How Does My Diet Affect My Testosterone?

Many people are looking for a way to treat their low testosterone symptoms without seeking medical intervention. Diet and exercise would seem like a logical way to naturally increase testosterone levels.

That’s exactly what the fitness news, popular health culture, and the nutrition industries would like you to believe—that it’s a simple fix. However, the research behind their assertions is shaky, mostly comprising small studies with ambiguous results.

We’d never want to discredit the health benefits of a nutritious diet, but the fact still stands: 

If your testosterone levels are clinically low or your symptoms are frequent, improvements to your diet likely will not solve your problem.

A happy couple are chopping vegetables for a salad. The man stands behind the woman, and she feeds him salad over her left shoulder. He's eating healthy hoping a better diet will help his testosterone.

Your Diet and Your Testosterone: What the Research Says

It has been suggested that a higher-fat diet is associated with increased levels of testosterone, contributing to a belief that increasing fat and protein intake while restricting carbohydrates increases masculinity and reduces the more problematic Low T symptoms.

A study conducted by ​​the School of Allied Health and Community, University of Worcester, compiled data from 206 subjects, which indicated that those on a high-fat, high-protein diet had a testosterone level 60 points higher than the control group who consumed a low-fat diet. Subjects eating a vegetarian diet had even lower testosterone levels, on average 150 points lower than those on the meat-based diet. 

In another study, roughly 3,000 men found that the subjects on a high-fat diet had testosterone levels roughly 30 points higher than those on low-fat diets. The flaw in this study is that none of them were tested for clinical hypogonadism (the medical term for low testosterone).

That’s useful information—perhaps a low-fat diet isn’t for you. However, the conclusion that increasing the fat in your diet could solve chronic low testosterone was far from supported by studies like these. The issue is more complicated. 

Overall, researchers aren’t yet clear on the significance of the testosterone variances associated with particular diets. More research is required to determine their overall usefulness in treating Low T. 

Further clouding the research conclusion is the fact that men altering their protein and fat intake frequently make other simultaneous changes that are unaccounted for by research. For example, they likely exercise more and drink less alcohol—a known disruptor of hormone production in large quantities.

Dr. Faysal Yafi, the head of Men’s Health and Reconstructive Urology at the University of California, Irvine, has suggested that a connection between diet and increased testosterone could likely be the result of an overall healthier lifestyle, particularly if the test subjects aren’t suffering from clinical hypogonadism (the medical term for Low T).

Your Diet and Chronic Low Testosterone

Many men who experience periodic Low T symptoms tend to hover right over or under the line between healthy testosterone levels and Low T. They usually feel fine, but they may experience symptoms when levels dip.

If you’re one of those people with borderline levels, it may be advisable to lean toward a diet containing more protein and healthy fats and exercise regularly to support your hormonal health. Those changes may keep you above that symptomatic line.  

However, if you suffer from chronic low testosterone, it is unlikely that dietary choices or healthier habits are going to return your hormone levels to a “normal” or “optimum” range.

It’s important to remember that each individual is different, and a conversation with your healthcare provider is recommended before making any major decisions. 

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is the most effective treatment for low testosterone. For answers to the most common questions regarding the benefits of TRT without the marketing spin that surrounds diet, exercise, and supplements, we recommend reading our comprehensive guide. Get the facts.

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(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C

(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C started his career in healthcare as a fireman/paramedic in West Texas where he served on the Midland Fire Department from 1998-2004.   He became interested in testosterone treatment after seeing how hormone replacement doctors helped those suffering from low testosterone.   After graduating from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Physician Assistant Program, he moved to DFW where he currently lives with his wife and three children.

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