Testosterone is one of the key reproductive hormones that plays a vital role in the human body. In men, it is most notably known as being responsible for muscle growth, strength, regulating sex drive, and sperm production. A healthy balance of testosterone hormone levels is necessary to maintain optimal physical and sexual health.
Studies in male aging have shown that testosterone levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood with levels naturally fluctuating as men age for a variety of personal and environmental factors. One factor that is often overlooked is dietary patterns. Eating the right foods can help promote testosterone production while eating the wrong foods can lead to lower levels of testosterone.
While there is no magic food that will immediately boost your testosterone levels, there are certain foods that can have a negative impact on your testosterone levels. Here are 12 foods that will kill your Testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced mainly in the testicles and ovaries in women. It is responsible for the development of male characteristics, such as facial hair and a deep voice. Testosterone levels typically peak during adolescence and early adulthood. After that, they gradually decline with age.
There are two main types of testosterone: free and total testosterone. Free testosterone is the active form of the hormone and is not bound to any proteins in the blood. Total testosterone includes both free testosterone and testosterone that is bound to proteins. The majority of testosterone in the blood is bound to protein, which makes it inactive.
Both free testosterone and total testosterone are important for male health. However, free testosterone is thought to be the more important of the two. This is because only free testosterone can bind to and activate receptors in cells. As a result, free testosterone has a direct impact on various body processes, such as muscle growth and sex drive. In contrast, total testosterone has a indirect influence on these processes through its impact on free testosterone levels.
Here are some of the major responsibilities of testosterone in men:
- Regulating libido
- Increasing muscle mass
- Regulating metabolism and fat distribution
- Increase in strength
Yup, you read that last part correctly. Testosterone is what leads to Estrogen levels in men. Testosterone will convert into Estrogen via the Aromatase enzyme. This is vital to male health, and heaving zero Estrogen is extremely unhealthy.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
In men, you would expect healthy testosterone levels to be anywhere between 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). That said, most men past the age of 30 will begin to see a reduction in Testosterone levels. The symptoms of low Testosterone are:
- Fat gain and muscle loss
- Decrease in libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Failure to reach orgasm
- Depression and anxiety
Overall, the symptoms literally make you feel “less like a man”. While there are TRT clinics available online that can certainly help you increase Testosterone once again, you can certainly do your part as well.
Foods that Kill Testosterone
1. Soy & Soy-Based Products
Soy is a plant-based protein that contains isoflavones, a compound that is similar to the hormone estrogen (the dominant female sex hormone). In fact, it functions as a mild estrogen in the body.
Eating high soy or soy-based foods like tofu, edamame, soy milk, soy protein isolates and tempeh has been linked to disruption of testosterone. One study involving human participants found that those who ate the most soy-based foods had reduced testosterone levels compared to those who rarely or never ate soy.
It’s not entirely clear how soy affects testosterone levels, but it may be due to the fact that soy can inhibit enzymes needed for testosterone production or because isoflavones can bind to testosterone receptors, making it inaccessible.
So, if you want to maintain good testosterone levels, it’s best to limit your intake of soy-based foods.
2. Dairy Products Kill Such as Milk, Cheese, Etc.
We’ve all heard the the saying “drink your milk” so you can grow up to be big and strong. Yes, dairy products are a great source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients. But it may actually kill testosterone.
Dairy products, like whole milk, cheese, and yogurt, contain a various natural or synthetic hormones. Milk is also high in estrogen. Although this is the primary female sex hormone, men also have a small amount of estrogen in their bodies.
Too much estrogen can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. One study showed men who consumed higher amounts of dairy had lower testosterone levels.
So, if you want to keep your testosterone levels in check, it’s best to limit the intake of dairy products to low or moderate amounts.
You might not think that the drink you have after work or on the weekends could be affecting your testosterone. But, unfortunately, it can.
Excessive alcohol consumption can actually kill testosterone. Alcohol not only decreases testosterone production but it also causes testosterone levels to fluctuate greatly and can lead to other physiological problems.
In 2019, a review was published in the journal of Clinical Medicine that looked at the impact of alcohol on testosterone levels. The study had healthy men consume about a pint (16 fl. oz) of whiskey a day for 30 days. After only 72 hours, they saw testosterone levels decreased.
So, if you want to maintain healthy testosterone levels, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether.
Sugar is one of the worst offenders when it comes to foods that may be hurting your testosterone. It is perhaps the one food that is the easiest to over-consume and the hardest to avoid. Americans average about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is far more than the recommended amount.
Eating too much sugar has already been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. All of these conditions can lead to inflammation and a cause decrease in testosterone production.
As an herbal remedy, mint it is sometimes used to help with digestive issues and nausea. It is a common ingredient found in gum, candy, and mouthwash, mint has a strong flavor that can be refreshing.
But, did you know that mint may actually have a negative impact on your testosterone? A study published in the Journal of Andrology found that rats who were given spearmint (a type of mint) tea had significantly low testosterone levels than those who were not given the tea.
The exact reason for this is still unknown, but it may be due to the fact that it can inhibit enzymes needed for testosterone production or the presence of menthol. Menthol has been shown to have a binding effect on testosterone receptors, making it inaccessible for the testosterone.
More research is required, particularly on men, before any definitive conclusions can be made. Until more studies are done, a good mint substitute you can try is basil or rosemary.
6. Licorice Root
Licorice root is an herbal remedy that has long been used to treat a variety of conditions such as stomach pain, cough, and infections.
It’s also a common ingredient found in candy, chewing gum, and some cigarettes.
Although licorice root may have some health benefits, it can also have a negative impact on testosterone levels long-term. One small study showed that men who took 7 grams of licorice root per day for one week had significantly lower testosterone than those who did not take the herb. Testosterone levels returned to normal once they stopped taking licorice root.
The exact mechanism by which licorice root decreases testosterone levels is still unknown, but it is thought to be due to the presence of glycyrrhizic acid. This compound inhibits the release of testosterone from the testosterone-producing cells in the testes.
So, if you enjoy the occasional licorice-flavored treat, there’s no need to worry. But, if you’re taking licorice root in supplement form or eating large amounts of licorice-flavored candy, it’s best to cut back to avoid a decrease in testosterone.
7. Trans Fats
Trans fats, are a type of unsaturated fat that is created when liquid oils are turned into solid fats, such as margarine. They are often used in some of our favorite processed foods because they have a longer shelf life and are cheaper to produce than other types of fat.
Although trans fats may be convenient and packed with flavor, they come with a host of health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Additionally, trans fats have been shown to decrease the activity of enzymes needed for testosterone production. But it’s not just trans fats but also the foods containing them such as fried foods, cakes, pastries, cookies, and chips that can lead to lower testosterone levels.
A study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that men who ate a diet high in trans fats had testosterone levels that were lower than those who did not eat trans fats. The study also revealed a relationship between trans fat and testicular volume, in which men who ate a diet high in trans fats had smaller testicular function and volume.
The good news is that trans fats are no longer as common as they once were, but they can still be found in some processed foods. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure to check the labels of any processed foods you’re buying and avoid anything that contains high quantities of trans fats.
8. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil are common ingredients in many of our favorite processed foods. Because vegetable oils are high in polyunsaturated fats, they are often promoted as a healthy alternative to other types of fats. A 2019 study showed a relationship between polyunsaturated fats and testosterone levels, in which higher intake of these fats was associated with lowering testosterone levels within just an hour of consumption!
Additionally, vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. The problem is that most people consume too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance of too much omega-6 can also lead to lower free testosterone levels.
So, if you want to maintain adequate testosterone levels, it’s best to avoid processed foods that contain vegetable oils. Instead, opt for whole foods that are rich in healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, or coconut oil.
This might come as a surprise that flaxseed is on this list because it’s often marketed as a health food.
Flaxseed is a good source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. It’s also been linked to some health benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Although flaxseed has many health benefits, too much can be a testosterone killer.
Flaxseed contains a high concentration of lignans, which are plant-based chemicals that have weak estrogenic activity (this means they can bind to estrogen receptors and mimic the hormone’s activity). It’s thought that the plant estrogens found in flaxseed is what is responsible for the testosterone-lowering effects in the body.
A small study in 2001 looked at the effects of a low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet on men with prostate cancer. To their surprise, they found that the flaxseed-supplemented diet decreased testosterone levels.
If you’re going to eat flaxseed, make sure to limit your intake to one tablespoon per day. This will help ensure you don’t consume too many lignans and lower your testosterone.
Rice is a staple food in many cultures and is often eaten as part of a meal or as a side dish. It’s also a popular food for those on a gluten-free diet.
While rice does have some health benefits, such as being a good source of vitamins and minerals, some types of rice can actually be harmful to your testosterone levels.
A 2006 study found that men who ate white rice had reduced testosterone levels than those who did not eat rice. This is due to the fact that white rice is a high-glycemic food, which means it causes your blood sugar levels to spike.
While all types of rice can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, white rice tends to be the worst offender. So, if you want to keep your testosterone up, it’s best to limit your intake of white rice or replace it with a healthier alternative such as whole grain or wild rice. These two types of rice have a lower glycemic index, easier to digest, and are not as likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
11. Baked Goods
Baked goods are another food that can be detrimental to testosterone levels. This is because baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and pastries, are often high in sugar and refined carbs.
Like discussed earlier, foods high in sugar and refined carbs can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. And as we now know, spikes in blood sugar levels can lead to lower testosterone levels.
High sugar intake has been linked to lower testosterone levels in both animal and human studies. In one study, rats that were fed a high-sugar diet had decreased testosterone levels after just two weeks.
Another study in humans found that men who consumed more than 75 grams of sugar per day (the equivalent of about 3 candy bars) had lower testosterone plasma levels than those who consumed less sugar.
Additionally, refined carbs like those found in baked goods can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. These spikes can then lead to a drop in testosterone levels.
To keep your testosterone levels up, it’s best to avoid or limit your intake of baked goods. If you do want to indulge in a treat every now and then, make sure to choose one that is made with whole grain flour and doesn’t contain too much sugar.
Oysters are a type of shellfish that is often considered to be an aphrodisiac. This is because oysters are high in zinc, which is a mineral that plays a role in testosterone production.
While oysters do contain large amounts of zinc, they also contain a compound called cadmium. Cadmium is a heavy metal that can accumulate in the body and has been linked to lower testosterone levels. A new study published this year showed Cadmium exposure reduced testosterone levels. Although the study was done on rats, it does give us an indication of the strong effects cadmium has on testosterone levels.
So, while oysters may be good for your sex life, they may not be so good for your testosterone. If you want to eat oysters, make sure to limit your intake to no more than six per week. This will help minimize your exposure to cadmium and keep your testosterone levels up.
How do I increase Testosterone Levels?
So now that you have learnt the foods that kill Testosterone production, you might want to know how to simply increase your own production? Well, it’s actually really simple.
Regular exercise – especially weight training – has been shown to positively affect Testosterone levels. Increased activity level is the easiest and cheapest way of boosting your own Test levels.
If you’re looking for a way to boost testosterone naturally, regular exercise is a great place to start. There are a number of studies out that show that increased activity levels, especially weight training, can have a positive effect on your testosterone levels.
Best Exercises you can do at Home to Naturally Increase Testosterone:
- Bench press
- Pull-up and chin-up
The reason is that these exercises work multiple muscle groups at once and also require the use of heavy weights. This type of exercise has been shown to be the most effective in terms of boosting testosterone.
The important thing to remember about these exercises is that they work because not only does the amount of muscle mass recruited contribute greatly towards release testosterone, but it also makes your body stronger. It’s like building up an arsenal. So lift heavy!
Eat Healthy Foods
Eating a diet that is rich in healthy micronutrients and healthy foods will certainly aid in your Testosterone levels. Avoid fast food and highly processed foods as well. Instead, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Foods rich in Vitamin D and Zinc are especially beneficial for boosting testosterone. Both of these macro-nutrients work by increasing the production of testosterone in the body. So, if you’re looking to improve your testosterone levels, make sure you’re getting plenty of these nutrients in your diet.
How Vitamin D helps improve muscle growth
Finally, leafy greens are also great way to boost testosterone levels. This is because they contain high levels of magnesium, which has been shown to increase testosterone production.
The Surprising Link Between Magnesium and Testosterone associated dietary pattern
This was shown in a study from 2011 where both men of various athletic levels and sedentary men saw an increase in testosterone after supplementing with magnesium.
Both sleep and stress can affect Testosterone levels. If you do not sleep enough, your Testosterone levels will actually decrease significantly.
Getting enough sleep is key in maintaining balanced Testosterone levels. According to Dr. Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago, “The most important message is that sleep deprivation is not benign. It has profound effects on metabolism and endocrine function.” In her study, she found that men who slept only five hours a night had 60% less Testosterone than when they got a full eight hours of sleep. This decline was seen in as quick as one week!
If you fail to manage your stress levels, you will certainly run into low Testosterone levels. This is because when you’re stressed, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol actually works to decrease Testosterone production.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your cortisol levels in check naturally. Regular exercise is a great way to manage stress. Yoga and meditation are also excellent methods for relaxation. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try to take some time out for yourself to relax and de-stress. When it comes to your Testosterone levels, remember that both sleep and stress management are key. Get enough sleep and find ways to manage your stress in order to maintaining your Testosterone levels balanced.
No matter what is done, hormone levels will naturally decline with age. Decline is roughly 1% per year after the age of 30 is nothing to be alarmed about.
If you suspect your testosterone levels are dropping at a significantly higher rate than 1%, make sure to talk to your doctor. They can order blood tests to check your testosterone levels to determine whether you may require some additional help in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Other options to maintain normal testosterone levels are diet and making sure to limit the intake of foods on this list. While they may be delicious and offer some benefits, over-consumption of these foods can have negative effects on testosterone levels, so it’s best to avoid them or consume them in moderation.
In addition to avoiding these foods, you can also try to incorporate more natural testosterone-boosting foods, such as eggs, fatty fish, and certain types of nuts.
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