As you grow older, your efforts to lose belly fat may not seem to work, no matter how hard you try. A decrease in your testosterone concentration could be the main reason. Testosterone may reduce due to a number of factors, for example, age, what you eat, and diseases such as hypogonadism. In regards to food, what are the 5 foods that kill testosterone and cause belly fat?
According to Mayo Clinic, testosterone production in a healthy person reaches its peak during puberty and proceeds into young adulthood (22). As you age, the level of this hormone may decrease by 1% annually after the age of 30 or 40 (22). Studies in men further show that abdominal fat increases with age in line with decreases in testosterone concentration (8). Other than natural causes, you might be lowering your testosterone levels by eating some of the 5 foods that kill testosterone and cause belly fat.
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat: Understanding Testosterone In Men And Women
What Is Testosterone?
Mayo Clinic Labs describe it as the major androgenic hormone that causes development of the male external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics (23).
What Does Testosterone Do In Men?
In particular, the hormone helps maintain sex drive, bone density, facial and body hair, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, red blood cell production, deeper voice, and sperm production (22).
Do Women Have Testosterone?
Yes. Although testosterone is often considered as the dominant male hormone, it exists in women too. The only significant differences in testosterone in both genders can be seen in the quantity (amounts/ levels) and where it is produced in the body. Men have more testosterone levels than women; that is why they are more masculine.
What Does Testosterone Do In Women?
According to Mayo Clinic Labs, testosterone in women plays a significant role as an estrogen precursor (23). It aids in making new blood cells, maintaining levels of other hormones, and fertility. Too little testosterone in women may reduce libido and cause mood swings (23). During menopause, the female body tends to undergo a significant drop in testosterone levels, and this may cause low libido, increased risks of cardiovascular, and liver diseases.
On the other hand, too much testosterone in women could bring about excessive body hair, frontal balding, increased muscle mass, acne, enlarged clitoris, irregular or absent menstrual periods, and a deeper voice (16). It may also result in infertility, commonly seen in the polycystic ovarian syndrome
Where Is Testosterone Produced?
In men, the hormone is produced primarily in the testicles, while in women, more than half of it is made in the interstitial cells of the ovaries (16).
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat: Signs Of Low Testosterone
Without sufficient testosterone levels, the male body may find it difficult to conduct its sexual development and functions. Low testosterone in men (Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome ) effects more than lowering the sex drive. For instance, it may result in (30).
- Increased body fat
- loss of lean muscle mass
- Hot flashes
- Reduced testicle size
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss including less beards
- Less concentration, and
- Lower self-confidence, among other health-related issues
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat
Although it is difficult to tell who has TD, it is estimated that about 2.1% of men have it, i.e. 2 in every 100 (30). Only 1% of younger men may have TD, and about 50% of men above 80 years of age may have it. According to American Urology Association, one is said to have Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome at 300ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). At this point, the low testosterone symptoms begin to manifest (30).
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Testosterone And Weight loss
Over the past few years, testosterone therapy has been associated with weight loss. Research done by Karim Haider, MD, and member of a private urology practice in Bremerhaven, Germany, and his colleagues found that testosterone therapy can lead to significant weight loss, especially in people with obesity and hypogonadism (15). The team also discovered that testosterone therapy led to a reduction in weight circumference and BMI (15).
According to a publication in the Journal of Endocrinology, testosterone in men influences their body fat composition and muscle mass (19). It plays a vital role in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism (19). Although it is not considered a typical thermogenic, the hormone increases your muscle size, making you burn more fat at rest (32). Remember, spot reduction is a myth, therefore, having enough testosterone will result in overall weight loss, and not just belly fat.
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat
With a basic understanding of what testosterone is and its relation to weight loss, you can now focus on the 5 main foods that kill this useful hormone in both men and women. Usually, you eat or drink without paying attention to what you are consuming by reading the contents of the item. Whether you eat at home or hotel, knowing exactly how much of the foods that lower testosterone that you should consume can be challenging, therefore it is important to have an overall idea of foods and drinks that may lower your testosterone levels.
1. Diet Soda
Diet soda is sometimes referred to as sugar-free drinks, low-calorie drinks, or zero-calorie beverages (33). While regular soda contains various sweeteners and carbonated water, caffeine, and phosphoric acid, among other substances, diet soda has almost all the ingredients in regular soda, apart from sugar. In place of the usual sugar, it contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, stevia, sucralose, all of which have little to no calories (25).
Aspartame found in diet soda has undergone many tests to ascertain its impacts on testosterone levels. According to a study in the International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, aspartame can affect the Sertoli and Leydig cells, but our focus is on the Leydig which are responsible for testosterone production, leading to a significant decrease in the hormone (12).
Diet Or Regular Soda
Despite its name, diet soda may pose similar or even bigger health risks compared to regular soda (7). Aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose may alter how the body responds to calories and sugar from sweet foods such as candy or fruits, making it hard to metabolize these sugars, thus resulting in weight gain (7).
After a meta-analysis of health and diet studies, Susan Swithers, a scientist at Purdue University, discovered that people who take sugary sodas might be at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. She added that artificial sweeteners are similar to sugar, and that is why they taste almost the same (7). Diet soda is also associated with several health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, dementia, and stroke.
Although soda manufacturers claim that diet soda is better than regular soda when it comes to weight loss, do not be quick to believe them. Diet soda may be just as bad as regular soda, so it would be best to eliminate both regular and diet soda from your daily beverages. Alternatively, you can shift to other less harmful drinks such as plain water or lemon water.
Soy has many benefits, for example, high protein and fiber content, a source of omega-3 and antioxidants, low saturated fat, and cholesterol-free (17). Despite this, too much soy intake may cause premature puberty, and reduced fertility in women, among other problems (6).
Some studies show that soy and soy products, for example, tofu, may cause a significant decrease in testosterone due to the presence of phytoestrogen isoflavones that are physically and functionally similar to estrogen (29). This means that when you consume soy, isoflavones activate the estrogen receptors in the body, triggering the effects of the hormone estrogen. An increase in estrogen may result in a reduction in testosterone (29).
Is Soy A Goitrogenic Food?
Besides, soy is known as a goitrogenic food, which alters the thyroid gland functions in hormone production (5). Thyroid suppression is one of the reasons why people cannot produce enough testosterone (21).
Another problem caused by soy is that it has a high polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) content, which can significantly deter testosterone production when consumed in high quantities (18).
Avoiding soy and its products is a difficult but necessary step to maintain your testosterone levels. If you cannot resist the temptation, try to lower your consumption. Note that some researchers have admitted that they do not fully understand soy, so more research needs to be done.
3. Sugary Drinks, Snacks, And Refined Carbohydrates
Sugar is one of the most notorious testosterone killing foods of all time (2). Most items on your snacks list are packed with added sugar, which leads to a surge in your insulin levels and the introduction of preservatives, additives, and other artificial substances that may lead to chronic diseases.
Foods such as pasta, rice, cake, and bread with refined carbohydrates are easy for the body to digest and may be linked to weight gain. They may also cause a significant drop in your testosterone levels, which leads to a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Refined carbs and sugars may also cause obesity, which is the top suspect when it comes to low testosterone, according to Dr. Robert Mordkin, Chief Urologist (10). Men with obesity are highly likely to have low testosterone levels, and men with very low testosterone also seem more likely to become obese. He adds that refined carbohydrates often bring about poor weight control and that expert physicians and cardiologists recommend low carb weight loss diets to reverse low testosterone levels (10).
To back this, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that men experience a sudden drop in testosterone levels after sugar intake (3). They took men from age 19-74, and after collecting the results, they realized that 75g of sugar caused a 25% decrease in testosterone levels up to two hours after eating (3).
With this in mind, you know how easy it is to consume 75g of sugar or more in just a day. Sugar intake stimulates the release of insulin, and in response, testosterone helps your body take up more sugar. However, men with low testosterone levels are more likely to have insulin resistance, meaning that their bodies have to produce more insulin to retain normal blood sugar. Avoid sugar-packed foods, and go look for foods with natural sugars.
4. Foods Containing Trans Fats
Hydrogenation has been around for a century. Invented in the early 1900s, it was, and still is, widely used as a cheap way to convert liquid vegetable oils into solids that could withstand room temperature (31). Trans fats are unhealthy substances that can be found naturally in animal products,or made through the chemical process of oil hydrogenation (31). One of the primary purposes of hydrogenation is to preserve the flavour and increase shelf-life of the foods (31).
Trans fats are held responsible for a myriad of diseases, for instance, they increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease (31). They increase the levels of “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and decrease the “good cholesterol.”By eating foods rich in trans fats, you expose yourself to diabetes, allergic conditions such as asthma, and the carcinogenic properties of trans fats. Also, studies reveal that trans fats can be associated with breast cancer development in women (4).
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat: How Many Ways To Lower Levels Of Testosterone?
Trans fats can lead to lower levels of testosterone in 2 ways. First, they lower the good cholesterol (HDL), which is an essential building block of testosterone synthesis (9). Secondly, they lead to inflammation, which triggers oxidative stress and in turn facilitates the release of cortisol, bringing down testosterone production (9). Trans fats are also polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Avoiding trans fats can be tricky since abundant amounts are present in deep-fried foods, snacks, cookies, cake, frozen pizza, margarine, biscuits, coffee creamer, etc. However, to maintain good health and adequate testosterone levels, consider doing all it takes to cut down on foods containing trans fats. Stop eating junk and focus on natural, non-processed foods for better health.
5. Vegetable oils
Vegetable oils are extracted from oilseeds, nuts, or the fleshy parts of some fruits (26). Since the extraction method was discovered in the 20th Century, the use of vegetable oils has gradually increased, and you may have used at least a tablespoon of vegetable oil when making salad dressing or baking cookies. Some of the most common vegetable oils include sunflower, coconut, olive, and soybean oil.
Vegetable oil may be viewed as a healthier option compared to hydrogenated oils. However, it also poses risks to your wellness. To begin with, vegetable oils contain small amounts of antioxidants and may lead to inflammation. They are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which by now you understand may affect testosterone production if taken in high quantities (26).
What Researchers Say?
Research done by the University of California researchers revealed that vegetable oils could cause tremendous weight gain (1). They can also lead to obesity. For example, soybean oil contains a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which bring adverse effects to your health when consumed in high quantities. When used in cooking at high heat, vegetable oil poses a bigger risk. It produces aldehydes- chemicals linked to heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer (1).
Vegetable oils are unavoidable, but reducing your daily intake may improve your well-being. If you are concerned about your health, it will help if you choose oil made by crushing or pressing seeds instead of that produced by using chemicals. Also, avoid cooking at temperatures over 356 degrees- you may use olive oil if cooking food on a pan or by roasting.
Other Foods That Kill The Testosterone Include:
- Flaxseed and fruit skins-Flaxseed contains lignins that mimic estrogen effects in the body, while fruitskin residual pesticide found on fruit skins mimic the effects of estrogen.
- Cannabis- Lower amounts of THC, psychoactive components in cannabis raise testosterone levels while higher doses kill it.
- Microwave Popcorn- The bag’s lining contains a chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, that lowers testosterone levels. The offending chemical may also be present in some microwave crisping trays.
- Alcohol, beets, dark chocolate, licorice, spearmint, wintergreen and other natural mint products may lower testosterone.
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Other Factors That May Cause Low Testosterone
Your diet is a mere piece of the puzzle when it comes to weight gain and lower testosterone levels. Factors such as drug and narcotics use and medical conditions such as diabetes may also contribute to a lower testosterone level. It would be best if you visited a doctor for a regular checkup to determine whether you have the right testosterone levels or not.
5 Foods That Kill Testosterone And Cause Belly Fat: How To Boost Your Testosterone Levels Naturally
Self-care helps a lot when it comes to maintaining healthy testosterone levels. For instance, doing regular exercises helps boost your testosterone levels and gives you other benefits such as increased metabolic rate (29).
Getting plenty of rest also helps restore healthy testosterone levels. 7-9 hours of rest gives the body time to readjust its testosterone levels while creating other hormones. According to research, lack of enough sleep can lead to a tremendous drop in testosterone levels.
Other lifestyle changes may also help. If you are a fan of junk food, try replacing it with whole foods. If you are always stressed, try some stress-relieving activities such as yoga, sports, or anything that makes you happy (29).
Maintaining a healthy hormonal balance goes beyond eliminating the 5 foods that kill testosterone and cause belly fat discussed above. Understanding the health risks associated with these food items is one thing, and it is another to actually make the changes. Consult your doctor for further details on how you can boost your testosterone levels.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- 27 Foods That Kill Your Sex Drive (2017, eatthis.com)
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- Adipose Tissue Trans Fatty Acids and Breast Cancer in the European Community Multicenter Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Breast Cancer’ (1997, cebp.aacrjournals.org)
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- MON-091 Profound and Sustained Weight Loss in Men With Hypogonadism and Obesity Receiving Long-Term Testosterone Therapy (TTh) with Testosterone Undecanoate Injections (TU): 10-Year Data from a Registry Study in a Urological Setting (2019, academic.oup.com)
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- What are the symptoms of low testosterone? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What foods reduce testosterone? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is Low Testosterone? (n.d, urologyhealth.org)
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- Why Diet Soda May Backfire When It Comes to Weight Loss (2021, menshealth.com)