Testosterone. The manly man hormone. In this post I’ll offer a quick look at the available evidence regarding how to raise free testosterone via the diet (based only on studies in males).
There is some preliminary evidence that diets low in fat can lead to lowered testosterone (1,2,3,5,19). Monounsaturated and saturated fat, as opposed to polyunsaturated fat, specifically seem to increase testosterone levels (3). Large amounts of polyunsaturated fat may even lower testosterone (3,18).
Soy seems to lower testosterone, perhaps due to its phytoestrogens (4,6,7).
Phytosterols also seems to lower testosterone (20). Phytosterols are found in nuts, seeds, and legumes in varying amounts. Perhaps due to this, studies on flaxseed suggests it may lower testosterone (3)
There is also some evidence that diets high in protein relative to carbohydrates may *lower* testosterone (8, 9, 10). So eat enough carbohydrates to raise testosterone, don’t go all Atkins diet, guys.
A deficiency of zinc appears well demonstrated to lower testosterone levels (11,12,13), an effect which is reversed upon taking in adequate zinc. Worth noting is that zinc absorption appears to be improved by meat protein and decreased by phytic acid, casein, soy protein (14). So eating meat may be one of the better ways to get zinc.
There’s also some evidence from rat studies that a deficiency of vitamin A can depress testosterone levels (15,16). Also, a study of male twins found a correlation between vitamin A intake and testosterone levels (17). Retinol, the animal food form of vitamin A, appears the especially beneficial form of vitamin A to take in.
So, to summarize, here are some quick diet tips for higher T (in no particular order):
- Eat enough fat, specifically monounsaturated and saturated fats.
- Minimize intake of soy, flaxseeds, and perhaps other nuts and seeds.
- Take in enough zinc, retinol, and carbohydrates.