As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” A lot of our biology depends on our diet. This applies to testosterone as well. Of course, it’s just one of many factors, but diet can certainly affect the way your body produces testosterone.
Which foods should you avoid if you’re looking to optimize your diet for testosterone? Let’s find out.
How Do Foods Lower Testosterone?
While no one food can definitively cause you to have low T, several foods in your diet, eaten over a long enough timeline, can lead to lower testosterone than you would have otherwise.
A number of factors can alter your testosterone levels — things like quantity and quality of sleep, age, and family history. Diet is just one of them, and if you have a poor diet in conjunction with any of these other factors, it can have a cumulative effect on your ability to produce testosterone.
To that end, it’s good to look over these foods linked to lower testosterone and consider whether or not they have a place in your diet.
Which Foods Lower Testosterone?
While alcohol can be enjoyable in moderation, it doesn’t just have ill effects on your liver and no nutritional value to speak of; it also results in significant reductions to your testosterone levels.
When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and your stomach lining, and then it’s metabolized in the liver. However, the liver produces albumin, a protein which binds to testosterone and makes it effectively unavailable. And when liver function is impaired, testosterone production goes down as a result.
If you’re looking for the highest return on a single diet change, alcohol may be the best place to start. It has the least amount of nutritional value of all the testosterone-killing foods on this list and, when combined with sugary drinks in mixed drinks, can lead to even further deficits in testosterone production.
Generally, humans have a hard time digesting dairy. And some more than others: lactose-intolerant humans are not, of course, recommended to eat dairy in their diet whatsoever.
Even if you’re not lactose-intolerant, though, dairy can still have a negative effect on your testosterone levels.
Much of this has to do with the way we factory-farm milk in the United States, with dairy farming practices for commercial milk involving genetically modified cows that produce estrogen-high milk throughout the year. Whether through implants or genetic modification, dairy cows produce higher than normal rates of estrogen, which carries over into the milk.
To that end, if testosterone is a concern for you, the consensus is generally to avoid milk products.
Pasta, Sugar & Other Refined Carbs
Pasta and sugar are what’s known as refined carbohydrates: those carbs that are digested quickly by the body, releasing insulin into the body. Other foods that fall into the refined carbohydrate category include foods like: muffins, cookies, most breads, tortillas — you get the idea.
However, this insulin release is quick and substantial, which can lead to the body developing a greater insulin resistance than it needs. When insulin levels spike, testosterone levels can steadily decline, resulting in lower testosterone overall.
Moreover, like many of the other foods mentioned in this list, the same foods that kill testosterone are the ones that lead to obesity. A diet rich in sugar and refined carbs can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is associated with lower testosterone levels.
In addition to triggering a sharp insulin response, high-calorie foods rich in refined carbohydrates lead to greater fat stores in the body if they’re not burned off quickly.
To that end, it’s best if you try to limit your consumption of low-quality carbs, pasta and refined sugars. On a long enough timeline, it may not just trim you down; it might also give you more testosterone.
Soy and products that contain soy have long been touted as foods that kill testosterone. While their effects are not as pronounced as some may imply, the science behind it is sound: soy products are high in phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring sources of estrogen.
When you eat these products, you are taking in that estrogen, leading to a commensurate decline in testosterone levels. Edamame, soy sauce, and a lot of processed foods that contain soy, when eaten in sufficient enough quantities, can result in lower testosterone levels. This has been borne out in several small sample studies, including this one that showed decreased T in rats.
Though it won’t be the be-all, end-all of your testosterone woes, cutting out soy milk, miso soup, tofu, meat replacements and other sources of soy can help reduce your T level deficits.
Processed Foods and Meats
Factory farming doesn’t just raise the testosterone-killing risks of milk and dairy – the low quality meat that comes from factory farms can also result in lower testosterone. Processed meats are often sprayed with hormone treatments and antibiotics to preserve them, which can then wreak havoc on your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
In one study, men who ate higher than normal levels of processed meats saw a 15% decrease in their testosterone levels, and a 37% decrease in their sperm count.
How to Avoid T-Killing Foods
Foods high in nutritional value such as fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates are generally good options for a diet intended to increase testosterone levels. Focus on eating lean meats, avoiding processed food, and pair your diet with a sensible exercise plan and other lifestyle changes.
On a long enough timeline, reducing foods associated with lower testosterone and adding foods associated with higher testosterone (like turmeric) can lead to improved results in body composition, mood, cognition, and even sexual performance.
Is It Enough?
Retooling your eating habits can certainly improve your testosterone to some degree; however, diet alone may not be enough.
If you want a more robust testosterone therapy program, or even just want to know what your current testosterone levels are, it’s best to seek out a wellness professional.
Renew Vitality is always available for consultation and exam to determine your testosterone levels; if you need help, we can help create a wellness plan that works for your individual hormone needs. Get in touch here.
This content was reviewed by Dr. Gary Kawesch. Dr. Kawesch graduated from Yale University, getting his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He then got his medical degree at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at USC’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and his ophthalmology residency at the UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. For over 18 years, Dr. Kawesch was one of the foremost ophthalmic surgeons in the US and has consulted with and was a team doctor for seven professional sports teams in California. He continues to work with the Oakland Raiders. He trained with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and helps men increase their vitality, lifespan and overall healthspan.