Testosterone, like many other steroid hormones, is a byproduct of cholesterol. This is where the theory of meat influencing testosterone comes into the picture.
Meat is derived from various animal sources, with the most regular ones being fish, beef, poultry, and pork. Not only is it loaded with high-quality protein, and micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, but also has dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and, Omega-3 and -6 which support testosterone synthesis.
However, whether the intake of meat improves testosterone levels also lies at the disposal of various factors like lifestyle choices, eating and sleeping habits, overall health, stress levels, etc.
There are some scientific studies that have concluded a positive association between meat and testosterone, but few of them have contradicted this fact as well. Here, we have taken a closer look at how and whether or not meat affects testosterone levels. Read on to learn more.
What Nutrients Does Meat Have
As mentioned earlier, meat is composed of a wide range of nutrients that are beneficial for overall health. It comprises of:
|Vitamins A, B-complex, E, and K||Magnesium|
|Fats (saturated, and Monounsaturated)||Potassium|
|Polyunsaturated fat in the form of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids||Creatine|
Primary Health Benefits Of Meat
There was a time when meat (red meat in particular) was considered to be a ‘not so healthy food’, and many diet-conscious individuals tried to stay away from it. In the present day, however, this perception is changing owing to various emerging research findings which direct to the diverse health benefits of meat when consumed in a balanced way. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from meat:
It is important to understand that the above-mentioned health gains can vary depending on the type of meat you take, your dietary habits, and the way it is cooked. Also, it should always be taken in moderation for optimum benefits. An unhealthy dietary pattern can have a negative impact on health.
How Does Meat Impact Testosterone
A study published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” journal found that individuals who ate meat had significantly higher testosterone than their vegetarian counterparts.
The 6-week long clinical trial involved eight male athletes who ate a vegetarian diet for one-half of the trial period and a meat-rich diet for another half while training. It was observed that when they were on a vegetarian diet, there was a 35% decline in their total testosterone concentration. It is likely because the meat is rich in fat, meaning more cholesterol which contributes to higher testosterone production.
A study from 2021 supports this by showing that there can be a prominent decrease in testosterone levels in low-fat diets when compared to fat-rich food. Although, further research needs to be done on this subject.
Now, the reason behind meat being a potent food for testosterone health is its testosterone-boosting nutrients. Here’s an overview of what is in it and how do they contribute to regulating testosterone:
One of the best sources of high protein is meat. It provides all the essential amino acids that the body needs for proper functioning. You probably know that obesity can have a significant negative impact on testosterone production. When taken as a part of a well-balanced diet, protein can help in managing body weight by suppressing hunger (keeping you fuller), thus facilitating testosterone production.
Protein intake is also important for growing and strengthening muscles and tissue repair, which in turn improves endurance and athletic performance. This then supports testosterone synthesis. All these show that protein sourced from meat can play a significant role in treating testosterone deficiency when taken in moderation.
Essential Fats (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids)
Meat is a source of dietary fat which has a significant contribution to testosterone production. A study from 2017 found that there is a direct connection between increased testosterone concentration and higher omega-3 PUFA intake.
That said, it is also important to note that excessive amounts of meat consumption can adversely affect the reproductive hormone in males. That is why, its daily dose should not exceed 70 gms according to dietitians and nutrition experts. Also, excessive consumption of processed meat is shown to reduce the sperm count thus affecting fertility.
Zinc is one of the vital nutrients that carries numerous health benefits and one of them is stimulating testosterone production.
A study found that a long-term intake of a zinc-deficient diet can lead to a significant drop in the testosterone levels in the blood. However, it can be easily and quickly restored by adding zinc-rich food to your diet on a consistent basis. Zinc, when combined with selenium (another nutrient found in meat) has the potential to increase protein synthesis which is important for regulating testosterone.
Sufficient supplementation of magnesium increases the bioavailability of other nutrients. This allows the body to optimally absorb all the nutrients for maximized benefit including those which help in boosting testosterone production. Magnesium, thus, helps in increasing the free and total testosterone concentration in the blood in both active and sedentary men.
Other Ways Of Improving Testosterone
While adding a balanced amount of meat to your diet can be one way to regulate testosterone, this clearly is not an option for vegetarian or vegan dieters. So, for those who fall in the latter category, or are looking for other options, to combat testosterone deficiency, well do not get disheartened.
There are many natural testosterone boosters or supplements available in the market that are formulated with a wide range of plant-based ingredients and boosted with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These supplements increase the body’s natural ability to produce testosterone by improving the processes associated with hormone production. However, you should know that testosterone boosters can give the best results only when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise regime.
Alternatively, if you notice a significant decrease in testosterone levels consistently, then you are recommended to visit a doctor to find out the root cause behind this. You may be advised to go for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in such cases if no other methods work. While TRT can give an instant rise to hormone levels owing to incorporating artificial anabolic steroids into the body, it exposes your body to side effects and can pose serious health risks.
By now you know that meat is loaded with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and high amounts of protein all of which are needed for a smooth body functioning. As for its relationship with testosterone, it is slightly complicated.
The nutrients and dietary fats present in lean meat surely boost testosterone synthesis, but, this alone cannot help regulate the hormone. It can only be helpful when taken in moderation and balanced with other healthy diets and regular workouts. Meat contains high amounts of fat, overconsumption of which can lead to various health issues like high cholesterol levels resulting in weight gain which has an adverse influence on testosterone.