- Testosterone plays an important role in preventing male sexual dysfunction.
- Research shows low-fat diets reduce T levels in men by 10-15%.
- The Mediterranean diet is the healthiest nutrition choice for most people.
- Men with erectile dysfunction should see a doctor before trying a new diet.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone because it helps them maintain their sexual health and function. Low levels have been linked to erectile dysfunction.
And now, a 2021 study finds that low-fat diets may lead to low testosterone levels in men.
The study, published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, took into account six studies with a total of 206 participants. Researchers asked groups of men to try a high-fat diet first and then told them to limit their fat intake. The result? A 10-15% drop in testosterone levels.
Interestingly, men of European origin seemed to have a more prominent reaction to the diet in terms of their T levels.
Role of Testosterone in Sexual Health
Testosterone is an important hormone, both for men and women. Its rising levels mark the beginning of puberty in boys. For adults, the hormone ensures muscle and bone strength, and some masculine features like facial hair.
In the bedroom, testosterone plays a key role in male libido and sperm production. Men or boys with insufficient testosterone levels may appear more feminine. For example, they may have more body fat and breast tissue and little facial hair.
Low-Fat Diets are Not the Best Choice for Everyone
For more than thirty years, we’ve all heard that a low-fat diet (generally defined as one that provides no more than 30% of calories from fats) is the healthiest way to eat. In recent years, however, that advice is changing. Verywell Health sums it up nicely:
“The recommendation that everyone should eat a low-fat diet was from the beginning based on a flawed theory, and on a conscious decision to sacrifice precision for the sake of simplifying the message.
After more than three decades of attempting to confirm that low-fat diets reduce heart disease, clinical trials did not support longstanding recommendations that everyone should be on a fat-restricted diet.”
That said, some experts now recommend an “ultra low-fat diet” (less than 10% saturated fats) as the best choice for people with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and multiple sclerosis. Others feel that a diet as restrictive as this can be difficult to stick with and can result in nutritional deficits for some.
As with any type of nutritional change, it’s best to consult your doctor first. Don’t rely on advice from magazines or self-help books.
Best Diets for Men
If not low-fat, then what? Are there any diets more suitable for men? Yes, there are! Cutting fats is not the only way to lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease. According to US News and World Report Best Diets Rankings, the Mediterranean diet is the definitive winner here, with the DASH and Flexitarian diets tied for second-best diets for overall general health. (Read about their testing methodology here.)
This Mediterranean diet (although it would be better to call it a lifestyle), has been practiced by people in the south of Europe for centuries. The best way to describe it would be “everything in moderation and in the right proportions.” There are no banned foods here, just preferred ones.
Now, for the basics. To start eating the Mediterranean way, keep these points in mind:
- Choose olive oil as your main source of healthy fats, eating it cold and using it for frying.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Include nuts and seeds in your meals.
- Consume moderate to low amounts of dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry.
- You may have a glass of red wine from time to time.
This type of nutrition is best done through home cooking. Using fresh produce and reducing processed ingredients is key. When eating out or ordering take-away, choose Italian, Greek, or French restaurants. Middle Eastern cuisine is similar, so going Turkish or Lebanese might be a good choice as well.
Diets and Erectile Dysfunction
If you’re suffering from ED, you may be wondering if a low-fat diet is a no-no for you, too. To answer that question, we need to discuss the link between low T and erectile dysfunction. The current medical consensus is that the reduction of testosterone levels does not cause ED.
Yes, some men with low levels of the hormone may experience erectile problems, but these will have more to do with the loss of sex drive.
So, if you have ED and normal testosterone levels, a low-fat diet should not cause more difficulties in your intimate life. But if you’re having symptoms of low testosterone, the Mediterranean diet may be a better choice for you. As always, talk to your physician first. Regular hormone testing will help you observe the impact of the diet on your T levels.
Keto Diet Not Recommended for Men with Low T and ED
If you’re trying to lose weight, you may be tempted to try the popular keto diet. This type of nutrition is the opposite of a low-fat lifestyle — high-fat and low-carb. To achieve so-called nutritional ketosis, you need to allow fats the main position on the menu.
While keto can help you lose weight fast, some doctors say it could increase the possibility of cardiovascular problems. So, while reducing one type of ED risk (weight), you might be increasing another one (cardiac issues). Proceed with caution and stick to a safer option — that is, the Mediterranean diet — if possible.
Combining Lifestyle Changes with Medication
Healthy nutrition can go a long way toward helping you avoid sexual dysfunction. Add to it regular exercise and reduce your stress levels, and you will cut your ED risk significantly. But lifestyle changes take time to deliver health benefits.
If you suspect you may have ED, don’t wait too long before talking to your doctor. Most men tolerate modern medication, such as Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, well. The pills act quickly and allow you to resume a satisfying sex life sooner rather than later.
With long wait times to get a medical appointment these days, consider eDrugstore’s free online consultation with a U.S.-licensed physician. You will receive a prescription and can order your ED medication directly from this reliable online pharmacy. Click here to learn more.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.