It is well known among the testosterone community that dieting decreases a man’s testosterone levels.
In this study, six men who were between 20 and 74 percent overweight took part in an 18-day study during which each man lost about 4.1 percent of their body weight in fat. All men saw decreased testosterone rates across the board. This is because, to lose weight, there is one basic thing you MUST do…
Create a caloric deficit
Basically what this means is that you must burn more energy during the day than you put in your body or burn more calories than you eat. The problem is, when your body doesn’t get all the energy it needs, it starts to cut down energy use on processes that are not entirely relevant to survival. One of those is testosterone production, as we see in the aforementioned study. (1) Caloric deficits also put your body under stress, increasing cortisol levels. Cortisol is the arch nemesis of testosterone. When one goes up, the other goes down. So…
Are you stuck at a weight you aren’t happy with?
Are you stuck with this pesky body fat around your waist?
The bad news is your testosterone levels will go down while you are cutting weight, but it is worth it. (1) Men with lower amounts of body fat produce much higher testosterone levels than men with a little (or a lot) more body weight.
This is in part due to the amount of insulin and estrogen your body produces when you have more body fat. Testosterone has a lot of enemies — not just cortisol. Insulin and, more obviously, estrogen have negative effects on testosterone levels. But that’s another topic, and it that’s not why you are here. You are here because you don’t want your testosterone levels to be murdered when you go on a diet.
So, does testosterone decrease body fat? Yes.
Whatever the reason for your diet, you do not want to lose an ounce of your manhood. While cutting fat, your testosterone levels will be under attack, so you must protect them. Lucky for you, there’s an ancient list addressing this issue, and it brings us back to biblical times.
Thou Shalt Not Avoid Dietary Fats
This is commandment number one because it falls under a mistake that many men make when trying to cut body fat: avoiding fat. Maybe it has something to do with ingesting fat while losing fat, but you should not avoid fats in your diet. Testosterone is a lipid-based hormone. It NEEDS fat to be produced in the first place. (1)
In a recent study, 30 men were asked to switch from their regular diets to a low-fat diet. The results showed a significant drop in testosterone levels when the diet changed. There are good fats and bad fats for testosterone production — keep that in mind. Stay away from polyunsaturated fats and trans fats and move towards monounsaturated fats and saturated fats.
Good foods to eat are avocados and fatty fish. (2) You should get about 30 percent of your daily calories from good fats as a part of this commandment.
Thou Shalt Not Avoid Cholesterol
Many men also believe they need to avoid foods high in cholesterol in order to lose weight. The truth is, the Leydig cells need cholesterol to produce the testosterone you need. (3) Interestingly enough, the final process of testosterone production is when the Leydig cells convert cholesterol into free testosterone.
There is a type of good cholesterol called HDL cholesterol. You can get this type of good cholesterol by eating foods like shellfish, avocados, garlic and even red wine. (4)
Thou Shalt Eat Carbohydrates
Low-carb diets seem like the popular thing nowadays. While cutting carbs is a way to cutting fat, for men it seems that you need carbohydrates to maintain those testosterone levels while dieting.
In another recent study, testosterone levels were tested in seven men in both a high-carbohydrate diet and a high-protein diet. Results showed that men on the high-carb diet actually had higher testosterone and lower cortisol than the men on the high-protein diet.
This is because GnRH, a precursor in testosterone production, is produced based on the amount of glucose in the body. A main source of glucose is carbohydrates, so fewer carbs means less glucose, which means less testosterone production in the end. (1)
Some foods that are healthy sources of carbs are sweet potatoes, milk, fruits, plain popcorn and potatoes. (5)
Thou Shalt Eat Spicy Foods
More specifically, you should eat spicy foods containing capsaicin, an alkaloid found in chili peppers. Capsaicin bonds with the pain receptors to create the burning sensation you feel when you eat it. (6)
In animal testing, capsaicin has been known to increase testosterone levels in rodents. It is also known to increase endorphins, adrenaline and happiness in humans. In a study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior, 118 men were asked to eat certain spicy foods and rate the level of spiciness of each meal. After their testosterone levels were tested, it was found that men with higher testosterone were more tolerant of the spicy meals. (6)
So if you do that Blazin’ Wing Challenge at Buffalo Wild Wings, you not only might seem manlier, you may actually become more of a man.
Thou Shalt Not Endurance Train
To create the caloric deficit you need, you may want to exercise to make the deficit more pronounced. This is a good idea… unless you are endurance training.
Endurance aerobic exercise raises cortisol, which is the arch nemesis of testosterone. If you want to know how to keep testosterone high in the gym, stay away from the treadmill.
Thou Shalt Take Part in High Intensity Interval Training
Instead of doing endurance training, try interval training. This means, for example, going 90 percent of your energy for 30 seconds, then taking it down for 30 seconds, going back to 90 percent for 30 seconds, and so on and so forth.
HIIT is a popular way to optimize testosterone production. When you do short bursts at high intensity, your body burns sugar instead of fat because sugar is more readily accessible, then over the next 36 hours or so, your body burns fat. Testosterone levels have also been found to increase over this time period. (7)
If you are lifting weights to create the caloric deficit and maintain muscles mass, don’t work out for too long. Keep the workout short and intense with high weight and low reps.
Thou Shalt Not Overdo the Caloric Deficit
The logic here is simple. If you want to do a quick fat loss and cut your calorie count by 30 or 40 percent, your body will get hit with the full effects of a caloric deficit, i.e. high cortisol and low testosterone. (1)
If you want to protect your testosterone levels, you need to stick in the slower to moderate fat loss range. Do not overdo the caloric deficit. Keep the deficit under 25 percent in order to protect your testosterone.
The fat loss will be slower, but you’ll maintain more muscle mass along the way.
Thou Shalt Not Eat Six Small Meals a Day
The six small meals advice, along with the low-carb diet advice, are not the best ways to keep your testosterone levels high. Every time you eat, your testosterone goes down. (1)
Composition of the meal can determine HOW MUCH testosterone levels go down, but every time you eat, testosterone levels will decrease at the time of consumption.
The more times you eat, the more times your testosterone goes down. So if you eat six times a day, you are subject to six testosterone decreases a day, regardless of the meal size and composition.
Thou Shalt Intermittent Fast
A popular solution to the problem proposed by the eighth commandment is intermittent fasting. Essentially this means eating two larger meals a day. A situation could be skipping breakfast, eating your meals at 1 pm and 7 pm and then fasting until 1 pm the next day and repeating the process. This not only reduces the amount of times your testosterone decreases, but has been found to increase testosterone in men.
READ MORE: Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Thou Shalt Eat Cinnamon
Eating just a small amount of cinnamon with your food every day is a great way to keep your testosterone levels up. Plus it tastes pretty good too.
Basically what it comes down to is that cinnamaldehyde, a key component in cinnamon, increases insulin sensitivity so your body does not have to produce as much insulin. When your body is not producing as much insulin, your testosterone levels will stay high while dieting.
LEARN MORE: Cinnamon
Sprinkle cinnamon in your morning coffee (it doesn’t have to be a lot) and you should be good to go.
Citations and Sources
Kuoppala, Ali. “6 Ways to Keep Testosterone Levels High When Dieting.” Anabolic Men. N.p., 28 May 2015. Web. 03 July 2015.
HelpGuide. “Choosing Healthy Fats.” : Good Fats, Bad Fats, and the Power of Omega-3s. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.
McKay, Brett. “Testosterone Week: How I Doubled My Testosterone Levels Naturally and You Can Too.” The Art of Manliness. N.p., 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 03 July 2015.
Harding, Charlotte. “Foods That Boost Your Good Cholesterol.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.
FoodNetwork. “Sweet Potatoes : Food Network.” Healthy Carbs : A List of Healthy Carbs : Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.
Gray, Richard. “Why Liking Hot Curries Really Does Make You the Alpha Male: Men Who Enjoy Spicy Food Have Higher Testosterone Levels.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 03 July 2015.
TestBoostersReview. “Boost Testosterone and HGH Levels Naturally With HIIT.” Test Boosters Review.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.