The Impact of Diet on Testosterone – Investigating the Science

Posted by Dr. Michael White, Updated on November 26th, 2021
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As guys get older, they naturally tend to become concerned about retaining their vigor and masculinity. Declining Testosterone Levels are natural as we get older, and for many men, this decline becomes frustratingly symptomatic. There are a lot of circulating ideas about how eating better can protect and bolster Testosterone Levels. Risks to Testosterone are not inherent to any particular food, but your overall dietary and lifestyle choices can dramatically affect Testosterone Levels. Your affinity for a specific bit of junk food will likely have no effect on your Testosterone Balance, but addiction to food in the form of obesity and overeating can be devastating.

Alcohol is also a significant Testosterone suppressant. Abuse of alcohol can have a dramatic impact on your body's ability to produce Testosterone. While certain foods can affect testosterone production, these effects are unlikely to have a huge impact on your underlying Testosterone Levels—at least not based on the current body of evidence. If you're simultaneously overweight and struggling with the effects of Low-T, making an effort to lose weight will have a tremendous influence on your body's ability to produce Testosterone. However, if you're at a healthy weight, dietary changes won't have much of an impact.

Testing for Low-T

Hypogonadism is diagnosed via blood test—the currently accepted healthy range of Testosterone is between 300-1000 ng/dl. Circulating Testosterone Levels naturally fluctuate throughout your day-to-day life. That's completely normal. Testosterone Deficiency is the result of Testosterone Levels persistently below 300 ng/dl. Hypogonadism is associated with a range of symptoms that impede quality of life and diminish wellness, including loss of strength, depression, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and low libido.

Testosterone Levels Drop with Age

As men get older, the risk of Low-T increases gradually. Between the ages of thirty and forty, men begin to lose around 1% of their Testosterone volume per year. Individual genetics and lifestyle still play a huge role, however. Some men retain high and healthy Testosterone Levels deeper into old age than others. Men that exercise regularly (with a focus on strength training and anaerobic exercise) are more resilient to changing Hormone Balance. Body fat converts Testosterone into Estrogen. This is natural and healthy at a healthy weight, but overweight and obese individuals have their Testosterone Levels chipped away by their body fat.

Recent Studies Explore the Effects of Diet on Testosterone

Diet can have an impact on Testosterone Levels in adult men, but the body of research is still too small to come to any conclusive recommendations. One British study sought to measure the effects of dietary fat on Testosterone. This study involved 206 participants. Subjects were categorized by diet—High Fat Diet, Low Fat Diet, or Vegetarian. Researchers discovered that the men that ate a high-fat diet had Testosterone around 60 points above the guys that didn't eat much fat. Vegetarians fared the worst, with Testosterone Levels a full 150 points below men that ate a high-fat diet. The lead researcher (Joseph Whittaker) explained that, in spite of these results, he would not recommend that a patient increase fat consumption unless he has been diagnosed with Low-T and admitted to purposefully avoiding fats.

A second study formally investigated the effects of dietary fat on healthy young men from 18-30. In this study, men were divided into two groups—One group followed a low-carb, ketogenic diet (75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs). The other group ate how the average American eats (25% fat, 20% protein, 55% carbs). After a ten-week regimen on the two diets, the participants had their Testosterone Levels measured. The high fat, low carb group experienced an increase in Testosterone of around 118 points, while the second group faired poorly, experiencing a 36 point drop in Testosterone Levels. A third study analyzed the effects of dietary fat on 3000 males. They found that the men that ate more fat had 30 points more Testosterone on average than the Low-Fat group.

Should You Eat Differently to Protect Testosterone Levels?

The big takeaway from the research is that men who aren't suffering from Low-T shouldn't worry too much about min-maxing Testosterone Levels. While diet can have a statistically significant impact on circulating Testosterone, these fluctuations likely won't impact your life too dramatically. While these three studies paint a rosy picture on how dietary fats can bolster Testosterone, a lot more detailed research is needed to really outline the causes and effects at play. Changing one aspect of diet (like increasing dietary fat) necessarily leads to other changes, like a reduction in consumed carbohydrates. There are also lots of other factors that have a substantial impact on Testosterone, like sleeping habits, vices, and sedentary lifestyle.

So if you're living well and feeling good, there's no reason to take preventive dietary steps to bolster Testosterone. If you are feeling at risk, it couldn't hurt to change up your dietary routine as long as extreme changes are vetted by a professional. It's hard to measure exactly how nutritional changes affect an individual's Testosterone Levels, because when a person makes the effort to eat better for their health, they also tend to take steps to improve their health in other ways. Rather than seek out a magic bullet to resolve your Testosterone fears, you should simply do what you can to improve your overall lifestyle. It's also important to recognize that going too far can be counterproductive. The combination of overtraining, chronic stress, and severe caloric restriction can also lead to symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency.

One last thing, ignore the fearmongering over soy and other food products that have esterizing effects. Soy has caught a bad rap because it has lots of Isoflavones, which share metabolic characteristics with estrogen. In order for soy and similar dietary agents to have a negative effect on your Testosterone Levels, you would have to consume a tremendous amount of the product, far more than societies that use lots of these products.

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