Dietary cholesterol is associated with increases in lean muscle mass. Low-fat diets and high-fiber diets are not conducive to testosterone levels. There is no evidence that higher than normal fat diets will boost testosterone beyond a moderate-fat diet.
DOES HIGH FAT INCREASE TESTOSTERONE ARTICLE OVERVIEW
- Does high fat increase testosterone levels? Yes, however, after a certain amount no further increases occur.
- Nevertheless, a high testosterone diet can be achieved by eating adequate fats. Excess fats will not further boost testosterone levels.
- Contrarily, its’s a myth that a keto diet can increase testosterone.
- Moreover, a breakfast to boost testosterone should include eggs. Cholesterol is necessary for muscle growth and repair. Cholesterol is needed for testosterone synthesis and production.
RESEARCH UPDATE: KETO DIETS DON’T LOWER TESTOSTERONE.
For years, bodybuilders advocated that a higher testosterone meal plan should include grass fed red meat, egg yolks, fatty fish, and brazil nuts to boost hormone levels. In essence, whole foods are better for increasing muscle mass than processed diets. One study found that eating McDonald’s resulted in a drop in testosterone.
Essentially, dietary fat is critical for the production of the male sex hormone testosterone. Some have suggested that higher-than-normal fat diets, such as a keto diet, increase testosterone.
Contrary to this belief, research has found that diets that are in excess of dietary fat may lower the production of testosterone. Fear not. The newest research shows that keto diets don’t lower testosterone.
A new meta-analysis on low carbohydrate, high-protein, and moderate protein diets was released on cortisol and levels of testosterone. Interestingly, many people have read that low-carbohydrate diets can increase resting cortisol. The review found that in the short-term (<3 weeks), low-carb diets increased cortisol, but this effect did not occur long term (>3 weeks).
Low- versus high-carbohydrate diets also resulted in higher post-exercise cortisol after long-duration exercise. Consequently, post-exercise cortisol levels do not seem to decrease with low-carbohydrate diets as opposed to high-carbohydrate diets.
DOES HIGH FAT INCREASE TESTOSTERONE?
The review found that moderate protein and low-carbohydrate diets did not affect testosterone. However, they found that a high-protein (>35% of the total calories from protein) low-carbohydrate diet resulted in lower testosterone. Additionally, it also should be mentioned that high-protein diets reduce appetite, so lower calories rather than high protein may be causing these changes in testosterone.
Low calorie or energy intake can reduce LH secretion and lower testosterone. Thus, the high-protein diets may have resulted in lower testosterone strictly thru lower caloric intake associated with lower testosterone. Many studies show that high-protein diets can reduce lean mass losses while dieting.
Some studies included in the review were short-term studies (3-10 days). The main finding is that you don’t need to worry about testosterone levels being impacted by keto diets. If your protein intake is within a normal range (.8-1.5 grams per pound of body weight). (18)
6/4 BODYFAT LEVELS DETERMINE HOW YOUR TESTOSTERONE LEVELS RESPOND TO A DIET
Testosterone optimization is something everyone should strive for to gain muscle and lose body fat. For instance, some general recommendations include sleeping 8 hours a night, regular exercise, and sufficient micro-nutrient statues such as Vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium.
Diet also plays a large role in how your body produces testosterone. In fact, two previous meta-analyses found that a low-fat diet and carbohydrate restriction can impair testosterone production. (19, 20) A recent study also reported that calorie restriction could lower testosterone production, but it depended on body fat levels.
The meta-analysis divided the studies into calorie restrictions for overweight and lean adults. Surprisingly, the study results found that calorie restriction led to a statistically significant increase in testosterone for males with BMIs in the overweight or obese category. In contrast, calorie restriction led to a decrease in testosterone in lean adults. So why do overweight men have an increase in testosterone when they go on a diet?
The increases in testosterone are mainly because of the hormone leptin. When blood levels of leptin are within normal ranges it tells the brain everything is ok. Leptin interacts with receptors in the brain to convey a message of sufficient energy availability, and hormone production proceeds normally. However, the brain perceives low leptin levels as a clear indicator of calories dropping. It makes physiological budget cuts in response.
Calories and Testosterone
One of those budget cuts is a reduction in testosterone. Adequate leptin levels are needed for normal testosterone production. When leptin levels drop because of calorie restriction, so does testosterone.
The same thing happens in women; when calories are dropped. Women have a drop in leptin and a drop in estrogen, and amenorrhea occurs or an absence of a menstrual cycle.
When you are overweight or obese, leptin resistance occurs, meaning that leptin levels are chronically high, and the leptin receptors don’t respond to the signal as they should. Leptin resistance is like insulin resistance in which insulin receptors quit responding to insulin, and more and more insulin is produced, leading to chronically high insulin levels. When obese people lose weight, it jump-starts the system to work again and resensitize the leptin receptors.
The body starts receiving the leptin signal correctly and resumes normal testosterone production. Therefore, when obese people lose weight, they can have an increase in testosterone production. When someone is lean and starts dropping calories, this causes leptin levels to drop with increases in cortisol, causing decreases in testosterone production. (21)
DO RAW EGGS INCREASE TESTOSTERONE?
Several factors, such as age, race, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking behaviors, physical activity, and diet, influence testosterone.(1) Interestingly, there is an endless barrage of questions men ask to increase testosterone. Check out the number of queries about what boosts testosterone on google.
· Does sunlight increase testosterone? Short answer: YES. Exposure to sunlight boosts Vitamin D, which is necessary for testosterone production. 805,000 results.
· Do Cold Showers Boost Testosterone? Short answer: NO. Cold water has been found to reduce testosterone and muscle growth. 228,000 results.
· Does sleeping naked increase testosterone? NOT DIRECTLY. Better sleep is associated with higher testosterone, so sleeping naked may cause better sleep contributing to healthy testosterone levels. 664,000 results.
· THE MACK DADDY QUESTION: Does having sex increase testosterone? Temporarily it May. Keep in mind that acute increases in testosterone have nothing to do with gains in muscle mass. 21,100,000 results!
Dietary Cholesterol and Testosterone
Dietary cholesterol is a precursor for testosterone production. For years, the gym culture has been to eat lots of steak, beef, and whole eggs to provide an abundant source of cholesterol to boost testosterone. Some have suggested that raw eggs increase testosterone and improve protein synthesis.
Most studies have found that a higher ratio of saturated (i.e., butter, eggs, beef) and monounsaturated fats (i.e., olive oil, avocados) results in optimal testosterone production compared to a high polyunsaturated fat diet (i.e., vegetable oils).(22-24) For example, one study found that replacing 25 grams of butter daily with olive or argan oil resulted in greater testosterone levels.(25)
Studies have shown that higher ratios of mono and saturated fats are better correlated with testosterone. As usual, bodybuilders went overboard, and there are books on the steak testosterone diet and a ton of queries, such as does coconut oil increase testosterone? The short answer is no, only if you consume low dietary fat.
Increased dietary cholesterol independent of protein intake strongly correlates with lean mass and strength changes.(2) Nearly every cell in the body can make cholesterol, which is why a person can have a high blood cholesterol level even on a low-cholesterol diet.
Cholesterol has also been found to play an essential role in microtear repair in skeletal muscle after resistance exercise. Furthermore, cholesterol levels decrease for up to 72 hours after intense muscle-damaging exercise, which may play a role in the repair process. (3, 4)
In a recent 2021 meta-analysis, it was found that low-fat diets moderately decreased testosterone and free testosterone compared to a high-fat diet. 206 healthy men with normal testosterone received a high-fat diet followed by a low-fat diet (or vice versa). To elaborate, the men’s average total testosterone levels were 10% to 15% lower (but still in the normal range) during the low-fat diet.
Reflecting on the ’80s and ’90s, when the low-fat craze was at its peak. For example, a large-scale study of men’s blood samples found that from 1988 to 2004 found no evidence of testosterone declining during this time.(11)
Moreover, another factor affecting testosterone levels is that processed foods have skyrocketed. In contrast, processed and fried foods are associated with decreased testosterone levels, whereas vegetables and seafood have a beneficial effect.(12, 13)
In sum, a low-fat diet is not good for testosterone, but this does not mean a higher-fat diet will result in further gains (>35% fat). Despite several studies showing that higher fat diets result in greater testosterone, as mentioned earlier in the article, further increases in dietary fat and cholesterol will not boost testosterone.
Comparing high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets to traditional western diets (i.e., 30 % fat), the outcomes have been mixed. Additionally, most studies find better increases in lean mass with the traditional diet (i.e., 30% fat) compared to a high-fat diet.
In conclusion, having a healthy intake of fats is essential for testosterone production and performance. however, most studies have found that a higher ratio of saturated and monounsaturated fats results in optimal testosterone production compared to a high polyunsaturated fat diet.(14-16) For example, One study found that replacing 25 grams of butter daily with olive or argan oil resulted in greater testosterone levels.(17)
DOES HIGH FAT INCREASE TESTOSTERONE KEY POINTS
- Dietary cholesterol is associated with increases in lean muscle mass.
- Low-fat diets and high-fiber diets are not conducive to testosterone levels.
- Additionally, there is no evidence that higher than normal fat diets will boost testosterone beyond a moderate-fat diet.
DOES HIGH FAT INCREASE TESTOSTERONE REFERENCES
1. Chen Z, Pestoni G, McGlynn KA, Platz EA, Rohrmann S. Cross‐sectional associations between healthy eating index and sex steroid hormones in men—National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2002. Andrology. 2020;8(1):154-9.
2. Riechman SE, Andrews RD, Maclean DA, Sheather S. Statins and Dietary and Serum Cholesterol Are Associated With Increased Lean Mass Following Resistance Training. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 2007;62(10):1164-71.
3. Shahbazpour N, Carroll TJ, Riek S, Carson RG. Early alterations in serum creatine kinase and total cholesterol following high-intensity eccentric muscle actions. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2004;44(2):193-9.
4. Smith LL, Fulmer MG, Holbert D, McCammon MR, Houmard JA, Frazer DD, et al. The impact of a repeated bout of eccentric exercise on muscular strength, muscle soreness and creatine kinase. British journal of sports medicine. 1994;28(4):267-71.
8. Dorgan JF, Judd JT, Longcope C, Brown C, Schatzkin A, Clevidence BA, et al. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;64(6):850-5.
10. Rosenthal MB, Barnard RJ, Rose DP, Inkeles S, Hall J, Pritikin N. Effects of a high-complex-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet on levels of serum lipids and estradiol. Am J Med. 1985;78(1):23-7.
11. Nyante SJ, Graubard BI, Li Y, McQuillan GM, Platz EA, Rohrmann S, et al. Trends in sex hormone concentrations in US males: 1988-1991 to 1999-2004. International Journal of Andrology. 2012;35(3):456-66.
12. Kurniawan AL, Hsu CY, Rau HH, Lin LY, Chao JC. Dietary patterns in relation to testosterone levels and severity of impaired kidney function among middle-aged and elderly men in Taiwan: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2019;18(1):42.
14. RABEN A, KIENS B, RICHTER EA, RASMUSSEN LB, SVENSTRUP B, MICIC S, et al. Serum sex hormones and endurance performance after a lacto-ovo vegetarian and a mixed diet. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1992;24(11):1290-7.
17. Derouiche A, Jafri A, Driouch I, Khasmi ME, Adlouni A, Benajiba N, et al. Effect of Argan and Olive Oil Consumption on the Hormonal Profile of Androgens Among Healthy Adult Moroccan Men. Natural Product Communications. 2013;8(1):1934578X1300800112.
18. Whittaker, J., & Harris, M. (2022). Low-carbohydrate diets and men’s cortisol and testosterone: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition and health, 2601060221083079. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/02601060221083079
21. Smith SJ, Teo SYM, Lopresti AL, Heritage B, Fairchild TJ. Examining the effects of calorie restriction on testosterone concentrations in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. 2021;80(5):1222-36.
25. Derouiche A, Jafri A, Driouch I, et al. Effect of Argan and Olive Oil Consumption on the Hormonal Profile of Androgens Among Healthy Adult Moroccan Men. Natural Product Communications 2013; 8(1): 1934578X1300800112.