Weight loss can help with increasing testosterone levels for the many men who have been diagnosed with a deficiency of testosterone. A study however suggests that some diets, a low-fat diet in particular, could be linked to a small but significant testosterone reduction. the study revealed that men adhering to a diet that was fat restrictive had lower levels of testosterone in comparison to men on a non fat restrictive diet.
Data on testosterone levels and diet from over 3,100 participants from the NHANES study was analyzed. Based on a 2 day diet history, 14.6% of the participants met the criteria required for a low-fat diet. Another 24.4% of the participants followed a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains but low in dairy products and animal protein. Few participants met the criteria for a low-carbohydrate diet, which meant they were excluded from the study.
The average level of testosterone was 435.5 nanograms/deciliter and levels were lower in participants on the 2 restrictive diets: an average of 411 ng/dL for participants following a low-fat diet and 413 ng/dL for participants on the Mediterranean diet.
Other factors affecting testosterone were adjusted for, such as age, physical activity, body mass index, and medical conditions. Taking adjustments into account, the low-fat diet was significantly linked to reduced levels of testosterone, although the Mediterranean diet was not. In general, 26.8% of participants had levels of testosterone less than 300 ng/dL. The percentage of men with low levels of testosterone was comparable across all diet groups in spite of the difference in average levels of testosterone.
There are about 500,000 men diagnosed with a deficiency of testosterone every year, which can result in problems such as reduced libido and energy, along with physiological alterations such as an increase in body fat and a reduction in bone mineral density.
Apart from meds, low testosterone treatment often entails lifestyle modifications, which include weight loss and exercise. But how diet impacts levels of testosterone has been unclear. Testosterone is a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol, so changes in intake of fat could modify levels of testosterone. This study of how testosterone levels are affected by diet provides evidence that a low-fat diet is linked to reduced testosterone levels, in comparison to an unrestricted diet.
According to the researchers, there is no diet which is best for men having low testosterone levels. The benefits derived from a low-fat diet probably far exceed the small reduction in levels of testosterone for obese or overweight men. On the other hand, for normal weight men, avoiding a low-fat diet could be helpful for increasing testosterone levels.
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