Low testosterone is no joke. It can result in sexual dysfunction, increased fatigue, decreased strength, body swelling, and sleep disturbances, amongst a whole host of other negative effects.
There’s no way to sustain your peak level of testosterone forever. Aging makes sure of that for all of us. However, there are ways you can keep your testosterone from bottoming out.
Many people don’t know that diet is a key factor in the production, or lack of production, of testosterone. There are many foods that are deadly to your testosterone, and you should know about them so you can avoid them as you craft your meal plan.
What follows are 10 of these testosterone killing foods. Join us as we dive deep into dangerous waters before we surface with knowledge that will keep your testosterone levels healthy.
Be Mindful With These 10 Testosterone Killing Foods
There’s a spectrum of testosterone annihilation. Not all of these foods are deadly in proper amounts, but you should be careful when ingesting all of them. Watch your intake, and if you’re at risk for low testosterone, make sure you consult with your doctor or nutritionist when incorporating them into your diet.
1. Too Much Protein
“No way!” you say. “Too much protein lowers testosterone? It can’t be!”
We know it seems counterintuitive. Culturally, we’re programmed to correlate protein with muscle building and muscles with masculinity, strength, and all of the other connotations of high testosterone.
This suggestion is definitely a controversial one. There are people much smarter than we are who interpret the data in sometimes conflicting ways. But we’ve seen the correlation too much to ignore it.
Some studies have shown a correlation between lower production of testosterone and higher levels of protein in the diet. There may not be evidence to suggest that the protein is the cause of that low level of testosterone, but the correlation is noteworthy.
The takeaway? Make sure you’re eating the right amounts and kinds of protein in your diet so that your food can work with your testosterone rather than against it.
2. Flax Seeds
We’ll admit it’s bold to put flax products this high on our list. There are definitely testosterone killing foods lower on the list with much greater effects.
But flax seeds are a superfood of the moment, and it’s important to be cautious when it comes to any dietary fads.
The plus side most flax seed fans tout is the high amount of omega-3s they contain. Which is true, they are high in omega-3s, but so are plenty of other foods.
The downside of flax is most everything else about it. The food is estrogenic, so much that doctors use it to combat testosterone in female patients with excess body hair.
If you need an estrogen boost, go for flax seeds. If you want to keep your testosterone intact, steer clear.
This is the big one, the mother of all suggestions. Reduce your alcohol consumption.
You’ve seen this tip on all sorts of food and beverage guides. While alcohol may create good times in the short term, there’s no getting around the fact that it is a poison to our bodies. That includes killing our testosterone levels.
One scientific study showed that when rats consumed a diet with 5% of its calories coming from alcohol, their testicles shrunk by 50%. In human terms, that’s half a beer a day.
The way alcohol reduces your testosterone is through the addition of stress to your system. We all know stress is a destroyer of health, and the added stress limits your body’s ability to produce testosterone. Especially damaging are the hops in beer, which can keep the liver from removing excess estrogen and phytoestrogens.
Not only does alcohol take a toll on your body’s testosterone levels over the long haul, it can also impact your libido before sex, as many men know.
If we’re talking about reducing stress, eliminating mint feels like the wrong way to go.
While a nice peppermint tea is soothing, there might be other tea options you should seek out if you’re looking to keep your testosterone up.
A 2004 study showed that one cup of peppermint tea could lower testosterone levels by 23%, and a cup of spearmint tea could do even more damage, lowering levels by 51%.
While the damage these drinks do to your system isn’t permanent, it can be sustainably harmful if you keep your mint tea habit up on a daily basis.
5. Soda, Especially Diet Soda
So continues the beverage portion of our list.
We don’t need to tell you soda isn’t good for you, even and especially diet soda. When it comes to your testosterone, regular soda can decrease it by encouraging the kind of weight gain that is so frequently associated with lower testosterone levels.
Diet soda is a particularly bad fit for those at risk for low testosterone. That’s because the artificial sweeteners affect your serotonin levels. Not only does serotonin positively correlate with your sense of happiness and well-being, but low serotonin correlates with lower libido.
On top of all that, the plastic bottles soda are often made with phthalates, which can have estrogen-like properties. All the thumbs down on soda.
We’ll admit this one is a bummer. There are plenty of links between cannabis and sex that it’s frustrating to hear marijuana may have negative effects on one of the main sex hormones. But it’s true, marijuana can decrease testosterone for up to 24 hours after you use it.
Since we mentioned the sugar in soda leading to weight gain, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention edibles here. Gummies, cookies, and brownies are all sugar-rich foods, and if that’s how you consume your marijuana, your testosterone is doubly at risk.
You’ll note we mention marijuana here, the kind with active THC, and not every aspect of the plant. As far as we know, your CBD oil and hemp protein powder are still safe.
Does it seem like we’re just coming after everyone’s favorite foods? We promise that’s not our aim.
It’s not that chocolate is entirely bad for you. It’s just this one area of your health that can suffer if you eat too much of it. As we mentioned before, some of these foods in moderation won’t completely destroy your testosterone.
Many people think chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is an aphrodisiac, but consuming chocolate in more than moderate quantities can suppress testosterone levels.
You don’t have to curtail your chocolate nibbling entirely. Just eat it wisely and sparingly.
Many people hate licorice, so foregoing this candy might be a lot easier than giving up chocolate. However, licorice’s lovers are a fervent bunch, so it bears relaying the message that this is another sugary food that can kill testosterone completely separate from its sugar content.
The ingredient in licorice that attacks testosterone is glycyrrhizic acid, which is what gives licorice its distinct flavor. Glycyrrhizic acid is powerful in its ability to block testosterone production in the Leydig cells.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed drastic reductions in testosterone in men who consumed licorice. Their subjects’ testosterone dropped by around 50% in just a few days.
And this wasn’t some sort of concentrated licorice extract made specifically for the study. These subjects were eating store-bought licorice. So watch out because the testosterone poison is hiding in plain sight.
It may be a large part of many vegan bodybuilders’ diets, but soy can wreak havoc on testosterone. There are all sorts of compounds within it that can have this effect.
Some of these compounds are called isoflavones, which exert estrogenic effects on your body. Others are called goitrogens. These negatively impact the thyroid and your metabolism. Since a low-functioning thyroid is one cause of low testosterone in men, you can see how consuming soy milk or edamame can correspond to the dysfunction of low testosterone.
There are also compounds call anti-androgens in soy. These compounds work even more directly to suppress testosterone.
It’s easy enough to avoid soy supplements and choose a cleaner, more testosterone-friendly protein, but there are sneaky ways for soy to appear in your diet, like the aforementioned edamame. Maybe stick to miso soup when it comes to Japanese/Chinese appetizers.
The poison cherry on the top of the soy sundae is the level of processing that accompanies soybeans in the United States. Any foods that are too heavily processed will wear down your testosterone significantly. That brings us to our last food item on the list.
10. Donuts, Nachos, French Fries
We realize this is three foods, but we’re actually using this category to cover for a whole lot more foods, including fast food and pretty much anything that is deep fried. These foods have a multi-pronged, cumulative effect on testosterone production. Let’s count the ways they kill it.
Many of these foods come fried in vegetable oils, which are testosterone killers of the highest order. These oils decrease thyroid function, which we’ve already talked about, and they also lower testosterone directly. Plus, one of the main vegetable oils is soybean oil, and we’ve already talked about the damage soy can cause.
Vegetable oils are so damaging because they are polyunsaturated fats. This means they are easily broken and denatured with light, heat, and oxygen. When these elements denature the fat in vegetable oil, the oil becomes toxic to the body from a nutritional standpoint.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats can actually boost your testosterone, but when the fat you’re getting is polyunsaturated, your testosterone is at risk.
These unhealthy fats are also going to increase your cholesterol levels over time, and that can do damage to your testosterone in and of itself.
These fun foods also suffer from the processing concerns of soy. Many of them are made with low-quality ingredients, and the animals that become burgers especially come injected with all sorts of antibiotics and growth hormones over the course of their lives. None of these additional “ingredients” are going to benefit your testosterone.
We could go on about the testosterone killing effects of some of our favorite foods forever, but we’ll end our discussion of them by once again referring to weight gain. If there is something you need to cut out of your diet to lose weight, you’re always going to start with these foods.
As tasty as they are, french fries and donuts will cause weight gain if not eaten extremely sparingly. In fact, it’s almost because they are so tasty that they come with such a large warning.
Preserve the Power of Your Supplements By Avoiding These Foods
As you can see, our grocery stores and restaurants are full of testosterone killing foods, from fun ones like french fries and chocolate to the easier to avoid like licorice and flax seeds.
Hopefully, you come away from this guide with an idea of the foods you should avoid when you want to keep your testosterone high or build it up from low levels if you’ve tested low for testosterone in the past.
There are a lot of highly desirable foods on this list, but as long as you’re smart with your consumption of them, you should be able to mitigate any testosterone-killing effects.
Our suggestions apply as well for women as they do for men. After all, women need testosterone too. If you want even more solutions for women, check out our female-friendly supplements.