Adequate testosterone levels are important for overall health. Low levels in men have been associated with the signs and symptoms below:
As well as a higher risk of developing some chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Some studies even suggest higher all-cause mortality (death) risk in men with lower testosterone levels.
PMID: 30145097, 29233816, 21816776
During the past 40 years, there has been a decline in testosterone levels in the general population that cannot be solely explained by traditional factors that are known to reduce testosterone, like obesity.
Previous evidence suggests a relationship between dietary fat intake and testosterone levels, which might help partially explain this change.
A 2021 study conducted a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of low-fat diets and testosterone in healthy adult men
Researchers included trials that involved diets differing by at least 10% of total energy from fat with a duration of at least 1 week.
Studies were included if they measured:
- Total testosterone (TT)
- Free testosterone (FT)
- Urinary testosterone(UT)
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)
- Luteinising hormone (LH)
No participants with testosterone deficiency were included.
Studies were NOT included if any factor that could affect testosterone levels such as:
- Changes in exercise levels
- Diets consisting of more than 20% protein
- Diets consisting of less than 15% carbohydrate
- More than 2 kg of weight loss
- Difference in energy intake between diets higher than 10%.
The researchers collected 6 trials including a total of 206 participants with an average age of 46 years.
The researchers determined that 3 studies had a low risk of bias and 3 had a medium risk of bias.
Lower-fat diets led to a small decrease in total and free testosterone levels, compared to lower-carb diets. The testosterone dip was larger in studies conducted in Western countries.
Based on the meta-analysis of 6 studies, a low-fat diet, compared to a diet higher in fat, reduced the levels of total, free, and urinary testosterone, as well as dihydrotestosterone.
Western participants consistently experienced a reduction in testosterone levels after consuming a low-fat diet.
The only data from non-Western participants showed an opposite response, suggesting that genetics and background ethnicity might modulate the effects of diet on testosterone metabolism.
Compared to a high-fat diet, a low-fat diet reduces testosterone and related metabolites in men, suggesting a decrease in testosterone synthesis.
HOWEVER, the researchers only collected 6 studies that were all quite SMALL, leading to UNCERTAINTY in the estimates. More data and relevant studies would be useful to further shed some light and confirm this finding.
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