Foods that lower testosterone are everywhere.
Is there any surprise that with the stereotypes that exist about the standard western diet that men today are surrounded by foods of all kinds that contribute to lower testosterone levels?
The real question is: which foods are they?
That’s what we’ll look at here.
When it comes to the foods in our lives that lower T, we can break them out into 3 main categories:
- Inflammatory Foods
- The Daily Staples
- “Healthy” Foods
We’ll look at each one of these, and list out some of the most common foods in each category that you probably consume on a regular basis- all without knowing the effect it could be having on your T levels…
Inflammatory Foods That Lower Testosterone
1. Foods High in Sugar & Fructose Corn Syrup
Table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two main types of added sugars to foods in the West/ western diet. Standard table sugar is usually 50% glucose & 50% fructose, while high-fructose corn syrup is approximately 45% glucose and 55% fructose.
Both of these are a major cause of inflammation.
One thing to clarify is that the small amounts of fructose found in fruits and vegetables is fine and not the same as the amounts of fructose found in added sugars.
There have been multiple mice and human studies conducted in to the effects of high sugar intake on the body. All of them have shown that higher sugar intake lead to increased inflammation.
On top of inflammation causing lowered testosterone production, research has also found that the inflammation caused by high fructose increases the risk factor for heart disease.
Eating a lot of fructose is also linked to the following:
- Insulin Resistance
- Chronic Kidney Disease
Foods that are typically high in sugar are:
- Soft Drinks
- Table Sauces
- Low fat/ diet foods
- Jar/ Packet Cooking Sauces
2. Trans Fats
Trans fats are likely the worse types of fats that you can consume. They are a frequent occurrence in foods that lower testosterone. These trans fats aren’t naturally occurring, they are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats (unsaturated fats are liquid form) to give them the stability of a solid fat.
Trans fats are often labelled as “partially hydrogenated” oils so you need to look out for these as well and most usually found in processed floods. Unlike their naturally occurring counter parts found in meat and dairy, artificial trans fats are shown to cause inflammation.
With this comes lowered testosterone production, increased risk of disease and illness. They also lower “good” HDL cholesterol, which the body requires for T production. So negatively impacts testosterone production on that front as well.
The same as with fructose, the inflammation caused by trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, in one study, CRP levels were 78% higher in women who reported the highest trans fat intake.
Food typically high in trans-fat include foods like French fries and other fried fast foods. They are also typically found in the following:
- Ready Made Cakes
- Ready Made cookies
- Microwave Popcorn
- Margarines/ Vegetable Spreads
- Ready made pastries
- Any foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
3. Vegetable and Seed Oils
Statistics have shown that throughout the 20th century, that in the US the consumption of vegetable oils has increased by as much as 130%! Research has suggested that some vegetable oils due to the very high levels of Omega 6 lead to inflammation.
Omega 6 is required for energy but having an excess which is typical in a western diet lead to the body becoming inflamed. The inflammation caused by Omega 6 is why Omega 3 has become so popular. As improving your ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 means your body will benefit from the inflammation reducing properties of omega-3.
Vegetable and seed oils are often used in households as cooking oils (I suggest avoiding) & usually a major ingredient in many processed ready-made foods.
4. Excessive Alcohol
Alcohol intake as a whole isn’t great for your testosterone levels, as most alcohol is very estrogenic (beers & ales especially). While a small amount of alcohol doesn’t do too much damage, higher amounts can lead to severe problems from a testosterone production.
The more alcohol you drink the more estrogen you are exposed to and the greater the inflammation in your body, meaning your body produces testosterone even less efficiently!
5. Processed Meats
Consuming high amounts of processed meats lead to increased inflammation. A lot of people believe that “red meats” are a major killer; but it’s actually processed meats that pose the real risk.
Processed meats contain more advanced glycation ends, these are formed by cooking meats at a high temperatures. They have been shown to cause inflammation.
On top of lowering testosterone production, eating high amounts of processed meats can lead to a number of health issues. With the strongest connection being to colon cancer, there are many factors that can contribute to colon cancer but inflammatory response to processed meat is believed to be one of the key ones.
When talking about processed meats, we are typically referring to the following:
- Reformed meats
The Daily Staples
It’s hard to put on your television without being bombarded with adverts telling you how they’re breakfast cereal is “The best way to start your day”.
The reality though is that cereals and cereal bars are one of the main foods that lower testosterone and can negatively impact your health as a whole!
The main reason cereals lower your testosterone is the very high amounts of sugar in cereals and cereal bars.
There are high amounts of sugar in all cereal brands, even your “healthy cereal” as well (albeit they will have less sugar than the others).
High amounts of sugar leads to insulin spikes and when insulin is spiked, testosterone production is suppressed.
The other reason they can lower testosterone is due to the grains they are made from, I’m going to cover grains in the next item.
I personally suggest eating eggs for breakfast, low in sugar, high in cholesterol and vitamins for increased testosterone production.
Egg are also a great source of protein, so better for your health as a whole.
You can actually check out the omelette that I have most days in this article below
The issue with bread is that contains gluten, this can increase prolactin levels and reduce testosterone levels.
The grains that breads are created from tend to be high in fiber and a diet high in fiber can lower testosterone.
On top of this, the majority of grains can extract minerals from the body, many of which are responsible for testosterone production.
Much the same as with cereals, due to being refined carbohydrates, bread is quickly digested by the body.
This leads to a quick release of sugar and as a result insulin spikes. As covered above insulin spikes inhibits the production of testosterone.
3. Margarine/ Vegetable Spreads
Margarine and vegetable spreads are made from trans fats and vegetable oils.
Trans fats and vegetable oils cause inflammation and with this comes lowered testosterone production & increased risk of disease and illness.
They can also lower “good” HDL cholesterol, which the body requires for T production.
So it has a negative impact on your testosterone production on two levels.
Rice and pasta are a staple part of at least one meal per day for most people.
Like other grained based foods, they contain gluten which increases prolactin levels, are high in fiber and can extract minerals from the body.
All of these things lead to lowered testosterone production. Again these are refined carbs, as we went through under bread, these lead to a quick release of sugar and as a result a spike in insulin.
This insulin spike also inhibits testosterone production, so much like bread there are multiple reasons why your rice and pasta intake should be reduced from a testosterone production.
Now wholewheat rices and pasta are better than the “white versions” and you don’t need to remove them from your diet altogether but I do advise to reduce.
As an alternative, I would suggest potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips etc.
While they are still carbs, they are naturally occurring ones and have a good vitamin and mineral profile which helps boost testosterone production.
The other thing to highlight is that you do actually need carbs for healthy T production.
You just ideally want your carbs to come from naturally occurring sources, so fruits and vegetables.
You also don’t want carbs to from the dominant part of your diet (I personally aim for carbs to make up 25% – 30% of my diet).
The first thing to note is that mints/ mint gum are usually high in sugar.
High amounts of sugar spike insulin levels and high amounts of insulin being released actually inhibits the production of testosterone.
Now for those of you that have mint free gum; before smugly moving on to the next food on this list.
Note that mints/ mint gum being high in sugar is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of it being one of the foods that kill testosterone.
There have been studies conducted on the effect of consuming mints on both rats and human women.
These have shown that both pepper and spear mint reduce testosterone production.
While there needs to be more studies in to the effects on human males.
The results were so extreme that I would suggest avoiding mint wherever possible!
In the rat studies they found that spearmint lowered testosterone production by 51% and peppermint by 23%.
In the human women study, it was shown that spearmint lowered free testosterone levels by 30%.
Those numbers are pretty scary, so I imagine why you can see why mints are included as one of these 5 foods that lower testosterone.
6. Jar/ Packet Cooking Sauces
If you think, I’ll avoid a takeaway or ready meal tonight and instead cook a meal for myself that has to be far better for my testosterone production and health as a whole, great start!
If your next step though is to reach for a pre made jar/ packet cooking sauce, you ideally need to rethink this.
As these are just as much foods that kill testosterone production as your local take away may be.
So perhaps I’m exaggerating saying it is just as bad as your local take away or a ready meal.
However most packet sauces are extremely high in sugar, as discussed above these high amounts of sugar cause insulin spikes and inflammation.
Spikes in insulin suppress testosterone production & the inflammation leads to lowered T production.
A further issue is that a lot of these packet sauces contain soy, while soy doesn’t necessarily lower testosterone, it is very estrogenic.
If to boost testosterone production is your aim, you don’t want to be increasing your estrogen levels.
7. Table Sauces & / Dressings
This isn’t a good day for the “sauces”; but if you like a dollop of Tommy K, BBQ sauce, or to smother your salad in dressing.
I’m sad to say these are foods that lower testosterone as well.
Much the same as cooking sauces, most condiments and salad dressings are packed with sugars.
Again due to the insulin spikes and the inflammation this leads to, they lower testosterone production.
These types of sauces are also often a hiding place for Soy.
If you can’t live without your sauces, check the ingredient labels carefully, opt for wholegrain mustard or even try to give making your own a go.
This will help you avoid these foods that kill testosterone and boost testosterone production.
Especially if you use a lot of table sauces or salad dressing on a daily basis!
8. Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, granola and granola bars.
It is near enough impossible to go a single day without being inundated with adverts for various breakfast cereals.
All of them perpetuating the false message, that they are the “best way to start your day” and similar mantras.
The issue with cereal/ granola itself is that they are very high in sugar, regardless of whether it is one of the “healthier” options or not.
This causes a spike in insulin and as this has been a trending theme of this article, we know this inhibits testosterone production.
The other issue can be with milk, if you don’t use organic milk, you should know that milking cows are given a multitude of hormones.
These hormones can lead to the cows producing high amounts of estrogen, which leaches in to the milk.
While this may not directly lead to lowered testosterone production, if to boost testosterone levels is your aim, you want to lower your estrogen intake.
I know this something that a lot of you probably eat daily; but sadly it is very much one of the foods that lowers testosterone.
For the best part involves adding another one of the foods that kills testosterone production (milk).
Flaxseeds aren’t just viewed as a health food, many people perceive and promote them as being super food. This is due to them being high in fiber, omega 3 and anti-oxidants.
The health benefits of flax seeds are legitimate; but they one of the foods that lower testosterone due to being extremely high in lignans.
Lignans are polyphenols, they mimic estrogenic activity & flax seeds have the highest concentration of them out of any foods.
If increased T is your aim, the last thing you want is to increase your estrogen, so I suggest giving flax a miss!
As I’m sure you will have noticed, butter has been demonised over the past 20 – 30 years.
Doctors, health professionals, TV adverts have been telling you that butter raises your cholesterol & it needs to be lowered.
It was believed that as margarine is lower in cholesterol, swapping butter in exchange for margarine, can be a way to achieve lowering your cholesterol.
It has since been proven that foods naturally high in cholesterol in no way raise your cholesterol levels.
It’s in fact caused by an increase in inflammation & margarine causes increased inflammation.
This increase in inflammation is due to the very high levels of Omega 6, this inflammation not only causes an increase in cholesterol levels but also lower testosterone on two different levels.
First off, the higher inflammation, the less effectively your body works, which includes the testes not being able to product as much testosterone.
Cholesterol is also a building block of testosterone, so your body actually needs it to effective produce T.
So margarine increases inflammation in the body.
Then if you margarine in the place of butter, you’re also depriving the body of the cholesterol required, to produce testosterone.
In recent years are perceived as a healthy addition to diets. While some nuts do have some healthy properties, most are extremely high in our old friend omega 6.
So they increase inflammation but others like peanuts are also very estrogenic.
So with increased inflammation due to the Omega 6 & nuts like peanuts being very estrogenic.
I’d suggest avoiding most nuts if you’re bothered about your T health.
If you want nut options that aren’t foods that lower testosterone, I’d advise to opt for either Brazil nuts or tiger nuts.
Both have nutritional properties that are great for increasing T & improving your wider health.
So while on paper milk has a great nutritional profile for both testosterone production & your wider health.
The milk that the majority of people drink is problematic for wider health & testosterone production on two different levels.
The first is, if you aren’t drinking organic milk, the cows have likely been fed a whole host of hormones.
This leads to the cows producing more estrogen, which ends up in the milk, making it high estrogenic!
The next issue is that most people these days drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.
As far as the nutritional content is concerned, the majority is actually located in the fat.
So by drinking milk without fat, you’re actually losing out on the majority of nutrition that aids with increased testosterone production and is actually good for your health as a whole.
5. Whole Grain Breads
Wholegrain bread is another one you frequently see being advertised on TV, promoted as being healthy.
While it may be healthier than white bread, the health benefits end there!
Wholegrain breads are also a source of gluten, this can lead to increased levels of prolactin.
Prolactin can actually lead to reduced testosterone levels.
The majority of grains can also potentially “suck out” essential nutrients from the body.
This means that nutrients your body needs for testosterone production and plenty of other functions are actively being removed.
So a few different reasons, wholegrain breads are foods that lower testosterone production.