The critical dietary element to increase you testosterone

I’ll get to the point: eat more fat, because if we want to increase our testosterone, naturally, we need a high fat diet. But not any kind of fat will serve our purpose.

I know, I know, fat and cholesterol are the enemies of humanity, at least it’s what they tell us every day in the news. Fat will make us fat and our arteries will be clogged by cholesterol… Two of the most misguided dietary tips, ever.

The discussion can be endless about this, we are so bombarded with slogans against cholesterol and pushing low fat products that it’s ridiculous. And if you don’t go with the flow you are dubbed an idiot by society, you will die tomorrow killed by your buddy “the fat” and maybe you will be charged with sedition, if you survive long enough.

But as we know too, obesity and diabetes are king and queen nowadays, even when we try to cut fats to zero. So maybe it’s not so clear after all…

This is not a site about weight loss, so I won’t even try to explain how a high fat diet won’t make you fat, because I’d had to write several volumes. This is about increasing testosterone, so I will stick to that. Scientific study after scientific study confirm that high fat diets correlate with higher levels of testosterone.

I’ll reference some of them.

In a 2005 study( 1), 39 healthy men between 50 and 60 years were studied while they were consuming their usual high fat, low fiber diet. After 8 weeks they changed to a low fat, high fiber diet (keeping the same amount of calories). The results of the dietary change were a reduction in total testosterone, free testosterone and some of the T-precursors (12% consistent lowering of circulating androgens levels without changing the clearance).

Another study (2) with 30 healthy male volunteers. They had a diet which supplied 40% of energy as fat (mainly from animal sources) and was replaced, for a 6 weeks period, by a lower fat diet (25% of energy came from fats) with same calories and other environmental factors stabilized. Results? 15% drop in total testosterone with corresponding drops in free T and androstenedione.

One more (3) where they studied Testosterone, resistance training (another critical component of testosterone optimization) and diet. They concluded, not only that diet influences T levels, but fat and testosterone were positively correlated.

And here comes another (4). They put men on a high-fat diet (about 50% of calories from fat) for 2 weeks. After that, they switched to a low-fat diet (more or less 10% percent fat) for 2 weeks too. Their free testosterone (remember, the precious T that we want) dropped 21% on the low-fat diet.

And I’m going to stop because this is getting boring.

The bottom line is: step one: eat sugar, carbs, fiber and go low fat, step two: wave goodbye to your testosterone, energy and youth. Step three: congratulations, now you are “healthy” (and yes, that was sarcasm).

I can see you, you are gathering wood in the town square to burn me, because not only I want you to die from heart disease before your 40th birthday, but you are afraid that you will grow a big gut and screw your efforts to get fit (a condition that is a key to testosterone).

Well, remember the golden rule here: think for yourself. If something works for you, please keep doing it and, above all, do what you want. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned, and above all, what I’ve lived. This was my own experience:

1) I failed miserably in all my goals (testosterone included) when I got into a low fat – eat sugar lifestyle.

Not only I was stuck with artificial food that tasted like paper, but I had the lowest energy levels of my life and a less than manly body, I was one of those “skinny fat” guys. I seemed skinny on the outside, but my muscles were nothing to write home (even when I trained). If you grabbed my gut you could pinch a good bunch of stubborn fat that refused to leave since I was a teenager.

Many people eat less, eat low fat and rise a crucifix when they see things like meat or whole milk, yet they never get their desired bodies or health.

2) I had the epiphany that hormones play a key role in getting fat (and depressed, depleted of energy, etc.) or getting ripped (and focused, energized and happy).

In fact, it’s quite possible that we get much better results optimizing hormones than counting calories. Hormones rule almost everything.

Don’t worry, fat won’t kill you

The thing is: “Eat fat and you will get fat” is one of the most misguided and awful diet advices ever.

Eat fat with sugar and you are trapped in your worst nightmare, because your insulin rises and the body follows the “store fat” command (see the part about sugar here). Meanwhile, your testosterone (a “fat burning – muscle building” hormone) and other fat burning hormones plummet. So the sugar gets stored as fat, the fat gets stored as fat, and previous fat won’t move from its warm place in your love handles because, obviously, it’s not needed.

See how good is the burger (protein+fat) + chips (carbs+awful fat) + soda (worst kind of sugar) combo? You cannot get hit harder.

But if insulin release is controlled, lowering the insane amount of carbs we ingest nowadays (I don’t think we are made to eat so much sugar, which is a relatively “modern” invention in human evolution, when agricultural societies appeared) and testosterone is high, guess what? Our body is in “fat burn – build muscle” mode. If you combine that with an active lifestyle, you will burn fat, packing muscle in the process IF you do resistance training.

I trashed every industrial food loaded with sugar, started to buy and cook real natural food, like fresh meat, fish, tons of veggies, some nuts, etc. I lowered my carbs and grains, started to get more energy from fat (to compensate the carbs and calories cut) and my body literally changed.

Not only I could see my abs for the first time in my life (nothing fancy, but I didn’t even try) but an ex-girlfriend of mine that came to visit commented, out of the blue, how my body had “changed” (prior to that, she saw me a month before). Not only she said so because I packed a little bit more muscle (I increased my resistance training, because it’s another necessary piece of the puzzle about increasing testosterone), but because my entire physiognomy changed. I weighted the same and I was still thin to the eye, but I seemed “more masculine” in her own words. She could not pinpoint one thing, but I was different.

Oh, and my energy levels? Through the roof.

The diet issue is much more complex than this, but if you are interested in knowing more, read the studies referenced here, research for yourself a little bit and challenge what you think.

A good starting point is searching for Gary Taubes. Their books are not easy to digest (childish pun intended) but, believe me, they are worthy. Maybe it will change how you think and what you know, you will get more results and probably you will want to shoot your TV, every time a food is advertised.

More fat in your diet doesn’t mean that you can eat any kind of fat. This starts with a rule of thumb: don’t eat anything fried or (obviously) deep fried.

They tend to use vegetable oils to do that, which become really bad (5) (i.e. toxic) for us when heated. Remember that lots of carbs + fat is a bad combo, better if you don’t add toxicity to the mix with deep frying.

Eat the right kind of fat

One of the things I’ve discovered in my research is that the type of fat that increases testosterone is a complex issue. These are the main kinds of fat (in one “fatty” food you can find several, or all of them, in different ratios).

  • Saturated fats are those mainly found in meat, some fish (like salmon) and dairy products, I.e. Animal sources.
  • Monounsaturated fat is found in vegetables and animals: olive oil, avocado, nuts, some fish…
  • Polyunsaturated fat is found mainly in vegetable sources: soybean, sunflower, corn and their oils.

The thing is that although several studies had seen a positive correlation between fats and testosterone levels, one of them found that fat ratio plays a role (6).

This study concluded that when Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA, the “vegetable” kind) were more abundant that mono and saturated (SFA), there was a negative correlation with Testosterone. I quote.

Our results showed a nonsignificant correlation between PUFA and T and a significant negative correlation between the PUFA/SFA ratio and T.

So it seems that the best results are accomplished when saturated fats are the main source in the high fat diet.

This means: meat, fish, eggs…

Yes, they are telling us that bacon and ribs are going to make us fat and ultimately kill us, but not only they won’t (if we don’t eat only that) they are the main dietary key to testosterone.

So there you have it.

Studies referenced

  1. Wang C, Catlin DH, Starcevic B, Heber D, Ambler C, Berman N, Lucas G, Leung A, Schramm K, Lee PW, Hull L, Swerdloff RS. “Low Fat High Fiber Diet Decreased Serum and Urine Androgens in Men.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar 1. PMID: 15741266.
  2. Hamalainen E, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, Pietinen P. “Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men.” J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):459–64. PMID: 6538617.
  3. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise .JEFF S. VOLEK,1,2 WILLIAM J. KRAEMER,1,2,3,4 JILL A. BUSH,1,2 THOMAS INCLEDON,1,2 AND MARK BOETES1,2
  4. Schuler, Lou. The Testosterone Advantage Plan. Rodale: USA, 2002.
  5. University Of Minnesota (2005, May 2). Food Fried In Vegetable Oil May Contain Toxic Compound. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2011, from­ /releases/2005/05/050502190054.htm
  6. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Jeff S. Volek1,2, William J. Kraemer1,2,3,4, Jill A. Bush1,2, Thomas Incledon1,2, and Mark Boetes1,2