Yesterday, we talked about declining rates of fertility as a result of the chemical soup we’re living in. So, today, let’s talk about another factor that directly influences reproductive health—and it’s one that you have complete control over.
I’m talking about your diet.
In fact, according to a new meta-analysis, low-fat diets lower testosterone levels in men. And I guarantee you that’s at least one reason why I’m seeing low T, even in young patients, so much more often.
This new research should be the death knell for the low-fat diet. But since I seem to be the only one talking about it, that seems pretty unlikely. (Especially since it’s hardly the first study of its kind.) So let’s start with a little history…
Low fat, low T
Fat consumption dropped from about 45 percent of the diet back in 1965, to around 35 percent of the diet in 1991—the heyday of the low-fat craze. And unfortunately, it’s stayed that low ever since.
For this new study, researchers used a cross-over design to better analyze the effects of fat in the diet on testosterone levels. They had the men eat a high-fat diet and then a low-fat diet, and compared the results. They ultimately found that average testosterone levels were 10 to 15 percent lower during the low-fat phase. (It’s shocking even to me how quickly things went south—as the diet interventions ranged from just two to 10 weeks!)
More specifically, men’s total testosterone levels were 475 mg/dL on a low-fat diet and 532 mg/dL on a high-fat diet. (Which is still abysmally low, if you want my opinion, but that’s a pretty significant difference, regardless.)
But here’s the worst part: The steepest drop in testosterone levels—by a whopping 26 percent—was in men who ate a low-fat, vegetarian diet. (As you know, I’ve never been a fan of vegetarian diets either. So I love it when I can stick it to two different misguided diets all at once!)
And just to highlight how preposterous mainstream medicine’s attitude about dietary fat still is, check out this line straight from the study authors: “It is controversial, but our results also indicate that foods with saturated fatty acids may boost testosterone.”
Of course, despite these findings, they went on to warn that these foods have links to high cholesterol.
Seriously… how many times do we have to go over this?!
Saturated fats are perfectly healthy, provided they come from good sources—like organic, wild, pastured, grass-fed and -finished animal sources. I have eaten this way for nearly 30 years now, and my cholesterol remains at a comfortable 180 mg/dL—with high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, low triglycerides, and yes, you guessed it… high testosterone levels, to boot!
Double down on fat
Now, this isn’t to say you have to go full-on paleo or keto to get the same beneficial results (not that I’m against either, though). Simply following a Mediterranean-style diet is a great way to boost your intake of fat.
In fact, this diet is full of healthy, whole foods that are naturally packed with healthy fats—like monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (including the omega-3s DHA and EPA)—to help lower heart disease risk, increase longevity, and boost testosterone.
Mediterranean-diet staples include healthy oils (olive oil, avocado oil, and my personal favorite, macadamia nut oil); nuts; fresh produce (like avocados and leafy greens); wild-caught fish and seafood; red meat; poultry; and eggs. And needless to say, if more men ate like this, they’d be better off for it.
Because the fact is, testosterone isn’t just for sex drive. It affects men’s physical performance and mental health, too. And low levels are associated with a heart problems, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Sure, levels are bound to drop as you age. But the steep declines we’re seeing nowadays are a whole different ballgame. And it’s a trend that absolutely can be reversed—not just by eating more fat, but by losing weight, too. (Overweight men are also more likely to have lower testosterone.)
That’s why I always recommend adopting a Mediterranean-style, high-fat, low-carb diet—like my very own A-List Diet, which has helped many of my patients lose weight, boost testosterone levels, and improve cholesterol and blood pressure.
I also encourage you to tune into my Cooking With Dr. Fred show (on Instagram and YouTube), where I routinely cook simple, high-fat, low-carb meals in the comfort of my own home—and show you how to do the same.
“Eating More Fat May Boost Borderline Low Testosterone.” Medscape Medical News, 04/16/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/949437)