You want to know about foods that kill testosterone, and you’ve come to the right place.
At age 29 I had the testosterone of a 70-year-old man. After considerable research, dozens of lifestyle changes, and three years of progress, I recovered to have the testosterone levels of a 17-year-old.
In this article, you’ll learn what testosterone killing foods to avoid and my best advice on how you can boost your testosterone levels.
foods that kill testosterone
Testosterone is, undoubtedly, one of the most well-known hormones. It helps regulate sex drive, bone mass, and muscle mass in both men and women, and sperm production in men.
Unfortunately for me, I know it all too well. When I was in my late 20s, I found out that I had low testosterone. So low that at the age of 29, I had the total testosterone of a 70-year-old man at 290 ng/dL.
I’m not the only one either. The University of Miami estimates that about 20% of young adult men, aged 15-39, are testosterone deficient. And each year, testosterone levels are declining across the board.
By the way, I share my whole burnout story, why it happened, and what I did to fix it naturally in another post that I’ve linked to. Now I have 1009 ng/dL total testosterone, which is typical of a 17-year-old. Talk about 70 going on 17…
My Best Advice For Low Testosterone Men
Since you’re reading this, chances are you recently learned you have low T. First things first, you want to eliminate anything that’s destroying your T levels. Testosterone killing foods are a great place to start. Congrats, you’re on the right track!
But, I have some massively important advice I need to share with you. So if you don’t mind, I will pull us off track momentarily.
Here are the key takeaways that I learned during my experience of going from low T to high T the natural way without even supplements.
1. Avoid testosterone shots at all costs
How can I increase my testosterone level quickly? Shots are the only way and they are horrible.
Testosterone therapy (aka testosterone injections) does not fix the root cause of low testosterone. Both the FDA and I do not recommend testosterone shots for men without specific medical conditions requiring it.
In my case, the clinics I visited were crazy trigger-happy and pressured me to get testosterone shots. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to them because the side effects can be bad.
According to Harvard, once you receive a testosterone shot, your body stops producing it in what becomes a “testosterone trap.” So, you either have to continue with the shots indefinitely, or else go through a tough recovery period and hope that your body starts producing it again.
2. You can and must recover naturally
It is 100% possible to recover from low testosterone naturally. And since we just ruled out testosterone replacement therapy, it’s really the only way.
While the root cause for low T might be different for everyone, there are four obvious lifestyle factors.
- Sleep deprivation
- High stress
- Poor nutrition
I attribute all of my low testosterone to years of sleep deprivation while I hustled two jobs. Despite the low T, I don’t have regrets and just wish I implemented a better life balance.)
In fact, I was exceptionally fit and ate well but still had extremely low testosterone, so you need to have all four things. To create and track the goals you need to set to balance these lifestyle factors, I recommend using our Goal Setting Worksheet.
3. Recovery takes time
How do I get my testosterone back up?
I recommend getting a “before” testosterone measurement as you start your recovery process. This is done through a blood test and you should check progress every 3-6 months.
At the time, I visited T Off, a testosterone-specific clinic, to get my testosterone reading. It cost $150 back in 2017.
Today, there are much better options. Now I use Life Line Screening, which has an at-home testosterone test via finger prick for $99. I recommend either that or the at-home ‘Men’s Health Test’ for men 30+. It’s a step up and includes five additional tests for reproductive health and prostate cancer.
This is all for the same cost as what I used to pay at T-Off for $149.
My recovery took a few years. I felt really good, energized, strong, and healthy in about two years after focusing on my sleep. Since I was traveling full time, I didn’t end up taking my next testosterone test until three years after hitting rock bottom.
That’s when I discovered that my testosterone was the highest it’s ever been at 1009 ng/dL. In other words, I tripled my testosterone levels in three years. All done naturally.
From my personal experience and from talking with dozens of men in a similar boat, I had low testosterone despite a healthy diet and fitness regimen. So, make sure to consider other lifestyle factors as you work on your natural recovery.
Foods that Kill Testosterone
Despite a lot of clickbait websites, the research is light when it comes to identifying top foods that kill testosterone.
Doctors have reached the consensus, though, that nutrition plays an important part in bolstering — or lowering — testosterone. Particularly if you’re carrying excess weight.
Abdominal fat in particular has been found to raise an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estradiol. This results in lower free testosterone levels.
No matter what, the best route to take is to eat clean with a well-balanced diet, regardless of what foods you choose to eat. But, let’s take a look at a few foods that kill your testosterone, according to science.
Testosterone levels can drop within 30 minutes of drinking alcohol.
After three days of heavy drinking — defined as having more than 15 drinks a week for men, and 8 drinks a week for women — testosterone levels can be as low as those with chronic alcoholism, according to the same study.
The issue here is that alcohol affects all three glands that produce testosterone: the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary gland, and the testes.
The good news is that moderate or low alcohol consumption, about one drink a day, doesn’t show these adverse effects on testosterone.
2. Refined Carbohydrates (Breads, Sugars, White Grains)
In a small study of 125 Taiwanese men, their nutritional habits were tracked alongside their testosterone. It was found that several markers were indicative for those who had low T:
- Dining out a lot and less often at home
- Consuming high levels of baked goods
- Eating lots of dairy
- Lacking leafy greens
This study isn’t perfect, and the researchers admit this, concluding simply that an unhealthy body composition equates to lower testosterone. But, these findings suggest that these specific habits do affect testosterone levels.
3. Ultra-processed Foods and Drinks (aka Junk Foods)
“Ultra-processed foods” is an umbrella term encompassing fast foods, sodas, chips, frozen meals, candy, and certain processed meats and cheeses. Typically, ultra-processed foods have more than five ingredients on the nutrition label, many of which are unpronounceable.
In a study out of Spain, the reproductive health of 209 healthy, university-aged men were tracked. Certain fatty acids were found to decrease sperm quality, testicular volume, and both total and free testosterone levels.
The culprits were mega-6 polyunsaturated and trans fatty acids, or what you’d typically see in junk foods.
But aren’t there more foods that kill testosterone?
If you’re regularly consuming the above, your health and testosterone levels are suffering.
Other than that, according to the science available today (and my personal experience), the impact other individual food items have on your testosterone levels is negligible.
Like you, I read everything on the internet when I was diagnosed low T. I read about “Testosterone Destroying Foods” and “15 Foods That Kill Testosterone” and “Seemingly Healthy Foods That Kill Testosterone.”
In my experience, I quickly achieved information overload. Then it took months to learn that most of what I read was useless. In fact, I spent 8 months eating a high protein diet and following a 7-days-a-week bodybuilding program because that was how I could increase my testosterone level quickly.
That was wrong and I didn’t enjoy it, the food especially.
When I reached my highest testosterone levels years later I was doing the opposite — eating a vegetarian diet and training for a marathon. You should do the same. More plants! And if you want to run, here is my 3-month marathon training plan.
Work toward a healthy lifestyle full of quality sleep, ample movement, stress-reducing activities, and healthy meals. As you work toward this, your testosterone will naturally increase.
Myth Busting: Foods That Don’t Kill Testosterone
When putting in a Google search of ‘foods that lower testosterone,’ the same ones come up, yet are unsubstantiated in the research. Here are the ones I wouldn’t be worried about:
Soy is one of the most-feared foods due to its estrogen-mimicking qualities. Yet, all bad press has been debunked for two reasons.
First, plant estrogen (aka phytoestrogen) does not operate like the human hormone estrogen.
Second, all negative studies were performed on mice who metabolize soy differently than humans. All subsequent human studies have shown no harm from soy.
In regards to testosterone specifically, multiple reviews and studies from the past ten years show no impact on testosterone levels due to soy products or plant estrogen.
So go ahead, eat your tofu!
Spearmint is commonly cited as lowering testosterone in female mice and women. This is mainly based off of a study consisting of 42 women drinking mint tea twice a day for a month where testosterone was “significantly” lowered.
Another study fed female rats spearmint oil and found lower testosterone levels.
Both of these studies were done in an effort to find remedies for PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a female-only hormonal disorder.
No studies in men have shown any effect of mint on testosterone, but it’s your choice if you want to chug multiple cups of mint tea daily.
3. Licorice Root
Different than licorice candy, licorice root is a holistic remedy for digestive distress.
A remarkably small study of 25 healthy men who took 7 grams daily of licorice root saw a 26% drop in testosterone.
Not much has been done since, and Medical News Today suggests that more studies are needed to verify these findings.
Closing THoughts on Testosterone Killing Foods
All of this underscores our point early on, that it’s not about avoiding specific foods, but simply eating better in general that will make the biggest difference with your testosterone levels.
The foods that kill testosterone are the same ones you’ll see in dietary healthy guidelines across the board. This includes avoiding excessive alcohol, refined grains, and ultra-processed foods.
Instead, we recommend eating clean and have a beginner’s guide that shares not just what’s on our grocery list, but tips and strategies on how to read food labels and how we “hide” more vegetables into our meals.
So, before taking drastic and irreversible measures like testosterone therapy, instead work on improving your nutrition, sleep quality, exercise, and lowering stress.
If you have questions, please ask them in the comments or send us an email. Testosterone therapy doesn’t have to be in your future. You can do this!
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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