Just One More Reason “Dieting” is Bad for You

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article, Health Warning, Weight Loss

Yesterday, we told you about an important food that science shows can boost male fertility.  Today we’re going to dig a little bit deeper to see how your diet affects another part of your manhood…

It seems simple enough.  You want to lose weight.  So you cut fat and calories from your your diet.

Bad idea…

These “healthy” changes to your diet actually lower levels of an important hormone. A hormone that actually helps burn fat and build muscle.

That hormone is testosterone. It is the most important male sex hormone.1 In children it helps the body develop adult male features. For adults, it plays a key role in sex drive and sperm count. Plus it keeps muscles and bones strong and healthy.

But testosterone is also important for women. Along with estrogen, it is involved in the growth, maintenance, and repair of reproductive tissues. And like in men, testosterone helps women develop body tissues and bone mass.

Diseases, medications, and lifestyle choices all affect testosterone.2 And now more and more research proves that diet plays a vital role in maintaining healthy hormone levels.

A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry followed 30 healthy males.3 Researchers altered the men’s diets: from 40% fat calories to 25%. Saturated fat was decreased, while polyunsaturated fat was increased.

After six weeks, the men showed an 18% decrease in total testosterone. And a 15% decrease in non-protein bound (free) testosterone. Once the men returned to their regular diets, levels returned to normal.

Dr. Christina Wang from UCLA got the same results in a similar study.4 Dr. Wang and her team studied 39 middle-aged men.

For the first eight weeks the men consumed a regular high-fat, low-fiber diet. They then switched to a low-fat, high-fiber diet for another eight weeks. While on the low-fat diet the men suffered a 12% decrease in testosterone.

But it’s not just a fat-restricted diet that can affect hormone levels…

Researchers from London studied the effects of caloric intake.5 Their research was published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology. For the study, women were given a very low calorie diet (330 kcal/day). After just two weeks they showed a 40% decrease in free testosterone levels.

But why?

It’s quite simple…

Your body needs fat. Fat contains cholesterol. And your body converts cholesterol to testosterone.6

And despite what most people believe, fat and cholesterol aren’t necessarily bad for you.

There are good fats. As well as good (HDL) cholesterol.

But people eliminate these core diet elements try when they try to lose weight. . And when they try to gain muscle they indulge in high-protein, low-carb diets. Yes, muscle is made of protein, but you need testosterone to help build that muscle.7 And to maintain healthy levels of the hormone, you need fat in your diet.

Of course, this doesn’t mean loading up on fatty foods. And definitely don’t hit the closest fast food drive thru. It goes both ways…  Research has also shown that men with high amounts of body fat tend to have low testosterone too.8

So, how do you lose weight, build muscle, and burn fat without sacrificing testosterone?

Avoid the extremes.

No harsh dieting. No overweight, sedentary lifestyle. Reduce calories slightly.

Aim for a diet with mostly healthy fats, monosaturated and unsaturated. That includes nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados and omega-3 fish.

You also need to include some saturated fats. Lean protein including wild fish, farm-raised poultry, = and grass-fed beef have low saturated fats. But make sure to have enough to help support testosterone production. That in turn will help build your muscle.

Maintaining normal testosterone is important. Low levels can increase irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, and low sex drive.9

You can have healthy levels of testosterone and lose weight. No needles or hormone replacement needed. Just remember… It’s all about balance. Once you find that, watch your weight plummet and your muscle and testosterone surge.

Editor’s Note: Testosterone levels decline about 1% a year after age 30. This is just one more symptom of what we call “Male Aging Syndrome.” Most men think problems like lack of energy or libido are a natural consequence of getting older… when it may actually be an easy to fix chemical imbalance! See the four ways you can break free of Male Aging Syndrome here.