24 May , 16

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The Horrifying Truth About Dieting and Male Sex Hormones

Want to know how your diet affects male sex hormones? Read on to find out…

Here’s a staggering fact for you: 34.9% of American adults are obese. That’s nearly 79 MILLION people! [1] Pretty terrifying, right? Look around you, and you’ll undoubtedly see people struggling to lose weight.

The average American spends a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to lose weight. Sadly, most of that is wasted on “crash diets”, “fad diets”, and imbalanced, very low calorie eating plans. These “diets” end up doing more harm than good in SO MANY ways:

  • They lead to muscle mass loss. When you starve yourself, your body has to get energy from somewhere. It clings to body fat (its emergency reserves), meaning the only thing left to burn is muscle. Drastic dieting leads to muscle catabolism (breakdown).
  • They can cause increased fat storage. The human body is designed to store fat, not burn it. If your body senses that it’s going through a period of “starvation” (not enough calories), it will cling to the fat it has already stored. To make things worse, it will conserve energy and try to store as much fat as possible. While your diet breaks down your muscles, it will increase your fat stores.fat
  • They can affect your health. Not getting a proper balance of nutrients can affect the health of your bones, organs, skin, and internal functions. Not getting enough calories can cause you to feel tired and unable to function properly.

These are the negative effects of the diets while you do them, but how long can you keep up with these restrictive diets? The average person can survive a crash diet for a few weeks or months at best. Eventually, they end up breaking the diet, leading to weight gain. They also return to poor eating habits. In the long run, these fad/crash diets can have serious negative repercussions!

One of the main problems resulting from a strict diet is low testosterone levels.

Testosterone: Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for[2]:

  • Fat metabolism
  • Body and facial hair
  • Muscle mass
  • Bone Density
  • Libido/sex drive
  • Sperm production
  • Arousal/erections
  • A healthy heart

Basically, it’s the hormone that makes you a man, and it plays a central role in your overall health.

Low T is a VERY serious side effect of an unhealthy diet! But how does the food you eat (or not eat) cause Low T levels? Below, you’ll find a list of ways that “dieting” can cause low testosterone. Read carefully before dieting…

Not Enough Dietary Fat = Low Male Sex Hormones

For decades, fat has been perceived as the “enemy”. A startlingly-high number of diets tell you to reduce or eliminate fat from your food intake completely.

That is WRONG on so many levels!

Fat is one of the three most important nutrients for your body. It’s needed to produce the walls of every cell in your body, but did you know that it’s also necessary for the production of hormones? And yes, that includes testosterone!

A LOT of studies have proven that a low fat diet can have negative effects on your testosterone levels:

  • Reduction of dietary fat intake can cause a 12% drop in circulating androgen levels [3]
  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet increases testosterone production and excretion [4]
  • A low-fat diet with a high polyunsaturated-fat-to-saturated-fat ratio decreased free and total testosterone concentration [5]

All these studies prove that fat is vital for healthy testosterone production, so why would you cut it from your diet? Your body MUST have fat in order to function!

To have healthy testosterone levels, you have to consume both saturated fats (from animal products) and monounsaturated fats (from olive oil, almond oil, and argan oil). Get a healthy balance of fats in your diet, and you’ll keep your body supplied with the fatty acids it needs to produce male sex hormones .

Not Enough Carbs = Low Male Sex Hormones

Low-carb diets (like the Paleo diet or Atkins Diet) are all the rage these days. Recent studies [6] have indicated that a low-carb diet is more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, so people have clung to this and adopted low carb diets with the same enthusiasm that they cut fat from their diets a few years ago.

But did you know that carbohydrates play an equally important role in your testosterone levels? Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy, including the ATP energy your muscles burn when you work out. Cut carbs too much, and your body is forced into a state of ketosis (fat burning). This is an unnatural state, one with plenty of side effects.

There are many studies that point to carb-cutting as being terrible for your testosterone levels:

  • A high-protein, low-carb diet raises cortisol (stress hormone)levels, negatively affecting testosterone levels [7]
  • Athletes on a low-carb diet had lower testosterone and growth hormone levels than they did on a high-carb diet [8]
  • Carbs are vital for healthy levels of free testosterone [9]

As you can see, cutting carbs from your diet can seriously backfire! If you want to keep your male sex hormones level healthy, you need carbs.

Caveat: You don’t have to eat A TON of carbs, but SOME is necessary. Always make sure you are eating complex carbs (carbs with plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals).

Not Enough Calories = Low Male Sex Hormones

FixerectiledysfunctionOne of the most consistent themes in popular diets is restricting calorie intake. This principle may be sound, but the application is slightly flawed.

Let me explain…

When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about math. You need to BURN more than you CONSUME on a daily basis. Do this, and your body will have to make up for the deficit by using stored fat. Eat more than you burn, and you gain weight. Burn more than you eat, and you lose weight. Simple, right?

Yes and no. Many people take this basic formula to the extreme. They think, “Heck, if I can lose 1 pound a week by eating 500 calories fewer per day, what would happen if I scaled back 1000 or 1500 calories?” They end up on a “Very Low Calorie Diet”, which is anything less than 1,000 to 1,200 calories (depending on gender). Their attempts to lose weight seriously backfire, as the human body is designed to go into “starvation mode” while on a Very Low Calorie Diet. They end up storing fat, losing muscle mass, and having less energy.

Don’t forget the testosterone levels! In a number of studies, it was proven that severe calorie restriction can have a negative effect on testosterone:

  • A calorie-restricted diet drastically reduces serum total testosterone, estradiol, and sex hormone-binding globulin [10]
  • Semen samples collected from male macaques (I wonder who got stuck with that job?) showed reduced sperm quality, viability, and function after a calorie-restricted diet [11]

Cutting calories is the way to lose weight, but cutting them TOO MUCH can have a detrimental effect on your weight, health, body fat, and muscle mass. Reduce, but don’t restrict!

Muscle Mass Loss = Low Male Sex Hormones

It’s a well-known fact that testosterone plays a role in muscle-building. Increasing your testosterone is the key to building bigger muscles, right?

But what happens when you lose muscle mass on a very low-carb, low-fat, or low-calorie diet? When your body turns muscles into energy, your lean muscle mass decreases. However, your body fat remains the same. Less muscle + the same amount of body fat = a higher body fat percentage.

It’s a well-known fact that a higher body fat percentage [12] can lead to lower levels of total, bound, and free testosterone levels. Your efforts to lose weight will seriously backfire in this case, as your loss of muscle mass will increase your body fat percentage. This causes your body to produce more aromatase, which in turn converts testosterone (the manly hormone) into estrogen (the female hormone). NOOOO!!!!!

Definitely not what you wanted when you started the diet, right?

Too Much Stress = Low Male Sex Hormones

Dieting and trying to lose weight is VERY stressful. You spend all your time worrying about what you’re putting in your body, counting calories, rushing to the bathroom scale a half-dozen times a day, and generally fretting about the results (or lack thereof).

When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol. This hormone is the one that triggers the “fight or flight” response, leading to an increase in adrenaline and suppressing the production of other hormones (including testosterone–after all, how many people are thinking about sex when they’re terrified for their lives?). Normally, your body should return to normal cortisol and adrenaline levels, increasing testosterone and other hormone production. But with long-term stress, your cortisol levels stay high, leading to a chronic suppression of testosterone.

stress reduces male sex hormones

Stress reduces male sex hormones

There is a lot of evidence that stress can cause low testosterone:

  • Young men undergoing stressful education/training had lower plasma testosterone levels than when the stress dissipated [13]
  • High levels of stress caused negative effects on IGF-1, testosterone, and HDL cholesterol [14]
  • Middle-aged men with high levels of psychological stress had significantly lower levels of testosterone [15]

Getting the point? Stressing out about weight loss and “dieting” can negatively affect your testosterone levels. The last thing you want is to lower your testosterone–Low T makes weight loss A LOT harder!

How to Lose Weight Without Lowering Male Sex Hormones

So what can you do? Is it even possible to lose weight without affecting your male sex hormones?

Of course it is! Here’s what you can do:

Exercise Like a Beast

As we all know, exercise is the key to weight loss. Remember: if calories burned > calories consumed = weight loss. To drop those pounds, you need to spend time pushing your muscles, heart, and lungs.

But, did you know that low-intensity aerobic exercise can actually have a negative effect on testosterone levels? [16] It can cause stress, raising cortisol levels. Instead, switch your low intensity, steady state aerobic exercise for High Intensity Interval Training–mixing periods of low intensity exercise with spurts of maximum intensity. Throw in a few hours of strength training (using weights or bodyweight per week, and you’re well on your way.

Reduce Stress

Don’t let the stress of the diet get to you! Take time for yourself. Make sure to relax and take down time. Get your mind off the constant struggle to lose weight, and don’t let the pressure to get in shape overwhelm you. Remember that stress is going to have a negative effect on your weight loss!

Eat Right

SpinachThe TCycle Diet is an eating plan designed to help you not just to lose weight, but to burn fat and keep your testosterone levels healthy. If you are trying to get healthy, it’s a good eating plan to follow.

We use the term “diet” very loosely! It’s a meal plan to help you get all of the nutrients you need, including:

  • Veggies — The more the merrier!
  • Fats –– Fish oil, raw cheese, almond cheese, coconut oil, egg yolks, almond butter, avocado oil, and animal fats.
  • Proteins –– Everything from fish to beef to lamb to chicken to seafood!
  • Carbs –– Sweet potato, brown rice, Ezekiel bread, white rice, quinoa, and yams–all healthy complex carbs.
  • Fruits –– Apples, blueberries, peaches, and many more vitamin/antioxidant-rich sweet treats.

The TCycle Diet is designed for more than just weight loss. We like to think of it as a lifestyle that you can follow to be healthy, get fit, increase your testosterone levels, and burn fat.



[1] http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

[2] http://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/effects-on-body

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741266

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8942407

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6298507

[6] https://authoritynutrition.com/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets/

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3573976

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8495690

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091182

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20096034

[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20610809

[12] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10442580

[13] http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=490664

[14] http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jcem.83.6.4843

[15] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01948370

[16] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1207%2Fs15327558ijbm0201_2


Todd Lamb is one world's most trusted sources of Health and Fitness information and programming. He has dedicated his life to the service of others having served as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Special Service Force and as 17 year veteran Police Officer with 10 years on SWAT and 4 as a Team Leader. Todd is dedicated to transforming the lives of 1,000,000 men through honest science based information backed up with years of practical experience in Tactical Operations. Todd is a Best Selling Author of multiple best selling fitness programs and the book STAND APART

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