a hormone that men do not want to have in abundance.
Sorghum is a great option and can be used in several ways. Bake bread with it, pop it like popcorn (add some salt and butter for a kick), or, a great way to take it: put it in your protein shake. The latter is one of the easiest ways to consume sorghum, as you can just scoop the flour into your shaker along with some water and whey protein.
Additionally, there’s sorghum syrup, which you can drizzle on your foods or use as a replacement for honey. Sorghum syrup on some sorghum pancakes, anyone?
Healthy whole-grain cereals made from wheat, oats, corn, rice, and so on tend to be fortified with vitamins. Folic acid and vitamin D are commonly added to these cereals, among other nutrients, which helps with heart health and those that need to watch their cholesterol levels.
Bear in mind that not all cereals everywhere in the world are fortified, so you may have to do some research (and read nutrition labels) before purchasing your cereal of choice.
Supplements and vitamins to boost testosterone, DHT, and/or 5-AR activity
You may have noticed that the above foods have a lot in common: most of them have an abundance of nutrients, including vitamin D and zinc. Below we’ll briefly explain why these vitamins are important, and the importance is why much of our foods are fortified with them.
Vitamin D is technically a steroid hormone. It is one of the biggest deficiencies in humans around the world. As much as 42% of the human population is deficient in this vitamin, making supplementation important.
We found that treating the dermal papilla cells with VD3 significantly enhanced the growth of new hair over that of the control group,” Dr. Aoi said. “We also observed a better rate of maturation of the follicles. In other words, the hair grew thicker and lasted longer.Stem Cells Translational Medicine
For more information on this, read the article:
Zinc is an essential dietary mineral that affects much in the body. Research suggests that if your levels of zinc are low, your testosterone can decrease. When you take in a healthy amount for your body, it can increase testosterone.
In that sense, zinc is more so a hormone regulator, so it could potentially do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you have too much zinc, it can inhibit 5-alpha reductase activity. This enzyme is what converts testosterone into DHT, so “DHT blocker” and “5AR inhibitor” are commonly used interchangeably. In infertile men, zinc has shown to raise DHT levels.
If you’re insulin resistant, your levels of zinc can decrease. As well, those that sweat a lot (e.g. athletes) lose zinc through the sweat, so supplementation can be important. On the other hand, large amounts of zinc can lead to copper deficiency, so a balance is needed with this nutrient.
This is the most scientifically scrutinized supplement on the market, with literally hundreds of reliable studies. Creatine is a molecule that is produced in your body from amino acids. It has been found to be safe to supplement with, and while there are still some myths floating around about creatine, they have essentially been debunked.
Creatine is a good supplement for facial hair as it has shown to increase DHT in athletes by as much as 56%.
You can get creatine from foods like meat and fish, or take it in supplement form. Athletes will generally take creatine in the form of supplements because they can get enough for their bodies without overconsumption of calories.
How much creatine to take
This will be based on your weight. In general, take around 2.5g to 5g of creatine everyday. More specifically, 0.03 grams per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg (176 lbs) man, that would be 2.4g daily.
Many choose to take more, and that is actually fine and safe to do. 5g daily is a typical dose for many people, regardless of their weight. For athletes and very active individuals, taking more may be beneficial.
Creatine can be taken indefinitely and need not be cycled. Creatine loading is optional but not necessary. Loading simply saturated your muscles quicker; after saturation, the regular maintenance dose keeps you topped up.
Taking creatine if you aren’t a weight lifter or athlete
A lot of the time people wonder if they can supplement with creatine even if they aren’t lifters or athletes. The answer is yes, you can certainly supplement with creatine regardless of your physical activity. Just be sure to drink plenty of water, as you always should.
For the vast majority of you, the supplements that claim that they will boost testosterone will not. Many of the ingredients found in these supplements are fine to take if you’d like, but one thing is a common occurrence: they boost T in men with low testosterone.
As there are a lot of men that have libido and testosterone issues, there’s a large market for companies to sell to. And, to reach even more men, they use natural ingredients that were found to increase T in those that have low testosterone. It’s not that they intentionally choose the ingredients that work specifically for low-T men and forgo better ingredients; simply put, those are the only ones that have had any success in clinical trials.
So, there are technically very few viable natural supplements that will boost testosterone in healthy men. In a way, the way a lot of these companies market their products are akin to how beard companies push “beard growth” oils and supplements, which also do not work.
Multivitamins to increase testosterone and facial hair
It’s fairly hard to know if you’re getting all of the micronutrients that you need from your diet. Multivitamins are a good tool to use to fill some of those nutritional gaps that you may have, in a convenient capsule or pill.
Not all multivitamins are made the same, however, so be sure to do some research on which ones are reliably and ethically sourced. Some of them may even claim to have certain ingredients, but do not.
Many of the “beard growth supplements” on the market are simply multivitamins. That’s not to say they won’t help if you have a deficiency, but they are generally overpriced and not from reputable brands. Because of that, I would stay away from that type of company and opt, instead, for a well-known brand of supplements.
Get your testosterone checked by your doctor
If you suspect you have low testosterone, you may want to get your levels checked. If it’s found that you’re below normal range, your doctor should recommend some options for you.
One of these such options could be TRT, or Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Anecdotally, man men see fuller facial hair as a side effect to TRT, among the many other benefits of having their testosterone back within the upper ranges of normal.
High intensity exercise
What high intensity means —
High intensity exercise is working out in such a way that your heart rate reaches roughly 80-95% of your maximum heart rate. It’s when you exert a high amount of output in a short period (e.g. 15 seconds), and rest for a short period. During rest, your heart rate lowers naturally, then you go again with a high output, repeating the process until your workout is complete.
Note: the above “definition” is a generality and there is no standard way to define what a high intensity workout is. Conversely, low intensity is working out at a steady pace for a period of time (e.g. jogging or light swimming for 30 minutes).
High intensity interval training (HIIT) & Weight lifting
Men experience a significant increase in testosterone, growth hormone factor, and brain function with resistance training and regular activity.
In a 2008 study, 102 men that did not exercise much found a DHT increase of 14.5%.
In summary, this 12-month, randomized, controlled trial testing a moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise intervention resulted in significant increases in DHT and, to a lesser extent, SHBG among middle-aged and older men. Greater increases were found with greater improvements in cardiopulmonary fitness. Given the controversy surrounding exogenous androgen supplementation, modest enhancement of DHT levels in middle-aged and elderly obese men through exercise may offer a lower-risk approach for improved health.Effect of Exercise on Serum Sex Hormones in Men: A 12-Month Randomized Clinical Trial
Lowering body fat
Along with your diet, exercise will keep or get your body fat levels to lower, more appropriate levels.
Having a lower body fat percentage is ideal when trying to keep your testosterone levels high, as body fat itself carries estrogen. At the same time, estrogens (estradiol) are a hormone that is converted from testosterone, much like DHT.
Only, estrogen is not so great compared to DHT, and utilizing your testosterone in better ways should always be the desire. Having excess body fat will keep your estrogen levels higher while making you “lose” that precious testosterone that you’re after.
Exercising and eating cleanly will reduce your body fat levels while increasing testosterone and DHT. DHT will actually block testosterone from converting into estradiol, so it turns into a win-win situation. You get fit, you look good, and your hormones are in check.
Even obese men were found to have increased their testosterone levels significantly when they started working out, in a 2016 study. So for those that may feel they’re “behind the curve” and comparing themselves to others: don’t. You’ll get there on your own time, in your way. One step at a time.
Low intensity exercise
I would never tell someone to not do low-intensity exercise if that’s what they like to do; any type of exercise, in my opinion, is good exercise. It keeps you healthy regardless.
One thing to consider, however, is that low-intensity exercise such as jogging for several miles can lower your testosterone. To what degree will be highly dependent on the person and what they’re doing. Further, how much this affects your testosterone in terms of growing more facial hair is very likely to be negligible.
The point that I’m trying to make here is that high intensity exercise is preferable to low intensity. At least for our purposes.
Other ways to increase testosterone
- Get enough sleep for your body. This is different for everyone, but the general range will be around 7-10 hours per night, every night. If you miss out on sleep, try to make up for it when you can, such as on the weekend.
- If you have low T or are doing strength training, try ashwagandha. Studies have shown this herb to be helpful in those cases, but otherwise not in “normal” men.
- Avoid chemicals that increase estrogen. Things like BPA and natural anti-androgens such as rosemary, lavender, tea tree, and so on. Not only do some of these things block DHT, but they also allow more estrogen to be produced in your body.
Bonus: other ways of improving your beard, aside from testosterone increase
Beyond doing things to increase your testosterone and DHT, there are some other ways of improving your facial hair. Doing everything you can to improve your beard will undoubtedly get you more growth — and potentially the growth you’ve been looking for.
Minoxidil for beard growth
Minoxidil doesn’t mess with your hormones, but it does improve your beard drastically. Along with opening of potassium channels, the blood vessels widen, allowing more nutrients and androgens to reach your hair follicles. Over time, minoxidil starts unlocking your beard’s true potential.
Avoid DHT blockers
As you now well know, DHT blockers are the opposite of what you want to improve your beard. To learn a little more about why, read the article:
Age and patience
As we get older, our follicles become more sensitive to androgens. This is the reason why you’ll see many young men start to get better beards as they age. Even though testosterone tends to start lowering, our beards still improve due to the sensitivity to testosterone and DHT, allowing our bodies to metabolize them to grow more, and fuller, facial hair.
Your beard isn’t stuck where it is. By following the recommendations found in this article on how to increase your testosterone and DHT, your beard has even more potential to grow fuller.
These activities not only improve your facial hair — they bolster your confidence. Having more testosterone in your system is good for a plethora of things, and not only your beard. By reading Beard Wiki, you’ll not only find yourself with a fuller face of hair, but a newfound sense of capability within yourself. When you take the time and have the determination to improve one aspect of your life, all other aspects fall in line.
So don’t stop at just improving your beard; continue to improve your life.
We’ll help you along the way. Join the beard forum to converse with like-minded individuals looking to improve ourselves, mind and body.