7 Testosterone-Killing Foods You Should Always Avoid – Testosterone is a vital sex hormone for both men and women. It plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, muscle mass, sex drive, and overall health, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, our bodies naturally produce less testosterone as we age, leading to various health issues, including obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes, WebMD explains. Fortunately, several ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels include regular exercise and a balanced diet. You may be surprised to learn that some foods can negatively impact testosterone production, leading to lower levels of this essential hormone. That’s why we chatted with health and nutrition experts who discuss seven testosterone-killing foods you should avoid if you want to maintain optimal testosterone levels.
From processed foods to sugar-laden snacks, certain foods can wreak havoc on our hormones, including testosterone. By understanding which foods to stay clear of, you can make smarter dietary choices and help ensure your body functions at its best. So, whether you want to improve your athletic performance or simply maintain your health as you age, read on to discover seven testosterone-killing foods you should always avoid.
“Drinking more than one or two drinks per day can lower testosterone levels in men by disrupting the signals from the brain to the testes for testosterone production and decreasing the ability of the testes to produce the hormone in other ways,” Kelsey Kunik, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition advisor for Zenmaster Wellness, tells ETNT. “Alcohol also disrupts sleep, which studies have found can cause a 10 to 15% drop in testosterone production.”
Alcohol affects your liver’s ability to break down estrogen, which leads to a decrease in testosterone production. So if you want to maintain healthy testosterone levels, limit your alcohol consumption.
Spearmint is a popular herb often used in teas and other beverages. However, it has been found to have anti-androgenic effects, which means it can reduce testosterone levels. This is particularly true when consumed in large amounts, so it’s best to avoid it to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
“While spearmint’s testosterone-lowering effects could benefit women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), research needs to be done on how spearmint can affect testosterone levels in men,” says Kunik.
3. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas and energy drinks are loaded with added sugars and can lead to weight gain and obesity, research shows. As a result, sugary drinks can have a negative effect on testosterone levels. For example, a study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was significantly associated with low testosterone in U.S. adult males aged 20 to 39.
“Sugary drinks and other sugary foods raise blood sugar, which creates a hormonal cascade effect that lowers testosterone production,” explains Kunik. “High blood sugar prevents the pituitary gland from producing enough luteinizing hormone, which helps stimulate testosterone production in the testes.”
4. Refined Carbs from Breads and Pastries
Refined carbs from bread and pastries can have a negative effect on testosterone levels because of their high sugar content, which contributes to weight gain and obesity.
“Several studies suggest that testosterone levels may drop from eating out frequently,” says Denise Coventry, RD, a registered dietitian specializing in gastrointestinal health. “Your diet quality can change with large portions of bread, pastries, and desserts without balancing the need for dark green vegetables and wholesome meals made at home.”
5. Processed Meats
Processed meats, such as sausages and bacon, are often high in saturated fat and have been linked to various health problems. They can also have a negative effect on testosterone levels. According to a study published in Human Reproduction, men who consumed high amounts of processed meat had a 15% lower volume of testosterone and a 37% decrease in sperm count.
“Studies have found low testosterone levels and low-quality sperm in men who consumed more processed meats and their diet was lower in beans, legumes, vegetables, and dairy,” states Nicole Ibarra, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition coach.
6. Fast Food
“Regularly eating an abundance of high-calorie, high-fat foods like fast food combo orders of burgers and fries might not be helping your sex hormones, including testosterone,” cautions Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, a Virginia-based registered dietitian. “Forming healthy habits around eating less fast food is a great place to start [for optimal testosterone levels.].”
Research shows that fast food is often loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugars, and excess calories—a recipe for unhealthy weight gain that can negatively impact testosterone levels.
Flaxseed rounds out our list of testosterone-killing foods. Research suggests that consuming large amounts of flaxseeds can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels in men. For example, a study published in Urology found that men who had prostate cancer and were supplemented with flaxseed experienced significantly reduced testosterone levels.