Food and Testosterone

Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. British Army Physical Training Instructor.  


Despite the fact that there are numerous benefits to having a balanced diet, it is also true that this can be tricky for many people.

However, if you can monitor your food intake and optimize it, this may benefit your hormonal balance.


This hormone is arguably the most important determinant of body composition and is responsible for many of the body's major functions.

A high level of testosterone has been shown to enhance performance and may even be a mitigating factor for the ills of ageing. 

What You Should Know About Testosterone

Testosterone is an androgen hormone, which helps promote growth of body hair and the strength and size of muscles. It also enhances sex drive and helps prevent bone disorders such as osteoporosis.

In men, testosterone is produced by the testes and the adrenal glands. In women, half of the testosterone is produced by the ovaries.

The other half is converted to androgens in the adrenals. However, as men age, this natural production of testosterone is reduced which can lead to numerous health complications.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

There are multiple ways to administer testosterone treatment. Some of these methods are injections, pills, patches, or gels.

If you are considering testosterone treatment, you should consult your health care provider before undergoing any of these options.

Testosterone therapy has been linked to an increased risk of infertility. Normally, infertility caused by testosterone treatment is reversible. However, for a small percentage of men, infertility is permanent.

There are other side effects to testosterone therapy. These include acne breakouts, other skin reactions, testicular dystrophy and enlarged prostates.

Men who take testosterone may also experience an increase in blood clots and heart attacks, although some studies have reported contradictory results.

Aside from the negative effects, there are many positive benefits to testosterone treatment. For instance, testosterone therapy can help improve a person's mood. People who have suffered from anxiety have reported a positive response to this treatment.

Testosterone also increases lean muscle mass and bone strength in men and women. It is important for males and females to have adequate levels of this hormone.

When using this medication, it is important to take it exactly as prescribed. Failure to do so can lead to abuse or dependency. Self administration of anabolic compounds from unlicenced sources can further increase the health risks.

Athletes and Hormone Balance

If you are an athlete, you should be aware of the hormones that are in your body. This can provide insight into your training and recovery. They should also eat enough calories to ensure optimal athletic performance.

Overtraining can throw off an athlete's hormone balance. Numerous studies have investigated hormones and overtraining syndrome.

Urhausen, A., et al. studied blood hormones as markers of overtraining in elite athletes. Cadegiani, FA., studied basal hormones, biochemical markers, and overtraining syndrome in female and male endurance athletes.

Athletes have increased concentrations of the growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1). Growth hormone is responsible for the growth and development of muscle mass, and IGF-1 stimulates systematic growth.

Endogenous steroids are important for muscle growth, energy storage, and recovery. During high-intensity exercise, cortisol levels increase.

The surge of adrenalin boosts the heart rate, which improves the oxygen supply to the muscles. However, a lack of sleep can inhibit the secretion of growth hormone.

Estradiol, one of the major hormones of women, is important for breaking down fat and controlling inflammation.

Female athletes' menstrual cycles are correlated with their bone mineral density. Therefore, it is critical for female athletes to maintain a balanced hormonal system.

The Importance of Nutrition For Athletes

Athletes need a well-rounded nutrition plan that includes a combination of macronutrients, minerals, and vitamins. In addition, they need to learn the importance of eating the right foods at the right time.

The nutritional needs of an athlete vary depending on their height, weight, and activity level. It is important to eat a balanced diet that contains the appropriate amount of micronutrients and carbohydrates.

Protein plays a key role in post-exercise recovery. Carbohydrates and fluids are also needed to enhance this recovery. Ideally, you should consume protein within one hour of exercise and carbohydrate and fluids between one and two hours. 

Nutritionists are able to recommend diet plans for athletes. Some sports require athletes to follow specific dietary guidelines. Others allow athletes to supplement their normal diet with sport-specific nutrition.

An ideal diet for an athlete should be high in protein, carbohydrates, and minerals. These foods can be found in a variety of foods, including meats, vegetables, and dairy products.

Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome in Sport

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) is a condition that may affect athletes in both males and females.

It is a result of a sustained mismatch between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure. The syndrome is associated with low body weight, psychological impairments, loss of menstrual function, reduced bone health, and increased risk of infections.

Symptoms can occur at caloric maintenance, at caloric deficit, and at caloric intake.

RED-S can be treated by a team of experts including the Sports Dietitian, the general practitioner, and other medical practitioners.

Affected individuals should undergo a thorough diagnosis, as symptoms of RED-S may vary depending on the severity of the condition.

Some of the symptoms include depression, decreased performance, and fatigue. In some cases, the condition may worsen into anxiety or depression.

Among active teens, low energy availability can lead to a variety of nutrient deficiencies, including low iron, low calcium, and low zinc.

These deficiencies can cause short stature, delayed puberty, and increased rates of stress fractures.

RED-S can also have long-term effects on an athlete's health, and it is important to identify low energy availability (LEA) risk factors early in order to prevent the condition. 

Numerous body systems are affected by low energy availability, including the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal system.

As with any disease, prevention is best. During training, it is important to plan a training schedule that takes into account other characteristics.

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LEA and Testosterone

The effect of dietary intake on changes in circulating testosterone concentrations has been studied.

This guide focus's on the nutrient-specific component of this equation. Athletes are prone to altering their dietary intake to compensate for the energy expenditure associated with their sport.

Low energy availability can reduce testicular testosterone production as seen in this 2019 study. Testosterone is vital for muscle and bone health, but its depletion can have a negative impact on performance, health, and quality of life. Fortunately, this can be prevented through proper dietary management.

There are two primary sources of energy in the human body: fat and carbohydrate. Fat contains more calories than carbohydrates (9kcals per g versus 4kcals per gram).

Thus, a proper diet consisting of a combination of both will help athletes achieve peak performance and improve overall health. In addition, low carbohydrate availability may limit normal physiological functions and decrease testosterone synthesis.  

Macronutrients and Testosterone

To maximize your testosterone levels, make sure to eat a whole food-based diet that includes a variety of proteins, healthy fats, and a few other key micronutrients. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin D, which you can get by spending more time outdoors.

You should avoid processed sugar. Most people are not getting enough potassium. If you don't have access to natural sources of the mineral, you should take a high-quality supplement.

Low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets have been associated with lower testosterone in men as outlined in this 2022 published study.

Although this relationship may be due to endocrine effects, more research is needed to fully understand the etiology.

Micronutrients and Testosterone

As you age, your testosterone levels will drop. Fortunately, a diet high in certain micronutrients can help address your hormone balance.

A high-dose zinc supplement can increase strength and libido. Zinc also helps regulate hormones and is essential for prostate health.

Men who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have trouble getting up and staying active. Deficiencies can lead to high blood pressure and cancer.

Vitamin D has been found to improve free testosterone levels. It also has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Another type of testosterone booster, d-aspartic acid, can increase sperm count and androgen levels. Studies on d-aspartic acid show that it increases testosterone by 42 percent when taken in three-gram-per-day doses.

Vitamin B6 is a potent vitamin complex that has been shown to safely boost testosterone levels. The supplement can be purchased in many forms. For example, there are tablets and liquid drops. 

Dietary fat

Dietary fat intake and changes in circulating testosterone concentrations have been investigated in a number of cross-sectional studies. Different studies have found conflicting results.

Some studies have suggested that dietary fat consumption increases serum testosterone, while others have suggested that low-fat diets decrease urinary testosterone. 

Testosterone is an important steroid hormone that is required for muscle and bone health.

Dietary fat is an important macronutrient for the hormonal system. Among the nutrients involved in regulating circulating testosterone are dietary cholesterol, polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids.

A recent systematic review found that a low-fat diet had a small to moderate effect on lowering total testosterone concentrations.

The study was conducted on healthy adult males. Testosterone levels were measured in each participant at the beginning of the study, as well as at the end of the study.

Both groups participated in a 10-week resistance training program. They were divided into quartiles of dietary fat intake, and the reference group was the lowest in each category.

Results of the quartile analyses showed that lower energy availability in athletes was associated with lower total testosterone concentrations. Men who were not energy-restricted had higher concentrations of testosterone than those who were. 

Although the results of this study suggest that a low-fat diet can decrease circulating testosterone, it is not clear how this may be achieved.

Therefore, further research is necessary to confirm this hypothesis. Also, a randomized controlled trial is needed to establish the effect of dietary manipulation on testosterone.

Obesity and Testosterone

Men and women with obesity have low testosterone levels. This is associated with a number of adverse health consequences, including increased risk of diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Testosterone is a crucial factor in lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis. It is also known to modulate neuroinflammation. It can also inhibit lipolysis in abdominal adipose tissue. In obese men, testosterone plays a central role in regulating adipose fat storage.

Low testosterone is also linked to metabolic diseases , including type 2 diabetes. The hormone can be converted into estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase. Estradiol is well known to have anti-inflammatory effects.


There are many different factors that can affect testosterone levels, including diet. Some foods have been shown to increase testosterone while others may actually lower it.

Eating certain foods can be very beneficial for your health, including increasing your testosterone. It is important to eat a balanced diet with the right nutrients and avoid foods that might not be good for your body.

Types of foods that can impact your testosterone levels include fried foods and processed foods. These can cause inflammation, clogging of arteries, and may even kill your hormones.

If you are interested in improving your testosterone, you can start by making sure you get enough vitamin D. This vitamin is commonly found in fatty fish.

Magnesium is another mineral that can affect your testosterone. In particular, almonds are a great source of magnesium.

Beef is a rich source of protein, zinc, and selenium. But you should be careful to choose lean cuts. 

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