Eating the correct macro nutrients is a must do if you want to optimize your androgen hormones and your physique…
It’s a terrible idea to omit any kind of macro nutrient for any kind of goal you might have.
Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post…
Protein is actually more important for T production than you might think, and most important for optimal muscle gains. I eat a rather moderate amount of protein, and have no problem gaining muscle mass or strength, than eating a low protein diet for ‘extra testosterone’.
- Tends to lower testosterone (15-20% would be best for testosterone production, 20-30% would be best for muscle gains) (1)
- lowers SHBG, meaning more free testosterone (meat eaters tend to have much lower SHBG than non meat eaters) (2)
- increases IGF-1 by 30% after following a 30% protein diet vs a 15% protein diet (3)
As seen in the graph, the more protein you eat, the lower your testosterone will be.
If you’re in a caloric deficit, I recommend eating more protein to minimize lean muscle mass lost. 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day of protein would be best. (4)
However, if you’re in a caloric surplus, it might not be needed to eat as much protein. (5) As little as 1g/kg/day of protein shows equal gain in lean mass as 2.77g/kg/day.
Plant-based proteins are shown to lower testosterone more than animal based protein. (6)
I recommend getting protein from meats and dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Eggs are also another great source of protein. But be sure to only eat free range products. If you can’t, avoid eggs and chicken and eat mutton liver instead. You can at least know for a fact that sheep are grass fed, because they don’t eat grains.
- More on protein here…
Land creature meat/potein
- wild game
- milk & egg (most bio-available source, and your body can utilize all of it)
Land creatures’ liver (best meat source of minerals, vitamins, choline and cholesterol)
- mutton liver
- beef liver
- chicken liver
- oysters (best source of zinc)
If possible, choose the fish sources with bone still on to get good quality calcium and cartilage.
- People that eat a healthy ketogenic diet actually has more testosterone than carb eaters. However I advise a cyclic ketogenic diet.
- Carbohydrates (insulin) lowers cortisol (more cortisol –> less testosterone and higher aromatase). (more on lowering your cortisol here…)
- Carbohydrates lower SHBG. (A)
- When you eat carbohydrates, your hypothalamus signals the testes to produces more testosterone as it senses you are not in starvation.
- Insulin causes the release of testosterone from its binding proteins (SHBG), which then results in more androgen uptake by androgen receptors
As seen here, the more carb to protein ratio you eat (carbs > protein), the higher your testosterone will be. This graph could also indicate that more protein lowers your testosterone and not necessarily carbs that increase it. As mentioned above, people on a ketogenic diet tend to have higher testosterone, even when they both groups (keto vs carbs) participate in a training program. I’m not anti carbs, I still recommend refeeding every 3-4 days on a carb meal to replenish glycogen stores.
But it’s very important to only eat healthy carbohydrates:
- no refined stuff
- no processed
- no instant
Fruit/Dried fruit: dates, figs, plums, peaches, raisins, etc.
Vegetables: potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, etc.
Grains: oats, sorghum
Fats are much more important for testosterone production as carbohydrates. Your testosterone is synthesized from cholesterol. The more cholesterol and nutrients that increase androgenic enzymes, the more testosterone you will have. That’s why Vince Gironda advise to ingest up to 3 dozen eggs a day.
Natural bodybuilders need more fats than non natural bodybuilders for testosterone production.
40-75% of your diet should consist of fats.
Higher fat diets give:
The fat ratio is very important. You get 4 main kinds of fats. Saturated (SFA), polyunsaturated (PUFAs), monounsaturated (MUFAs), and trans fats.
Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats should be nice and high. (6) Polyunsaturated fats should be as low as possible as it lowers testosterone and increases inflammation, and trans fats should be non existent. (7, 8, 9)
Foods to avoid that are high in PUFAs are foods such as:
sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, margarine and the list goes on.
Oils and foods to consume with a great fat ratio:
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
- macadamia nuts
So for e.g. I would recommend eating 15-20% protein, 30-40% fats and the rest carbs for optimal testosterone production, but for optimal lean mass gains, 30-40% protein 5-10% carbs and 50-65% fats.