8 foods that kill testosterone and 5 foods that boost it
Since diet and testosterone go hand in hand, here are a few foods and drinks you might want to take off your shopping list.
Foods like tofu, edamame, and soy protein isolate contain phytoestrogens. These herbal substances are structurally similar to the hormone estrogen and can also work in the same way.
But even though soy has been the subject of a lot of research, there is still a lot of debate about how soy foods might work with your hormones.
A 2013 study found that men who drank 20 grams of soy protein isolate per day for 14 days had lower testosterone levels than those who drank whey protein isolate or a placebo.
But a similar 2018 study in which men drank a soy protein supplement found no changes in hormone levels.
While research is inconclusive, it may be a good idea to avoid or only consume moderate amounts of soy products if your testosterone levels are low.
2. Bakery products
A muffin, donut, or piece of pie won’t drop your testosterone levels. But if these foods are a regular part of your diet, it could be a problem for your testosterone.
A 2018 study found that men who consumed large amounts of breads and pastries, dairy products, and desserts had low levels of total testosterone.
This type of diet is also linked to increased visceral fat (the fat that hangs around your belly) and high insulin levels. And these problems, in turn, can suppress your total testosterone levels.
It’s also not uncommon for baked goods to contain trans fats, which can also lower testosterone (more on that later).
If you are a fan of beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages, you can hamper your testosterone levels.
According to a 2019 review, men who drink a lot of alcohol have low-normal to low testosterone levels. This is a result of alcohol’s ability to hinder enzymes that help form testosterone, which was noted in a study from the 1980s.
In this study, healthy volunteers were given an amount of ethanol equal to one pint of whiskey each day for 30 days. They all had a drop in testosterone levels after 72 hours. And after 30 days, their levels were similar to heavy drinkers.
Sip in moderation
Low to moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t seem to have a big impact, so you’re clear if you’re only having happy hour on occasion.
4. Licorice root
Licorice root is an herb often used in candies, drinks, and tobacco products for its sweet flavor. It is also available as a tea or as a supplement.
It’s not entirely clear what impact licorice root has on testosterone. Existing research is limited and a bit outdated and has been primarily done on animals.
A 2003 study found that men who consumed 7 grams of licorice root per day for 1 week had a 26% decrease in testosterone levels.
And a 2016 animal study found that a chemical in licorice stopped the production of sex steroid hormones, including testosterone. But again, it’s not entirely successful for humans.
5. Vegetable oils
Vegetable oil is a staple food for many people who follow a standard Western diet. Cooking oils labeled as vegetable oil are usually a combination of various oils such as:
These oils contain certain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which may be linked to low testosterone levels.
A 2019 study in overweight men with hypogonadism (failure of the testes to function properly) found that meals containing these fats significantly reduced the production of serum testosterone.
The study recommends that men avoid a diet high in these fats to control testosterone levels, but more research is needed.
6. Trans fats and processed foods
Small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in meat and dairy products. But it can also find its way into your diet through processed foods and fast foods.
Trans fats are often referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils” (PHO) 🍟. However, in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration actually banned the addition of artificial trans fats to foods.
This prohibition should pretty much effective at this point, but artificial trans fats can still show up in some processed foods. Food companies are still allowed to list foods containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving as 0 grams. So you can often find trans fats in fried foods.
Trans fats can increase your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease * and * decrease testosterone levels. A 2017 study found that healthy young Spanish men who consumed trans fatty acids had lower total testosterone levels.
The impact sugar can have on health – including testosterone levels – isn’t always mild.
In a 2018 study in men aged 20 to 39, participants who drank large amounts of sugary drinks had a higher risk of low testosterone levels.
However, the same study found that body mass index (BMI) was a factor. Participants with a BMI of 25 or more also tended to have low testosterone levels.
8. Certain nuts
Oh, crazy! Nuts and almonds * could * impact testosterone levels.
Deez nuts increase your levels of a substance called hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which carries testosterone and other hormones throughout your body. If your SHBG levels are too high, there is less free testosterone available.
But we need more research to conclude whether there are certain nuts that men should avoid to keep testosterone levels steady. The studies available are older and often focus on women.
A 2011 study in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (a condition that increases testosterone levels in women) found that consuming nuts and almonds increased SHBG by 12.5% and 16%, respectively .