Dietetic castration, or few words on how some nutrition practices lower the level of testosterone. The way of eating influences the activity of many hormones, including testosterone. Unfortunately, there isn't much information on this subject, and potential notes appearing in blogs or sports forums are treated like some tales. Whereas it's good to know, that inappropriate quality and quantity supply of food may lead to lowering the activity of androgens, which can bring many negative consequences noticeable on the level of health, psycho-physical condition and body composition.
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Testosterone – your muscles' friend
Testosterone is an important hormone, which conditions the development of primordial and derivative male gender features. Because it influences positively the following: libido, strength and muscle mass, exercise capacity, resilience to mental overload, improves mood, it's extremely important to keep high level of this hormone for sports people and men having average physical activity. High level of testosterone means that the muscle mass will grow faster, body fat will burn more efficiently and recovery will be faster. Unfortunately, between the second and third decade of life the level of this hormone starts to decrease gradually, and this tendency is stronger after 50th birthday. What's more, it happens very often that men lower the production of testosterone and weaken its anabolic activity themselves through their lifestyle, which includes permanent stress, sleep deficiency, too low (or to high) physical activity and inappropriate eating habits.
Too low calories supply lowers the level of testosterone
Although it is commonly thought that only women use never-ending slimming diets, in reality, this practice is also very common among men. Unfortunately, deep and long-lasting energy deficiency is a factor, which decreases the production of testosterone. If the brain “sees” that the energy supply is low, it starts to save it by lowering investment in physiological processes with lower priority. The victim of these savings are reproductive functions, what also seems quite reasonable – holding the need of having offspring when there is no food makes sense. Regardless of the origin of this dependency, permanent or too aggressive slimming is a simple way leading to decreasing the activity of testosterone. This effect can be noticeable especially in a group of 30-year-old and older men.
Too low fat intake
Even though during the last ten years there have been many researches questioning the belief in highly pro-health features of low-carb diet, this solution is still recommended as a great way of improving health and body aesthetics. Unfortunately, one of many disadvantages of low-carb diets is that they influence testosterone production and its biological activity (there appears the situation of increased number of bonds between this hormone and plasma proteins) in a negative way. The most dangerous in this matter may be a connection of lower energy supply with low content of fat in a diet. In such case there can be a situation of adding negative effects which may cause lowering the activity of androgens. Fat is not the enemy! Fat is testosterone's friend!
Not only low fat intake, but also strict restrictions in eating carbs may be harmful, especially if they are consequently continued for a long period of time by men without overweight or obesity. It concerns the damages regarding the activity of sex hormones such as testosterone. In case of low-carb diets, just like with low-fat diets, there can be intensive binding of testosterone with plasma proteins – it causes lowering its biological potential. Another consequence is decreasing the production of this hormone, which is connected with a noticeable fall of leptin level (similar mechanism takes place when there is too low energy supply). “Gurus” who deal with low-carb diets, such as Lyle McDonald, suggest that the negative influence of this type of dietary solutions on the level of free androgens may be neutralised by temporary “carbohydrate bootstrap”.
Fast food / junk food
Although eating one hamburger or pizza doesn't have to have any influence on the androgens level, there's no doubt that regular consumption of fast food meals has negative effect on the body mass and composition and leads to gaining body fat. Whereas excess amount of spare fat may be a factor, which influences the activity of sex hormones. It has been observed that obese men have lower level of testosterone. The problem is even more visible in a situation when there is also insulin resistance, what can be seen e.g. in metabolic syndrome disease. It's good to eat in a way to keep the desirable body mass and composition and have in mind that all the nutrition actions which lead to overweight and obesity may cause lowering the testosterone level. Low activity of this hormone supports further gathering of spare fat.
Extremely healthy diet
It may sometimes happen that an “extremely healthy diet” leads to lowering the level of testosterone. Where did this dependency come from? The composition of the diet itself is not usually a problem, but the attitude of excessive perfectionism and permanent stress connected with the necessity of fulfilling high standards is. Life in constant stress is one of the factors which may influence the level of androgens, and it doesn't matter if it is caused by work, complicated personal life or – an “extremely healthy diet”. It may be also important to choose products of high quality, which is connected with what I mentioned above. But most of all, immoderate limiting fat intake matters, and it is still common among people with unhealthy attitude towards healthy food...
There are many nutritional factors which influence the level of testosterone. However, the most disadvantageous are the extreme practices which eliminate chosen nutrients almost completely form the diet, especially fat and potentially carbohydrates. It is also dangerous to introduce too big calorific deficit or using reduction diets for months. Another issue is an individual approach towards the matter of nutrition – if it's extreme, it can also bring negative effects when it comes to the activity of androgens.