Sugary Beverages and Low T in Younger Men—Science Says Skip the Soda
Although most people are generally aware that sugar is bad for their health, they are unaware of the specific harms it can cause.
Beyond weight gain, routinely consuming large daily quantities of sugar can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Medical research also continues to find evidence that sugar intake hinders testosterone production in younger men.
Most people are unaware that a large portion of our daily sugar consumption is hiding in what we drink.
Soft Drinks and Low T—Researching the Connection
Commonly referred to as soft drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) are considered to be any beverage with added sugar or sweeteners, which includes high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, and others.
A number of popular beverages are included under the soft drink umbrella, such as:
- Energy drinks
- Highly-sweetened coffee drinks
- Fruit punch and lemonade
- Sweetened sports drinks
Recent research has found that the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is associated with low serum testosterone levels among men aged 20–39 years of age.
Researchers recently observed 545 American men within this age range who participated in the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Those men who consumed the largest quantity of sugary beverages each day (442 kcal/day or more) were 2.3 times more likely to have low testosterone compared with those who consumed 137 kcal/day or less.
Subjects who consumed more moderate amounts of SSB also had higher occurrences of low testosterone than those in the lowest consumption category, but these findings did not achieve statistical significance.
This is a small study, and more research is needed to demonstrate the reliability of these results. However, the conclusion that the researchers draw from the data is quite clear:
“Consumption of SSBs is significantly associated with low serum testosterone levels in men 20–39 years old. The effects of SSB consumption on testosterone levels in adult males must be considered if primary and secondary hypogonadism have been ruled out as a source of low testosterone and related symptoms.”
The full 2018 research, published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, is available here.
The Compounding Effect of Sugar
Sugar depresses your testosterone production, which is likely caused by a sharp increase in insulin production that the body uses to deal with a sudden overload of glucose (sugar).
When testosterone levels are reduced, your estrogen levels effectively increase. An estrogen-heavy imbalance means you’re more likely to hang on to fat and lose muscle.
The excess fat you gain actually functions to produce even more estrogen, which will drive testosterone levels even lower and symptoms could result.
Obesity and testosterone form a cycle of ill health that’s tough to break. For more information, you can read about abdominal obesity and its relationship to low testosterone.
Will Cutting Sugar Intake Cure my Low Testosterone?
Possibly. If your hormone levels are borderline, improvements to your diet and exercise routine might reduce symptoms by slightly increasing your testosterone production and improving your hormone balance.
However, if your testosterone levels are clinically low or your symptoms are severe, changes to your diet and exercise routine alone probably won’t solve your problem. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) may be right for you.
Our comprehensive guide to Testosterone Replacement Therapy answers the most common questions about the treatment of low testosterone.
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