Protein and Testosterone: Friends or Foes? 1

Protein and Testosterone: Friends or Foes?

Have you ever given thought to if, and how your protein intake may be affecting your gains in the gym? It should be obvious right, the more protein you consume the more muscle you build? But what if that’s not always the case? Yes, research has found that going overboard with your protein can have negative effects on your muscle building, by negatively affecting your testosterone levels.

But wait a minute- before we jump into the studies about protein you need to keep in mind that protein is and will always be important for muscle growth. What you may need to do is just adjust when you have your protein, and how much.

Eat Some More Carbs And Reduce Protein A Bit

Would you be shocked if you heard that persons consuming more protein likely have lower testosterone levels? Yes, research has found that persons who consume diets high in protein but low in carbohydrate (low carb to protein ratios) have lower testosterone levels compared to athletes who consume more carbohydrates, and reduce their protein intake (people that have higher carb to protein diets)

The research uncover more interesting facts as well. For one, the hormone cortisol’s levels were reduced in individuals consuming more carbohydrates, compared to those having less.

What does that mean for us? More muscle! Cortisol is known as a catabolic hormone (opposite of anabolic) in the sense that it seeks to break down excess muscle to use as fuel. Cortisol is an important hormone to control when trying to keep muscle mass.

If high carb diets worry you, however, you can still follow a carb cycling plan to keep hormone levels high as well as your body fat low.

Your Post- Workout Shake May Not Be As Important As You Believe

Most of us religiously down a protein (and maybe carb) shake immediately following our workout, in an attempt to maximize muscle growth. However, more research conducted to determine how beneficial these shakes were, proved that they offered no benefit. Absolutely no difference over people who consumed water only.

Don’t get confused however, as we previously mentioned, protein is still important, possibly the urgency to drink a shake isn’t. So, next time you complete your workout, go home, have a healthy muscle building meal and your muscle recovery will not be hampered.

Protein Is Not Directly Beneficial For Boosting Testosterone

Most bodybuilders incorrectly assume that eating more (beyond recommended) protein will result in faster and more significant muscle gain. However, the truth may be the opposite of what you believe, especially if you start restricting carbs and fat and consuming more protein supplements.

More research done focused on finding out if exercise boosted testosterone levels following a workout, and if nutrition plays a real role in determining your level of this important hormone.

It was found that:

  • Training increased testosterone levels following the workout, confirming what we already know- you must lift to build muscle.
  • Consuming meals with more fat during the hours before your workout results in enhanced hormone levels before you start working out. This is good if you need the extra edge before stepping foot into the gym.
  • A diet greater in overall calories and fat results in greater testosterone levels as well. This is well proven by now, since many of the important sex hormones are made from cholesterol found in fats.

If you are concerned about gaining fat mass from increasing your caloric intake, omega3 and 6 fats are a wonderful edition. Of particular interest is the modified omega 6 known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been found to significantly boost testosterone levels after your workout, and also reduce body fat levels. CLA is also found naturally in meat, dairy and eggs if you prefer to have solid food. CLA supplements are fast becoming a staple in every serious bodybuilder’s arsenal.

Older Men Do Better With Higher Protein Consumption

Opposite to the effect seen in young men, it was found that older men who consume higher protein diets have better testosterone blood hormone levels. However, these men (ranging from 40-70 years) had an extremely low protein diet before being researched, which may have played a part in their favorable results. More studies need to be done to fully understand why such results were obtained.


Never forget that protein is necessary for muscle building. However, it will not improve testosterone levels that are low; for that you may be better of consuming natural sterols. Last but not least, do not fear fat. Well planned fat heavy diets can be your number one weapons in building thick slabs of muscle while remaining lean.

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