Intermittent Fasting For Testosterone
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
Intermittent fasting has seen tremendous gains as an effective solution for weight loss and overall health improvement in recent years, yet many remain unaware that intermittent fasting may also boost testosterone levels?
Testosterone plays an essential part in men's health and wellbeing, impacting muscle mass and bone density as well as sexual drive and mood.
When we fast, our bodies go into ketosis where fat begins being broken down as fuel for energy use instead.
Fat burning processes trigger an release of testosterone as part of their natural response for protecting muscle mass, with intermittent fasting playing an additional part in increasing insulin sensitivity, which has an indirect impact on testosterone production.
How does it actually work? How does testosterone and intermittent fasting relate? Is there any truth to these claims? Let's find out.
- What is an intermittent fasting?
- The science behind intermittent fasting
- Does intermittent fasting affect testosterone?
- The benefits of intermittent fasting
- Different intermittent fasting protocols
- Myths and misconceptions of intermittent fasting
- Intermittent fasting and exercise
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern in which periods of eating alternate with periods of not-eating, often for weight loss or to decrease body fat.
There are various variations of intermittent fasting; most involve restricting calories to an eight-hour window each day - for instance eating breakfast lunch and dinner during this window of time may help.
IF is an increasingly popular strategy among those trying to achieve weight loss or decrease body fat.
Intermittent fasting takes some adjustment time, with people experiencing hunger, fatigue and grogginess at first. Over time however, these side effects usually dissipate as your body adjusts to the new schedule.
Furthermore, water and zero-calorie beverages should be consumed during fasting sessions to stay hydrated.
Intermittent fasting may increase testosterone levels as well as promote fat loss, since it affects hunger hormone ghrelin to decrease appetite and increase metabolism while simultaneously increasing production of adiponectin which regulates fat levels and improves insulin sensitivity.
Some bodybuilders recommend intermittent fasting for bodybuilding because it can help them build muscle mass while simultaneously cutting fat and increasing testosterone.
However, excessive intermittent fasting may cause muscle loss; therefore, its use should only be combined with a balanced diet and workout routine for best results.
Science behind intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting has quickly become a popular weight-loss diet and may help promote bodybuilding.
While its direct impact on testosterone levels remains to be established, intermittent calorie control is known to have multiple positive influences on multiple body systems and hormones involved in fat loss and muscle building processes, potentially having an indirect positive influence on healthy testosterone levels.
Ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") is released by your stomach lining during fasting periods and can make you feel hungry, making intermittent fasting an effective tool to suppress appetite and make adherence easier to a low-calorie eating plan.
Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress (an imbalance between antioxidant molecules and free radicals) which damages cells leading to premature aging, disease, and cancer development.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) include increasing insulin sensitivity, which may help prevent diabetes, as well as helping your body use fat as fuel instead of sugar, which is key for building lean muscle mass and burning fat.
During these periods of fasting, you can drink non-caloric beverages, while helping to put your body into ketosis. (Ketosis is when your body does not have enough carbohydrates to use for energy and instead uses fats, and makes ketones).
Does intermittent fasting affect testosterone?
Once considered a fad diet, intermittent fasting has since gained in popularity among health-minded individuals who embrace its weight loss potential.
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight quickly because it lowers ghrelin levels - the hormone released from fat cells in your stomach that promotes hunger and stimulates appetite - while simultaneously improving leptin sensitivity to help use up existing glucose stores more quickly while suppressing food cravings, helping maintain a healthier body fat composition which in turn can have a positive impact on hormone balance.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to boost adiponectin activity, increasing insulin sensitivity and encouraging the production of testosterone. Furthermore, intermittent fasting can reduce chronic inflammation and cortisol production which are both linked with low testosterone.
Though intermittent fasting has many advantages, it should be remembered that its effects don't directly lead to or increase testosterone levels.
When drastically cutting back calorie consumption, your body goes into starvation mode and starts prioritizing survival functions over producing testosterone - meaning production often decreases.
For optimal testosterone production results, try weight training in combination with eating healthy proteins and fats, taking adequate vitamin D supplementation and sleeping for at least 7-9 hours every night - these will all work wonders!
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can help increase testosterone levels through various means. First, it can reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Additionally it promotes muscle growth through ketogenesis (the production of fatty acids and ketones to reduce body fat and increase protein synthesis); it may even improve gut health by encouraging beneficial bacteria growth. Furthermore it enhances healing via autophagy cellular healing processes.
Intermittent fasting may also help lower ghrelin and raise adiponectin levels - two hormones which regulate metabolism and appetite - making it easier to adhere to a healthy diet and shed unwanted weight, which in turn may boost testosterone production indirectly.
Finally, intermittent fasting may enhance hormone functions related to testosterone production such as LH (Leydig Hysterin Hormone). LH plays a key role in testosterone production from Leydig cells of testicles.
Intermittent fasting has the ability to positively affect testosterone levels by decreasing oxidative stress, encouraging muscle growth, increasing insulin sensitivity, and decreasing cortisol.
Furthermore, intermittent fasting has been shown to boost adiponectin production - a hormone which enhances your body's ability to utilize glucose for decreased blood sugar levels as well as reduce triglycerides and cholesterol.
Weight loss is another crucial part of increasing testosterone levels - therefore considering intermittent fasting alongside resistance training and healthy diet will provide additional advantages.
Different intermittent fasting protocols
There are various intermittent fasting protocols available, so it's essential that you find one that best fits with your lifestyle and your individual goals.
Studies have proven intermittent fasting can help people both lose weight and improve their overall health.
But choosing an effective fasting schedule and eating the appropriate calories on non-fast days are crucial components to its success.
Here, we explore some of the most successful intermittent fasting plans with tips to make informed choices based on your own individual goals and lifestyle needs.
The 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule is popular because it's straightforward and lets you customize your eating window according to your personal needs and work schedule.
Your window can be as wide or narrow as desired; just ensure that it doesn't extend beyond 10 hours each day (eating between 10am-6pm for the 16/8 plan or 7am-8pm for 14/10 plans). Incorporate low-calorie or no-cal beverages like water and black/green tea into this timeframe!
An alternate-day fasting diet provides another solution, combining the advantages of both 16/8 and 5:2 intermittent fasting diets while capping your caloric intake to 500 daily on two out of seven fasting days a week. On your non-fasting days you should still indulge in healthy food options!
As a beginner to intermittent fasting, it's wise to start gradually and gradually increase your eating window if possible, as hunger pangs may become challenging to overcome.
Furthermore, be sure to eat a varied and well-balanced diet including plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats in order to remain comfortable throughout your fasting period.
One option would be to fast for 12 hours every day by forgoing breakfast and lunch and only eating dinner - this method may prove especially helpful for people who tend to snack throughout the nighttime hours, giving them time to consume enough calories during sleep time.
Another popular method is following the 5:2 diet, or eating normally five days out of seven while following modified fasts two other times each week. This approach has proven highly successful at improving insulin sensitivity and losing weight.
Some people choose a combination of intermittent fasting and normal eating habits known as time-restricted feeding, which has been shown to aid weight loss, nutrient intake and blood sugar regulation as well as better hormone regulation including testosterone levels.
Intermittent calorie restriction does not directly impact testosterone levels; however, it can indirectly do so by decreasing body fat levels. This in turn leads to an increase in free testosterone that promotes muscle growth and healthily maintains metabolism.
Furthermore, intermittent calorie control has been proven to boost LH levels which stimulate testes production of and release of sperm from testis.
Myths and misconceptions about intermittent fasting
Testosterone is an essential hormone for both muscle development and fat reduction - two key elements of physical fitness.
Furthermore, testosterone plays an integral part in maturation of male genitalia and secondary characteristics such as facial and body hair growth in men.
Testosterone levels are controlled by LH released by the pituitary gland; fasting has been proven to increase LH levels directly resulting in enhanced testosterone synthesis; however further research needs to be completed in humans before definitive results can be established.
One of the common misperceptions about intermittent fasting (IF) is that it involves "starvation". But this couldn't be further from reality; most IF practitioners still consume enough calories to meet healthy diet standards while doing it more slowly over a set time frame (e.g. 8 hours).
This allows the body to use its own fat stores as energy and prevent insulin spikes that lead to sugar storage and weight gain.
Furthermore, intermittent fasting (IF) enables individuals to benefit from eating whole food rich in nutrient density such as fiber-rich vegetables with few carbohydrates, low amounts of carbohydrates and protein and good fats - thus improving insulin sensitivity, blood glucose levels, sleep quality and mental clarity as well as hormone balance - while helping prevent premature aging by slowing free radical production.
Exercise and Intermittent Fasting
Physical exercise is beneficial to the body in several ways. It helps build muscles, increase strength and endurance, burn fat and promote health - though, like intermittent fasting, it must be balanced correctly.
Too much physical exercise could lead to mental fogginess, weakness, exhaustion or injury while too little exercise makes losing weight and staying healthy difficult.
Ideal, exercise should take place within your eating window for maximum effectiveness; however, this is often impractical for many people. If working out during fasted states is something you want to try, choose low-intensity workouts and attempt to complete them by the end of your eating window.
As with any physical activity, exercising while fasting requires keeping in mind certain considerations.
First of all, if you have any health conditions or take medications that might interfere with exercise (for instance blood pressure medication) then it's wise to consult your physician prior to beginning.
When fasting for extended periods, it is wise to plan your meals in advance so you have sufficient fuel for exercise - otherwise your body could begin storing fat instead of using it for energy production.
If you suffer from digestive issues, exercising while fasting may not be recommended as it could irritate the stomach and worsen symptoms.
When used correctly and combined with a low-calorie diet and rigorous physical training, intermittent fasting (IF) can make weight loss and muscle gains much simpler.
Some believe IF can also raise testosterone levels directly; however, many researchers find evidence linking its effects indirectly via other hormones and body systems.
Leptin, for instance, is a hormone that signals to your body to stop eating since there are enough fat stores available as fuel.
Increased body fat impairs its effectiveness and heightens cravings for food; making weight loss harder. Intermittent fasting improves leptin sensitivity while suppressing appetite allowing weight loss without feeling hungry or deprived.
Another example is adiponectin, a hormone released by fat cells to control glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity in other tissues.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to increase adiponectin levels, helping reduce blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance - both factors can contribute to weight loss while simultaneously increasing testosterone.
Intermittent fasting has also been found to reduce inflammation by limiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreasing cortisol, both hormones which can contribute to oxidative stress that has been shown to decrease testosterone.
Fasting can also assist cellular healing through activating autophagic process removing damaged cells and toxins as well as positively altering gut microbiota by increasing beneficial bacteria counts in your gut microbiome.
When calories are drastically decreased, the body goes into starvation mode and prioritizes essential functions over hormone production such as LH. Production will slow significantly.