Carbohydrates And Testosterone
For decades, high carbohydrate intake has been regarded as the key determinant of obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis and other disabling diseases. In fact, carbohydrate-rich diets are considered among the unhealthy forms of macronutrients. However, reality is quite surprising! Carbohydrates are one of the essential food groups that fuels up your body and increases the basal metabolic rate. Regardless of what your trainer might tell you, it is not desirable to completely eliminate a source of important nutrient. If you are looking to lose weight or your doctor has advised you to cut down on your car intake, just reduce the percentage of calorie intake! Sugars especially fructose are known to increase thyroid hormone which in turn fastens up your metabolism. Besides, speeding up metabolic rate, carbohydrates are also good for boosting testosterone levels naturally.
How Does Carbohydrate Diet Affect Your Testosterone Levels?
For optimal hormonal health, one must add carbohydrates to their diet. Numerous research studies have shown positive effects of carbohydrate consumption on testosterone levels. In fact, the neurons responsible for triggering the release of gonadotropin hormones (which in turn produces testosterone from gonads), are also dependent on the steady blood glucose levels.
According to a new research study, the production of testosterone has been found to be suppressed in subjects who were given high protein and low carbohydrate diet. This suppression was dose dependent i.e. greater the protein-carbohydrate ratio, lower will be the serum testosterone secretion.
Another study showed similar results in which the subjects were divided into two groups with same caloric intake but different protein- carbohydrates ratios i.e. 44%protein-35% carbohydrates and 10% protein- 70% carbohydrates. At the end of study period, it was found that the group with high protein and low carb diet had decreased levels of DHT and testosterone. Moreover, their cortisol levels (the stress hormone) were high, which suggests that carbohydrates are capable of boosting androgens and reducing the effect of stress on the body. It is no surprise that chocolates and desserts almost immediately elevates the energy levels and mood.
Another point that highlights the importance of carbs in increasing the serum testosterone levels, is the drug diazoxide. This drug prevents cellular uptake of glucose by suppressing the release of insulin and has negative impact on serum testosterone levels, as it decreases both free and total testosterone.
Should Physically Dynamic Individuals Consider A Balanced Carb-Diet?
Sportsmen are well aware of the beneficial effects of carbohydrates on performance. A study that was conducted to measure the effects of carbohydrates on free-testosterone to cortisol ratio (fTC) yield amazing results. The subjects were divided into two groups; one with low carb diet and other with high carb intake. Both groups were asked to do intensive work out for 3 consecutive days (60minutes per day with 70-75% maximal consumption of oxygen). Subsequent to one day rest, both groups were evaluated for fTC. It wasn’t surprising that men with high carb intake had high levels of free testosterone and low cortisol levels. However, it must be kept in mind that over extended periods of time, high protein diet is more helpful in sustaining testosterone levels compared to carbohydrates (1).
How Much Carbs Should Be Consumed?
Depending upon the ratio of fats and proteins, the amount of carbohydrate intake varies from person to person. But, a reasonable amount to work with is 40 to 60% of total calorie intake per day.
The Right Carbohydrates!
It is very clear that carbohydrates have an advantageous effect on T levels but, the question is what type of carbohydrates!? The best form of carbohydrates for enhancing hormonal health are the ones obtained from ground vegetables such as potatoes, fruits, pressed fruit juices, milk, white rice, and sugar canes!
The carbs coming from gluten enriched grains are harmful for T levels as they contain prolactin which does not have a positive effect on testosterone levels as they tend to suppress gonadotropin hormone. Similarly, there are certain grain products that have negative influence on testosterone and dopamine production because they increase serotonin and endotoxin levels.
Thus, don’t avoid carbohydrates! Just eat the right proportion of calories with balanced intake of all macronutrients as well as micronutrients.
- Moran, L. J., Brinkworth, G. D., Martin, S., Wycherley, T. P., Stuckey, B., Lutze, J., … & Noakes, M. (2016). Long-Term Effects of a Randomised Controlled Trial Comparing High Protein or High Carbohydrate Weight Loss Diets on Testosterone, SHBG, Erectile and Urinary Function in Overweight and Obese Men. PloS one, 11(9), e0161297.
- Goto, K., Shioda, K., & Uchida, S. (2013). Effect of 2 days of intensive resistance training on appetite‐related hormone and anabolic hormone responses. Clinical physiology and functional imaging, 33(2), 131-136.