Testosterone isn’t something that only men over 40 need to think about. Whether you’re a man or a woman who wants to gain muscle, lose fat, or enjoy sex, you need to have an understanding of testosterone and weight loss.
It’s also important to understand that men and women respond differently to testosterone, so what works for one sex may not work well or the other. An example of this is that obesity and diabetes could be caused by high testosterone levels in women, but low testosterone levels in men.
Rather than write a whole book about testosterone and explain everything, we’ll just focus on how testosterone and weight loss are related for men; why men wanting to lose weight need testosterone; how testosterone is affected by the diet; and how a Paleo diet can help with regulating hormone levels during a diet.
Testosterone and Weight Loss
Testosterone helps healthy men lose fat rather than just lose weight. The older you are the more important testosterone is, but it’s still something men in their 20s need to be concerned about. Testosterone is used to build muscle, which improves your metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and comes with a whole host of other benefits.
To understand how important testosterone is you just need to look at the worst-case scenario; obesity and low testosterone combine to form a vicious circle. Obesity restricts testosterone production, and reduced testosterone levels mean more fat is stored. Reduced testosterone levels also affects insulin resistance, which is when the metabolism becomes unable to handle cars, meaning that the carbs you eat are instantly turned into fat.
Other aspects of metabolic syndrome are tied to low testosterone levels. Losing weight can improve testosterone production, but it can only happen if you can get out of the vicious circle.
It’s obvious that in order to gain and maintain a healthy weight you also need healthy testosterone levels. Testosterone also helps you maintain a healthy body fat percentage. You could be unhealthy metabolically despite being skinny. You need to have a healthy ratio of fat to muscle rather than just being skinny. This also helps you look better naked, which is an added perk!
With this in mind, it becomes cruel that a traditional diet is the worst thing you could do to your testosterone levels.
Dieting and Testosterone
Unfortunately for people looking to lose weight; the traditional “diet” reduces testosterone levels. This is why dieting can destroy your libido.
While it’s impossible to avoid losing testosterone while dieting, you can look at why dieting reduces testosterone levels and find a few ways to mitigate the damage.
Reducing Fat Reduces Testosterone
Many diets are based around the idea of eating low-fat foods. Unfortunately studies have shown that reducing fat levels and eating high-fiber foods is the fastest way to crash your testosterone levels; especially if you eat polyunsaturated fat.
The solution is that you shouldn’t avoid fats entirely. All you need to do is adjust your diet so you take in some good fats.
- Saturated Fat – It’s hard to differentiate just what saturated fat does when looking at the effect of all dietary fats on the diet. Some studies have shown that there is an association between testosterone levels and percent energy from saturated fat. The evidence would seem to suggest there is indeed a link to the two. It’s also important to consider that vegetarians, who are getting less saturated fat, have lower testosterone levels than omnivores.
- Monounsaturated Fat – Studies have shown that argan oil and olive oil; two great sources of monounsaturated fats, boost testosterone levels in healthy young men.
There’s been plenty of debate about whether testosterone is boosted more by saturated or monounsaturated fats, but people who eat Paleo diets get plenty of both kinds. The result is you get the most out of both of them, so it doesn’t matter which one is “better”.
Weight Loss Reduces Testosterone
Any form of energy deficit (created when burning more calories than you eat), reduces testosterone levels. This is because losing weight results in losing muscle mass. This is an inevitable part of weight loss. It’s impossible to lose fat and not muscle. So any weight loss is going to also reduce testosterone levels. Even so you can make the damage as minimal as possible.
The solution is to preserve as much lean mass as possible. The more muscle mass you can retain, the less testosterone loss there is. Preserve learn muscle mass by getting enough protein and doing resistance training. Both of these build and retain muscle. Just be careful to not overdo it. You can have too much of a good thing.
Stress Reduces Testosterone
Nobody enjoys dieting. Starving yourself thin is painful and causes a lot of stress. This stress and the general feeling of craziness is caused by the hormone cortisol; which controls the “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol is ideal if you find you need some extra strength; such as when you or a loved one is in danger; but it can quickly become an issue. Unfortunately for dieters, dieting increases stress, stress increases cortisol, and cortisol reduces testosterone.
The solution is to reduce overall stress and keep cortisol levels down. If your diet has you climbing the walls then give a different diet a try. Get at least 8 hours sleep each night; testosterone levels are affected by sleep deprivation. Don’t push yourself too hard in the gym and get enough food to maintain your workouts. Reducing stress doesn’t need to be complicated. A lot of it is just common sense.
As we mentioned in the intro, testosterone has different effects on women, but that’s a story for a different day. For men, at least, it should be obvious that the conventional diet isn’t doing anything good to your testosterone levels. It’s easier (and better) to lose weight in a way that retains as much testosterone as possible.
If you want to diet and not lose testosterone then the best way to do this is through the Paleo diet along with testosterone booster supplement. You’re more likely to succeed than if you were to just eat less and move more anyway. You just need to get your fill of protein and healthy fats, lift the occasional weight, and avoid doing things that drive you stir crazy. Another good idea is to have the occasional serving of oyster, or find some other way to get plenty of zinc.
With this method you might not be losing weight as quickly, as you’ll be preserving muscle mass and the scales see all weight as, well, weight, but it will be easier to maintain the weight loss. It makes it easier to lose weight while keeping your mood, health, and sex drive where you want them to be.