Many men are looking for ways to improve their testosterone levels – they may suffer from Low T, or simply wish to improve their existing testosterone levels as they naturally decline through age. While there are hormone treatments and other therapies to improve testosterone levels, there are also simple methods for naturally encouraging your body’s production of testosterone.
One of these is intermittent fasting – the simple act of occasionally skipping meals and refraining from eating for short periods of time. It is said that intermittent fasting can naturally increase one’s testosterone levels, and it has taken off in the health and fitness communities in the last few years. But is there any basis to its claims of weight loss and increased testosterone production? Let’s find out.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Most people in modern societies consume food at least three times a day – breakfast, lunch, dinner – with some light snacking in between. However, the modern diet has led to overconsumption of food, which can lead to metabolic issues like insulin resistance, additional body fat, and so forth, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle.
Enter intermittent fasting – a revised eating pattern in which people go for extended periods of time, typically between 16 to 48 hours, without eating, on a regular basis. These periods of fasting are interrupted by cycles of eating; many subscribed to a 16/8 method of fasting, where one only eats for an eight-hour period throughout the day, fasting for the remaining sixteen hours (eight of which are covered by your natural sleep cycle, of course). While other intermittent fasting patterns exist, the 16/8 model is one of the most popular.
During fasting periods, you are not allowed to take in any food, but non-caloric beverages like tea, water and coffee are permitted.
DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING BOOST TESTOSTERONE?
While intermittent fasting is frequently cited as a weight loss tactic, others claim it also has the ability to improve the natural testosterone production of a human body as well. This claim is backed up by some significant research; in one study on the sex hormone and gonadal function of rats, intermittent fasting was shown to increase testosterone levels in male subjects.
Keep in mind, though, that longer fasts for subjects have actually been shown to decrease testosterone levels; one study showed that someone on their third day of fasting started to see lower levels of testosterone, while another showed that 84-hour fasts corresponded to lower secretion of luteinizing hormones (LH).
HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING IMPROVE T LEVELS?
While the research on intermittent fasting and its impact on testosterone levels is ongoing, some studies have already demonstrated links between intermittent fasting and optimizing natural testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase the testosterone precursor luteinizing hormone (LH). One study on intermittent fasting in non-obese men hoping to improve testosterone showed that fasting LH nearly 67%, boosting overall testosterone by a whopping 180%. This is just over the course of one short-term fast; longer-term periods of intermittent fasting could result in even higher rates of testosterone boosting.
Intermittent fasting can also encourage testosterone’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity. This is why intermittent fasters tend to skip breakfast; not long after waking, the body’s own circadean rhythms tend to lead to a spike in the body’s cortisol production. When people have higher levels of testosterone, this spike leads to greater insulin production, which encourages a swift drop in the body’s blood glucose levels. This makes you feel hungrier than you might normally be, encouraging you to eat more for breakfast, taking in additional calories.
When you skip breakfast, you more closely regulate those insulin, cortisol and blood glucose levels when they need the most help.
Intermittent fasting gives you more fat-burning opportunities throughout the day. One of the fastest ways to naturally increase T production levels is to lose body fat. Both free and SHBG-bound testosterone are inversely linked to insulin and body fat levels; the less body fat you have, the higher your ability to naturally produce more testosterone.
Through intermittent fasting, you can more quickly encourage your body to burn off body fat, which in turn improves your testosterone production.
Intermittent fasting increases adiponectin production in the body. Adinopectin is a protein hormone that relates largely to the regulation of glucose levels, not to mention breaking down fatty acids. Adiponectin levels out during fasting, which improves insulin sensitivity, which then further encourages the conditions within the body that promote testosterone production. In fact, one study has shown that adiponectin has actually reversed insulin resistance in mice, making it a powerful weapon in the quest to improve testosterone levels.
Growth hormone levels have increased dramatically even with quick 24-hour fasts. Growth hormone (GH) and T levels are very closely correlated – they’re both anabolic hormones that improve the muscles’ ability to absorb glycogen, facilitate protein synthesis, and heighten training capacity. One study indicates that one’s GH levels can increase by up to 2000% with just one day of fasting.
ARE THERE OTHER BENEFITS TO INTERMITTENT FASTING?
In addition to using short-term fasts to increase your testosterone, intermittent fasting can carry other benefits as well. Fasting reduces our blood sugar and insulin levels, and also vastly reduces various risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more. Some studies indicate that intermittent fasting not only offers effective restriction of calories, it can help you live longer. Fasting has also been shown to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even if intermittent fasting didn’t have the effects on testosterone production that it does, these are some very good reasons to give it a try
If you’re looking for natural, easy ways to optimize your testosterone levels, intermittent fasting is a highly recommended option. There’s no need to go extreme with your fast; don’t worry as much about counting how many hours you fast. Sometimes, all you need is to skip breakfast and wait to eat until lunchtime. Just make sure that you consult with your doctor or a wellness professional before embarking on any kind of change in your diet or exercise.
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.