With tens of millions of Americans in middle age, “menopause” is an everyday word — and it almost always is used in reference to women. Men also face changing hormone levels. Our testosterone levels naturally decrease as we age. There are things we can do about it. Its medical name is “andropause,” defined as the aging-related hormone changes in men, and its symptoms come on much more gradually than what women experience. When it comes to “playing” with testosterone, some people may start thinking along the lines of illegal steroids, prohormones, testosterone creams, patches or a testosterone replacement therapy, but it does not have to be that way.
Andropause is also called testosterone deficiency and androgen deficiency. It affects 25 million American males between 40 and 55, a number that surely will increase in the years to come as the huge baby boomer generation ages, according to the Mayo Clinic. Testosterone levels vary greatly in men, but in general, levels gradually decline about 1 percent a year after age 30. By age 70, the decrease can be as much as 50 percent.
In men, testosterone helps maintain bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, red blood cell production, sex drive and sperm production. Andropause symptoms can include low energy, loss of concentration, depression, changes in sexual function, mood swings and depression, changes in sleep patterns, increased body fat and decreased bone density, the Mayo Clinic said.
Though menopause in women and andropause in men are both caused by hormone change, that’s where similarities end. In men, subtle sex hormone changes occur over a longer period of time. In women, ovulation ends and hormone production levels plummet over a shorter period.
And though the news media and marketing for health products have made “erectile dysfunction” a household word, it can still be difficult for men to seek treatment for any kind of condition related to sexual dysfunction, Goldfischer said. As a matter of fact, the symptoms may not be noticed for years, and that may be one of the reasons men do not seek treatment as often, said Dr. Evan Goldfischer of Hudson Valley Urology.
Knowing how to increase testosterone levels, or how to keep them optimized, comes down comes to making specific food choices. That is right – testosterone travels in the blood to muscle cells, so your diet can influence the amount of active testosterone.
And this is where The Testosterone Diet comes in. This diet, which was recently published in Muscle and Fitness – although a little controversial – is based on scientific studies. Here is how it looks like in a slightly condensed form.
The Testosterone Diet explains that while many anabolic hormones in the body influence muscle growth – growth hormone and insulin come to mind – testosterone is the hands-down most important.
Not only does it drive muscle growth, but testosterone also keeps you lean, since it elevates metabolism and increases the release of fat from fat cells and inhibits its storage in the body.
The Testosterone Diet uses a 180-pound individual. It is designed to maximize testosterone levels, and it recommends the following:
Eat enough. The amount of calories you consume each day should be enough to maintain your bodyweight. Lower-calorie diets are associated with lower testosterone levels. Consume around 18-20 calories for every pound of bodyweight.
Eat animal protein. Studies show that vegetarian diets lead to lower blood testosterone levels and higher amounts of “inactive” testosterone even when protein intake is the same. Be sure to consume poultry, beef, fish and pork.
Red meat is particularly good due to its higher levels of saturated fat and zinc, a mineral associated with higher testosterone levels.
Eat some fat. Research suggests that when total fat, saturated fat and monounsaturated fat intakes increase, so does testosterone. Choose foods high in monounsaturated fats, like avocadoes, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil. Red meat and dairy products (not the fat-free varieties) are also good sources of protein and saturated fat.
Worried about your heart health? Research states that most saturated fat found in beef, chicken and pork does not raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Eat some dietary cholesterol. Studies show that those who train while on a higher-cholesterol diet gain more muscle mass and strength than those who eat less cholesterol. Foods like egg yolks and red meat are good sources. What is more, research shows the cholesterol in egg yolks does not raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Drink a protein and carb shake after working out. Consuming proteins and carbs after training has been shown to increase the amount of testosterone that enters muscle cells, where it can increase muscle growth. Take 20-40 grams of whey protein and 40-100 grams of simple carbohydrates post-workout.
Eat cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage yields compounds called indoles that help lower certain estrogens, which in turn can help reduce estrogen’s inhibitory effects on testosterone production.
Eat plenty of carbs. A higher ratio of carbs-to-protein – somewhere around 2:1 is best – results in higher testosterone levels. Shoot for at least 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.
Do not eat too much. Taking in too many calories can lead to gains in bodyfat, which can ultimately lead to lower testosterone levels via increased levels of estrogen.
Do not eat too much protein. Consuming more protein than carbs can increase the loss of testosterone through urination. While protein is necessary for higher testosterone levels, too much can have a negative effect. Stick to about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Do not eat too much fat. Spread out your fat consumption throughout the day and avoid high-fat meals, which can actually decrease testosterone levels momentarily. Keep fat consumption at 30% of your total caloric intake. Do not get in too many polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in fish and vegetable oil. Sure, they are healthy, but they can also cause testosterone levels to drop.
Do not hit the bottle too hard. Drinking alcohol can lead to lower testosterone levels by increasing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Keep alcohol consumption at a few gasses per week or less.
Do not eat too much fiber. Eating a healthy diet should give you enough fiber to stay healthy. Get roughly 35 grams of fiber per day when trying to keep testosterone levels maxed. Excessively high-fiber diets can lead to lower testosterone levels.