Originally published: 06.JUL.2019
Last updated: 23.OCT.2023
What foods kill testosterone? Or is there such a thing? While there are no foods that have been found to directly reduce testosterone levels, there are several key food groups that can negatively impact your overall health. And poor health can often lead to lower testosterone levels. Some of the foods that might indirectly lead to lower testosterone levels include:
- Refined carbohydrates and sugars
- Vegetable oil
- Low-quality meat/processed foods
- Soy products
With insights from Dr. Robert Mordkin. Chief Urologist and U.S. Medical Director for LetsGetChecked, find out what’s true and false when it comes to testosterone, what is known to kill testosterone vs. what actually does, and how you can check in and test your testosterone levels.
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- Can Food Lower Testosterone in Men?
- What Foods Can Kill Testosterone?
- Can You Check Testosterone Levels From Home?
Can Food Lower Testosterone in Men?
Often referred to as low-T, low testosterone levels can be common from the age of 30-40 when levels start to slowly decrease. As well as age, other factors can impact hormone levels, including an unhealthy diet and/or lifestyle.
Diet can impact the production and secretion of hormones and different foods are associated with having an impact on our overall health. So while there are no foods that can directly impact testosterone levels, there are several foods that may incidentally lead to lower testosterone levels.
What Foods Can Kill Testosterone?
#1. Refined carbohydrates and sugars
White bread, pasta, and rice along with pastries and cakes are known as refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are those that are quickly digested by the body leading to a quick release of sugar and a spike in insulin.
Refined carbohydrates and sugars may cause testosterone decline, but this is connected to potential weight gain as opposed to the immediate effect of consuming refined carbohydrates.
Dr. Mordkin says:
"Refined carbs and sugars often lead to poor weight control. Obesity is the number one culprit in leading to low testosterone. Many weight management physicians and cardiologists espouse keto low carb diets for rapid and maintained weight loss and a positive side effect will typically be a rebound in testosterone levels."
#2. Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil is said to affect testosterone levels, but similarly to refined carbohydrates, this decline is connected to subsequent weight gain. Vegetable oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids - think olives, rapeseed, palm, or soybeans that are liquid at room temperature.
A high-fat diet may induce weight gain and high cholesterol which can impact testosterone levels but there are no definitive findings that highlight a connection between vegetable oil and low testosterone or male reproductive hormones.
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#3. Low-quality meat/processed foods
Low-quality meat that is believed to have been sprayed with hormone treatments and antibiotics for preservation purposes is said to trigger hormonal imbalances, though large-scale findings are inconclusive.
Processed meats and ready meals are said to be equally damaging to your hormones as they are high in sodium, calories, sugar, and, trans-fats, which offer a similar explanation as vegetable oil; ultimately potentially resulting in low testosterone levels.
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#4. Soy products
Soy products are said to affect testosterone, and possibly even reduce testosterone levels. However, studies have only been carried out on animals so the findings should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Soy products such as soy milk and yogurts, soya meat replacement products, tofu, miso soup, and edamame are high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring sources of estrogen found in certain food products. In men, eating products that are high in phytoestrogens is said to cause a decline in testosterone levels.
Dr. Mordkin says:
"A large proportion of studies use animals with low sample number groups, which indicates that further study is required. Having some soy milk in your morning coffee is not an issue, however, until there is further investigation into dairy replacements, moderation is key."
Alcohol consumption is linked to a myriad of negative health implications. Some studies claim that alcohol can wreak havoc on testosterone production, however, alcohol may affect all aspects of your health, not just testosterone.
When we consume alcohol, it is absorbed by the lining of the stomach and into the bloodstream. The liver metabolizes 90% of the alcohol you drink. Biologically inactive protein is bound to a protein called albumin which is produced in the liver. This logic is used as a claim that alcohol can cause a decline in testosterone production.
While drinking alcohol frequently isn’t beneficial for overall health, it is not the sole cause of declining testosterone.
Dr. Mordkin says:
"This is factually correct. In addition, other recreational practices such as smoking marijuana and taking opioids, even in moderate consumption have also been demonstrated to depress testosterone production."
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Can You Check Testosterone Levels From Home?
Low testosterone levels can result in many unfavorable symptoms in men, such as low sex drive and low mood. This is what makes it so important to stay in the know when it comes to your levels.
Testosterone levels are commonly measured by examining the blood for levels of testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). The free androgen index (FAI) determines the volume of bio-available testosterone in the blood. This is carried out by differentiating between bio-available testosterone and SHBG.
SHBG is a glycoprotein that binds itself to testosterone and transports inactive testosterone molecules around the body.
LetsGetChecked offers a number of male hormone tests that help you get a full comprehensive view of your hormonal health and expose any imbalances that may be holding you back.
Testosterone levels can be examined by a small blood sample, with online results available within 2-5 days. You should consider taking a male hormone test if:
- You are interested in learning more about your hormones
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You constantly feel run down
- You are body-building competitively
- You have previously taken anabolic steroids
- You are obese
- You have a family history of low testosterone
- You suffer from thyroid issues
Dr. Mordkin says:
“If testing shows low levels of testosterone, you should take steps to improve your overall health, followed by retesting in a few months to monitor for improvements. If low levels persist, more thorough evaluation of the hormonal axis should be considered under the guidance of an endocrinologist.
Testosterone levels may vary on an on-going basis depending on environmental or lifestyle changes. If you are experiencing low levels of testosterone, it is recommended that you test your levels every three months to monitor, track and ultimately improve your current levels."
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