A man experiencing testosterone deficiency will experience many symptoms and health issues. Examples include erectile dysfunction, diminished libido, reduced bone mass, fatigue, mood swings and more. It was always thought that losing weight and exercising regularly can help combat testosterone deficiency. Yet it has now come to light that the diet you go on makes all the difference. You’ve probably heard of the new fad of high fat diets such as Keto and Atkins, which is why we wanted to explore the relationship between low fat and low testosterone.
A new study recently published showed that having a low-fat diet might actually cause a drop in testosterone levels.
What is a low-fat diet?
Following a low-fat diet means cutting out total fat, unhealthy fat and cholesterol. It can often be helpful for those who have trouble digesting fat or for those with high cholesterol.
But there are different types of fat. Some fat is unhealthy and should be limited, whereas other types of fat are necessary and healthy.
Unhealthy fats have:
- Cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in meat, eggs and dairy and should be limited.
- Saturated fat. This should be less than 7% of your total daily calories. Butter, ice cream, cheese and whole milk are examples of foods high in saturated fat.
- Trans fat. This should be avoided as much as possible. It’s found in fried and baked foods.
Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats to help decrease cholesterol levels:
- Monounsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts, olive oil and sunflower oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils such as corn or soybean oil. Omega-3 fats may help reduce the risk of heart disease. These are found in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseed.
Researchers analyzed over 3,000 men between 18 and 80 years old. They had their testosterone monitored as well as their diets. The study focused on men on an nonrestrictive diet, men on a low-fat diet and men on a Mediterranean diet.
The study showed that the average serum testosterone level was 435.5 ng/dL. Men on the low-fat diet had an average of 411 ng/DL, while men on the Mediterranean diet had an average of 413 ng/dL. Adjustments were made to factor into account age, physical activity, body mass index, and medical conditions. After the adjustments, the low-fat diet still showed a significantly reduced level of serum testosterone. The Mediterranean diet did not show a reduction in testosterone levels.
Low-fat diet and testosterone levels
The results from the study show that those on the low-fat diet were more likely to experience low serum testosterone levels compared to men on the Mediterranean diet, and men on an nonrestrictive diet. Since testosterone is a steroid hormone derived from cholesterol, changes in fat intake is likely to change testosterone levels too. Nonetheless, the clinical significance of this study is still unclear. Further studies are clearly needed but the researchers said that it’s difficult to conduct large-scale dietary studies.
So far, the best diet for men with low testosterone levels is unknown. What we do know is that men who are looking to lose weight and have low or borderline T levels, need to take their fat intake into account – it might not be advisable to eliminate fats. Therefore, it’s important to build an individualized diet plan based on a patient’s characteristics and health conditions.