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How Does High Protein Diet Influence Testosterone Production?

March 20th, 2017

How Does High Protein Diet Influence Testosterone Production?

How Does High Protein Diet Influence Testosterone Production?

It is no surprise that daily dietary protein requirement in men is more than women. When it comes to boosting testosterone levels or building muscles, high protein diet is the most loved option (thanks to the intensive marketing tactics by fitness industries!).

However, people don’t know that consumption of too much protein not only has notoriously negative effects on the hormone production but it can affect overall health including poor muscle gain and overall slow metabolism.

High Protein Diet And Testosterone Production – What Should You Know About It?

Amino acid chains connected with peptide bonds forms a protein molecule. Different proteins have different lengths of amino acid chains. A complete protein will have all essential amino acids for instance, some examples of healthy protein sources are eggs, milk, and meat.

Testosterone production and muscle mass gain greatly depends upon the total intake of protein and the type of protein used. Insufficient protein intake can decrease the muscle mass and lower the testosterone production. For maximum muscle gain, a person requires 0.8gram of protein per pound of lean mass. In fact, 0.37g per pound is sufficient to maintain the positive nitrogen balance in habituated body builders.

Foods That Can Boost Testosterone Levels imageThere are numerous research studies that were designed to analyze the effects of protein intake on muscle gain and testosterone production.

As per one research, high protein diet has negative impact on overall hormonal profile. As part of the research study, the sample of resistance trained subjects were divided into different groups based on different compositions of macronutrients i.e. high carbs, high protein, and low fat diet. Upon analysis, it was observed that men with high protein intake had lower serum levels of testosterone. This reduction was dose dependent i.e. greater the amount of protein intake, greater was the testosterone suppression.

Another similar study was carried out on untrained men. The subjects were divided into two groups (high carbohydrate diet VS. high protein diet) with same amount of total caloric and fat intake. Results suggested that not only the testosterone and DHT levels were suppressed in men with high protein intake but it also increased the basal production of cortisol (the stress hormone). The only “negative aspect” of low protein diet observed in high-carb group was, increase in SHBG levels which can reduce the bioavailability of testosterone.

Though, the type of protein intake does affect testosterone production but there isn’t much study on this matter. There is only one study which suggests that animal protein is much more efficient in increasing the basal androgen production, as compared to plant or soy protein. The reason could be different amino acid composition or the fact that soy contains phytoestrogens.


From results of various research studies, it can be concluded that neither too much or too low protein intake is good for testosterone production and muscle mass gain. If excess protein can suppress testosterone and muscle gain, low protein can raise SHBG. Thus, moderation is the key!

Speak to your doctor if your think your low serum testosterone levels are a result of inadequate protein intake.


  • Freedman, L. S., Commins, J. M., Moler, J. E., Arab, L., Baer, D. J., Kipnis, V., … & Schatzkin, A. (2014). Pooled results from 5 validation studies of dietary self-report instruments using recovery biomarkers for energy and protein intake. American journal of epidemiology, kwu116.
  • Helms, E. R., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D. S., & Brown, S. R. (2014). A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes.
  • Schwartz, A., Patel, B. P., Vien, S., McCrindle, B. W., Anderson, G. H., & Hamilton, J. (2015). Acute decrease in serum testosterone after a mixed glucose and protein beverage in obese peripubertal boys. Clinical endocrinology, 83(3), 332-338.

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