Carbohydrates are one of the macro-nutrients which are very beneficial for overall health & testosterone. However when we say “carbs”, it’s from a natural complex source, such as fruit, vegetables, organic raw dairy and raw honey.
The good thing about natural high complex carbohydrates is that it contains minerals and vitamins that your body needs, so it’s not just empty carbs you’re eating like sugar or other refined carbs such as bread etc.
You get three kinds of carbohydrates: Low GI, moderate GI, and high GI.
The higher the GI, the more energy the food provides. While natural high GI foods, such as bananas and dates will not give you a sugar low or spike your insulin as refined products do.
In order for me to stay optimally healthy, I only eat natural foods.
Here are a few benefits for eating moderate carbs from complex natural sources…
- lowers cholesterol (2)
- lowers blood sugar (3)
- lowers blood pressure
- helps to control apetite
- boosts mood & creativity (4, 5)
Other benefits include…
If your’re inactive, a high carbohydrate diet will not increase your testosterone. As a matter of a fact, a low carb diet actually increases testosterone if your exercise or not. (6) If you personally feel terrible on a low carb diet, then don’t do it. Every one response differently to foods and we all need to fine tune how much of what we eat. But if your goal is to build muscle (totally lean bulk) and increase your testosterone, I advise a low carb diet, high in protein and fats, with carb refeeds every 3-5 days.
Here participants experienced higher testosterone following a higher carbohydrate diet vs a higher protein diet. The study doesn’t say how much protein or carbs they ate or from which sources it come from, which makes it a bit unclear to say if it’s good or bad. The lower testosterone was from high meat intake, and not higher carb intake.
If you just want to be healthy, it would be best to eat balanced diet, with moderate amounts of carbs (complex only), proteins and fats.
Testosterone: Cortisol ratio
Intensive exercise (such as sprinting, weightlifting etc.) is stressful to the body, and therefore might increase cortisol and lower testosterone.
Eating a diet high in natural carbohydrates (60% of total calories), will protect your testosterone, during and after period of intensive exercise. (7) Exercise increases your testosterone, but exercising too much and too often (overtraining) will lead to lower testosterone and higher cortisol. I think that if you train smart and don’t overtrain, you have no need to consume huge amounts of carbohydrates, but 100g daily would be more than enough.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) binds to testosterone when testosterone enters the blood stream from the testes. This makes the testosterone unusable by androgen receptors (as it’s no long free to bind to them).
Now most natural carbohydrate sources consist of glucose and fructose.
Lipogenesis is induced by eating glucose and fructose which lowers SHBG resulting in more free testosterone. Protein also potently lowers SHBG. Like I said above, a high protein, high fat diet is optimal for lean bulk and optimal testosterone.
By following a high complex carbohydrate diet (low GI vegetables) for 26 days, 21 males lowered their estrogen from 47.2 to 23.8 pg/ml (8). That’s a 50% reduction in just 26 days, and no supplements were used. Now that’s the power of just eating healthy. The natural range for estrogen for men should be between 10-40 pg/ml. I’d rather keep mine on the low side thank you very much.
Exercise performance, Strength & Weight-loss
These two studies show how the consumption of carbohydrates, quite significantly, increases endurance type exercises, like cycling, sprinting, jogging, and running sports. (9, 10) However, when athletes became keto adapted, they out performed the carb eating athletes. I know of a study, where they tested ketogenic diet on endurance performance, and after the study, many of the carb eating athletes converted to ketogenic diets when they saw how well the other group performed.
Eating too little carbohydrates (just like protein), can hinder strength gains in the long run and may be detrimental to your exercise performance. (11, 12) However a few contradictory studies claim that low carb diets do not affect strength in athletes. (13, 14)
80% of your bodies glycogen is stored in the muscles. Glycogen provide energy during intensive exercise. By not replenishing your glycogen stores the previous day, will negatively affect your following workout. A study was done by Volek et al. and they found that resting muscle glycogen was equal in carb eating athletes vs ketogenic athletes. As I mentioned about, just refeed every 3-5 days if you feel your strength is diminishing.
If weight-loss is the focus, a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates will provide good fat loss. As seen in many studies, ketogenic diets results in much greater lean muscle retention and much more fat mass loss. Just stick to the every 3-5 days refeed rule and your performance will stay optimal.
A high carbohydrate diet might increase blood pressure, due to increased heart rate and salt retention. It would only seem applicable for refined carbohydrate sources however, (such as sugar, muffins, cakes, bread, pastas, pizzas, hamburgers, fries etc.). (15, 16, 17) Natural sources like honey, fruits and vegetables actually lower blood pressure. (18, 19, 20) Moral of the story… stay away from refined man-made junk and eat only natural food sources and you’re health will definitely improve.
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