Testosterone levels never remain constant throughout a man’s life. Not only the production of this hormone starts to decline as you age, but many factors can contribute to this process and make it faster. Your lifestyle choices primarily the level of physical activity and nutrition habits play a major role here. Foods you eat can either support healthy production of testosterone or jeopardize it. Limiting sugar intake is one of the most commonly recommended lifestyle modifications for men who want to improve their testosterone. Does sugar really affect testosterone negatively? What is the relationship between sugar and testosterone? You will find the answers below.
Most Common Types of Sugar in Our Diet
Sugar is the term that refers to soluble carbohydrates that are mainly used in food. These carbs serve as a fuel that our body uses for energy in the term of glucose and fructose. There isn’t only one type of sugar, but many different kinds. The most common types of sugar we consume in our diet include:
- Lactose – Milk sugar found in milk and dairy products
- Sucrose – Table sugar which consists of fructose and glucose
- Fructose – Naturally occurring sugar in honey and fruits
- Glucose – Primary source of energy for our cells
Our focus here is to investigate the impact of fructose and glucose in association with testosterone production. So, let’s start!
Sugar and Testosterone
Excessive consumption of sugar is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and many other negative health outcomes. But, did you ever wonder how it affects your testosterone levels? Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital carried out a study whose primary objective was to examine the physiological impact of glucose on testosterone in men. Their findings were published in the Clinical Endocrinology and they showed that ingestion of glucose induces a significant reduction in testosterone. In fact, glucose lowered testosterone levels by 25%. Decreased amount of testosterone could be due to a direct testicular defect, scientists say. However, it is important to bear in mind that testosterone-reducing effects are acute, meaning not long-term. It is already known that high levels of insulin are strongly related to low testosterone.
That said, glucose stimulates secretion of insulin which could also explain its ability to lower testosterone in men. One study found that hypogonadism (low testosterone) was associated with insulin resistance and may be a marker of metabolic abnormalities.
The Journal of Clinical Investigationfeatured a study which discoveredthat high intake of fructose and glucose can turn off the gene that regulates testosterone and estrogen in the body. How? Both fructose and glucose are metabolizedin the liver which converts too much sugar into lipid (fat). Scientists discovered that the increased production of lipid shuts down a gene called SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), thus reducing the amount of SHBG protein in the blood.
Although most studies are focused on short-term effects of sugar intake on testosterone, the findings are meaningful enough to inspire you to reduce sugar intake and focus on healthier habits.
Sugar and Weight Gain
Sugar is strongly linked to weight gain and obesity. For instance, researchers at the University of Reading, University of Cambridge, and Arizona State University carried out an extensive study which found that people who consumed most sugar were 54% more likely to be overweight than their counterparts. One of the major problems that scientists defined here was the fact that most people misrepresent the actual amount of sugar they consume. This could be one way of avoiding facing the facts or we don’t realize how much sugar we eat on a daily basis. For instance, we sometimes fail to understand that sugar is present in many foods, particularly processed stuff, not just in candies.
Weight gain is a well-known contributor to low testosterone according to the growing body of evidence. That explains why doctors and scientists recommend weight loss as the most important testosterone-boosting strategy. One study found that participants who lost weight also experienced almost 50% increase in their testosterone production.
Does this Mean I Should Stop Eating Sugar?
As you can see, sugar can, directly and indirectly, lead to low testosterone. Bear in mind that these effects aren’t unchangeable. For example, if you want to prevent testosterone loss or boost the production of this hormone, you can simply reduce the intake of sugar and sugar-laden foods.
Feel free to read the labels, get educated about different terms that refer to sugar on the ingredient lists, and avoid consuming foods that deliver too much sugar to your body. Making little tweaks goes a long way and helps you prevent the harmful effect of glucose and fructose on testosterone.
Testosterone Boosting Tips
Besides decreasing consumption of sugar, there are many other things one can do to enhance production of testosterone in a natural manner. For example:
- Exercise – Helps you maintain weight in a healthy range, boost testosterone, improve confidence, provide more strength and stamina
- Eat protein, carbs, healthy fats – For example, protein helps burn fat which is also important for healthy testosterone levels
- Manage stress – When you are stressed, your body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol which has a negative impact on testosterone. Think about activities that you find relaxing and make sure you do them whenever you are stressed out. Stress can also be yet another reason to exercise because physical activity lowers cortisol
- Supplement with Vitamin D – This vitamin has a positive effect on testosterone production, but it is difficult to obtain it through diet
- Consume zinc-rich foods – Zinc is vital for healthy testosterone and male sexual and reproductive health
High intake of sugar is strongly related to low testosterone levels, primarily due to its impact on insulin. Needless to mention that too much sugar is a major risk factor for weight gain. Overweight and obesity are the most common causes of low testosterone. Studies on this subject focused on acute effects primarily. Making lifestyle tweaks and decreasing consumption of sugar can help boost testosterone.