The keto diet and testosterone
Increasingly people are discussing the keto diet and testosterone to address a worldwide decline in men’s testosterone levels. Compared to their grandpa’s generation, testosterone have fallen by as much as 20%. Not only that, but estrogen levels are rising, further compounding the problem.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone – primarily associated with men. (Estrogen is the hormone primarily associated with women.) Both men and women produce testosterone and estrogen – although men produce about ten times the amount of testosterone and women produce much higher amounts of estrogen than men.
A hormone is a chemical messenger in the body. Hormones are made in different parts of the body, and once made, they themselves travel to other parts of the body where they help determine how cells, organs and vital biological processes work. (One well-known hormone is insulin that’s made by the pancreas and helps us regulate blood sugar.)
Testosterone plays a vital role in men
Testosterone plays many vital roles in men, including:
- Muscle size, strength and growth
- Bone growth, mass and strength
- Penis and testes development
- Deepening of the voice during puberty
- Facial hair and, maybe, a role in balding
- Sex drive
- Sperm production
- Erection quality
- Red blood cell production
- Fat distribution
- May help regulate normal mood
- Energy levels
In short, testosterone is absolutely crucial for male health and well-being.
However, testosterone levels are declining in men today. Compared to men of a just couple of decades ago, today’s males show a 20% fall in average testosterone levels. That’s a massive drop.
What causes of low testosterone?
There are many causes of low testosterone including:
- Natural ageing
- Diet (in particular estrogenic foods)
- Illness (especially Type 2 diabetes), injury or disease
- Stress (specifically the stress hormone, cortisol)
- Lack of quality sleep
- Environmental factors (e.g. pesticides, pollution, plastics)
For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on #2, Diet.
Whilst many men who have low testosterone may seek out testosterone replacement therapy, the fact is, there is a high chance that you can reverse low testosterone by changing what you eat.
Keto diet and testosterone – Mistake #1: Eating soy or grains in any form
So whether it’s whether a food comes from soybean, whether it comes from wheat, rice, oats, corn, amaranth, millet, quinoa – any of these things – they are going to have estrogen like properties.
Soy and grain are examples of phytoestrogens. There are foods that are naturally high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are chemically similar to estrogen (“the female hormone”) and may mimic its effects and increase estrogen levels in your body or can inhibit the production of testosterone.
If you’re trying to maintain or boost your testosterone levels (as most men over 30 should be), you need to avoid estrogenic foods . (Whilst men and women have both testosterone and estrogen if they are out of balance – too much estrogen in men, for example – it can be problematic.)
Soy and grain will tend to keep your blood sugar and your serum glucose insulin level spiked which also will lower your testosterone production.
If you’re trying to optimize your health and optimize your testosterone levels, avoid soy and grains.
Keto diet and testosterone – Mistake #2: Eating anything low-fat, fat free or skimmed
Testosterone is actually made from cholesterol! Eating lots of good healthy fats, lots of animal fats, will actually help you naturally increase your production of testosterone, which is good.
You can increase your testosterone by eating lots of good-quality fatty meat, lots of good healthy animal fats, by cooking in animal fats like lard, dripping, ghee, butter and other healthy fats.
For years we’ve been lied to about fat. Fat is good for you. Low-fat or n0-fat is not.
So stop buying any food that says fat-free or low-fat or skimmed on the label as that is not good for your health. It’s not going to help you lose weight and it’s going to keep your testosterone level from being as high as it could be.
Keto diet and testosterone – Mistake #3: Snacking or eating multiple meals a day
The longer you fast, the higher your testosterone level will tend to be. Fasting is good for raising your testosterone levels, and it’s the cheapest way(!) to raise your testosterone levels.
A popular fasting protocol is to have a fasting period of 16 hours and a period where you can eat of 8 hours, known as 16:8. Some people will go 18:6 or 22:2.
Whatever method you choose, periods of not eating allow your body to clear out the excess insulin and to get eliminate any phytoestrogens and tend to increase your testosterone level.
So stop eating three meals a day (and snacking in between). That’s a terrible strategy for weight loss and it’s also a terrible strategy for raising your testosterone levels.
Mistake #4: Eating sugar or sweeteners of any kind
We’re talking about testosterone levels here so even if a sweetener is keto-friendly (e.g. erythritol) or doesn’t kick you out of ketosis, it may still not be testosterone friendly.
Fruit, honey, agave nectar… these sweets are going to spike your blood sugar, which is going to cause an immediate spike in your insulin level. This breaks any fast that you may have had going puts a halt to increasing your testosterone level.
If you eat enough sugary snacks during the day or drink enough soft drinks or fruit juices to keep your blood sugar and your insulin spiked all day, you’re going to wind up with a lower testosterone level.
In fact, many experts in the area of optimizing testosterone think that it’s directly related to the amount of sugar you eat: sucrose, fructose, glucose, even lactose (found in low-fat/fat-free products) – they believe, are making our testosterone levels lower.
This makes sense. When you look at the diets of just a couple of generations ago, they had drastically less sugar than we do today; low-fat, fat-free options were unheard of; and they ate a lot more animal fat. The result? Obesity and diabetes were uncommon and men’s testosterone levels were much higher than men’s T-levels today.
Cut out the sugar, cut out the dumb sugary snacks, and get rid of the soft drinks – they’re keeping your testosterone low and also making you overweight, inflamed and ill.
Mistake #5: Eating or drinking from warm/heated plastic
Plastic contamination may be damaging men’s testosterone levels. Studies have shown that what you eat – and what you eat from, e.g. plastic – can contribute to lower testosterone.
Plastic at room temperature is fairly stable but when it’s gone above room temperature, e.g. microwaved foods, drinks left in cars, some takeaway containers and so on, that’s when it can be problematic.
Avoid eating or drinking anything in contact with plastic that has come from the microwave; has been sitting in the sun or where hot food or liquid comes into contact with plastic (or styrofoam) directly.
When you warm up plastic, you’re releasing and consuming estrogen-like molecules from the plastic. Fatty foods, particularly meats and cheeses, seem more prone to absorbing high amounts of these chemicals. These molecules will lower your testosterone so they should be avoided at all cost.
Long-term exposure to plastic in general may be a problem.Among the more troubling chemicals in plastics are phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Both are endocrine disrupters, which are substances that interfere with the actions of human hormones
Phthalates and bisphenol A
Phthalates is actually a male reproductive toxicants – it’s positively harmful to men. It’s often used to baby toys, food processing equipment, cosmetics, medical devices and building products, in addition to other items.
The plastic BPA is often used to line the inside of food storage cans and other containers. BPA has been known to show up in urine tests yet While there has been some controversy about how harmful BPA may be, it has been found in urine tests and its long-term effects are still not fully known.
While these two chemicals get the most attention, there are many other chemicals in plastics that may be related to health problems, including processing aids, antioxidants, and colorants, says Dr. Hauser.
Some plastics are designated “microwave-safe” but we would still advise against using them. For manufacturers to get FDA approval that a plastic is “microwave-safe”, they only need to show the amount of chemicals leaching from the container into the food is estimated to be lower than the maximum allowable amount. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee safety. So, sometimes it’s better to err on the side of caution and it’s a good idea to avoid heating foods in plastic.
So, when it comes to the keto diet and testosterone, following these tips can naturally raise your testosterone level from 100 to 250 points. This can be enough to resolve many of the health issues you may be experiencing as a result of low-T.
- Eliminate soy and grain
- Avoid low-fat, no-fat and skimmed products
- Stop eating too often/snackiing
- Eliminate sugar
- Don’t eat or drink from heated plastic
And what’s more, you can do this without expensive testosterone replacement therapy (which also has significant side-effects). You will also probably lose some fat, gain some muscle and improve your energy levels.
So please memorize these five dietary mistakes and stop making them. And tell the men in your life about these mistakes if you see them doing these things. They lower testosterone and low testosterone makes many men’s lives miserable.