There is a lot of speculation regarding testosterone levels and the consumption of dietary fat. A lot of blogs on the internet make a big deal on the subject. If youve ever read any of these sites you will agree that there are some very strong opinions that the more fat you eat, the better. For some reason or another, many people come to the conclusion that if you eat excessive amounts of fats you are therefore going to produce the highest amount of testosterone possible without the use of drugs. Well find out soon that this is not necessarily true.
If youve read my other post Testosterone: How The Anabolic Hormone Is Made we learned that cholesterol is the building block of testosterone. This is a well-known fact, and you can visit almost any other site on natural testosterone optimization and find claims stating that the more cholesterol you eat, the more testosterone youll produce!
Unfortunately this is, in my opinion, a bit of a skewed idea that is much like someone telling you to over water a plant. Yes of course the plant needs water to survive and grow, however, what happens when you over water a plant?
Thankfully, we are not going to just drop off from boosting our dietary fat intake. Taken into account that we are consistently living active lifestyles and eating the right kinds of fats (which well look into later in this post) we should be okay. I just wanted to first get the idea out of the way that consuming massive amounts of fat and cholesterol was an end all solution to your problems of low testosterone. The plant reference was simply to make an analogy that even the good things, in excess, can be bad.
Testosterone And Fat: The Studies
Well, here is where things get a bit strange. There was actually a study performed on men that investigated the effects of a high-fat meal on testosterone levels. The men were asked on two separate occasions to fast overnight and on the following mornings consume two different liquid meal replacements. One of these mixtures was a high-fat containing liquid and the other, a high protein and high carbohydrate liquid.
Oddly enough, they found that when the men consumed the high-fat liquid, their testosterone levels actually dropped. The researchers concluded there may be an indication of the fatty acids modulating testosterone production in the testicles. I should mention that this conclusion was not investigated further and researchers have not proven why this occurs.
The Good News About Fats
So here is the good news about testosterone and dietary fats. Studies (1,2) have found that a diet with a good balance of fats can actually normalize testosterone levels over time. Does this mean that if you consume an outrageous amount of fat and cholesterol that you will then have a superhuman amount of testosterone? No. You can go ahead and stop eating the slabs of grass-fed butter unless thats just what youre into.
Its important to remember that the production of testosterone is a complex process, and the body takes several different steps before it begins to convert cholesterol into testosterone. Your body produces testosterone on a supply and demand basis. Dont quote me on that, but doesnt that seem like the most logical aspect of boosting testosterone naturally? Create an environment within your body that demands it to output more testosterone? This doesnt just come from stuffing your face with fat. Its a complex process that requires several lifestyle factors to be in order.
With that being said, it has been shown that a person who is eating a diet only made up of about 15-20% dietary fats will see reduced testosterone levels. However, a person consuming a diet made up of about 40% fat (you could consider 40% and above a high-fat diet) will see higher levels of testosterone. Oddly enough, it was also found that those elevated testosterone levels from the higher fat diet would eventually decline to an even lower amount then they were before.
Hopefully you can take away the following from this information:
- A low fat diet can result in lower testosterone levels.
- Increasing the consumption of healthy dietary fats has a positive effect on testosterone over time though not immediately. In fact in can actually drop those levels after the meal consumption.
- Accepting the idea that eating fats by the pound (i.e. slabs of grass-fed butter) in order to supercharge testosterone levels is a bad idea. Your body has several regulatory processes it needs to go through before it can begin to convert cholesterol into testosterone. Testosterone is the manly hormone, so start doing manly things to boost it.
Unfortunately, the effects of dietary fat intake on testosterone levels is not studied nearly enough like it should be. But, the bit of information we have now shows that a high-fat diet can be beneficial in increasing natural testosterone production. Id say thats good enough information for me!
So youve heard me talk a lot about eating the right kind of fats, but what are those? There are good fats and there are bad fats, lets take a look at what those are.
The Good Kinds Of Dietary Fats
So well break down the 2 healthy fats you want in your diet. These are the kinds of fats that will not only help raise your testosterone levels naturally, but also have a wide range of benefits from reducing your risk of heart disease, to improving your cognition.
Did you know that your brain is actually mostly made up of fat? About 60% of it to be more precise. Knowing this, we can see how crucial it is to include in in our diets and is why low-fat diets just stink.
1) Polyunsaturated Fat:
Polyunsaturated fat can help get rid of the bad cholesterol in our bodies. Although cholesterol is what our bodies need to produce testosterone, we want the healthy (HDL) kind flowing through our blood, not the bad (LDL). This is the kind of fat that you will mostly see coming from plant sources and fish. You can find polyunsaturated fat in fish, walnuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Polyunsaturated fats are also known as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These kinds of fats are absolutely crucial because our body does not produce them on their own.
Health benefits of polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids):
- Prevention of heart disease
- Prevention of diabetes
- Prevention of stroke
- Cell Development
- Better vitamin absorption
- Immune function
You can see a full chart of some polyunsaturated fat sources below:
|POLYUNSATURATED FAT SOURCES|
2) Monounsaturated Fat:
Monounsaturated fat is another one of our healthy fats that reduces the bad cholesterol in our blood. When we replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat, we can actually experience higher levels of energy as well. This can be done as simply as exchanging your regular cooking oil with olive oil (just an example). High amounts of vitamin E can be found in monounsaturated fat sources which also has a plethora of health benefits.
The health benefits of these types of fats are much similar to the health benefits of polyunsaturated fats. These 2 types of fats are great sources of energy and provide satiety.
You can see a full chart of some monounsaturated fat sources below:
|MONOUNSATURATED FAT SOURCES|
Poly and monounsaturated fats are the way to go when it comes to raising testosterone naturally. Many will argue that saturated fats belong here as well. You can find saturated fats in foods like red meat, eggs, butter, and other dairy products. Although it has been accepted as common knowledge that saturated fat is the main culprit of heart related diseases, new research has shown this to not be true. In an evaluation of studies over the years, they were unable to find any evidence that saturated fat was linked to heart disease.
This is great news for meat lovers. I definitely enjoy a good steak every now and then, but much prefer leaner meats cause of their digestibility. However, quality is a must. Unfortunately, due to the way our food is raised, we have to resort to more expensive ways to get less abused versions of it. Organic grass-fed beef, butter, and cage-free organic eggs are not cheap and can put a hole in your wallet fast but they are much more nutritionally dense. So, if you can afford the high quality versions of these foods, I say have at it. But personally, I will stick to my omega 3 and 6 rich foods!
Many official health publications have not changed their stance on saturated fats and still advise heavy moderation with them, so before you start diving in butter and heavy cream, consult a medical professional on proper saturated fat intake!
Refer to the chart below for some saturated fat sources:
|SATURATED FAT SOURCES|