When it comes to testosterone, the popular saying is true: you are what you eat. A man’s diet plays the biggest factor in his testosterone levels, which are 7 to 8 times higher than the average woman’s levels. When this hormone level gets too low, a man’s sex drive will lower, his ability to maintain muscle mass and healthy bones will be compromised, and his overall health will suffer. The best way for a man to maintain enough testosterone is to be sure his diet has the right balance.
It’s important to understand major dietary changes that can lower testosterone before looking into specific foods. Decreasing your usual caloric intake, replacing the carbohydrates in your diet with protein, and having very low fat intake are all factors that will lower testosterone. Some of these are contrary to popular dietary advice, but have been proven in scientific research that examines the best diets for men. As you begin making changes in your overall diet to fit these suggestions, there are specific foods that can make a difference, which are outlined below.
Switching entirely to soy instead of meat proteins will lower testosterone levels by 10% or more after 4 weeks of this dietary change. This is because soy contains phytoestrogen, which reacts similarly to estrogen. Keep this in mind if you were considering a change to vegetarianism for health reasons.
When picking protein, make sure to select grass-fed meats since these contain healthy fats you need.
A diet that is lacking in whey protein and dairy will yield lower testosterone. These foods provide your body with the necessary branch chain amino acids that help increase testosterone, especially if you resistance train. To combat this, make sure to have whey protein in protein shakes, and consume high quality cheeses or other dairy products on a regular basis.
Testosterone levels decrease immediately after you consume sugar, as the body instead begins to produce insulin. Having candy or other sources of sugar are fine on occasion, but should be reduced in the diet to ensure testosterone remains at an optimal level.
Licorice is one snack men should also avoid. Like soy, licorice contains a phytoestrogen, so consuming these candies will lower testosterone.
After consuming multiple drinks, your liver begins to process the alcohol to regulate your system. As this happens, the body stops releasing as much testosterone and the liver can’t help remove excess estrogen as well as normal. If excessive alcohol becomes chronic, your testosterone levels will suffer the most.
As mentioned previously, low-fat diets are popular, but actually decrease your testosterone levels if you are getting less than 40% of your nutrition from fat. When selecting oils for cooking, pick olive, palm, coconut, or unheated organic nut oils. Make sure to regularly consume olives, coconuts, organic butter, almonds, pecans, and other raw nuts, organic egg yolks, and avocados to get enough healthy fats.
Zinc and Vitamin D are vitamins and minerals that aid in testosterone production, so having too little of either will lower your testosterone levels. Supplementing your diet to get enough of both will show improvements in your testosterone in as little as six weeks.
Now that you’re examining specific foods, remember to update your overall diet, too. Are you on a low-calorie diet? Your testosterone will increase if you up your caloric intake by eating more of a variety of the foods listed above. Have you been avoiding carbohydrates? Make sure you have the right proteins plus carbohydrates to keep testosterone levels up. Are you avoiding foods containing fat? Now that you know about healthy fats, consume these daily to give your system a testosterone boost. Combining and implementing the dietary suggestions will help you to eliminate the testosterone depressors in your diet. After a month or more of these changes, you’ll see increased health, sex drive, and healing in your body.
To review the scientific studies mentioned at the beginning of this article, please visit the links below:
- Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men by Hämäläinen E, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, and Pietinen P
- Energy metabolism and high intensity exercise: Dietary concerns for optimal recovery by Volek, J. S
- Diet-hormone interactions: protein/carbohydrate ratio alters reciprocally the plasma levels of testosterone and cortisol and their respective binding globulins in man by Anderson KE, Rosner W, Khan MS, New MI, Pang SY, Wissel PS, and Kappas A:
If dietary changes aren’t helping, your weight and exercise habits may be lowering your testosterone levels. To find out the best way to increase testosterone through exercise, click here. For more ways to boost testosterone, see 15 Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally.