Vegans and Low Testosterone is a relatively new topic and there are studies on both sides. Early studies, as far as seventeen years ago, said vegans had higher T levels by as much as 13% compared to meat-eaters and even 8% higher than vegetarians.
More recent studies suggest vegans typically have lower testosterone. This makes sense considering how and where they get their protein, fat and cholesterol from since their food is all plant based.
In the following topics I will cover what vegans need to eat to keep their T levels up and if it is too low, how to increase it naturally.
Vegans, Their Testosterone Levels and ED.
In just about every study, blog and article I have read, what vegan males appear to have in common, is lower than normal testosterone levels and Erectile Dysfunction. These are their words, not mine. The plant-based diets don’t always contain the correct types of fat needed for testosterone production. It really depends on having a complete and balanced vegan diet to prevent ED and low testosterone levels.
By eliminating meat, fish, poultry and all animal products from their diets, vegans may experience unwanted side effects related to hormone imbalances. They do avoid the hormones found in some meat and dairy products, but vegans have a tendency to eat higher amounts of hormone-like compounds in plant foods. The nutritional content and health effects of vegan diets can both boost and lower testosterone levels. As long as you eat a balanced diet that includes proper amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and zinc, eating a vegan diet should not lower your testosterone levels and you should not develop ED.
Can Vegans Maintain T Levels with the Foods They Eat?
In general, researchers agree that a vegan diet can lead to low levels of total and free testosterone and in most cases ED. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you cannot achieve high T levels with vegan diet. In fact, a solid plant based food vegan diet, can boost testosterone production and enhance overall health better, just like a typical diet containing meats. This is because, vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are critical for testosterone production and overall health. Vegetables are also full of carbohydrates which are essential for the production of testosterone. People who eat vegetable based food are more lean, compared to those who prefer typical diet. But, as we know, everything has its pros and cons. The dietary fat content in vegetables is lower than animal fats, and it is has been proven, that healthy consumption of fat is required for the production of testosterone. And unfortunately, the fats obtained through vegan diets are mostly poly unsaturated fatty acids which are known to be strong suppressors of thyroid and testosterone.
Vegan diet ingredients like soy, flax seed and processed grains contain compounds that are not favorable to testosterone and thyroid hormone production. Vegetable based diets have higher fiber content in comparison to meaty diets and high fiber is linked with increased SHBG levels, which impacts making testosterone.
Despite the fact, vegetables are enriched with essential micronutrients, they lack most of the major and important nutrients required for testosterone production, including vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin D. Veggies also lack compounds such as taurine, carnitine and creatine
that are found in meat.
How Vegans Can Increase Their Testosterone Level.
- Avoid too Much PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids)
You already know that not all fats are good for you. But, the so-called “healthy” polyunsaturated fatty acids can actually lower your testosterone level if you eat too much of them. Fortunately, saturated (SFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) have been proven to boost T, so it’s recommended to have enough of those in your diet.
- Don’t eat too many grains and fibers
Even though dietary fibers can help you to get rid of excess weight and maintain a healthy cholesterol level, studies have shown that a low-fat high-fiber diet can drop your testosterone by up to 12%. A similar study has revealed a 15% decrease in total testosterone resulting from increased PUFA and fiber intake. The problem is that most vegan foods are exactly what the diets in these studies existed of: low in fat, rich in fibers. So while this is hard to do with a vegan diet, try limiting the amount of fibers you intake, and get some more SFAs and MUFAs to boost your testosterone.
- Eat more good calories
Calories equate to energy. If your body isn’t getting enough of it, it will go into conservation mode by lowering the activity of those systems that aren’t needed much. This is why it is a proven fact that insufficient calorie intake, lowers testosterone levels, so make sure you are consuming enough calories to keep your T levels up where they belong.
- Take more fat-soluble vitamins
You need to memorize what vitamins are fat-soluble and highly beneficial and pretty much essential for helping to keep your testosterone level up. These are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K, or as I like to remember, ADEK. These vitamins are not only good for your T, they also play an important role in the bone health, proper blood coagulation (or clotting, which is essential to close wounds and stop bleeding), and even vision in low light. Here is a list of foods the help you get enough or each of these:
Vegan sources of vitamin A: carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, apricot, broccoli, mango, peaches, tomatoes, red pepper.
Vegan sources of vitamin D: mushrooms, fortified soy milk, fortified almond milk, fortified tofu, get some sun, just not too much. Maybe up to half an hour twice per week, but not for so long that you get sunburns.
Vegan sources of vitamin E: almonds, olives, papaya, spinach, hazelnut, kale, avocado, turnip greens, Swiss chard, raw seeds like sesame, pumpkin, sunflower.
Vegan sources of vitamin K: natto which is Japanese fermented soybeans, broccoli, collards, kale, spinach.
Help For Vegans With Erectile Dysfunction
First, let’s review, what is ED? The primary cause of erectile dysfunction in men who do not have physical injury is inflammation of the arteries. Sub-clinical inflammation, an irritation that does not cause diagnosed disease, is present in almost everyone living on an American diet. Arterial walls are the primary producers of nitric oxide which is essential for getting an erection. Low nitric oxide and you have ED. That’s Low-N, not Low-T.
Inflammation of the arterial walls reduces the concentration of nitric oxide in the blood and, with time, brings on erectile dysfunction. That time usually happens in a man’s fifties or later, but has become more frequent in men in their thirties and forties.
So, what can vegans eat or take to help with ED?
Numerous physicians and nutritionists agree that the best way to prevent artery blockage as well as multiple other conditions that cause impotence is to eat a diet high in fiber, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This sounds great but high fiber in your diet can cause low testosterone. That’s right, you have to find a happy balance for both ED and low T. It isn’t easy but you can do it.
Summary for Vegans and Low Testosterone
I think it is pretty clear by now that plant-based diets don’t necessarily have to be bad for testosterone production, but there are plenty of studies that will gladly tell you so.
To maintain testosterone levels while on a vegan diet, try to do the following;
- Keep your calorie level at a normal or slightly above normal level for your body type.
- Try to make sure you get 25-40% of your calories from dietary fat.
- Eat less PUFA, more SFA and MUFA – i.e use coconut oil.
- Take plenty of fat soluble vitamin A, K and D.
- Don’t over do it with grain and fiber consumption.
- Try to get most of your carbs from white rice, potatoes, and fruit.
- Avoid eating a lot of soy and flax seed based foods.
And finally, realize that, neither a fully vegan or a completely meaty diet is good for testosterone. It’s all about proper balance in your preferred diet. No matter what you eat, a proper diet with all essential nutrients in the correct ratios is the key to healthy testosterone levels.