For men and women, optimal testosterone levels are key to building muscle and maintaining a healthy physique.
And if you’re into fitness and caring about your body, you know that maintaining a good hormone balance is no easy task. Anything can throw you off. From too much training, to too little and even stress can play a part.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the food you eat can be a huge influence on your testosterone levels.
As fitness fanatics and health conscious people, food is fuel. We use carbohydrates to energize our bodies, protein to help us heal and grow, and vitamins and minerals to nourish us.
In the same way, we need to look at food and the effects it can have on maintaining a healthy hormone balance.
An easy way to get the process started is to look out for those foods that can put your testosterone levels in jeopardy. Check out these five foods to avoid if you want to achieve the optimal hormone balance.
Right up in first place we have alcohol. Sure, it can be fun to go for a few drinks after work on a Friday night, and most people enjoy a beer or two on a sunny day.
But unfortunately, this all comes with a price when it comes to your hormones.
We’ll start by saying a few drinks every now and then aren’t enough to completely ruin your gains and your hormones. But, if your post workout fix is beer and tequila shots are the start of your weekend, then you might need to cut down.
One study analyzed the link between alcohol and testosterone in eight healthy males. Researchers found that testosterone levels were lowered for at least 24 hours after they started drinking . To complement that, cortisol was raised too, which can also deplete free testosterone .
Another study found that drinking after training lowered testosterone concentration and bioavailability, making it harder to recover efficiently from a workout .
Continuing on from our last point, there’s a specific type of alcohol you should avoid.
While all alcohol can be damaging to testosterone levels, hops in particular can cause issues.
So, if you’re into your hoppy drinks like Pale Ales and IPA’s, then you might want to switch to something else.
The reason these types of drinks can be so damaging is because they are estrogenic, which means they can promote estrogen levels. In fact, they’re currently being studied for their ability to relieve menopausal discomfort .
Hop-based drinks may be the thing standing between you and that rock-solid physique you’re aiming for, because as we know, testosterone is the key to lean mass, not estrogen.
You might be thinking, but these are a well-known health food. They’re all over social media, dusted on top of overnight oats and fruit laden yogurt bowls.
But unfortunately, too much flaxseed can cause your testosterone levels to plummet by altering the way your body metabolizes estrogen. Normally, high levels of testosterone counteract the estrogen within your system to maintain the optimal balance. However, when you introduce flaxseed into the mix, the lignans within it behave like estrogen which can have a negative effect on your hormone balance .
When bulking, the temptation is to devour a burger or a tray of donuts to meet your calorie intake. Fair enough if it’s the occasionally treat, but if you’re doing this on the regular, you’ll come across a number of complications.
First up, you don’t have to be a nutritionist to know eating junk food that’s high in trans-fats can be bad for your health. But what most guys don’t know is that it can also really cut down your hormone levels too.
One study found that eating trans fats led to decreased testosterone levels, lower sperm count, in the highest levels of trans fats consumption, testicular degeneration .
The key to building and maintaining good hormone health and high testosterone is eating a balanced, healthy and largely unprocessed diet where possible.
#5 Licorice root
Although not as widely consumed as the other options on this list, licorice root has long been used in sweet treats and within holistic medicine. Unfortunately, it’s also a testosterone killer.
The main active ingredient in licorice is something called glycyrrhizin. It’s thought that this saponin compound is responsible for cutting down testosterone levels in both men and women.
For example, one study supplemented 25 healthy men with seven grams of licorice root daily for a week. In that short time, testosterone levels dropped by a massive 26% .
Women are also affected by the compound within this root, as a small study found that women who took 3.5g of the root daily saw a drop in testosterone levels of around 32% during just one menstrual cycle .
With these foods well and truly off the menu, you’ll be better prepared to achieve androgen excellence.
You may have been putting in all the work at the gym and not realized that your flaxseed dusted yogurt bowl, or your favorite IPA was holding you back.
Now you know which foods to avoid, you should have everything you need to get out there and start building muscle with the optimal hormone balance.
And if you want to know what you should be consuming more of to perfect your hormone balance, check out SpotMeBro’s Hunter Test Review.
- Välimäki MJ, et al. 1984. "Sex Hormones And Adrenocortical Steroids In Men Acutely Intoxicated With Ethanol. - Pubmed - NCBI".
- Volek, Jeff S. et al. 1997 “Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise” Journal of Applied Physiology
- Vingren JL, et al 2013 “Postresistance exercise ethanol ingestion and acute testosterone bioavailability.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
- Erkkola R, et al. 2010. "A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Pilot Study On The Use Of A Standardized Hop Extract To Alleviate Menopausal Discomforts. - Pubmed - NCBI".
- Jennifer D Brooks, et al. 2004 “Supplementation with flaxseed alters estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women to a greater extent than does supplementation with an equal amount of soy” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- MInguez-Alarcón, Lidia et al. 2017 “Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men.” Asian journal of andrology
- Armanini D, et al. 2003. "Licorice Consumption And Serum Testosterone In Healthy Man. - Pubmed - NCBI".
- Armanini D, et al. 2004. "Licorice Reduces Serum Testosterone In Healthy Women. - Pubmed - NCBI"