Impact Of Vegan Diet On Testosterone
Meaty diet has always been considered as the “masculine” diet by many people. In fact, some men even claim that they feel less muscular and manly after reverting to only-vegan diets. This notion is also supported by a clinical study which showed significant testosterone reduction in men who switched their eating habits from non-vegan to vegan diet. According to another study, it was observed that vegan lovers have 6% lower testosterone levels, comparatively to meat lovers. But it is also imperative to mention that there are some studies that also suggests otherwise i.e. vegan men have same testosterone levels as that of non-vegan.
Can You Maintain Normal Testosterone Levels With Vegan Diet?
Generally, researchers have agreed to the statement that vegan diet can lead to low levels of total and free testosterone and high levels of HSGB. However, this does not mean that one cannot achieve high T levels with vegan diet. In fact, a solid plant based food can boost testosterone production and enhance overall health better just like non-vegan diet. This is because, vegetables are enriched with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are beneficial for testosterone and overall health. In addition, vegetables are also loaded with carbohydrates which are essential for the production of testosterone. People who eat vegetable based food are more lean, compared to those who prefer typical western diet. But, everything has its pros and cons. The dietary fat content in vegetables is generally low, and it is no secret that healthy consumption of fat is required for the production of testosterone. Moreover, the fats obtained through vegan diet are mostly PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acids) which are known to be potent suppressors of thyroid and testosterone.
Vegan diet components such as soy, flax seed and processed grains contain compounds that are unfavorable to testosterone and thyroid hormone i.e. phytoestrogens and goitrogenic compounds. Things don’t end here! Vegetable based diets have higher fiber content comparatively to meaty diet and high fiber is linked with increased SHBG levels, making testosterone unavailable for receptors.
Despite the fact, vegetables are enriched with essential micronutrients, they lack most of the major and important nutrients required for testosterone synthesis for instance, vitamin A (retinoid type), K2 and vitamin D. Veggies also lack compounds such as taurine, carnitine and creatine that are found in meat.
How To Maintain Normal Testosterone While On Vegan Diet?
Vegan diet have lesser calories than meaty diet therefore to get enough daily calories, one should eat larger portions. When a person runs low on calories, endocrine and reproductive systems are the first one to be affected which ultimately will lower the T levels. Therefore, nourish your body with sufficient calories, in proper ratios of fats, carbs, and protein.
Avoid Too Much PUFA
As mentioned earlier, PUFA are the biggest enemies of testosterone. Whereas saturated fats are testosterone boosting fats. Therefore, avoid all PUFA enriched vegetable sources i.e. soy, seed oils, vegetable oils and things made from it. Palm oil, coconut oil and olive oils are good source for healthy fats
Consume Adequate Quantities Of Fat- Soluble Vitamins
A strict vegan diet has insufficient concentration of fat-soluble vitamins (A, K, and D) that are necessary for testosterone formation. Therefore, one should opt for fat soluble vitamin supplements, to fulfill their daily requirements. To make these vitamins absorbable, person should consume sufficient dietary fats. Best option includes coconut oil. Those who don’t want to take dietary fat at any cost can take benefit from topical supplements.
Avoid Too Much Grains And Fibers
Both animal and plant based foods contain fibers and grains but plants have higher concentration. High fiber content is associated with low levels of free testosterone and increased HSBG levels. HSBG is a binding protein that inactivates free testosterone molecules. Whereas, gluten enriched grains are linked with increased levels of prolactin which leads to suppressed production of androgens and dopamine.
Neither a fully vegan nor a completely meaty diet is good for testosterone. It’s all about balance! No matter what you eat, a proper diet with all essential nutrients in right ratio is the key to healthy testosterone levels.
- Terrier, J. E., & Isidori, A. M. (2016). How Food Intakes Modify Testosterone Level. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(9), 1292-1296.
- Lynch, H. M., Wharton, C. M., & Johnston, C. S. (2016). Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Peak Torque Differences between Vegetarian and Omnivore Endurance Athletes: A Cross-Sectional Study. Nutrients, 8(11), 726.
- McCarty, M. F. (2016). The moderate essential amino acid restriction entailed by low-protein vegan diets may promote vascular health by stimulating FGF21 secretion. Hormone molecular biology and clinical investigation.