Is There a Link Between Diet and Testosterone Levels?

Happy seniors couple cooking at kitchen

Men who turn to restrictive diets as a way to reduce weight and body fat sometimes have an unintended side effect: Lower testosterone levels.

If you have ever gone on a crash diet, eliminated carbs, or eaten like a caveman in order to lose weight, you may have noticed that your sex drive went down along with your weight.

Fat Reduction and Testosterone

Most restrictive diets require that you reduce or eliminate fats from the foods that you eat. But many studies have shown that eating only foods that are low in fat and high in fiber — in other words, traditional “diet” foods — has a direct negative effect on testosterone.

This testosterone reduction is even more severe if the only fats you do eat are polyunsaturated ones.

Don’t Pass On All the Fats

One solution for maintaining your testosterone levels and shedding unwanted pounds at the same time is to continue to include plenty of healthy fats in your diet even when you are cutting down on calories.

Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil and argan oil, have been linked to higher testosterone levels in healthy young men.

Maintain Lean Mass

Part of the reason testosterone levels go down when you diet may be related to the inevitable loss of muscle mass that accompanies caloric restriction.

But there are ways you can preserve lean mass while still dropping pounds. First, make sure you include resistance training — in other words, weightlifting — into your daily workout routine so you can maintain your strength and even build muscle.

You also want to make sure you include enough protein in your diet, such as lean meats and poultry.

Reduce Stress

Finally, try not to stress out while you lose weight. Stress causes cortisol to be produced in the body, which is linked to lower testosterone levels. As you diet, look for ways to relax and calm the mind.


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