Is your low-fat diet lowering your testosterone levels?

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New research has confirmed the importance of dietary fat for anyone wanting to build muscle faster. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University analysed the effects of different nutrients on testosterone levels [1]. Because testosterone and muscle growth are connected, they were trying to establish which types of diet would be most effective at raising testosterone.

While the researchers found a strong link between protein and testosterone (highlighting the importance of getting enough protein in your diet), they were also surprised to find a connection between dietary fat and testosterone. In other words, as fat in the diet dropped, so did testosterone! Obviously, if you’re training to build muscle, low testosterone levels will slow down your progress.

So, make sure not to cut all fat from your diet. If your diet is too low in fat (especially the monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olives, avocados and pecans), then your testosterone levels will also plummet. Aim to consume around 30% of your total calories each day in the form of good fats. Maybe the Atkins approach of high fat, high protein was not only good for dieting, but also good for testosterone levels?

Studies also show that one of the best ways to raise your testosterone levels is to eat more. Most forms of low-calorie diet will lower testosterone levels. After all, if your body thinks there is no food, there’s no need to reproduce or have the ability to do so. A good example comes from an intriguing study of US Army Rangers taking part in an eight-week training course [2].

The soldiers were exposed to numerous sources of physical and mental stress, including a lot of physical activity, sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme temperatures. The eight-week course involved 7-10 days of normal feeding, followed by 7-10 days of extreme calorie restriction, where the soldiers were given just one meal a day.

Over the course of the study, the average daily calorie deficit was 1,200 calories. In other words, the soldiers were burning off 1,200 calories per day more than they ate. Such an extreme drop in calorie intake, especially when you don’t have that much fat to lose in the first place, is virtually guaranteed to lead to a loss of muscle.

Five weeks after the course ended and normal eating habits were resumed, total testosterone levels were almost 20% higher than before the men had started the course. Free testosterone (the “active” form of testosterone) was also higher than normal. This period of gluttony after the course finished is probably responsible for this large rise in testosterone.

A calorie deficit will inevitably lead to a drop in testosterone levels, no matter whether the deficit is created using diet or exercise. If you’ve been dieting for an extended period of time and you’re concerned that testosterone levels are on the wane, now might be a good time to add an extra 500-1,000 calories to your diet each day. Maybe that’s why dieting makes most people so crabby and depressed – a drop in testosterone levels?

So if you are dieting to lose fat, what can you do to keep testosterone levels high?

Key testosterone raising tips are:

  1. Get enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours.
  2. Avoid intense training for more than 45-60 mins.
  3. Look at taking a strong Tribulus product
  4. Take ZMA. A unique mineral combination that has been shown in research to increase optimum testosterone levels.
  5. If you’re dieting, have a cheat day once a week, maybe Sunday, where you eat what you want. Not only will this keep your bodies metabolism from slowing down, but it will keep testosterone higher.
  6. Take Maxi-EFA. An excellent combination of essential fatty acids, omega 3 & 6 and GLA from Borage oils – healthy fats essential to supporting health and optimum testosterone levels.

References
1. Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Bush JA, Incledon T, Boetes M. (1997). Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 82, 49-54
2. Friedl, K.E., Moore, R.J., Hoyt, R.W., Marchitelli, L.J., Martinez-Lopez, L.E., & Askew, E.W. (2000). Endocrine markers of semistarvation in healthy lean men in a multistressor environment. Journal of Applied Physiology, 88, 1820-1830

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admin   |.
Good article.. but how much Zinc can you absorb??
david field   |.
excellent article
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