From the 1970s through to the early 2000s, low-fat diets were believed to be the healthiest for both losing weight and health. People ate a combination of lean meats like chicken breast and low-fat beef with carbs and vegetables with very little added fat. Butter was replaced with low-fat spread alternatives, and yolks were removed from eggs to avoid the cholesterol. With new research, we now know that fat isn’t the devil food it was once made out to be, and that it is, in fact, an essential macronutrient used for brain function and as the basis of optimal testosterone in both men and women. Many factors can influence testosterone as well as diet, including sleep, stress, aging, smoking, and more. Diet is a critical factor among these, and one that can be controlled more easily than some of the other factors. Some studies have shown that eating red meat can increase testosterone significantly when compared to another group eating tofu, for example.
Other studies have compared the testosterone of those eating high-fat, meat-focused diets to those eating primarily vegan foods. Many people who eat vegan foods have been found to have increased amounts of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), which binds to testosterone and makes it less available to the system. This is then associated with the symptoms of decreased testosterone such as a lower libido and lower energy. This reduced level of available testosterone isn’t necessarily because the people in the study were eating less meat, but rather because of the lower-fat diets they were eating naturally. A study done in 2011 looked at a group of men doing intense military training, which saw them training and doing physical work up to 7-8 hours a day. Blood samples were taken at the start and end of the training, and found that although their testosterone level remained the same, their SHBG increased and resulted in a lower level of free testosterone that the body could actually use. This resulted in lower performance and recovery. In addition, a study done on ice hockey players split the test athletes into two groups and gave one a high-fat diet, and one a lower-fat diet. The group that was eating a diet made up of 40% fat rather than 30% fat ended up having higher free testosterone and lower levels of SHBG.
If you aren’t sure how to get more fat into your diet, there are several key food groups to choose from. Meats are a great choice, and you can easily select a fattier cut of meat over a leaner one. This means chicken off the bone,and rump steak over chicken breast and sirloin steak. Fatty fish is also highly recommended and should be added to your diet 2x a week to get all the fantastic omega-3s and other fatty acids contained in fish. Moving away from animal products, you can choose avocados, which have over 70% of fat, or nuts like peanuts or almonds. These can be bought in bulk or grown on planters. Adding more of these foods to your diet will help increase your free testosterone levels and help you feel more energized and recover better.